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A person who prepares the plan and design of a building or other structure and sometimes super-vises its construction.
A landscape architect is responsible for the arrangement of scenery over a tract of land for natural or aesthetic purposes in order to enhance or preserve the property.
The practice of planning and designing a building requires the application of specialized skill and knowledge. Because the product of an architect's work is used by members of the general public, the legislature of a state may regulate the practice of those engaged in the profession. Regulatory statutes designed to protect public health and safety are created under the inherent authority of a state to protect the welfare of its citizens. As a general rule, regulatory statutes are valid, provided they are not unreasonable.
Statutes requiring that architects must be registered and licensed are based on public policy aimed at protecting citizens from unqualified practitioners. In many states, statutes call for the revocation of a license for such conduct as Fraud, dishonesty, recklessness, incompetence, or Misrepresentation when an architect acts in his or her professional capacity.
The power to revoke a license is commonly given by the legislature to a state board of architects who must act in a manner prescribed by statute. Generally, an architect is entitled to notice and a hearing when the board seeks to revoke his or her license. The architect can appeal a revocation.
Statutes setting forth the requirements for obtaining a license or registration generally require that the applicants be of legal age and of good moral character, have completed a certain course of study, and have a certain amount of practical experience. Many states have an additional requirement that applicants must pass an examination. A legislature may provide that certain persons who have practiced architecture for a period of time prior to legislation requiring an examination may register as architects without an examination. Such a statutory provision is called a Grandfather Clause.
Persons who present themselves to the public as architects must comply with the statutory registration and licensing requirements. The failure to do so is unlawful. In most states, persons who falsely hold themselves out as licensed architects are guilty of a misdemeanor, and contracts rendered by them with others are void and unenforceable.
The terms and conditions of an architect's employment are designated in a contract and are governed by general rules of contract law. Ordinarily, the person who employs the architect becomes the owner of the plans, unless the employment contract states otherwise. Custom-arily, the architect retains the plans after they have been paid for and the builder may possess and use them while constructing the building.
Authority and Powers
The power and authority of architects are determined by general rules of agency law. In most cases, unless the employment contract states otherwise, architects are held to be agents with limited authority. An employer is liable for acts of an architect when they are within the scope of the architect's agency, although the contracting parties may further restrict the powers if they so desire.
Architects have a duty to exercise their personal skill and judgment in the performance of their work, and they may not delegate this duty without express authority to do so. They may, however, delegate responsibility to subordinates while performing their duties as agents.
A supervising architect does not have implied authority to perform work that has been assigned to a contractor or to employ or discharge workers. The supervising architect does, however, have authority to make decisions concerning proper workmanship, fitness of materials, and the manner of work.
Duties and Liabilities
Although the duties of architects generally depend on what is designated in the employment contract, some duties are carried out as a matter of custom, such as the duty to supervise construction.
Architects are in a fiduciary relationship with their employers, and as such they must exercise Good Faith and loyalty toward them. As professionals, they are held to a standard of reasonable and ordinary care and skill in applying their knowledge and must conform to accepted architectural practices. The failure to exercise reasonable care and skill can result in liability for damages and the loss of the right to recover compensation for their services.
Architects have a right to compensation for their services unless there is an agreement that they shall work gratuitously. To be entitled to compensation, they must carry out their contract with reasonable skill and care and without any substantial omissions or imperfections in performance. The employment contract usually fixes the amount of compensation. A standard payment scale created by the American Institute of Architects is customarily used to determine the amount of compensation.
In the event that an architect is refused payment for services, he or she may sue for the amount of compensation agreed upon in the employment contract or, in the absence of an agreement, for the reasonable value of the services under the theory of Quantum Meruit.