The Architectural Institute of British Columbia is the statutory body that regulates the profession of architecture in the public interest, pursuant to the Architects Act, R.S.B.C. 1996 C. 17 (the “Act”).
The AIBC is granted authority under the Act to address compliance concerns related to the practice of the profession of architecture. Among the core purposes of the Act are to ensure that:
- projects requiring an architect have an architect;
- only those who are appropriately trained, qualified, and registered with the AIBC are permitted to hold themselves out as architects or offer/provide architectural services.
The Act is, broadly speaking, public protection legislation. It is provincial law that applies to everyone in British Columbia. It prohibits those who are not registered as architects from practising architecture, or holding themselves out or implying that they are able to do so.
Under the Act, only those who are appropriately trained, qualified, and registered with the AIBC as architects are permitted to call themselves architects, use derivative forms of the word, or offer to provide architectural services.
Section 63 of the Act requires that individuals or firms not registered with the AIBC must not be misrepresented as “architects”, offer architectural services, or imply that they are entitled to practice architecture. Using similar titles such as “architectural designer” or “interior architect”, or offering services such as architectural design or architectural drawings is not permissible.
The AIBC’s regulatory mandate includes taking action against those who unlawfully use the titles protected under the Act. This ensures that the public can easily identify who is lawfully qualified to offer and provide architectural services.
Bulletin 32 – Right to Title: The Legal Use of “Architect” and Derivatives (PDF) provides further information regarding the use of restricted titles and derivatives.
The Act defines the practice of architecture and sets out which buildings in British Columbia require an architect’s services by law. This means that an architect must be retained any time architectural services are being provided on a building requiring an architect, including renovations or repairs to an existing building that would require an architect under the Act.
Section 60 of the Act creates exceptions for certain classes of buildings in certain circumstances, and provides instances where an architect is required. For buildings where an exception is not made, an architect is required as soon as planning and design begins.
The AIBC’s regulatory mandate includes taking action against those who are unlawfully providing architectural services contrary to the Act. In most cases where illegal practice is identified, the AIBC will also contact the project’s owner and advise the authority having jurisdiction that permits should not be issued to projects proceeding illegally.
Bulletin 31 – Buildings Requiring the Services of an Architect (PDF) provides further information regarding the requirement of an architect as well as information regarding the interaction between the Architects Act and BC Building Code.
Reporting a Possible Infraction
Anyone can report a possible infraction of the Act, and AIBC registrants have an obligation to do so under the AIBC Bylaws. If you are aware of a possible infraction:
- Determine if the individual or business is registered with the AIBC by searching our online directory. In most cases, if the individual or business is not listed, they are not an AIBC registrant, however the AIBC issues temporary licences to out-of-province architects who work on specific projects in collaboration with AIBC-registered architects. Temporary licence holders are not listed in the directory. Please contact the illegal practice department if you have specific questions.
- Collect as much information and documentation as possible. Photographs of a project sign, copies of permit applications, business cards, title blocks, articles, relevant correspondence, and/or drawings are very useful. Include contact information for the alleged contravener, if possible.
- Submit the collected information by mail or email, to the AIBC’s Illegal Practice Department:
Architectural Institute of British Columbia
Illegal Practice Department
100 – 440 Cambie Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6B 2N5
The Act gives the AIBC the authority to take action against those who misrepresent themselves or engage in illegal practice. The AIBC will investigate when a possible infraction is brought to our attention. If it appears that illegal practice has occurred, the AIBC may do one or more of the following:
- Send an inquiry letter advising of our concerns, and request specific corrective action. This is a common first step in the case of misrepresentations.
- Request the individual sign an undertaking and covenant agreement, which includes an acknowledgment of the breach of the Act and agrees to compliance in the future.
- Pursue financial damages or injunctive relief through the BC Supreme Court.
The AIBC publishes all illegal practice resolutions. If an instance of alleged illegal practice has not resulted in publication, it is because (1) the allegation was not substantiated or (2) because no resolution has yet been achieved.
AIBC Illegal Practice Department: IllegalPractice@aibc.ca