2013 NAAB Accreditation Review

The NAAB Procedures for Accreditation, 2015 Edition Approved for First Reading
July 19, 2014

The Directors of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) approved the first reading of The NAAB Procedures for Accreditation, 2015 Edition. This document is now available for public comment. Comments should be sent to forum@naab.org. The deadline is Monday, December 1, 2014.

March 21–30

Top 3 Issues from the Conditions: ACSA identifies three key issues and asks faculty to consider them and respond online and in preparation for the 102nd Annual Meeting regional caucuses and Annual Business meeting.

April 9

ACSA opens member survey with full list of issues identified in the NAAB Conditions. Individual and formal program responses are requested.

Apr 11

Regional caucuses, Annual Business Meeting

May 1

Member survey closes

May 22

ACSA publishes draft positions on 2014 Conditions

June 6

Deadline for member comment on ACSA positions

June 19

ACSA submits its response to the 2014 Conditions

July 19  NAAB seeks comments on first reading of Procedures for Accreditation

March 21, 2014

Top 3 Issues from the NAAB Conditions for Accreditation
To start the process of soliciting feedback from the membership on the Conditions, ACSA has identified three key issues from the new Conditions draft. We encourage discussion among the membership and through our regional LinkedIn pages, as we head toward the 102nd Annual Meeting and business meetings in Miami.

Issue #1: With the latest draft of the NAAB Conditions for Accreditation comes a complete rewrite of the so-called NAAB Perspectives.

I.1.4 Defining Perspectives: The program must describe how it is responsive to the following perspectives or forces that impact the education and development of professional architects. . Each program is expected to address these perspectives consistently and to further identify, as part of its long-range planning activities, how these perspectives will continue to be addressed in the future.

  • Collaboration and Leadership. The program must describe its culture for successful individual and team dynamics, collaborative experiences and opportunities for leadership roles. Architects serve clients and the public, engage allied disciplines and professional colleagues, and rely on a spectrum of collaborative skills to work successfully across diverse groups and stakeholders.
  • Design. The program must describe its approach for developing graduates with an understanding of design as a multi-dimensional protocol for both problem resolution and the discovery of new opportunities that will create value. Graduates should be prepared to engage in design activity as a multi-stage process aimed to address increasingly complex problems, engage a diverse constituency, and provide value and an improved future.
  • Professional Opportunity. The program must describe its approach for educating students on the breadth of professional opportunity and career paths for architects in both traditional and non-traditional settings; in local and global communities.
  • Stewardship of the Environment. The program must describe its approach for developing graduates who are prepared to both understand and take responsibility for stewardship of the environmental and the natural resources that are significantly compromised by the act of building and constructed human settlements.
  • Community and Social Responsibility. The program must describe its approach to developing graduates who are prepared to be active, engaged citizens able to understand what it means to be a professional member of society and to act on that understanding. The social responsibility of architects lies in part in the belief that architects can create better places, and further that architectural design can create a civilized place by making communities more livable. A program’s response to social responsibility must include nurturing a calling to civic engagement to positively influence the development, conservation or changes to the built and natural environment

Are these Perspectives effective in capturing what NAAB describes as, "values and core principles held in common throughout the profession and the academy relative to practice and discipline of architecture?" How could they be more effective?


Issue #2: The latest draft of the NAAB Conditions for Accreditation develops Student Performance Criteria (SPC) related to Integrated Architectural Solutions, which was formerly Comprehensive Design. Most recent text:

Realm C: Integrated Architectural Solutions: Graduates from NAAB-accredited programs must be able to synthesize a wide range of variables into an integrated design solution. This realm demonstrates the integrative thinking that shapes complex design and technical solutions.
Student learning aspirations in this realm include:

  • Synthesizingvariablesfromdiverseandcomplexsystemsintoanintegrated architectural solution.
  • Respond to environmental stewardship goals across multiple systems for an integrated solution.
  • Evaluatingoptionsandreconcilingtheimplicationsofdesigndecisionsacross systems and scales.

C.1    Integrative Design: Ability to make design decisions within a complex architectural project while demonstrating broad integration and consideration of environmental stewardship, technical documentation, accessibility, site conditions, life safety, environmental systems, structural systems, and building envelope systems and assemblies.
C.2    Evaluation and Decision Making: Ability to demonstrate the skills associated with making integrated decisions across multiple systems and variables in the completion of a design project. This includes problem identification, setting evaluative criteria, analyzing solutions, and predicting the effectiveness of implementation.

Is this revision effective compared to the previous Comprehensive Design SPC? How much would the revision force changes (positive or negative) to your program? 

Issue #3: The proposed NAAB Conditions for Accreditation would allow institutions located outside the U.S. and not accredited by a U.S. regional accrediting agency to seek full NAAB accreditation under certain conditions. Excerpt:

II.2.1 Institutional Accreditation:
In order for a professional degree program in architecture to be accredited by the NAAB, the institution must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The institution offering the accredited degree program must be or be part of an institution accredited by one of the following U.S. regional institutional accrediting agencies for higher education: the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS); the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS); the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC); the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS); the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC);
  • Institutions located outside the U.S. and not accredited by a U.S. regional accrediting agency, may request NAAB accreditation of a professional degree program in architecture only with explicit, written permission from all applicable national education authorities in that program’s country or region. Such agencies must have a system of institutional quality assurance and review. Any institution in this category that is interested in seeking NAAB accreditation of a professional degree program in architecture must contact the NAAB for additional information.

What would be the impact on U.S. architectural education if NAAB accredited foreign programs without the same regional accreditation requirements currently required for US programs? 


Accreditation Report: Architecture Curricula Are Full

ACSA has submitted its report this week for the 2013 National Architectural Accrediting Board Accreditation Review Conference (ARC), where the minimum standards for architectural degree programs will be revised. In the report ACSA emphasized that although the architecture profession is in a very different place than it was at the last ARC in July 2008, the fundamental challenges facing architecture schools remain the same: increased accountability for programs, tightening budgets, and the need to be entrepreneurial to take advantage of opportunities in a shifting marketplace for students and for graduates. 

The 2009 NAAB Conditions increased accountability for ACSA schools, the report noted, but no clear understanding exists of the impact of the changes on schools, graduates, and the profession. For this reason ACSA advocated for refinements to the existing Conditions that reduce the number of standards and Student Performance Criteria while raising levels of expectation for program engagement with the realities of professional practice. 

Schools need flexibility in meeting accreditation standards, the report says, and a holistic review of programs that avoids a checklist of technical skills will facilitate this. The report also suggested the NAAB explore other models for the composition of visiting teams. Currently a typical team has two practitioners, one educator, and a student, while peer professions include more educators. 

Read the full report and its recommendations here.

Process and Feedback

As we prepared for the 2013 NAAB Accreditation Review Conference, the ACSA Board of Directors sought feedback from ACSA members on some of the most pressing issues regarding conditions and procedures. Every week leading up to the Administrators Conference in Austin, ACSA asked one question for your feedback. Below are the responses.

August 24, 2012
Evolution or Revolution
How much should we change the Conditions?

August 31, 2012
What can we ditch?
Can we eliminate all criteria beyond the descriptions of the realms? Why do we need that faculty matrix?

September 7, 2012
Comprehensive Design
The One and the Many
All these SPC’s in one project? How about 2 or more? Student teams? With Comprehenisve Design becoming the dominant SPC, what changes should be made to how student mastery of multiple SPC’s is documented and reviewed?

B. 6. Comprehensive Design: Ability to produce a comprehensive architectural project that demonstrates each student’s capacity to make design decisions across scales while integrating the following SPC:

    • A.2. Design Thinking Skills
    • A.4. Technical Documentation
    • A.5. Investigative Skills
    • A.8. Ordering Systems
    • A.9. Historical Traditions and Global Culture
    • B.2. Accessibility
    • B.3. Sustainability
    • B.4. Site Design
    • B.5. Life Safety
    • B.8. Environmental Systems
    • B.9. Structural Systems

September 14, 2012
Paperless Team Room
Should we advocate fully digital representation of student work for interested schools?

September 21, 2012
Project Based Learning?
What if SPC’s were shown only in projects (no notebooks)?

September 28, 2012
What Happened to the 4+2?
Should there be a standard way to document advanced standing and preprofessional work? How can we make this clearer and easier?


What Is the ARC? The NAAB Accreditation Review Conference (ARC) is the profession's opportunity to revise and reaffirm the minimum standards for professional education of architects. The ARC will involve the revision and reaffirmation of the NAAB Conditions and Procedures for Accreditation documents through a deliberative process involving the four collaterals that directly support NAAB as well as other interest groups.