AIA|LA Statement on Tragic Death of LA Firefighter

Last Updated: February 27, 2012

3780 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010, USA

Contact: Nathalia Morales-Evanks
AIA|LA Communications Coordinator

Los Angeles, February 28th, 2012 - Last week's LA Times article, "Architect of Hollywood Hills mansion damaged in fire, is charged in firefighter's death," stirred stirred discussion, particularly among architects, as the individual who designed the home was not a licensed architect. Aside from requesting that the LA Times retract the word "architect" from the article, the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA), in conjunction with AIA California Council (AIACC) Executive Vice President, Paul Welch, Hon. AIA, have released the following statement in response to the issues brought up by this tragedy. Mr. Welch's words echo the true spirit of the AIA to champion the profession of architecture, and remind all that the responsibility of architects is far more than just good design.


The recent Los Angeles Times article concerning the negligent activities of an individual purporting to be an architect, and how those activities resulted in the tragic death of Los Angeles Firefighter Glenn Allen, serve to remind us all that the profession of architecture is about much more than aesthetics.

The profession of architecture is carefully regulated in the state of California by the California Architects Board (CAB). While the title of "architect" is easily understood by the public, unfortunately, we find many examples of misuse of the term. Despite the Los Angeles Police Department, Fire Department, Building Department, and District Attorney's Office identifying Gehard Albert Becker as an architect, and Mr. Becker identifying himself an architect, a query of the California Architects Board's (CAB) records confirms that Mr. Becker is not, nor was he ever, licensed to practice architecture in California.

Although Mr. Becker claims that he is an architect in Germany, California law is very clear that an individual must be licensed by the CAB to use the title Architect (Business & Professions Code section 5500) and legally practice architecture in California. Any use of the term in relation to the built environment by an individual not licensed to practice architecture in California is a violation of the Architects Practice Act (Business & Professions Code section 5536 a, b, and c).

The AIA|LA is the voice of the architecture profession in Los Angeles, we are dedicated to serving and empowering our members through advocacy, educational and outreach programs as well as educating the public on the value and importance of architecture. This tragedy serves to remind us that each day, millions of Californians live, work, and play in safe environments designed by licensed architects; that the decisions of architects impact not only the eye and the mind, but the body as well; and that the health, safety, and welfare of the public is serious business best left to licensed professionals.

Last updated: 11-Dec-2012 08:33 PM
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