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An architect of record is a firm or individual architect listed on a building permit for the construction project they are contracted for. The permit is attained by sending an application, project drawings, and building specifications to the regulatory authority that is responsible for the area where the construction is to take place. There can be more than one architect of record if different architects plan to work on a single project. A large firm can also set up a working relationship with a local architect, whose name would appear on the application and permit.
Special skills may be needed for construction in certain areas, such as those that are seismically active or have a specific type of terrain. The local architect can oversee project operations, and therefore becomes the architect of record. In the United States, for example, such status means that the firm is in control of the project, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). The NCARB requires that architects make sure the proper legal requirements for registration are followed, even when they outsource document preparation. It also outlines criteria for being responsible in their control over projects.
Under NCARB guidelines, an architect of record should always be in control of what goes into the documents, knows the contents, and be professional in preparing them. They should also keep records to make sure that these criteria are met for a minimum of five years. Quality of communication is also emphasized and, with the establishment of building permits, email communications should be set up between all parties involved in the project.
The architect should also be open to sharing technical files through File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers for the fastest communication. Meetings and reviews over the Internet are the best way for all parties to stay updated on projects. The NCARB Model Law and Regulations guide architects on how to follow these rules when documents are prepared elsewhere. An architect of record must also always be responsible in handling its documentation professionally.
Any architect of record is also responsible for ensuring that all safety codes are met during a project. This holds whether they are the primary firm for a project or are contracted by a larger architecture company. Regardless of control over record-keeping, most states in the United States have applied the NCARB standard, and some have added requirements defining how the architect of record identifies itself on documents.