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Oklahoma House Interim Study Focuses On Architect, Designer Dispute

Anthony McDermid, architect with TAP Architecture, stands in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart Supercenter at 1801 Belle Isle Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs
The Journal Record
Anthony McDermid, architect with TAP Architecture, stands in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart Supercenter at 1801 Belle Isle Blvd. in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma lawmakers are hearing arguments Tuesday between architects and building designers.

State law exempts many commercial and residential buildings from needing an architect, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

“Currently, the state allows a variety of very large buildings to be designed by anybody, without the services of (an architect or engineer),” said architect Anthony McDermid with the TAP Architecture firm. “What we’re recommending is the state amend the current statutes to reduce the size and scope of some of those building types that are currently exempt.” But in those cases, structures can be designed by someone like Marc Wilson, a certified professional building designer. Wilson mostly works with residential builders, but he has designed commercial structures as big as 6,000 square feet. “The architects seem to want architects or nobody to do this stuff,” Wilson said.

Legislators meet for an interim study Tuesday morning to review the kinds of structures that don’t require use of a licensed architect. In Oklahoma, the law requires an architect for buildings like hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, assembly halls, theaters, arenas, dormitories and sports venues.

State Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, says he hasn’t made up his mind about the issue, but wants to see more information before introducing any legislation.

“If there’s something that needs to be done I’m willing to do it, but I don’t want to over-regulate or be unfair to one group or the other,” said McBride, R-Moore. “If there is a need there I want to pursue it, but prove to me there is a problem. Let’s not just pass a law or new regulation if there’s not a problem.” McDermid said that any proposals from his side of the industry would result in more work for architects. However, he said, most people don’t know that the big-box retail store they’re shopping at did not need an architect at the table. “I don’t think the general public would understand that, if something cataclysmic happened,” he said. When a builder turns over plans to the city, the plans have to be reviewed. “It’s not like you’re drawing something and going out there and building it,” said McBride.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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