John Highsmith Adams is the nom de plume of an American writer and former licensed architect who has practiced in several States over a roughly 30-year career.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Good question. The roots of The Charette Legacy can be more fully understood by reading my first book, The Architecture of Exclusion. Back in the 1980s, when I was a young, intern architect struggling to advance my career, I experienced an incredibly frustrating, annual event known as the NCARB licensing exam. Like thousands of other aspiring architects, I had passed 9 of 10 portions of the 4 day-long exam, but kept stumbling over the subjective, graphic portion known as the Design Test. In Alabama at the time, where pass rates were around 25%, I knew there was something sinister going on. I decided to take the State Board of Architects to court, where, after 3.5 years of litigation, I became intimately familiar with the process, and the powerful propaganda that the Board and it's surrogate (NCARB), used to perpetuate the ruse. Keep in mind that this same licensing exam was being used in all 50 States, along with Puerto Rico and some Canadian Provinces. What I discovered was that the test was actually a de facto lottery with a preset pass rate, designed to mollify the State Boards and maintain the national reciprocity system. This bothered me immensely, not just because I'd been mistreated, but because it was illegal and the profession should only use a merit-based exam. An arbitrary process was bad for the profession's long-term viability, and would result in waning leadership in the construction industry. It was against this backdrop that I wrote The Architecture of Exclusion, determined to change the system.
Do you think the architectural profession will ever acknowledge your contributions?
Probably not, and that's okay. They eliminated the Design Exam a year after publishing my first book. That pretty much speaks for itself.