In response to B.J. Egeli's letter in your Reader's Forum on Sept. 8, I would like to say that, while it is true that most architects don't master the science of structural design, it is ludicrous to suggest that architects know nothing about structures. In fact, architects are required to have a thorough understanding of all the disciplines involved in the creation of architecture. These areas include mechanical, electrical and plumbing design, construction methods and materials, legal and professional standards, in addition to structural design.

It is for this reason that an architecture student must spend five years in college and three years as an apprentice before qualifying to take the Architectural Registration Examination. This "travesty" of an exam, as your reader calls it, is a grueling four-day, nine-part exam that culminates with a marathon 12-hour design portion on the last day. The registration exam devotes as much time to the other disciplines mentioned above as it does to the "art" of architecture.

With all the issues that need to be resolved in the design of a building, it doesn't make much sense for an architect to be expert in all areas. The architect must make decisions about structural and mechanical systems early in the design process so he or she can incorporate them into the design; then the engineers can design their systems without affecting the architecture. It is this skill that an architect develops that helps to create, for better or worse, the diversity of our city and urban landscapes.


B.J. Egeli asked that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) provide additional information about the education, training and licensing of architects.

The process leading to state licensing for any occupation traditionally includes three elements: a formal education, a period of apprenticeship-training, and an examination. In architecture, as in most other professions, the elements leading to state licensing are structured specifically to address the aspects of the profession that directly affect the public health, safety and welfare.

Through its chapters, the AIA advocates strong and effective state licensing laws. But the Institute is not alone in its attention to the process. The architectural registration examination is developed and administered by an independent organization, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The National Architectural Accrediting Board sets standards and administers programs of accreditation for architectural education and degree programs. And finally, state governments adopt and enforce licensing statutes, periodically conducting rigorous reviews to ensure that licensing standards and the conduct of the licensees remain in the best interest of the public.

Use of the title architect and its derivatives implies that the individuals using these terms have met these strict requirements -- and states historically have reflected this by restricting use of the title architect and terms such as "architectural services" and "architectural designs." To avoid confusing or misleading the consumer, and to protect public health and safety, the AIA strongly supports state laws like these, which reserve these terms for individuals licensed as architects. JAMES P. CRAMER Executive Vice President/CEO American Institute of Architects

The article "Home Sellers Have Great Expectations" (Sept. 15) was shortsighted and filled with doublespeak. For instance, one Realtor claims that most home sellers who lower the prices of their homes aren't really losing money, just appreciation. Since when does appreciation not equal money? Did this Realtor mean to say that most home sellers are not selling their homes for less than they paid for them? If there are massive price reductions, more and more of these home sellers' neighbors will be exposed to the risk of having to sell below the original price of their homes.

The most important aspect of Washington area home sellers' price stubbornness was overlooked by the writer. Isn't this good news? Doesn't this mean that most home sellers:

Are not desperate.

Are not fleeing the area in search of work elsewhere.

Will not be forced into massive mortgage defaults such as those experienced in the Rust Belt and Oil Patch cities.

This phenomenon indicates to me that most home sellers are only having to postpone optional moves -- that they are not being forced into fire sales.

And, is it really good news to the "area's beleaguered home builders" that some agents are seeing "signs that sellers are becoming more willing to accept less than they believed their house was worth"? The home builders will then face competition from an existing home market that will be priced far below what home builders can offer, and they will likely have more canceled contracts because their buyers won't be able to buy expensive new houses as they thought they could. This is not, by any definition, good news for home builders.

I know that Realtors depend on churning properties to make a living and that the near future looks grim for them, but panic pricing is not in the best interest of the area's financial institutions, home builders or homeowners. JANIS A. ACKERMAN Vienna

The Washington Post invites readers' commentary and letters on real estate and development issues. Such letters should be typed and not exceed 800 words. Letters are subject to editing. Offerings should be submitted to The Washington Post, Real Estate section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Letters should be signed and the writer's address and telephone number listed.