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From the Architect's Desk




In From the Architect's Desk

By lthomas


On 01, Nov 2016 | 2 Comments | In From the Architect's Desk | By lthomas

Alphabet soup, right?

I was recently asked by a colleague how to distinguish between these design professional designations.

And further, how to determine the need or use for each. Why, for example, would one hire a Registered Architect (RA) over a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer (CKBD)? What is with the AIA (American Institute of Architects) or LEED, AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Accredited Professional) designations?

Regarding the question of RA vs. CKBD, I find the kitchen designer is skilled at figuring out where the spice rack goes and how to maximize space for the large pots, but less so at coordination with the building architecture and structural elements. I typically work with a kitchen designer as part of the design team. I begin the concept design layout and once I am happy with it the CKBD works with the client directly on cabinetry selection and how to maximize storage and improve layout to meet that client’s needs.


To make the decision fairly straightforward consider the following:

If the kitchen or bath design involves new walls, windows or layout – ARCHITECT. An architect can look at the space holistically (circulation, views, structure, heating and cooling, even options for ‘found’ space within adjacent areas) and can see beyond the kitchen/bath itself to other areas involved.

If the kitchen is remodeled within an existing space and the goal is to maximize storage space with solely a cabinet/appliance solution – KITCHEN DESIGNER.


Ok, but what about the AIA and LEED, AP designations? What do those mean?

This is a very typical question and a source of quite a bit of heated discussion within the professional architectural community. AIA stands for The American Institute of Architects. It is a professional membership association for licensed architects. Unfortunately, many clients believe that an architect without the AIA designation is not licensed. This is incorrect. Many architects simply choose to practice as a professional, licensed Registered Architect using the designation “RA.” Membership in the AIA is not required for an architect to be licensed or skilled!

LEED, AP is a designation that show a professional has furthered his or her education by studying, testing and passing a multi-part test to become accredited in Green Building and sustainable design. In residential design, LEED, AP designated architects have acquired the skill set to help guide the homeowner and contractor towards more sustainable design, materials and construction techniques.

Did you get all that? Whew.

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  1. You might want to do more research on the credentialing for a CKBD certification and the responsibilities of a certified kitchen and bath designer before belittling it. It is more involved than choosing where the spice rack goes. The designer is part of a team along with the architect, builder/contractor, and the client.
    Danielle Burger, CKBD

    • lthomas

      Oh my, no disrespect intended. “Spice racks”, pots, pans, olive oils and best type appliances. The kitchen functionality. My CKBD partners are terrific. As are my interior designers, landscape architects and engineers. They are invaluable team members.

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