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New Jersey Board of Architects v. North

Decided: June 8, 1984.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY BOARD OF ARCHITECTS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GEORGE NORTH, DEFENDANT



Miller, Edward S., J.s.c.

Edward

[197 NJSuper Page 350] This is an action brought by the New Jersey State Board of Architects pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:3-10 to penalize a New Jersey licensed professional engineer for the unauthorized practice

of architecture and to enjoin the engineer from the future practice of architecture.

A plenary trial has been held and the court finds that the following facts have been established. Defendant George North is licensed in this State as a professional engineer and does business in Vineland, New Jersey. He is not a licensed architect. In or around October 1981, after receiving a preliminary floor plan and elevation from a contractor (not a party to this action), defendant gathered the necessary structural data, drew up specifications and prepared drawings for the construction of a two-story duplex home to be built on pilings in Ocean City, New Jersey. Three drawings were prepared: one consisting of a floor plan of the duplex and a plan for the pilings, another consisting of front, rear and side elevations and a third consisting of wall and roof construction details and plumbing details. Two of the drawings contain lists of specifications for the types, sizes, strengths, etc. of the materials to be used in the construction.

The board of architects contends that in doing this work, defendant violated N.J.S.A. 45:3-10, which states:

Any person who shall pursue the practice of architecture in this State, or shall engage in this State in the business of preparing plans, specifications and preliminary data for the erection or alteration of any building, except buildings designed by licensed professional engineers incidental or supplemental to engineering projects . . . [without a license to practice architecture shall be liable to a penalty]. . . .

The "practice of architecture" is not defined in the statute. The definition is provided in N.J.A.C. 13:27-2.2(a):

The practice of architecture is defined as the professional activities of the registered architect. This includes analysis, calculations, research, graphic presentation, literary expression, and advice concerning and the preparation of necessary documents for the design and construction of buildings and their related environment, with the primary purpose of providing space for human use whether interior or exterior, permanent or temporary, including, but not limited to buildings and/or structures for social, political and economic service; in fulfilling domestic, religious, educational, recreational, institutional, memorial, financial, commercial, industrial and governmental needs and the like.

It is clear that under the statute -- subject to certain exceptions, one of which is pertinent and is discussed below -- a person can be penalized for either of two courses of conduct: pursuing "the practice of architecture," as defined by N.J.A.C. 13:27-2.2(a), or engaging in "the business of preparing plans, specifications and preliminary data for the erection or alteration of any building . . . ." (In either case, any single act or transaction is sufficient basis for a penalty. N.J.S.A. 45:3-10.) The board of architects is relying on the latter formulation in its action against defendant.

In defense of the action defendant makes essentially three arguments. First, he argues that the work he did in connection with the Ocean City duplex was structural engineering, not architecture. Second, he argues that if there is doubt as to the nature of the work done, that doubt indicates that the two professional fields and the skills possessed by members of each have become so closely related that it is impossible to establish a line of demarcation. He seems to be arguing that, as a result of this, the statutory and code sections defining the two areas of practice should be interpreted in a way that would recognize a virtual merging of the two and not allow any penalty for an engineer doing architectural work. Defendant's last argument is that even if the two professions are not regarded as merged and his work on the duplex does fall within the type of work covered by N.J.S.A. 45:3-10, the duplex is an "engineering project" under the statute and therefore any architectural services performed were permissible as being "incidental or supplemental to" such a project.

Taking the arguments in sequence, the court turns to defendant's first contention. In testimony at trial defendant contended that since a preliminary floor layout and elevation was prepared by someone else and supplied to him, his work in subsequently preparing the construction drawings and specifications was purely engineering. The architecture practiced in connection with ...


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