A firm owned by a Kansas University architecture professor acclaimed for his innovative teaching style, unusual project designs and hands-on construction methods has been fined $500 for practicing architecture without required certification.
Rockhill & Associates, a firm owned by KU architecture professor Dan Rockhill, failed to secure a state certificate required for performing architecture services in Kansas during 2007 and 2008, according to a settlement with the Kansas State Board of Technical Professions.
After paying the $500 fine, plus the board's expenses of $1,854, Rockhill & Associates is back in business. The firm paid the appropriate fee - either $120 or $170 - earlier this month to regain its certificate, which shows that the firm based in rural Lecompton has the proper expertise and experience behind it to provide architecture services in the state.
The case is now closed, and the certificate - like all others issued for architectural operations in the state - is good through Dec. 30, 2009.
"It's so the public is sure that the technical professionals that they're dealing with are qualified," said Jean Boline, the board's executive director.
Rockhill described the certification problem as a "technicality," one akin to a contractor's license being automatically revoked because an insurance firm failed to send in notice that a client's policy had been renewed.
"It's just business," Rockhill said.
Rockhill & Associates, in its settlement with the board, acknowledged that it had engaged in preparing architectural plans for work at Van Go Mobile Arts Inc., in Lawrence, without having the proper certification. The firm is serving as general contractor for the $1.4 million renovation project, which it also designed.
Marty Kennedy, a Van Go board member who lives next door to the project, said that he was not concerned that Rockhill & Associates had not maintained the proper certification while drawing up plans for the Van Go work, which will allow the agency's programs to serve twice as many kids.
"It's still a great project," said Kennedy, a former Lawrence mayor who is general manager of nearby Kennedy Glass Inc. "Those issues sometimes pass you by."
Also established in the settlement: Rockhill himself is not licensed as an architect.
In an interview Wednesday, Rockhill explained that his business associate of 20 years, David Sain, serves as the firm's licensed architect. Rockhill has operated Rockhill & Associates for 28 years.
Rockhill also teaches architecture at KU, including the innovative Studio 804 - a class in which students design and actually build a project. Students, under Rockhill's leadership, have built homes for low-income residents in Lawrence and Kansas City, Kan., and earlier this year built a new arts center for the tornado-ravaged town of Greensburg.
None of the projects required the presence of a licensed architect, Rockhill said.
"We can do all this stuff and not carry a license," Rockhill said. "It's up to the municipality where the project eventually will be located."
The arts center in Greensburg, he said, technically is considered a residential use in a mixed-use neighborhood, and therefore did not come with a requirement that a licensed architect be involved.
Boline, from the board of technical professions, said that architecture professors are specifically exempted from the state's licensing requirements.