Within just 10 months of graduating from Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (APLA) in 2021, Tate Lauderdale and Hunter Swatek have completed the architecture licensure process—a rigorous feat that, on average, takes architects seven years to complete, according to the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB). Lauderdale and Swatek, described in an APLA news release as being “friends and coworkers,” were both 23 years old when they gained licensure, making them the youngest licensed architects in the United States. The average age of licensure candidates beginning the multi-step process is a ripe old 29.
As detailed by the APLA, both Lauderdale and Swatek had accrued a “significant” number of Architect Experience Program (AXP) hours prior to graduating from Auburn, the second-largest university in Alabama. The AXP mandates that candidates log a whopping 3,740 hours of professional work under the supervision of licensed professionals; it takes average architects-to-be 4-and-a-half years to do this.
Lauderdale began logging his hours through an internship between his freshman and sophomore years and went on to work with the Office of the University Architect on a part-time basis (10-15 hours a week) for the next two years. Another summer internship followed by more AXP-qualifying work.
Swatek started in on his internships a touch later than Lauderdale, first working with a small firm during the summer between his sophomore and junior years. “After that, I pretty much interned every chance I had, whether it was winter break, summer or any other time off school,” Swatek explained. “When I studied abroad in Scandinavia during my fourth year, I had a big break from the end of the fall semester until the end of February, so that was almost like another full semester of internship.”
Both Lauderdale and Swatek submitted their AXP reports in January of this year. With a qualifying number of professional experience hours under their each of their respective belts, the duo started in almost immediately on the Architecture Registration Exam (ARE), a stringent, six-section exam that pulls from both academic knowledge and professional experience gained through AXP. Per NCARB, it takes the average candidate a little under three years to complete the ARE in its entirety, with an average pass rate per test of 54 percent. All six divisions must be passed to gain licensure.
As detailed by the school, Lauderdale and Swatek employed a measured approach: studying for each section for two or three weeks before taking each exam and then returning their focus to their full-time, post-graduation jobs before starting the process again. “To finish off the ARE, Swatek studied for about a month and then passed the last three exams within nine days of each other,” detailed the APLA. “Lauderdale did the same, completing four exams in the span of three and a half weeks.”
Because Lauderdale and Swatek are just mere mortals, they didn’t pass all ARE sections on their first tries.
A hearty congrats to Lauderdale and Swatek for shaving off a few years off the licensure process, and to whichever local Alabama coffeeshop that (presumably) assisted in fueling this incredible feat.