HB 2132 Strips Copyright, Opens Liability for Architects

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Creating Stock Architecture Plans for Schools Also Increases Costs, Dangers of School Construction

HB 2132 was prefiled for introduction on the first day of the 2014 Legislative Session. This bill requires that all school designs become property of the state “and may be reproduced, modified, or used by the state or any school district in the state.” It also requires that all school architectural plans be filed with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction who will make them available for other districts. In short, architects lose their copyrights and it creates a pool of stock plans.

Download Full-Text of HB 2132 (PDF)

What’s the impact?

  • School designs are not context-neutral: different site conditions, soils, orientations, etc. will necessitate extensive modifications. School designs take into account local curriculum, site conditions, safety concerns like traffic, fall hazards, LEED performance requirements, and more.
  • Code reviews are not site context-neutral: plans that meet code at one site will not meet it at others and vice-versa.
  • Stock plans are also unresponsive to market conditions for struggling school districts. The price of steel may be prohibitively expensive in the near future while adaptive reuse of an existing school would be more appropriate (and suggested) had an architect been directly involved, instead of a stock plan.
  • Architects may be held liable for use of their stock plan on a site it was never designed for, in addition to losing copyright and losing business due to stock school plans.
  • Failure to consider these issues poses both safety concerns as well as substantially increased school construction costs to meet code.

In short, stock plans may create 1) unintended costs for cash-strapped school districts, 2) building durability and safety concerns for students, 3) liability issues for architects, and 4) damage Washington state architects’ businesses.

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