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The AIA California Council Offers Certification Program for Development Strategists: New CDS designation reflects global role of architects - and new business development opportunities.

by ArchNewsNow
April 23, 2002

The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) has established a certification program available to any AIA architect (i.e. not limited to California members) that is designed to recognize the global role that architects play in today’s development process. The Certified Development Strategist (CDS) designation will signify a comprehensive proficiency in all aspects of the development process, including strategic vision, program development, real estate, funding, design, and construction.


In order to qualify for the CDS program, architects must have at least five years of registered architectural experience, and three years of experience relevant to the CDS role. Once this has been established, the architect will participate in a competency based assessment process that will allow the architect to show a broad understanding and competency in over 50 specific skills that relate to all entities involved in the development process.


The assessment includes an oral interview, portfolio review, and an examination that involves review of the architect’s knowledge, experience, and skills in client services, architectural and engineering services, construction services, and the core skills that tie the development team together.


“The Certification Program for Development Strategists is a response to a changing marketplace,” emphasizes Gordon N. Park, AIA, AIACC Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, and Chairman of the AIACC Certification Program. “Today, architects are responding directly to owner requested services that extend well beyond traditional design services. Increasingly, architects are responsible for guiding their clients in the development of facility options, from funding to real estate to design, construction and post occupancy requirements. In essence, an architect with the CDS designation can offer an owner/client a single source of responsibility that will result in a predictable development process. Further, the architect who obtains the designation has demonstrated the diversity of skills necessary to help to ensure a business future that is responsive to market demand cycles.”


Park continues, “In the traditional role, an architect enters the development process mid-stream, responding to a client’s request for proposal. The AIACC Certified Development Strategist is able to help the owner develop a more holistic approach, and is qualified to serve as the client’s trusted advisor throughout the entire process, assuring the client of a predictable development outcome. From the initial concept to design, financing, real estate evaluation, and programming, the CDS brings a whole new perspective and approach to strategic management. The Certified Development Strategist has a more global view of the development process, and can help the client meet any challenge.”


“We see the CDS designation becoming a benchmark for those on the hiring side, simply because it provides an assurance that the architect in question does indeed possess superior skills in the development arena,” says Carl F. Meyer, AIA, 2002 President of the AIA California Council. “The architect with a Certified Development Strategist designation truly understands the architecture of business. The CDS program validates the architect’s increased levels of expertise and enables an architectural firm or architect recognition for providing those expanded services. As such, a Certified Development Strategist can take advantage of expanded practice opportunities to broaden market reach.”


The costs associated with the certification program include a non-refundable $275 application fee, a $375 non-refundable assessment fee, and a $100 certificate fee.


Once an architect has successfully completed the process, he or she is entitled to use the CDS designation, will have the option of placing their portfolio on the AIACC Certified Development Strategist Web site, and will be included in the on-line certification directory.


For more information on the AIACC Certification Program for Development Strategists, contact the AIACC at 916-448-9082, or visit


The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) represents the interests of 10,000 architects and allied members in the state of California. The AIACC’s mission is to support architects as they work to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable and transit oriented communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments.

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Certified Development Strategist (CDS) is a new designation signifying an architect's comprehensive proficiency in all aspects of a project development process.

© 2002