Chasing Time: The Forgotten History and Evolution of the NAAB Structures Student Performance Criteria

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

BTES 2017 Proceedings

First page number:


Last page number:



Over the decades since its inception, the history surrounding the developments of what we know today as the Student Performance Criteria (SPC) as outlined by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) has become somewhat lost to time. Though the NAAB was formed in 1940, it was not until the very late postwar period that the forerunner of the current SPC was first implemented in the form of “Achievement-Oriented Performance Criteria,” beginning in 1982. The precise details of this evolution have unfortunately been for the most part lost and forgotten, with most of the pre-1982 archival records destroyed. The specifics surrounding much of the evolution of the Structures SPC are similarly little known. Furthermore, with the retirement and passing of individuals involved in crafting the earlier versions, much of thinking behind this prior evolution is opaque to younger generations of structures teachers. It is little known, for instance, that in 1983 there were nine criteria related to structures out of the 88 overall, or more than 10% of the total. Through subsequent iterations over the next fifteen years, this number was reduced first to six in 1984, 1986 and 1988, then to four in 1991 and 1995, and then to a single criterion in 1998. With the 2014 Conditions, the sole structures criterion is now less than 4% of the 26 overall. With minimal alteration in scope and language since the publication of the 1988 Conditions, for nearly 20 years this criterion for structures has been largely unchanged. Through a review of the existing NAAB archives and discussion with the current executive director and a past NAAB president, this paper summarizes this evolution and consolidates the changes in the structure SPC over the past several decades. It speculates on the impact that the structures SPC has had on the place and role of the principles of structural engineering in architectural curricula, thereby providing a context for future discussion.



Search your library