Author: Barry D. Yatt | ISBN 0-471-16967-6 | Wiley & Sons – 1998 | NCARB Monograph Series
Although building codes and standards are often seen as obstacles to design excellence, NCARB’s newly published monograph, Cracking the Codes, makes them accessible by promoting a sound understanding of regulatory issues—without overwhelming the reader with minutiae.
Barry D. Yatt, FAIA, CSI, is an associate professor at The Catholic University of America’s School of Architecture and Planning.
Continuing Education and Cost Information
Monograph and two quizzes:
$325 ($225 for current NCARB Record holders)
8 PDUs and 8 AIA LUs in health, safety, and welfare (HSW) and Sustainable Design (SD) per quiz
With one of my State Registrations looming, I found myself to be short a couple of Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) and began searching for some credits that I could pick up quickly. Like a moth to a flame I sometimes find myself drawn to pour more money into the NCARB cartel, so I started searching their website and came across “Cracking the Codes” by Barry D. Yatt, FAIA, CSI.
“This looks pretty good,” I said to myself as I read through the description. The book is divided into two sections, each worth 8 CEU’s. “Fantastic! That will put me over the top with extra credit to be applied for next year” I said with a boastful tone as if I had just managed to use my unique prowess to discover some dark secret known only to a select few.
I swallowed a little vomit as I entered my credit card information for the $325 (non-member) price. My brain quickly ran through the numbers to determine that even with this extraordinary cost I will still be saving money by not being a member of this insidious organization.
The book itself is very well written. Mr. Yatt does a fine job of explaining the rationale and origins of building codes in general. In addition, he is able to convey how to use that information in everyday architectural practice. This is no easy feat for something as mind-numbing as “Building Codes”. When I purchased the book, it was my hope that the author would be able to present such historical information in a way that wouldn’t make me fall asleep… and Mr. Yatt did just fine.
But there is one major flaw with this publication that didn’t occur to me when purchasing. In addition, the NCARB website (intentionally?) makes no reference to probably the most important fact about this book:
It was published in 1998, and is intimately tied to the 1997 Uniform Building Code (UBC) as well as BOCA, and the yet to be published International Building Code (IBC).
This conveniently undisclosed fact would probably have made me look elsewhere. Despite my urgent need for gaining a couple of extra CEU’s.
While the general, historical knowledge contained in the book is interesting and has value, the commentary is so intertwined with these specific building codes that the entire book is now completely obsolete. If the author had more foresight to omit references to specific code sections, and focus instead on the historical significance and applications of the code, the book would have had a longer shelf life. As it stands, the book is only as good as the current (1997) Building Code remains in effect.
In the last 14 years, the UBC & BOCA have been completely replaced with the IBC. Which itself has undergone extensive revisions and alterations since the draft copy was introduced and to which this publication references extensively.
Of course, old timers like me have the ability to weed through the obsolete references and take with us the essence of the thought. However the newer generations of Architects may not be as familiar with this context and may even be led astray. How embarrassing it might be for one of these young lads to approach a more senior Architect and ask to see current copy of BOCA for study?
In the final analysis, “Cracking the Codes” should have been discontinued 10 years ago (at least). Its continued sale on the NCARB website only illustrates how NCARB is nothing more than another corporate profit machine hiding from the IRS under the guise of “non-profit” status. If they actually cared about Architects, or their continuing education, they wouldn’t be peddling outdated educational material. Because to do so proves that their only motivation is “profit.”
I want to make it clear that the fact that the book is outdated is not the fault of the author. Had I purchased this book back in 1998, I would have easily given this book a full Two Thumbs Up.
Unfortunately, neither time nor building codes stand still and since this book is now completely outdated, I must reluctantly give it – Two Thumbs Down.