The Architects Registration Board will not be taking legal action over the use of the word architect in the IT industry.

The news follows increasing resentment among architects about IT professionals using the term “IT architect” in job advertisements. Even Bill Gates, who has stepped down as chief executive of Microsoft, now wants to be known as its “chief software architect”.

ARB assistant registrar Richard Coleman said the board received, on average, 200 complaints a year from members angry at the use of the word in IT-related jobs.

Using the word in this context breaches the Architect’s Act of 1997. However, Coleman said the ARB would not take these offenders to court. “We are here to prosecute if we think consumers are being misled in the building and construction industry, not to police the IT industry,” he said. He added: “The world moves on and the profession moves on. There’s no use getting upset.”

There are only three professionals other than ARB-registered architects that can call themselves architects. These are naval architects, landscape architects and golf-course architects.

A spokesman for Richard Rogers Partnership agreed with Coleman’s stance on not pursuing IT professionals. “We would be seen to be rather pompous if we tried to defend this,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter.”

When is an architect not an architect?

  • US politician George Mitchell was described as architect of the Northern Ireland peace process
  • Northern Ireland secretary Peter Mandelson was the architect of New Labour
  • Musician Jools Holland was described as an amateur architect after designing his own house