In a case being watched closely by architects, German designer Gerhard Becker last week pleaded no contest to a charge of involuntary manslaughter for his “disregard for public safety and building codes” in the construction of a Hollywood Hills mansion whose ceiling collapsed in a 2011 fire, killing one fireman.
The home had been slated to host Germany’s “Next Top Model” television series. Becker faced up to four years in jail, but the plea—facilitated by the judge’s worries that some of the blame should go to the building inspector—means he will face only six months in prison.
“There are serious issues of proof for responsibility of the loss of life,” said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry, according to the LA Times.
While local firefighters are rightfully angry with Becker, local architects are upset that Becker has been referred to as an architect at all. Becker is not licensed in California. “It underscores the importance of hiring architects as opposed to ‘designers’,” said Will Wright, Director of Government and Public Affairs at AIA/LA.