From the YouTube video released to the visual graphic recordings seen, the AIA EP Summit: Engaging and Empowering the Next Generation, held in Albuquerque, NM, was filled with inspiration and motivation. But perhaps one of the best judges of this would be one who actually attended. AIA San Joaquin member, Haley Gipe, Assoc. AIA, brought back with her some serious questions with serious thought, which may behoove all architects to consider; not just the emerging professionals.
What inspires you? As the opening evening kicked off for the 2014 Emerging Professionals Summit, 72 attendees were asked to respond to that simple question. Sitting in the historic Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was personally inspired by the group of individuals who had traveled to be a part of the Summit. This group of students, interns, leaders, and executives from the ‘5 collaterals’ were all here as part of a common call to action.
We recognize our profession is changing, architecture is indeed ever-changing and that’s why most of us are called to this great profession. But what does the profession mean to the next generation? Those we have deemed “emerging professionals”? From education, to internship, to practice, and career advancement, it’s time to have an open and honest and frank discussion about architecture.
What does architecture look like in twenty years? What does it mean to be an architect? What are the elements of an architect that should never change? Should the profession expand? How can architecture become more inclusive? What will the educational experience be like? What does a well-rounded graduate look like? How can the profession support a positive academic culture? How does one advance in the profession? Is licensure required to be a successful architectural professional? How can one balance his/her individual role with the responsibilities of the profession?
How would you describe firm culture and practice? Who is responsible for creating a positive culture, and how are individual expectations set? How can a positive firm culture be sustained over time?
Loaded questions indeed; these are the tough reality checks that we need to address. It’s time we take a cold hard look in the mirror of our firms, our universities, and our professional organizations. Relevance and repositioning are the buzz words today, and our actions right now as a profession are going to speak volumes to those ‘emerging professionals’ who are asking themselves if they’re going to stick around for the long haul.
Be it generational, technological or basic evolution, our world is changing and it’s time we change too. The Summit serves as the starting gate to make the change.
“The AIA convened this gathering because we are committed to improving the paths that our emerging professionals take, from the moment they set foot in architecture school,” said Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, 2014 AIA President. “This summit is about people, not process. It’s about empowering our emerging professionals to determine what’s working and what’s not.”
Empowering the next generation—that’s what the Summit meant to me. The conversation has begun, action items and top priorities have been drafted, and the roles, responsibilities, and resources required to support these efforts are being established. I left Albuquerque excited about the commitment from the AIA to be the change, and see it through. While the actual event of the Summit has concluded, the spirit and intent of the Summit is ongoing. I urge anyone interested in joining the conversation to participate online.
More information about the Emerging Professionals Summit can also be found here.
We began the Summit weekend by talking about what inspires us each as individuals and I know I left inspired by the group of dedicated, talented, and intelligent colleagues convened with a similar passion for the future of architecture. The ‘Albuquerque Accord’ serves as a platform for change in the coming year, and a touchstone for all emerging professionals that the future is bright for us and we are indeed the instruments of change.
EP Summit participants collectively hope for:
- Education that is empowering, not defeating
- An endorsement that is elevating instead of demeaning
- And employment that is engaging rather than debilitating
To that end: On this day, the architecture profession with each of its societies assembled and all of its generations represented make it known:
- We find the term intern has outlived its usefulness and needs to be replaced.
- We contend that isolated and unhealthy behaviors in educating and training future architects should no longer be tolerated.
- We believe that you join the community of architects from the day you begin architecture school.
- We affirm that the world needs architects with all of their talents and career paths.
- We know these changes will not occur immediately or without broad and sustained effort.
- Therefore we invite any and all individuals who share this vision to join us in making it our reality.
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