The AIA Celebrates a Century and a Half

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[Originally published 1st quarter 2007 in arcCA 07.1, “Patronage.”]


Merrill Hall, Asilomar, Julia Morgan, photography by Ken Roberts.


In 2007, the members of the American Institute of Architects will mark the AIA’s 150 years of service to the profession and the nation by working with their communities to create a better future by design.

The AIA California Council 150 celebration is a statewide effort, focusing on providing local chapters with support in garnering media attention for their specific projects and events. With 21 California chapters, this is an opportunity to increase public awareness outreach activities. With the assistance of the AIACC developing communications plans and materials for each chapter project, the goal is to increase exposure of the value of architects and architecture in each respective community.

AIA California Council has expanded its website, which includes an AIA 150 site identifying and updating chapter activities and providing links to chapter websites for ease of access. The Council is providing regional media training for chapter leaders. Throughout the year, AIACC will conduct a public relations campaign, including articles advocating the value of design, and will write and distribute press releases, Op-Ed pieces, and related news articles. An AIACC 150 Media Kit is available from the AIACC. The California component chapters and their projects are listed below.

AIA East Bay, the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, and the City of Pittsburg are jointly hosting a charrette on the Railroad Avenue Corridor.*

Working with Kern County Community College District (KCCD), AIA Golden Empire is developing a 188-acre site in Bakersfield. The KCCD serves communities across an area of 24,800 square miles, geographically one of the largest community college districts in the United States. AIA Inland California will be joining the City of Riverside for the AIAIC Green Partnership for a Sustainable Riverside. There will be a State of the City/Sustainable Symposium, which will include programs, workshops, and social events.

There will also be a partnership with the City of Redlands for an initiative to establish a Community Collaborative on Design Guidelines. This collaboration will include publicizing the initiative, continuous solicitation of donations, and coordination of four charrettes. The first visioning charrette will introduce the issues, establish core concerns, and establish subcommittees; the second and third charrettes will review and discuss strategies and guidelines; and the fourth charrette will ratify the guidelines and discuss ways to continue the effort. After this process, a graphic development of the guidelines will be presented to the City. AIA Los Angeles is working with the Waste Management Department to implement a massive recycling program. The chapter is developing an administrative mechanism to make it happen. The primary focus is the City of Los Angeles, focusing first on paper businesses and eventually branching out to residences and other areas within the Los Angeles region. The goal is to start implementing the program in the first three months of 2007.

AIA Monterey Bay is promoting awareness and appreciation for architecture from the last 50 years. It is creating a guide to buildings of architectural significance and noteworthy structures built in the area since 1950, increasing public consciousness about the preservation of historic structures, regardless of their age.

AIA Orange County will create a publication commemorating the Most Significant Buildings in Orange County, to be released in the spring. The AIAOC 150 Committee has composed a draft ballot of the most significant spaces and places in the county, and the draft has been vetted by the Fellows and Past Presidents of AIAOC. In February, AIAOC 150 will distribute an e-ballot to all professional members of AIAOC. The membership will vote for the top 15 entries. These 15 projects will be featured in the publication, along with a map of their locations. The publication will also include all projects considered, with credits and photograph. The goal will be to distribute the publication, free of advertising, to schools, newspapers, firms, cities, hotels, etc. by June, 2007.

AIA Redwood Empire is developing a Virtual Architectural Center.

AIA San Diego is planning two projects: a Downtown San Diego/C Street Corridor Enhancement & Revitalization Project and the design and construction of a trolley transit shelter.

AIA San Fernando Valley will focus on the Pacoima Commercial Street Re-Development Project.

AIA San Francisco is developing a series of podcasts.

Since the chapter’s founding in 1983, AIA San Mateo County members have participated in an average of one community design charrette per year. These events generate great public excitement and serve as a catalyst for further community action. Issues addressed have included: revitalizing older downtowns; visions for improving a downtown park; housing; density; local and regional transportation; and public libraries. Several local communities have benefited from these charrettes. For the 150 celebration, AIASMC will systematize the outreach and selection process for the charrettes. This initiative, which will create an open, transparent, and sustainable pipeline for the annual community service events, will comprise three elements: outreach to community organizations, establishment of an advisory group, and formalization of the proposal and review process.

AIA Santa Barbara will focus on various areas of architecture in Santa Barbara.

AIA Santa Clara Valley is planning a series of events and projects, including:

AIASCV/AIASM Hard Hat Café, a series of meetings to follow specific projects through the construction phase from awarding of a contract to granting a certificate of occupancy;

Door Open AIA150 Architects, a monthly lunchtime visit to various Santa Clara Valley architectural firms, who will provide presentations of their work;

A Virtual Podcast: 150 Years of Architecture Foot Tours of Santa Clara Valley, self-guided tour of great architecture in Santa Clara Valley, through to modern-day award-winning designs, providing information from the designers, builders, and users;

AIA 150 Week, for which AIASCV will solicit mayors to dedicate a week to the AIA 150 Year Celebration, to coincide with National Architecture Week; and

Architecture 101: Offered to every city in the chapter area as an educational training program for planning and review boards as well as professional planning departments to train non-architects to:

  • Better understand architectural vocabulary
  • Read drawings
  • Gain an understanding of basic design principals
  • Expect more from design professionals

AIA Sierra Valley is still in the selection process of a project.


*Editor’s Note: The original publication of this article in arcCA 07.1, “Patronage,” erroneously reports that AIA San Mateo County is hosting a Regional Urban Design Charrette.



Lori Reed

Lori Reed is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the American Institute of Architects, California Council. With more than 30 years of communications experience, she oversees all aspects of communications, publications, public relations and marketing strategies, as well as disaster preparedness efforts throughout the state.

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