Like volunteer leaders in AIA components across the country, I entered the office of AIACC President with passion, enthusiasm, and lofty goals for improving the AIA and our profession. We set goals, quickly identifying the need for stronger collaborations, improved communications, and more proactive advocacy initiatives. I urged us to build stronger coalitions and to bring together the many groups focused on efforts similar to ours to forge alliances and to be a stronger force in the political arena. I also emphasized the need to change the way we communicate and to create more leadership training opportunities for future leaders of AIA and for citizen architects to lead our communities. I stressed the importance of expanding the voices of our students, associates, and young architect members at all levels of AIA. I was ambitious and full of ideas and optimism.
Then reality set in, and I realized more and more each day that serving as your President was a far more complex effort than I had ever imagined. Paul Welch – our Executive Vice President – went to Washington to help out our ailing parent organization, California elected a new governor who was faced with overwhelming deficits, and the recession that we all hoped wouldn’t last too long is still with us. Issues were popping up all over the place that we hadn’t counted on, and yet, with reduced staff and a budget that anticipated using reserves, we accomplished a phenomenal amount and put money into reserves rather than spending them!
In looking back, it is common to reflect on the goals and focus on what hasn’t yet been achieved, but instead, I am amazed at all of the accomplishments of our committees, volunteers, and staff. Here are just a few of the highlights of 2011.
Regulatory Affairs. We created a vision for the Division of the State Architect (DSA), which will allow the State of California to assume a leadership role in the thoughtful development of the built environment.
- Published Maximizing California’s Resources: Recommendations for a Stronger Design and Construction Industry as a vision for a renewed DSA in partnership with the K-12 Capitol Forum Group.
- Established a process to recruit and vet candidates for the State Architect position.
Assisted the Governor’s office in the appointment of Chester Widom, FAIA, as the new State Architect.
Legislative Advocacy. The AIACC sponsored legislation, AB 560, was signed into law by Governor Brown. AB 560 extends the sunset date on the law that allows architectural firms to be organized as Limited Liability Partnerships by seven years, and it does not increase the amount of professional liability insurance architectural LLPs must carry.
Communications. 2011 was a year of transition. While we had a great start on a new website platform, we quickly realized the need for a stronger commitment to increased presence on the web with greater engagement of our members and the general public. Staff and budgets have been realigned and priorities redirected to a new, invigorated web site. We have plans for ongoing content generation, and we are increasing our presence in the social media arena. Our relationship with aecKnowledge is expanding, and our offerings of online continuing education opportunities are growing. We recognize the value of developing more knowledge content to support our advocacy efforts, and we are moving toward sharing our stories in increasingly more human ways. This is all good, and these are efforts that must be continued and sustained if the AIACC is to remain relevant.
Architectural Education Summit. This initiative by the AIACC Academy for Emerging Professionals (AEP) and the California Architectural Foundation (CAF) to bring faculty, students, and administrators from colleges and community colleges across the state together to discuss architecture education within the state was ground breaking. A diverse group of stakeholders, including representatives from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), the California Architects Board (CAB), the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB), and community colleges participated in this strategic planning session, which resulted in a five-year initiative to bridge the gap between architectural education and practice within the state. Results from the Summit will be available soon.
Monterey Design Conference. Truly one of the outstanding offerings of the AIACC, MDC 2011 did not disappoint! With more than 550 attendees, fabulous speakers, and an increased emphasis on opportunities for interaction, the conference received rave reviews. For the first time, we also filmed the presentations, hosted by aecKnowledge
California Healthcare Facilities Forum. The AIACC’s Capitol Forum partnered with ACHA, to hold a conference to discuss the impact of the new Universal Healthcare law on California facilities. Over 140 healthcare professionals and representatives from the design and construction industry participated in this event, focusing on issues such as the increase in patient volumes (as a result of the new law) and the effect on facilities; how technological innovation will be driving healthcare delivery in the future; and the potential opportunities that accompany this transformational change.
Partnership with the California Architectural Foundation (CAF).
Turnbull Competition/Drylands Conference. Finally, I am pleased to report on the progress between the AIACC and the California Architectural Foundation in strengthening the connections and identifying opportunities for collaboration in support of the AIACC’s advocacy efforts. One of these opportunities materialized in 2011: a focus on water issues within California. The Foundation partnered with the Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University to create the William Turnbull Competition: Drylands Design. Over 290 students and professionals have registered to participate in this ideas competition to generate progressive proposals that suggest to policy makers and the public creative alternatives for water conservation and mitigation. The jury will be held in January 2012, and the top proposals will be presented at the Drylands Design Conference March 24-25, 2012. This conference will bring together policy makers and design professionals to discuss innovations in planning and architecture that will make a substantive impact on water issues in our state. Ideas generated from the conference will be used to further the AIACC’s advocacy initiatives in this area, and this collaboration is just one example of the many I am hopeful will result in the strengthened partnership between CAF and the AIACC.
These are just a few of the many accomplishments that the AIACC, through the hard work of its many committees, volunteers, and professional staff, has achieved in 2011. I am pleased to be a small part of this organization and look forward to seeing the planning efforts and realignments we undertook this year materialize in 2012.