Robert Ivy, FAIA, the AIA’s CEO visited California last week and talked to over 200 members about issues facing their practice, gained insights into the future of the profession, and asked for feedback about how the Institute can be more responsive to the needs of its members. He met with a diverse cross-section of California firms in Los Angeles and San Diego and spoke to architecture students at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego. This outreach visit was the first of many Robert is planning in 2012 as a way to get better connected with the membership and discuss how the AIA is helping architects. A few highlights of his visit:
- He spoke about the economy and indicators for a rebound, citing the March 2012 Architecture Billing Index (ABI), which remained in positive territory for the fifth consecutive month, as billings at architecture firms continue to grow modestly. Architecture firms with a commercial/industrial specialization have reported the strongest gains in revenue in recent months, and business conditions are also improving at firms with a multifamily residential specialization.
- He spoke about the ““Repositioning the Institute” effort – the year-long initiative to better define what architects do in order to build understanding and appreciation of vital roles architects play in society and better communicate the value of design. This initiative was developed out of a broad consensus among members that architects are at a threshold that demands increased awareness of their place in society and a new way to present themselves to the world.
- He spoke about the role of architects as advocates in their local communities, stating that over 2,500 architects nationwide serve as elected leaders. From mayors to local planning commissions to design review boards, the engagement of architects plays an increasingly important role in determining the fate and health of small businesses, ways that homeowners and businesses can save energy, and a host of other issues that directly affect the quality of life for most Americans.
- He spoke about the upcoming National AIA Convention in Washington D.C. and shared his excitement about the Keynote Presentations and special ceremony titled Architects of Healing. The Convention provides an opportunity to honor colleagues who have been involved in the rebuilding and memorials at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. These architects sought to help our nation when we all needed their unique gifts; this ceremony is the profession’s opportunity to simply say “thank you” to those who represented the best of the values architects hope to convey in service to society. The honorees will share their feelings and observations in a first-person account about how they used their passion and the architect’s skill to inspire hope for a better world. That is the essence of what it means to be an architect.
- Finally, Robert also shared with attendees some of the highlights of his career at Architectural Record and spoke about how his work as an editor shaped his view of architecture. He talked about some of the most significant experiences, including his personal, first hand recollection of 9-11 and of some of the most important relationships in his career, including his work with Fay Jones.
Overall, it was a tremendous experience for all involved, and Californians stand ready to assist the Institute in furthering its efforts to reposition architects and the AIA, as 2012 AIA President Jeffrey Potter, FAIA stated, “to embrace our 21st century purpose.”