“The opportunity for public outreach is great.”’
That was what 2003 AIA New York Chapter President George Miller, FAIA, told the New York Times for its March 2003 article about the Chapter’s plans to open a brand-new Center for Architecture later that year.
That new Center, designed by Andrew Berman after a competition process, did open that fall—exactly 20 years ago. In the last two decades, Miller’s words have certainly proven true, sometimes in unexpected ways, and the sentiment continues to guide the Center into its next era. When construction on the Center began, Michael Bloomberg was in his first term as mayor, the city was still early in its recovery from 9/11, and there were nearly 500,000 fewer New Yorkers than today. AIANY had 3,200 members; today, we have 5,000. The growth in programming in our space is undeniable, with the Chapter’s over two dozen program committees, our many partner organizations, and the Center’s own events and exhibitions lighting up 536 LaGuardia Place almost daily.
The Center has seen other important changes, too. In 2015 its public-facing activities were consolidated into a 501c3 non-profit organization, governed by a Board of Trustees that collaborates closely with the AIANY Board of Directors. These organizations share leadership, staff, space, and values, but have unique missions, strengths, and approaches. The combination of these two entities is powerful, and we are still discovering new and exciting ways of elevating one another’s complementary goals.
I know how proud our community is of what we have built together at the Center for Architecture. As we move into the next two decades of the organization’s life, I am excited about the ways we will grow our impact and broaden our public reach. We will continue to be the vital gathering place in New York for architects and other design professionals to exchange ideas, while also connecting more and more people to the power of the built environment. We’ll engage in new ways with communities that have not always felt included in architecture and design, and we’ll keep offering innovative programs that bring together both those who create and those who experience architecture. To that end, we are excited about new partnerships we are pursuing through our education program; closer and more collaborative relationships with AIA members and leaders in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island; the Center for Architecture Lab program, which will open an exhibition in November; and many more alliances to come.
Thank you for continuing to support and believe in what the Center for Architecture can do and be for the profession, for the public, and for New York City.