Photo: Ana Slade.
Photo: Ana Slade.

This first quarter of 2019 has been an eventful one around the Center for Architecture and AIA New York in general. Focusing on Building Community, the 2019 presidential theme, has led us to concentrate on a handful of new events and reframe some existing traditions.

I strongly believe that the richness and energy of the whole community have not been fully galvanized—particularly when you consider the size of the membership and the number of members who actively engage with initiatives. Three new initiatives coming out of these first three months go directly to the heart of increasing outreach and broadening participation within our community:

Discover Architecture: Our Discover Architecture! program offered high-school students career discovery placements at architecture offices around the city. To address the next stage in the development of an architect’s career, we have also launched a mentorship program called Torch to build bridges between emerging professionals and our AIA Fellows.

Advocacy Network: It has always been our goal for the Chapter to speak with the power and full force of the voices gathered. Whether for issues of logistics or access and outreach, our advocacy work tends to stay within a concentrated group. In the coming months, we’ll be creating a more open network that will allow members to get directly involved in the ongoing advocacy efforts as directed by the Advocacy Committee and the Executive Committee. Our objective is to put together a group that is apprised of our ongoing topics of focus who can become actively involved on an issue-by-issue basis—writing letters, attending advocacy meetings with officials, testifying, etc. Please stay tuned for more details on the rollout of this in the coming weeks.

Oculus Op-Ed Open Call: We are thrilled to invite op-ed submissions to be considered for publication in the Summer issue of Oculus, which itself will focus on the theme of inclusivity and the multicultural city. Among the nearly 6,000 Chapter members, presumably there are voices, ideas, and views we have not heard. Please submit your thoughts and share your perspectives. For us to really have an active community, ideas and conversation must flow freely and come from all quarters. This new direction will be a great way to bring in and highlight some member voices that perhaps have not been so broadly featured. Pieces should be no more than 800 words and be submitted by April 22. Please email your submission in a Word document format to We look forward to hearing from you!

In terms of ongoing traditions, our Annual Awards Luncheon is the first of the large-scale Chapter events of the year. We continue to celebrate the “best of the best” here. Our honorees this year—Deborah Berke, Cindy Allen, and Roseanne Haggerty—are trailblazers and icons, each exceptional in her field. This year, however, our honorees also demonstrate and represent a commitment to community that is inspiring and exemplary. Cindy and Roseanne are spotlighted elsewhere in this issue, and I’m honored to write a few words here about my professional colleague, Deborah Berke.

Deborah, founder of Deborah Berke Partners and dean of the Yale School of Architecture since 2016, is receiving our 2019 AIANY Medal of Honor. The body of work she has amassed through her firm has “a distinct and lasting character,” as it so perfectly states on her website. The thoughtful intellectual direction of her work delivers a clarity and authenticity, a trueness that is focused. At the same time, the close relationship with other visual arts is always evident. Furthermore, the openly collaborative process at her firm is commendable in a field that has historically been dismissive of the collective nature of the design and delivery process. In addition to her work at her firm, Deborah has taught throughout her career and is currently leading the Yale School of Architecture. Her dedication to teaching and passing on her expertise is inspiring. The fact that she has consistently taught while practicing at the highest caliber is a tremendous achievement and example for us all.

Congratulations to all our 2019 honorees!


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