Headshot of Jesse Lazar
Jesse Lazar, Assoc. AIA, Executive Director, AIA New York | Center for Architecture. Photo: Samuel Lahoz.

Congratulations to our 2024 Design Awards winners! Every year, we are amazed at the incredible breadth and quality of the projects our jury selects for recognition. This year’s jury chose a mix of projects that highlight the diversity of contexts and scales in which our members work. Winning projects include new cultural buildings, sensitive restorations, and airport benches—demonstrating how great design can solve a wide array of problems.

This creativity is a reminder of the importance of the American Institute of Architect’s work in preventing limitations on architectural style through its support and advocacy for the Democracy in Design Act. Every February, AIA hosts a Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., where members and staff from nearly all the 200-plus chapters and components of the institute come together to lobby Congress on key issues. This year, the Democracy in Design Act was a central part of those lobbying efforts. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Dina Titus (Nevada), Mike Simpson (Idaho), and Buddy Carter (Georgia) in the House and Ben Ray Luján (New Mexico) and Chris Van Hollen (Maryland) in the Senate, would prevent “the development of an official architectural style for government buildings and encourage the government to avoid excessive uniformity in building design.”

Enshrining this principle in law has become necessary following an executive order from December 2020 that sought to limit new federal buildings to “classical and traditional” styles. Though that order was later reversed, AIA is seeking to prevent the government from dictating architectural style in the future, giving architects the freedom to design federal buildings that respond to local needs and respect local contexts, rather than leaving those decisions up to lawmakers in D.C.

Relatedly, AIA volunteers and staff also advocated for members of Congress to encourage the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council to change a longtime limitation on fees for architects working on federal projects. That cap has been the same—just 6%—since its inception in 1939. This is exactly the kind of change we want to fight for, alongside AIA and other chapters: expanded opportunities for architects, better pay, and a more level playing field across firm size and location.

While AIA New York continues to advocate for change and work closely with the government here at home, we are fortunate to be part of a powerful national and international network of fellow design professionals pushing for better outcomes for both architects and the society we seek to improve.


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