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January 27, 2009
by Sherida Paulsen FAIA

Government
Our 150th anniversary exhibition, curated by Diane Lewis, AIA, examined the thesis that the formation of the AIA was tied to the realization that we needed a strong professional organization to partner with strong governmental institutions to demand better design to better people’s everyday lives. The design competition for Central Park was a part of that thinking. We are fortunate in NY to have had civic leadership that created the Art Commission, now the Public Design Commission, the City Planning Commission, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, all with a mandate to provide our city with the finest environments for our varied population.

AIANY’s board and committees seek to continue to provide platforms for the profession and the city agencies to communicate and exchange ideas, as we have in the past years, especially with the Department of Buildings, the Department of Design and Construction, and the Department of Health, to name a few.

Community
As architects, we need to stay on top of the latest trends in design, not only in architecture, but graphics, landscape, and engineering, and the Center for Architecture is a tremendous resource for our members and allied professions. In addition, an effort to broaden cooperation and partnership with the Architectural League of New York, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Van Alen Institute, and the Design Trust for Public Spaces will allow for greater access to the broadest thinking about the architectural world today.

The Center is also a great place to provide non-architects with information to help them make choices about their own neighborhoods. Our exhibitions, library, and Public Information Exchange act as doorways to ideas for the many communities throughout our city, and we will focus board and staff attention on making all more accessible.

Schools
Our schools need to be modern environments for learning, and it is important that we invest in the buildings and infrastructure that allow students to achieve the most that they can; but we also believe that that education should include a strong curriculum in the arts, and that integrating architecture is essential to learning about history, technology, mathematics, and art.

Our Center for Architecture Foundation’s programs in Learning by Design:NY and Family Days@theCenter can be a unique introduction to the built environment and how it gets constructed, and we look forward to supporting the Foundation in its programs.

2009 Outlook
The gloomy forecast for our profession and allied industries requires the AIANY board of directors to constantly monitor our offerings. This year, the executive committee will rise to the challenges in the following ways:

First, our members: as AIANY Executive Director Rick Bill, FAIA, mentioned, we will be starting programs here at the Center for architects and interns who are looking for employment. In addition, our member services committee, led by AIANY Secretary Abby Suckle, FAIA, LEED AP, will announce a variety of programs this year designed to increase those eligible for licensure, and to support all of us in our efforts to maintain our presence in the profession (Editor’s Note: See Architecture Community Comes Together: Advocacy, Volunteerism, Expertise to read about the Not Business As Usual forums).

Second, our board and committee chairs will undergo a careful update of our long-range plan, and that effort will be led by First Vice President / President-elect Anthony Schirripa, AIA, IIDA. Our long-range plan and subsequent business plan were last reviewed and implemented five years ago, and the Chapter and the Center have grown up a bit; the need to take stock, and look at the relationship to the national AIA’s strategic plan is critical to our organization’s efficient use of your membership investment.

Our budgets will be monitored closely this year to ensure that your member dues are spent wisely and well. This activity will be led by Treasurer Kenneth Ricci, FAIA, and I have asked that we update our budgets on shorter time frames so that we can respond quickly to any drastic changes in our economic outlook.

The committees, the lifeblood of the chapter, will continue to meet, present panels, and organize exhibitions around specific building types and interest areas. The three vice presidents, Margaret Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, for Public Outreach, Illya Azaroff, AIA, for Design Excellence, and Joseph Aliota, AIA, LEED AP, for Professional Development, will provide the board with updates and leadership for each of these interest areas.

These officers are the leaders of the Chapter, develop our policy positions for outside comment, and deserve a round of applause for their commitment to the profession.

The other members of the Board of Directors provide connections to the non-AIA world; they represent the profession to academia, related professions, the state board and the general public, and are the people that bring the Center for Architecture to a world outside the profession, and that world back to the AIA. They will be bringing new opportunities to increase our audiences through these connections.

And last but not least, the AIANY and Center for Architecture staff members, led by Rick Bell and Managing Director Cynthia Kracauer, AIA, LEED AP, are always on the lookout for new ideas and programs that can be discussed at the Center. Rick’s initiatives to keep the AIANY Chapter on the national and global stages are done with energy and creativity, and deserve our thanks; Cynthia’s intelligence and managerial expertise are put to the test everyday in running the Center, from the geo-thermal system to the allocation of spaces for events, as she supervises the best staff of people dedicated to bringing architecture to life in as many ways as possible.

Conclusion
We architects have a special responsibility to the public and patrons that use and commission our work. This Center is our means of communication to those groups, and it is our work this year to expand our partnerships to reach greater audiences to the benefit of all. To serve you as President of the AIANY Chapter is a huge responsibility, and one that I intend to rise to — the need to elevate architecture by increasing design literacy will lead to inspirational architecture for all.

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