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September 28, 2011
by admin

Atlantic City hosted the first-ever, metro-area, tri-state convention of the AIA, bringing together architects from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. To many it seemed a strange choice of venue for a late September convocation — poorly served by public transportation, lacking in urban design and architectural imagination, a sad place on the edge of a great sand beach.

But what Atlantic City lacked in design sensitivity, it made up in chutzpah, conviviality, risk-taking, and posing the eternal questions: Would anyone go? Would the suspense about the tri-state design awards conferred by the three state presidents keep those sitting on the edge of their chairs? Would the fog lift? Could you place bets on the Architectural Billing Index?

And yes, people went — more than 150 from New York and many from its largest AIA Chapter. Spotted in the crowd were bold-face names, like newly-appointed Design Trust Executive Director Susan Chin, FAIA; AIA National 2013 President Mickey Jacob, FAIA; AIANY President Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, AIA, LEED AP; AIANY Past-Presidents Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, LEED AP, and Tony Schirripa, FAIA, IIDA; AIANYS Past-Presidents Terrence O’Neal, AIA, LEED AP, Burt Roslyn, FAIA, Orlando Maione, AIA, and Russ Davidson, AIA; Claire Weisz, AIA, an AIANYS board member representing Manhattan, and Venesa Alicea, AIA, LEED AP, also a board member representing Associate Members; Ennead Managing Partner Joseph Fleischer, FAIA; CACE Executive Committee Director Valerie Brown, from the Westchester-Hudson Valley Chapter; Adam Melis from AIA National Government Affairs; and Tom Schell from Naylor, publisher of OCULUS. But as Alicea noted, very few of the convention attendees were Associates — perhaps a function of the price point, location, or mid-week timing.

There was suspense — as the award program was revealed just before jury chair Larry Chan took to the lectern. Some sat, others gravitated towards the buffet. And the ABI was up — go figure.

Keynote speakers included Topaz Medallion winner Stanley Tigerman, FAIA, and our own Richard Meier, AIA, who will also be feted at this year’s Heritage Ball on 10.27.2011. A high point of Meier’s talk was his reminiscing about growing up in New Jersey, along with Jordan Gruzen, FAIA, and together heading down to the Steel Pier-era shore.

In his spirited “pecha meier” talk, the Pritzker-winning architect showed Esto-wonderful images from a score of projects, including the Neugebauer House in Naples, FL; the Rachofsky House in Dallas; the Perry Street Towers with 165 Charles Street; the Burda Collection building in Baden-Baden, and the Arp Museum in Rolandseck, Germany; the courthouse in San Jose with its dome on grade; the Weill Hall for Life Sciences labs at Cornell; the façades of two towers for Mitsubishi in Tokyo; the 8-star hotel in Tianjin; City Green Court in Prague; a proposed residential tower at the corner of Rothschild and Allenby in Tel Aviv; the Jubillee Church in Rome; and, last — though certainly not least — the Getty Center in Los Angeles, where “landscape is very much part of the experience of being there.”

Seminar panels on sustainability, codes, accessibility, and lighting animated late-night discussions at bars themed around other parts of the country, including the mildly Wild West.

AIA New York State elections — all uncontested — were held. Succeeding AIANYS President David Businelli, AIA, from Staten Island, is Buffalo’s Kelly Hayes McAlonie, AIA, confirmed as 2012 President, and joined by AIANY member Eric Goshow, AIA, LEED AP, as President-Elect. Tim Boyland, AIA, was elected as Vice President for Government Advocacy.

Much discussion took place at the AIANYS Board Meeting and elsewhere about the NYC Lobby Commission’s efforts to label and register all architects as lobbyists if they present at Community Boards or regulatory commissions (see link to AIANY Chapter testimony).

The high point for many was meeting people from (relatively) afar, or at least from outside of one’s daily or conventional experience. Perhaps that is where the Atlantic City metaphor seems most positive — bringing people together to look out at foggy skies, trying to make sense of where architecture and architects are going when the chips are down.

Note: To read more about the election results and award winners, see Names in the News.

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