December 16, 2020
by AIA New York
Ken Lewis Commercial Observer Yvonne Albinowski 202 white 1500
AIANY 2021 President Kenneth Lewis, AIA. Photo: Yvonne Albinowski.

On Tuesday, December 8, AIA New York welcomed its 2021 Board of Directors at the annual Board Inaugural, which was presented virtually for the first time. Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA, and Immediate Past President Kim Yao, AIA, began the evening by celebrating the chapter’s ability to quickly adapt to the unprecedented challenges of 2020, remaining an essential platform for the NYC architecture community.

Following the passing of the virtual gavel, incoming 2021 President Kenneth A. Lewis, AIA, discussed his presidential theme, “REFLECTION/INFLECTION.” While it is the nature of architects to look forward and design solutions, Lewis’s theme invites members to contemplate how we arrived at this present time—to understand our patterns of inspiration and creativity as well as our blind spots and complicities. 

2021 PRESIDENTIAL THEME: REFLECTION/INFLECTION

Lewis began his speech by noting that 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11. This devastating event forced the architecture community to envision new ways of looking at the city, ultimately allowing NYC to rebuild and come back stronger than ever.

“Here we are again at a cataclysmic moment,” said Lewis, referring to the challenges of 2020—from extreme weather events like firestorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes, to the devastating pandemic and related economic disaster, and the renewed calls for racial justice following the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans. Faced with these difficult circumstances, Lewis invited the AIANY community to once again use this trying moment as an opportunity for reflection and inflection. This is a time, said Lewis, for “looking back and seeing where we’ve come from, and pausing for a second to see what we’ve done and what we can do—for inflecting and moving forward.”

As our profession—and our society at large—prepares to move forward, Lewis’s tenure as 2021 President will address a number of pressing issues. Lewis discussed the upcoming municipal elections, which are set to transform local city governance, and which will become a focal point of the chapter’s advocacy agenda. The chapter will also continue to work on issues related to climate change and sustainability by supporting the implementation of Local Law 97, an ambitious climate legislation that requires existing buildings to significantly reduce their emissions.

The chapter will also continue to support its members through this economic downturn, focusing on providing resources for emerging professionals and firms, and acting as platform for community through its small and medium firm roundtables.

In 2021, AIANY will also focus on systemic racism. Using its criminal justice facilities statement, published in October, as a framework, the chapter will develop programming through its re-envisioned Architecture for Justice Committee. AIANY will also address unconscious bias in the profession while further cementing its relationships with organizations like nycobaNOMA and Arquitectos. Finally, Lewis reasserted the chapter’s commitment to doubling the number of Black architects in the profession by 2030.

CHAPTER RECOGNITION: AIANY VICE PRESIDENTIAL CITATIONS 

The inaugural also served as an opportunity to recognize members and projects of the architecture and design community for their contributions or impact. AIANY’s Vice Presidents recognized the Chapter’s program committees or their initiatives with Vice Presidential Citations for contributions in each of our mission areas: design excellence, public outreach, and professional development.

AIANY Citation for Design Excellence: Recipe for a Room: A Design Contest, created by the AIANY Interiors Committee
AIANY Citation for Public Outreach: The BQE in Context, a project of the AIANY Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
AIANY Citation for Professional Development: AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee for their timely response to nation-wide calls for racial justice

Congratulations to our incoming leadership and a heartfelt thank you to board members who will be rotating off at the end of 2020.

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