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October 16, 2007
by Daniel Fox

Event: 2007 AIANYS Convention: The Past As Prologue
Location: Grand Hyatt, NYC, 10.04-06.07
Speakers: Collaborative Design and Insurability: Frank Musica, Esq. & David Blue — Victor O. Schinnerer & Company; Design Professionals and Public Policy: Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP — 2007 AIANY President & Principal, Perkins + Will; Mark Strauss, FAIA, AICP — AIANY Immediate Past President & Principal, FXFowle Architects; Sherida Paulsen, FAIA — AIANY Vice President of Public Outreach & Principal, Pasanella+Klein Stolzman+Berg Architects
Organizers: AIA New York State

It seems that architects have started to lose control over their profession. Or perhaps the profession no longer belongs to just architects. Client demands and expectations have increased, building standards have risen, the field is more specialized, and new technologies make it permanent. General contractors, subcontractors, consultants, and various other specialists are completing an increasing amount of the design and management work, leaving architects more like subcontractors than leads.

What can architects do to regain the role they traditionally held? Collaborative Design and Insurability, a panel discussion led by Frank Musica, Esq., and David Blue of Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, spoke to both sides, covering architects’ increasing roles as collaborators professionally and with clients. New technology, such as B.I.M. (Building Information Modeling), may shift the practice away from traditional drawing methods, but it saves production time better spent preparing more thorough contracts. This matters because contracts need to be adjusted with the changing times — for instance, the sustainability movement.

As green design becomes less of a commodity and more of a standard, having a written statement understood by client and architect can help avoid potential lawsuits and reduce professional liability costs. Insurance companies adjust rates for firms practicing green design on a case-by-case basis, yet liability insurance costs will soon be adjusted profession-wide.

AIANY is taking steps to help architects reposition themselves legislatively. Design Professionals and Public Policy, led by Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, 2007 AIANY president, Mark Strauss, FAIA, AICP, AIANY immediate past president, and Sherida Paulsen, FAIA, AIANY vice president of public outreach, discussed the Chapter’s policy committee. Intended for members to become more proactive in legislative issues, the committee deals with the ways architects practice and the liability involved in practicing. When it launches, the new AIANY website will also provide an interactive interface for architects to discuss policy issues, and the Public Information Exchange (PIE) will expand its capabilities to include a blog for such discussions.

As one of the attendees stated, we are “creative problem solvers” and must reach out to the public. Architects’ ideas are only relevant if they are shared.


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