May 15, 2007
by Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Deep in the heart of Texas…
My personal highlight was escaping late on Saturday night to Austin, where I was able to see, again, the Charles Moore Center for the Study of Place, and, the next morning, the new storefront Center for Architecture of AIA Austin. If what happens in San Antonio, stays in San Antonio (at least according to Mark Strauss, FAIA, AICP), what happens in Austin, thanks to Moore Center director Kevin Keim, and AIA Austin Executive Director Sally Ann Fly, should be broadcast to all ends of the U.S. The house where Charles Moore lived his last years is phenomenal, and Kevin keeps his spirit alive. The newest Center for Architecture — Austin’s opened just a few months ago — was a former gasoline station, and it keeps just the right balance between designed sophistication, and greasy grit.

I’m ready to move to Austin (and San Antonio), and have my Molly Ivins’ books packed in the Oculus tote bag, which was the hit of the show.

– Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY Executive Director

AIA New York State Reception, Aztec on the River, San Antonio
A majestic movie palace was the site of this year’s AIANYS reception, bringing San Antonio’s history into focus for visitors from NY. The ornate styling of the theater was a reminder of the legacy that 1920s deco extremes left on San Antonio. A multi-media presentation with staged special effects — thunder, fog, and a levitating serpent — enacted portions of Meso-American history for guests. At the reception AIANYS President Russell Davidson, AIA, greeted familiar faces from Chapters around the state. The gathering celebrated the 10 New York firms whose projects received 2007 AIA Honor Awards. Also acknowledged were the state’s nine new Fellows, AIA Topaz Medallion recipient Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, and Associate AIA Member of the Year Finalist Jeremy Edmunds, PE, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP.

– Carolyn Sponza, AIA, AIANY Chapter Vice President of Professional Development

And one recollection from slightly off the convention trail
I happened to be walking by the Westin Hotel when an Airstream trailer parked in a lot across the street caught my attention. Called aloft a-go-go, the module is the latest PR tool developed by W Hotels to bring the design of a new line of inexpensive boutique hotels to the public. Besides literally taking their new show on the road, parent company Starwood has also launched aloft in cyberspace for design feedback on the Second Life website. NY-based The Rockwell Group is behind design of the new chain, proving you can bring a little New York to San Antonio. Aloft a-go-go captain Corbin Kappler also assured me that the PR-vehicle will be making an appearance on Union Square sometime in the next few weeks.

– Carolyn Sponza, AIA, AIANY Chapter Vice President of Professional Development

Overall a good time
My general observations were positive. It was the most walkable convention I’ve attended (others included Philadelphia, San Diego, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles). Locals were friendly. Riverwalk was a sweet urban amenity. The meta-theme — green — is always relevant. I was thrilled to see the AIANY “New Practices New York” exhibition. Our chapter had real presence this year, and I believe the highest number of associates attended, too. I really liked the beer factory-turned-art-museum, and the red ochre public library rocked (especially the Chihuly glass sculpture in the atrium).

– Jeremy Edmunds, PE, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, AIANY Director of Programs and Strategic Planning

But not flawless
One of the major flaws in the convention catalogue was not listing the speakers under the description, as is commonly done at most conferences. I encourage folks to tell the AIA that speakers should be listed with the panel information. I complained and was not given much encouragement. If enough people speak up maybe they will change it next year.

– Concerned attendee

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