August 7, 2007
by: Marc Clemenceau Bailly AIA and Matt Bremer AIA
New Practices NY

Courtesy Center for Architecture

Hoping for creative independence, new practices often face a dilemma. They want to reinvent the wheel too quickly when they might do better to understand and use wheels already in motion. Yet young practitioners can be equipped to produce compelling, unexpected models out of those existing wheel prototypes, and end up ‘rocking the boat’ of the establishment.

In the last issue of e-Oculus, Mark Strauss, FAIA, AICP, Immediate Past President of AIANY, and founding father/self-professed New Practices “Dad,” wrote about the accomplishments of the nascent New Practices Roundtable. (See “New Practices Grows Up,” 07.24.07). The original grassroots group provided a resource and forum for young upstart firms to swap ideas and learn survival skills for professional practices. It went on to promote six new practices from each side of the Atlantic — New Practices New York, and New Practices London (an exhibition, New Practices London, will open at the Center for Architecture August 23). Now called the New Practices Committee, AIANY’s youngest committee, we’ve turned focus on a simple, and perhaps more fundamental question, “What’s new?” in the practice of architecture in NYC, regionally, and globally.

The New Practices Committee, made up of a group of young professionals — most with their own emerging practices — meets bimonthly on issues relevant to a young start-up. Mired by the realities of rainmaking, bill paying, office management, and often building a career on small renovations and competition entries, young practices sometimes find they are expending more creative energy on their bookkeeping than creative architecture. The committee discussions serve to distill common problems and acts, as we often joke, as “group therapy” for young architects.

The 2006 New Practices Showcase proved a visible testament to emerging firms — highlighting six practices that perhaps differed more among themselves than they had in common. It showed that what makes a successful new practice today has little to do with type, quantity, or stylistic appearance of built or speculative projects. The New Practices Committee, Roundtable events, and Showcase will be most successful if they, like the new practitioners and practices, continue to be evolutionary, organic, and respond nimbly to new issues and opportunities in the marketplace, technology, and contemporary culture.

So join the New Practices Committee if you’re involved or even just interested in starting a new practice, or simply interested in the question: “What IS a new practice today, really?” Because the committee and the Chapter realize that many new practitioners cannot afford AIA membership dues, and that the evolving landscape of practice includes many engaged in architecture in non-traditional ways, the New Practices Committee is one of only two AIANY committees open to non-AIA members (the other being the Emerging NY Architects/ENYA committee). We look forward to seeing new faces at our next committee meeting in August. Contact Amanda Jones for more information.

Both authors want to thank the founders and advisors for their support of the New Practices program, and for giving our firms exposure and opportunities since proven invaluable: Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, 2007 AIANY President, Mark Strauss, FAIA, AICP, Immediate Past President AIANY, Rick Bell, FAIA, AIANY Executive Director, the AIANY staff, Diana Darling and William Menking of The Architect’s Newspaper, Häfele America, and all our program sponsors and participants.

Marc Clemenceau Bailly, AIA, and Matt Bremer, AIA, co-chair the New Practices Committee.


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