January 8, 2008
by Daniel Fox

I am extremely honored to serve as AIANY President at a time when its influence is at an all time high thanks to the phenomenal success of our Center for Architecture. I hope to bring the same level of energy to the Chapter that I brought to our Housing Committee programs. The 2008 Board of Directors is filled with leaders experienced in serving on our committees, teaching, and developing programs and exhibitions. Our committees are energized as never before. Their collective vision truly reflects the AIA as a member-driven organization.

The 2008 theme — Architecture: Designs for Living — is envisioned as a “big tent,” to include the broad range of building typologies that shape our communities and urban design that defines our city. The theme incorporates and expands on themes by my immediate predecessors: Bringing Cultures Together (Susan Chin, FAIA, 2005); Architecture as Public Policy (Mark Strauss, FAIA, AICP, 2006); and Architecture Inside/Out (Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, 2007). As Joan’s Inside/Out focuses on the interiors of buildings, Designs for Living continues the progression from buildings to community. It is meant to appeal to the widest audience of architects, industry, and friends of architecture. The theme is also a response to Mayor Bloomberg’s initiatives for PlaNYC 2030, which anticipates the need for sustainable growth to accommodate one million new residents.

An important goal is to enhance the Center as both a local and international forum for architecture and urban design. Increasingly we are part of an emerging global community, from our own city to emerging regions around the world. As architects, we belong to an extended family represented by the AIA with over 80,000 members — from urban chapters like our own to many others like the AIA Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where I grew up, but each committed to a vision of design excellence for a sustainable future. The 2008 theme and programs support building partnerships to achieve that vision.

A monthly Public Lecture Series at the Center will showcase current design directions that will form the “building blocks” for new growth envisioned by PlaNYC. Our 12 committees that focus on design will present the series, starting with Educational Facilities on January 22.

A Global Dialogues series forms partnerships that will place the AIA in support of emerging initiatives that will affect future growth. A United Nations Conference on Sustainable Urban Design that will share PlaNYC initiatives with global cities is planned during Earth Week in April. In September, a Northeast Megaregion Conference with the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, the Regional Plan Association, and AIA chapters from Boston to Washington, DC, will explore the role of new development linked to high-speed transit. Programs with the Swiss Consulate and NYU’s Maison Française will share design directions in a larger cultural context in the fall. And presentations on global cities and projects by AIANY architects working abroad will continue throughout the year.

Nine major exhibitions at the Center, beginning with Building China: Five Projects, Five Stories opening February 26, include showcases of sustainable design, design awards, emerging practices, architectural schools, and conclude with the Designs for Living theme exhibition. Our Design Awards Program will be enriched by the addition of Biennial Building Type Awards co-sponsored with the Boston Society of Architects. The goal is to promote design excellence and innovation in schools, sustainable and urban design, housing, and other facilities that form the fabric of our communities.

We wish to thank the many sponsors of the 2008 Inaugural Theme Fund. We could never achieve the quality of advocacy and design excellence at the Center without your generous support.

I look forward to seeing each of you at upcoming Center events, the Design Awards Luncheon on April 30, and the Heritage Ball on October 30. Please contact me at any time at president2008@aiany.org, as I welcome your comments.

James McCullar, FAIA, is the 2008 AIANY President.


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