January 13, 2017

On 01.05.17, AIANY hosted its first-ever “Architects Assembled: AIA New York Community Forum.” The town hall-style event invited members and architects to the Center for Architecture to share their views on the AIA and their hopes for our chapter. I was pleased to co-host the event with 2017 AIA New York President, David Piscuskas, FAIA and was honored to share the evening with the close to 100 members of our extended community who contributed their responses and thoughtful suggestions.

The most encouraging, overarching sentiment I felt during the evening was the commitment of our members to be a part of AIANY’s efforts to be a leader, both in the profession and in our community here in New York. The strength of that leadership relies on our ability to create dialogue and reach out to a broad range of stakeholders. Listening throughout the evening, it was clear that despite many successful local projects and far-reaching initiatives, there is still much work to do. If AIANY is to remain a leader, we must continue to connect constituents with our resources, expand our initiatives, and remain true to our core values.

Several issues of focus were raised, which we look forward to working on:

Professional Life
A good portion of the discussion revolved around issues in the profession, especially the difficulties of work/life balance that many architects face. It was noted that for women, the challenges of working in an architecture firm are especially difficult, with many in attendance drawing from their personal experiences. Architects working in both the public and private sector also offered their varying accounts of how they experience work/life balance in the field. In addition, we also heard from attendees on ways to combat some of the negative perceptions of architects and how best to integrate our work with the communities around us.

Students and Emerging Professionals
I was happy to hear from several younger members, emerging professionals, and students during the evening. Many spoke about how to further incorporate their voices and unique perspectives into the profession. Younger architects spoke firsthand about how the profession is rapidly changing and the need to engage those traditionally outside the profession. We also discussed ideas to better connect the AIA and the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), while creating more forums for students to be heard.

K-12 Educational Initiatives
It was promising to hear that so many attendees are interested in sharing architecture with children and adolescents. Several in attendance shared ideas for incorporating architecture and design into the curriculum of K-12 schools. We talked about the Center for Architecture’s robust K-12 programs. Last year, these education programs reached over 6,000 students, teachers and families, with sessions at the Center for Architecture and at schools and community sites throughout the city. For those who expressed an interest in volunteering and getting involved, you can reach out to our Center for Architecture staff at info@cfafoundation.org.

Around issues of advocacy, several attendees reflected on where AIANY’s efforts could be most impactful. Citing New York’s 2017 mayoral election, the incoming Trump administration, and the impacts of climate change, attendees considered the balance between local, national, and global issues AIANY should pursue. AIANY’s past initiatives like the Platform for the Future of the City and the Chapter’s post-Sandy work served as examples of local actions attendees were inspired by. Looking ahead, attendees trusted that sustainability and climate change were issues that our Chapter can continue to focus on. In addition, infrastructure was noted as an important issue architects and AIANY should engage with, both at the local level and in regards to the President-elect’s stated ambitions. With regards to the incoming Trump Administration,

AIANY is working on a statement of values informed by five member committees: the Committee on the Environment, Transportation and Infrastructure, Housing, Architecture for Education, and Health Facilities. The statement will be available on the Policy section of the AIANY website.

2018 AIA National Convention in NYC
Finally, several attendees asked about the 2018 AIA National Convention here in New York and the role AIANY and our members would have. AIANY is collaborating with our national offices, other local chapters and other cultural organizations to plan and gather ideas to create a fantastic cultural program when we host the estimated 25,000 attendees for the national convention.

We are committed to hearing from our members. Please continue to share your suggestions via our member voices account at membervoices@aiany.org.




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