by Rick Bell FAIA Executive Director AIA New York
The annual meeting of leaders of the dozen largest AIA Chapters took place last week in Boston, as the American League Championship Series, the Head of the Charles Regatta, the Fort Point Open Studio weekend, and various mayoral races were unfurling.
BSA Space, the new architecture and design center of the Boston Society of Architects, was the venue. Designed by Meejin Yoon, AIA, and Eric Höweler, AIA, of Höweler & Yoon, the location features two levels of gallery space linked by an inviting Celtic green stair – featured in AIANY’s “FitNation” exhibition. An absorbing exhibition about Boston City Hall complemented the Canstruction installation there.
AIA New York President Jill N. Lerner, FAIA, and President-elect Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, participated, along with colleagues from Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. The primary agenda item was the large chapter response to the AIA’s repositioning initiative. Ideas on communications, board composition, emerging architects, component level of service, membership value, public engagement, and a host of other issues were exchanged. Sponsors present included Steve Ritchie and Laura Marlow from Reed Construction Information, and Ann Casso from AIA Trust. AIA National was represented by President-elect Helene Dreiling, FAIA, and senior staff.
While in town, chapter presidents, presidents-elect, and staff were also able to experience the BSA’s wonderful architectural boat tour on the Henry Longfellow, leaving from a dock on Atlantic Wharf adjacent to the BSA Congress Avenue headquarters. With guest docent Vivien Li, a former public director of AIA National who is president of the Boston Harbor Association, a vigorous discussion of resilience, waterfront development, and benefits of water quality improvements ensued. Those present were also treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s recent addition to the Elizabeth Stewart Gardner Museum.
But the primary purpose of the get-together, to position repositioning, was purposeful and future-oriented, thanks to the organizational abilities of BSA leadership, including President Mike Davis, FAIA, President-elect Emily Grandstaff-Rice, AIA, Executive Director Eric White, and Managing Director Ann Fienman.
Despite the plethora of Red Sox caps in town, the city seemed most hospitable, design-conscious, bike-friendly, and livable.
The World Series starts, not for nothing, at Fenway tonight, but for this Yankee fan at least, the Fall Classic seems anti-climactic to the Big Sibs series.