by Rick Bell FAIA Executive Director AIA New York
The Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference of the American Institute of Architects brought more than 800 architects to Capitol Hill last week. Our Rebuild & Renew message called on Congress to prioritize economic recovery funding for projects that will stimulate the design and construction industries, creating jobs and assuring design quality. The AIA’s plan will enable architects and builders to create safe and modern infrastructure, energy efficient buildings, and sustainable communities.
The AIA New York delegation was led by Chapter President Sherida Paulsen, FAIA, and included President-elect Tony Schirripa, AIA, IIDA, Vice President for Public Outreach Margaret Castillo, AIA, LEED AP, Public Director Margery Perlmutter, AIA, Associate Director Venesa Alicea, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, along with Policy Coordinator Laura Manville.
AIA National issued briefs that we discussed with NYC legislators calling for the promotion of healthy and safe communities through transportation funding, the elimination of federal fee retainage rules, and health care reform.
We also had conversations on the Hill about the impact of the economic crisis on the architecture and design community in New York, and how project funding and credit is needed to keep offices going. The Chapter’s Not Business as Usual advocacy efforts resonated with members of Congress and others present. Of particular interest to many was the idea of energy surveys of public buildings as a generator of work, and the expansion of AmeriCorps to include a DesignCorps component.
The VIA AIA theme of vision/influence/action was organized and led by AIA National President-elect George Miller, FAIA, a past-president of AIA New York.
A highlight was the Best Practice session spotlighting the AIA New York Chapter’s New Housing New York Legacy Project. Many affordable housing enthusiasts and housing specialists came to hear the presentation by Holly Leicht, Deputy Commissioner for Development of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development, and Mark Ginsberg, FAIA, LEED AP, the Chapter’s AIA150 Champion.
With a spirit of change in DC, and a sense of urgency imparted by global economic conditions, this Grassroots conference was considered by those attending as the most important lobbying effort by the AIA in history.