CivicLAB 2017


Fra Carnavale, The Ideal City, 1480-1484, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

CivicLAB 2017 Resources

Martina Reilly, AIA, and Rudolph Schaar, AIA – Complete Streets and Resiliency

Tom Liebel, FAIA – CHAP and Historic Preservation in Baltimore

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA – Why Preservation?

Civiclab group photo

About CivicLAB

In 2012, AIABaltimore introduced CivicLAB (Leadership. Architecture. Baltimore), a series of participatory educational sessions that will help to mobilize AIA members interested in taking on or expanding leadership roles in their communities, their professional lives, and in academia.

As a result of participation in CivicLAB, AIA members will be prepared to help guide and implement public policies and community initiatives that ensure healthy, livable, sustainable, and high-quality built environments for future generations.  These sessions will introduce participating architects, interns, and allied professionals to opportunities for civic engagement across the full spectrum of their careers.  We invite the chapter’s emerging leaders to expand their role in critical issues facing our communities and the profession, and to communicate and demonstrate how architecture makes a difference.

The goals of CivicLAB are to promote opportunities and skills for civic engagement by architects and to build a network of leaders.  The program will explore core topics that affect our profession and the region within which we practice.  During monthly sessions, and hands-on research and fieldwork, participants will learn about approaches to advocacy from proven leaders who have guided communities to achieve results at local and national scales.

Participants will learn tools of engagement and the impact of architects in multiple areas of advocacy.  Group activities, assignments, research, and fieldwork will illustrate how we can make a positive change within our community.  AIABaltimore’s membership includes leaders who have been successful at leading initiatives through the AIA and other institutions, and who are valuable assets to CivicLAB.

The Importance of Training New Architect Leaders

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Thanks to the increasing awareness of environmental and social justice concerns, as well as a general realization that the built environment, indeed, plays a huge role in the well-being of both the planet and its people, architects are presented with a huge opportunity and responsibility.   As professionals who are trained to coordinate many disciplines and solve problems holistically through the integrated approach of design, we are uniquely positioned to address these concerns.  But even for us generalists, truly integrated design requires that we move out of our comfort zone and into areas which are adjacent and outside our fields of training.  Learning to engage community and achieve acceptance; to influence legislators and the regulatory framework; how our designs fit into the bigger picture; how to reform established methods and procedures for better outcomes —  these skills are not only essential for progress in our society, but are increasingly necessary for personal advancement in our industry.

AIABaltimore has stepped up to this challenge and offers a program that teaches these very skills to our young, promising emerging professionals.  This new and unique program, which is partly funded by a grant from The American Institute of Architects, relies upon local business leaders to nominate and sponsor promising young architects.  AIABaltimore is one of the leaders in the nation in its level of committee activism and involvement in a wide range of topics relevant to the profession.  We can only remain successful if we foster and support new talent. Please think of the talent you have discovered and nominate one or several people.  Please support them with your encouragement and tuition.  All sessions involve several architect leaders and are interactive.

Selection Process

Participation in CivicLAB will be limited to a maximum of 20 participants recruited from the AIABaltimore emerging professional demographic within the chapter (Associate AIA or AIA members within their first 10 years of licensure). Participants will be selected on the basis of a nomination and statement of interest. Criteria for acceptance to the program will include prior involvement in community organizations or expressed interest in increasing one’s involvement. Each participant should be sponsored by a member firm, as evidenced by a nomination statement; however, scholarships will be available for members who are unemployed or employed by non-member firms. Applicants may self-nominate.

Tuition and Funding

Tuition is $100 per participant and covers food, administrative fees, and other miscellaneous meeting expenses. Scholarships are available to participants for whom funding is a challenge. Tuition is due after applicants are selected for the program and prior to the first session in early March.

Time Commitment

Four monthly sessions will be held on weekday evenings from March-June from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at AIABaltimore. Applicants are expected to attend all sessions. Additional outside preparation time for assignments, research, and fieldwork will be required to complement the monthly sessions, and to broaden and enrich participants’ experiences with interactive community engagement. A light supper will be provided at monthly sessions.

Session Dates
March 1
April 18
May 17
June 21

Participants will also be encouraged to to participate in the AIA Maryland Legislative Luncheon with Maryland General Assembly on February 9 in Annapolis, and the AIA National Legislative Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill with the Maryland AIA delegation on March 8 in Washington, DC.

Additional meetings and opportunities may be suggested after the program begins.


Completed applications and nominations are due by Wednesday, February 1. Each applicant will be notified of selection results by February 3.

How to Apply

Step 1: Complete the application form.

Step 2: Have your firm principal, employer, or another reference fill out the nomination form. Self-employed or unemployed applicants may self-nominate. Nomination forms must be received by February 8.

Step 3: Pay the $100 fee online.

Or send a check to:

11 1/2 West Chase Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Scholarships are available to cover the cost of tuition. Contact Zevi Thomas at or 410.625.2585 x104 for more information.

Further Information

If you have questions, please contact Zevi Thomas at or 410.625.2585 x104

View CivicLAB 2016 Program

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