I have returned from the Conference on Architecture in Orlando and I come back inspired and educated. There is something about conferences, like Grassroots and the annual convention, that make me feel both inspired and overwhelmed at the same time. I am inspired because I see what people are doing throughout the organization and the architectural profession. Then I become overwhelmed when I realize we need to be here and there doing this and that and that and that and…I take a deep breath and remind myself that we just need to start right where we are, locally.
Why did I get involved in AIA in the first place and why do I continue? It started as a way to make connections. I was a recent graduate living in a new city. Also, I worked for a general contractor, so I wanted to stay connected with architects and work toward licensure. Now I remain involved because it allows me to stay up to date on what is happening locally in the architecture community, as well as nationally and internationally; it gives me an opportunity to give back through mentoring and career days; it keeps me connected with my peers and others in the AEC industry; it allows me to be a voice and have a voice in our profession; it helps me keep up with practice management and educational topics; and quite simply, I think it’s the right thing to do.
Sure, AIA has some faults and needs to improve on communications of what the organization does nationally, and increase focus on business and practice issues, among other things. Locally, our AIABaltimore chapter is working hard to raise awareness of the value of architects and architecture to the public, put on relevant and educational sessions for members, and stay involved in our region. Some of the ways this is happening are:
- The Spring Lecture series “Migration” concluded last week with (forgive me) an out-of-this-world topic of Migration to Mars. The series was very timely, relevant, and really got people to think about how architecture has and will need to evolve.
- Several board and committee members met with Baltimore City Council recently to introduce and reintroduce ourselves and talk about the initiatives going on in the city and remind the council that we are here as a knowledge resource. Both Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and Councilman Ryan Dorsey were outspoken in the meeting, welcoming what we do. Initiatives we are following are the Complete Streets legislation being proposed by Councilman Dorsey, as well as final elements of the TransForm Zoning Code.l
- The Future Architect’s Resource Committee continues to expand its Adopt-a-School program, which pairs architectural firms with local schools in an effort to bring the knowledge of architecture to students who might not otherwise learn of the profession. If you would like for your firm to adopt a school, we would welcome you, and please get in touch!
- The Committee for Architecture Education has been working to keep the conversation of school construction focused on the value of good design and not just a focus on square foot cost. Our members will be presenting recommendations to Maryland Public School Facility Planners,on May 8.
The common theme to the Conference on Architecture this year was our social responsibility to this world. We have an impact on people’s lives and we need to make it a good impact. Yes, you can make an impact individually, but I also know that through AIA you can connect with others who feel the same and amplify your voice and impact in this world.
Sharon Day, AIA