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Repositioning FAQs

Find the basic facts behind the AIA Repositioning Initiative and how you can get involved.

What is the “Repositioning the AIA” initiative?

The Repositioning initiative is a research and assessment effort that identified specific areas in the AIA that require real and meaningful change for the organization to remain relevant to members and the profession of architecture. The recommendations of the consultants that conducted the research and analysis focused on three core areas: AIA leadership structure, institutional framework and operational focus.

How is the Repositioning different from other organizational analysis the AIA conducted in the past?

We’re in a different world today. The AIA is a legacy institution, a wonderful institution. But since 1857, it has grown incrementally and perhaps in the absence of a visionary view. The Repositioning initiative is about what we need to do, collectively, for the entire body of architecture. This is for the profession.

What does real and meaningful change is one of the most important things we will undertake in the next several years. Architects and architecture are at threshold that demands increased awareness of our place in society and the way we present ourselves to the world.

Despite media predictions of a dire future, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects architect employment growth of 23.1 percent between 2010 and 2020. How will the AIA of 2020 remain relevant to these emerging professionals or to the world in general?

Who are we working with to take on this initiative?

To guide us, we engaged a world-class branding and communications partnership to conduct a comprehensive brand and communications research initiative.

Kotter International is the foremost expert in change management and will help the AIA implement its Repositioning plans. Kotter will be a visible presence at the 2013 AIA National Convention, AIA Board meetings, as well as the CACE Annual Meeting as observers.

Pentagram is a world renowned design firm that does work in graphic design, identity, architecture, interiors and product design. Pentagram’s clients include: Benetton,  Walt Disney Company, Princeton University, Yale School of Architecture, and the Library of Congress. We are working directly with Michael Bierut, a partner at Pentagram.

LaPlaca Cohen is a strategic marketing, advertising and design firm that helps organizations connect and communicate with their audiences. LaPlaca Cohen, whose partner in charge is Arthur Cohen, Chief Executive Officer and Strategy Director, helped the AIA through the initial research phase and has completed its work for the organization.

What is the goal of this initiative?

The outcome from this initiative will become the foundation for an ongoing communication strategy that will clarify and demonstrate what architects do and help build an understanding and appreciation of the role of an architect for the general public.

The goal is to determine how the Institute should reposition architecture, architects, and how to reflect current client and public perceptions.

This is not a logo redo. This is not a national advertising campaign.

What is the timeline for this initiative?

First, research activities that will reach deeply down and across our organization and membership.

We will also sought input from non-member architects, clients, and the general public so we can understand their opinions and perceptions --especially those who don’t understand how an architect or architecture fits into their life.

Repositioning Implementation

The consultants identified 10 areas for the AIA to reassess at the 2013 Grassroots Conference. The Presentation of the recommendations are found on the Repositioning landing page The following are important points related to implementing the recommendations.

  • Success of the repositioning will depend on each one of us taking ownership of the mandate for change.  Everyone must view our role as leaders differently, and commit to action that empowers our Components and members to embrace their role in helping remake the profession and AIA.
  • Repositioning is not about toolkits, how-to’s, or a “to do” list, but about changing the lens through which we view how we serve members and advance the profession.
  • At Grassroots, we heard from Mickey and Robert about several initiatives to better serve the member and advance architecture. Please think about what we can begin to do in our own professional careers, in our workplaces and in our Components to support repositioning AIA and our profession.
  • You can be confident that the implementation plan is backed by rigorous and irrefutable research. More than 31,000 points of input through surveys, visits with components, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups determined our response to the findings.
  • The Repositioning is also a work in progress. We will be developing, evaluating and adjusting our approach along the way, and we invite you to join us and work with your colleagues and Components across the AIA.
  • The findings from the repositioning are on target. We are moving in the right direction. The AIA is committed to change.
  • You can get a copy of the Repositioning Timeline and refresh your understanding of the repositioning initiative or provide feedback to us by visiting the AIA website: All of the Grassroots presentations and discussion are posted there.
  • If you have specific questions about the findings or the plan. I invite you to contact a member of the AIA Steering Committee (Mickey Jacob, Helene Dreiling, Jeff Potter, Ashley Clark, Deb Kunce, Mike Waldinger or Robert Ivy) or AIA staff, Kathy Compton, Vice President, Communications, Marketing & Convention ( or Phil Simon, Managing Director, Communications and Publishing (

How can members give their input?

Members can e-mail comments directly to or go to a special discussion forum created to gather input.

Starting July 22, members can attend quarterly virtual town hall meetings to ask questions, share opinions, and get the latest news.


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