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AIA Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund encourages AIA Components, Chapters, and Knowledge Communities to create or share innovative programs that support the recommendations from the Repositioning and support the profession. As the AIA embraces the important findings of the Repositioning, we want to encourage new ways for AIA to serve as a visionary member organization. The purpose of the Innovation Fund is to empower AIA Components, Chapters, and Knowledge Communities to model what it means to be a visionary member organization.

Taken together, the 2013 grant recipients represent a diverse set of approaches—from bolstering the Intern Development Program (IDP) to bilingual outreach for area students to a mobile design and education center (in a refurbished Airstream, no less). Each recipient represents an innovative solution to a specific challenge, but not necessarily a localized challenge. In every case, AIA Repositioning Ambassadors, who juried the grant process, recognized initiatives that could be replicated by other AIA Components, Chapters, or Knowledge Communities.

“We can’t do business ‘as usual’ anymore,” says Jeffrey Ferweda, AIA, a Repositioning Ambassador who reviewed each of the AIA Knowledge Community grant applications. “All of the projects we looked at had merit,” he says, “but when it came to the final decision, the more innovative ones stood out, as did the ones that could be replicated and the benefit could be more widespread.”

“We set a high bar for what innovation means,” said Repositioning Ambassador Nicolette Feldser, Assoc. AIA, “and we felt that the fresh programs we selected showed the kind of innovation that the AIA should be encouraging as we move forward.” For AIA Components and Chapters, Feldser and 34 other ambassadors convened on August 1, 2013 in Atlanta to review 65 Component and Chapter grant applications across five categories: K-12, Public Engagement, Component Relationships, Member Experience, and Emerging Professionals.

Besides a project’s innovation factor and its ability to be replicated, jurors assessed the potential for long-term good as part of a larger shift in attitude about how the Institute represents members and serves their needs. “There were many good ideas from among all those who submitted,” said Debra Kunce, FAIA, chair of the AIA Board Communications Committee, “and the Ambassadors selected applications that they determined had the greatest potential for immediate and future impact for members.”

AIA-Accordion

 

Small Project Practitioners

Small Projects Practitioners

First Projects: Oral History Pilot Program

Innovation Fund Grant Award: $5,102

Starting a career as an architect is a daunting proposition, and even if there are dozens of how-to guides, none of them compare to hearing how others have done it. To respond to those needs, the Small Projects Practitioners (SPP) Knowledge Community’s “First Projects” will chronicle how established architects began with the intention of encouraging emerging professionals. Importantly, “First Projects” will also highlight the vital role that small-scale projects play in the early years of an architect’s professional life—as building blocks, as research tools, and as ways to gain credibility.

“First Projects” is a year-long pilot project, for which Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, has agreed to talk about his Fayetteville, Arkansas Keenan Tower House (2000), a 560 square-foot outlook in the Ozark Mountains which helped launch his award-winning career. After Blackwell, SPP will approach others to talk about their first projects with the goal of developing a video library covering a range of project types, regions, and architects that can speak to the emerging professional’s concerns and hopes for practice.

Custom Residential Architects Network

Custom Residential Architects Network

CRANtv

Innovation Fund Grant Award: $7,000

Word-of-mouth is a time-honored way that potential clients seek out architects. Reputation matters. Words matter, too—and giving clients a vocabulary to talk about hiring an architect is just as important as giving clients a reason to hire you. CRANtv is a digital video series designed to educate the general public on the importance of hiring a registered architect over the course of 12 different episodes. Each 3-minute episode will feature a different attribute of the architect’s training, design process, or practice, all of which add embodied value to an architectural project’s quality, spaces, and integrity over time.

CRANtv is a partnership between members of the Custom Residential Architects Network Knowledge Community and Doug Patt, AIA, whose 2013 book How To Architect (MIT Press) positions “architect” as a dynamic verb rather than an inert noun. Building on Patt’s approach, CRANtv covers several dimensions of what it means “to architect,” such as how an architect’s office works, what insurance, contracts, and basic services mean in for the architect’s work, and defining sustainability for a lay audience. Watch CRANtv’s pilot episode here.

Small Firm Round Table

Small Firm Roundtable

Architect’s Professional Primer

Innovation Fund Grant Award: $13,000

In good economic times and bad, emerging professionals need support to understand the professional landscape, gain confidence to make strategic decisions, and set goals to make their practice a success. To those ends, the Small Firm Round Table (SFRT) proposes an “Architect’s Professional Primer” to give emerging professionals the resources they need to begin.

In 2011 and 2012, SFRT collaborated with various AIA Knowledge Communities to identify the need for a toolkit that would draw on existing AIA resources (such as the Architect’s Handbook for Professional Practice, the AIA Trust, and so on) to create an accessible and comprehensive digital interface. Using the six principles outlined at the 2012 Young Architects Forum Summit as framework, this primer will cover “career advancement,” “the profession of architecture,” the value of design,” “starting a firm,” “the value of licensure,” and “economy and change.”

SFRT will solicit material from several areas in order to define the primer’s content and structure it in a dynamic way: Knowledge Communities such as Practice Management, Technology in Architectural Practice, Small Project Practitioners, Custom Residential Architects Network, and Project Delivery; collateral organizations such as the Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards; and AIA initiatives such as the Center for Integrated Practice. This primer is, above all, a collaborative effort with multiple constituency groups, but its “client” will be the tens of thousands of emerging professionals and associate members that look to the AIA for leadership and guidance at a critical time in their careers.

AIA San Francisco

AIA San Francisco

The IDP 500: In collaboration with NCARB, helping interns complete 500 required hours for licensure in 2014

Innovation Fund grant award: $20,000

Category: Emerging Professionals

Ask the Repositioning Ambassadors what they liked about AIASF’s proposal and they’ll tell you: It goes a long way toward helps emerging professionals almost immediately. In 2014, AIASF wants interns to complete 500 hours of IDP credits in one year. It’s a big challenge, but it’s also a big payoff. That the chapter is willing to take the lead in helping interns so directly, the ambassadors felt, means that it will be an integral part of that young architect’s life—long after he or she is licensed.

The precipitous decline in architectural licensure is due to a variety of factors, including the complexity of the licensure process. Currently, interns need 5,600 hours to satisfy Intern Development Program (IDP) requirements. After surveying San Francisco interns about the IDP process, it became clear that, for a large number of interns, there were significant impediments to completing required hours. Obstacles included: working for a firm without a licensed architect willing to serve as a mentor and/or working for a firm whose work is not conducive to meeting IDP requirements (i.e. a firm whose work is international in scope offers fewer chances for site visits). AIA SF proposes the development of a program that can be adapted by AIA chapters throughout the U.S. to assist interns in receiving IDP hours through the AIA, as well as through their firms.

These 500 hours can be completed in conjunction with hours worked in an architectural firm, allowing a motivated intern to earn 2,000 hours at work plus 500 hours through the AIA for a total of 2,500 hours or 45% of IDP requirements in one year. It is our hope that these efforts will be adapted by other chapters around the country.

AIA Chicago

AIA Chicago

Spanish Language Working with an Architect Outreach Program

Innovation Fund grant award: $5,000

Category: Public Engagement

Repositioning calls architects to speak in accessible language to share impact of architecture. It’s not just about dialing back “archispeak,” and Repositioning Ambassadors recognized in AIA Chicago’s proposal something even more fundamental.

AIA Chicago will collaborate with Arquitectos, a professional organization of Latino architects in Chicago, in the development of two outreach programs: a Spanish language initiative called Working with an Architect (WWAA) and Ask an Architect (AAA). In addition, this program will cultivate mentorship opportunities between Arquitectos and young Spanish-speaking architects. WWAA and AAA are free programs open to the public that are designed to raise awareness of the role of architects in residential projects, to prepare attendees for a possible project, and to make the public aware of AIA’s mission and impact in the profession and industry.

Working with an Architect (WWAA) and Ask an Architect (AAA) are free programs open to the public that are designed to raise awareness of the role of architects in residential projects, to prepare attendees for a possible project, and to make the public aware of AIA’s mission and impact in the profession and industry. AIA Chicago has identified a growing need within the Spanish-speaking community for this type of outreach program.

The WWAA program has two components. Two (2) to four (4) volunteer architects present a 1.25 hour seminar designed to help families in the Chicago area better understand the roles and responsibilities of the owner, architect, and contractor. Residential architects share tips for making the process run smoothly from budget planning to finished construction. Attendees will also learn more about what to look for in an architect’s portfolio and how to select the right professional for the job. Following the presentation, the AAA component invites homeowners to have a 15 minute consultation with a presenting architect.

AIA Tallahassee

AIA Tallahassee

Citizen Architect Fellowship in Residence

Innovation Fund grant award: $10,000

Category: Member Experience

The business of advocacy is complicated and it can take years to learn the ropes. But, AIA Tallahassee hopes to change all that with a 4-month immersion strategy for citizen architects—something that Reposition Ambassadors recognized for its brilliance and simplicity. In the end, the Citizen Architect Fellowship aids members looking to run for elective office and, during the state’s legislative session, maintains a high level of visibility for architects.

This fellowship would create a funded seasonal position at AIA Florida Headquarters in conjunction with AIA Tallahassee to allow an architect member to develop and coordinate grassroots legislative efforts. The fellow would develop legislative advocacy tools for use at the state level (legislative policies & priorities, legislation, white papers, leave behind materials and position statements) and a legislative tool kit for leadership by the 13 components within Florida to use to prepare local members for grassroots advocacy at the local level in preparation for that year‟s legislative session. The fellowship would also provide architect members who are considering running for state office the opportunity to gain legislative lobbying experience.

This fellow would serve for four months, occurring annually between October 1 and January 31. Each month the fellow would be in-residence at AIA Florida in Tallahassee for one week where they will develop strategic legislative priorities, coordinate with AIA Component and Chapter leadership, and AIA Florida’s lobbyist.

AIA Utah

AIA Utah

AIAS/AIA Utah/University of Utah College of Architecture & Planning Mentoring Program

Innovation Fund grant award: $15,000

Category: Emerging Professionals

Transitioning between career stages isn’t always a clear process—and the lucky ones can rely on their mentors to help them. AIA Utah, AIAS, and the University of Utah offered an outline for how mentoring can work, which the Repositioning Ambassadors seized as model for how mentoring should work: start in schools and connect emerging professionals and established architects with students

In 2011, AIAS member Brennan Aldredge started a mentoring program with M.Arch. students who wanted to develop relationships with practicing professionals. The program had only 12 participants in its first year, but had kindled an idea with Tami Beck, Assoc. AIA, and recent graduate of Utah’s M.Arch. program. As newly appointed Associate Director to the AIA Utah Board of Directors, Tami took the initiative to explain to AIA Utah’s board the reasons why this program should be supported, and set about adding AIA’s support and volunteer structure to the mentoring concept. This program connects all levels of membership in a pipeline development process that, if successful, will help diversify and engage students and connect them to a network of professionals.

This program connects all levels of membership in a pipeline development process that, if successful, will help diversify and engage students and connect them to a network of professionals. They will understand the institutes of their profession (AIA, NAAB, NCARB, and the Boards of Architecture), know how to engage them, and when. The program is a member-driven, student initiated activity that illustrates the very heart of the repositioning effort. Providing for improvement and replication of this program will help the institute address connection, engagement, leadership and our emerging professional pipeline in one effort, drawing our professionals together across the spectrum to share professional knowledge, leadership skills, and valuable expertise on practice and the profession.

AIA East Tennessee

AIA East Tennessee

Using Architecture to Teach Problem Solving

Innovation Fund grant award: $16,000

Category: K-12

In reviewing AIA East Tennessee’s proposal for architects to teach critical thinking skills to grade school and high school students, Repositioning Ambassadors immediately understood the impact it would have.

At a time when public school education in the U.S. is in transition, and challenged to meet education goals set forth in Common Core State Standards, architects will find gratifying the prospect of positive intervention by their local AIA chapter by offering schoolchildren the opportunity to enhance their higher order thinking skills through exposure to the design process. This program will facilitate the learning of critical-thinking skills of students (grades 4-12) by demonstrating how the design process works. Of the 231 members of the Chapter, 52 are Associates, and their active participation will be a high priority in the implementation of the project.

The sense of purpose, which we expect architects to associate with their use of the design process to help develop students’ critical thinking skills, should give the participating architects an enhanced appreciation of their profession and the AIA. Communications within the Chapter will, by necessity, become more important and meaningful. By recruiting and engaging young design professionals to collaborate with art teachers in the classroom, this project will strengthen the present and future Chapter leadership, its role in both the design community and the community at large, and its educational outreach.

AIA East Bay

AIA East Bay

AIA Social Magazine App

Innovation Fund grant award: $25,000

Category: Member Experience

Ambassadors gravitated toward the idea of a simple, mobile tool for a few reasons. It’s already familiar to scores of emerging professionals, it puts members in control of their content, and it encourages social media engagement. They also recognized AIA East Bay’s proposal as a way to reach beyond its chapter to a tech-savvy public who might want to engage AIA members.

The AIA Social Magazine App is a localized news aggregator akin to Flipboard. This app would pull news from National AIA, AIACC or appropriate other state, and the local chapter. In addition to news populated from AIA social media, chapters could manually input articles/content. Once other chapters throughout the nation are using the app, upgrades would include a GPS and/or member login for the app to provide localized content. Members are overwhelmed by AIA emails. This app would push the news of three tiers into the hands of the member, who would see AIA news once—directly, instead of multiple times in each tier's emails. Communication would be efficient, would engage emerging professionals in the way they communicate, and would present a cohesive tier connection for the member. Plus, it would put architectural education and AIA news, initiatives and programs into the public's smart phones and tablets, for free! We would like to develop an app that every local component can easily use by each tier selecting what information will be aggregated.

AIA Seattle

AIA Seattle

Getting to Zero

Innovation Fund grant award: $35,500

Category: Member Experience

AIA Seattle’s proposal builds on the success of the AIA+2030 series, which Repositioning Ambassadors recognized immediately as a viable education model that made the intentions of “Getting to Zero” stand out.

The proposal to create, document and share Getting to Zero—a comprehensive, cutting-edge curriculum—centers on leading members through the next target of the 2030 Challenge (70% reduction) and beyond. Getting to Zero responds to the expressed needs of Seattle members, who wish to move to the next level of delivering very high performing buildings. It includes four half-day education sessions, 16 learning hours in total, organized around technical presentations, case studies, and interactive exercises to reach all adult learning types.

Session one, entitled “Getting to Zero,” is about 2014 state-of-the-art building science innovations that can get us to zero, on thermal envelope, passive systems, lighting strategies, systems, renewable. Session two, entitled “Outcome-Based Design,” is about current case studies on actual versus modeled outcomes, learning from the 2030 Commitment, contractual performance guarantees. Session three, entitled “Special Projects,” is about the 2030 Commitment for small projects, resources for small firms, residential energy issues, Passivhaus, 2030 for existing buildings. Finally, session four, entitled “On the Horizon” is about embodied energy, Living Buildings, operations and performance monitoring, project delivery, codes and regulations, as well as the energy/water connection.

AIA Vermont

AIA Vermont

Archistream: Mobile Design Gallery and Education Center

Innovation Fund grant award: $42,750

Category: Public Engagement

Archistream squarely met the Repositioning Ambassador’s definition of innovative, plain and simple. Notably, the program’s public relations value is not couched in the social media or digital campaigns we’ve come to expect these days. It’s couched in good, old fashioned face time—something the ambassadors tagged as positively disruptive.

AIAVT seeks to create a mobile Design Gallery and Education Center that is able to “travel” the length of Vermont, “visiting” suburban and rural towns and providing a hub for hosting educational events and outreach opportunities. This “archistream” concept is based on other mobile units operating in rural areas, such as bookmobiles and traveling cancer screening units. Our center will house both a Gallery to showcase AIAVT Annual Design Award entries and the work of local architects as well as an Education Center that will include literature about the architectural profession and rural infrastructure design, and provide a space to host design charrettes and children’s programs about the built environment.

The AIAVT Initiative meets criteria under both the “Innovate” and “Engage” recommendations. This Initiative is meant to be a key to engaging our Emerging Professionals around the state. Additionally, we anticipate that this Initiative will attract new membership as it meets a desire to be part of an organization with “presence” in communities. We expect an AIAVT board of directors’ member to head up the ArchiTeam and oversee and annual programming and scheduling.

The initiative provides an opportunity to build partnerships with other prominent entities, including the Vermont Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts (“Rebuild by Design” Initiative), and a group working to rebuild historic villages after damage from recent hurricanes, Preservation Trust of Vermont. Further partnerships are anticipated with town libraries and schools. The Archistream will advance the profession by showcasing the work of architects--including innovative design that responds to timely issues of energy, environment, and climate change and by engaging the public through a variety of programs.

AIA Colorado South, West, and North (with AIA Colorado and AIA Denver)

AIA Colorado South, West, and North (with AIA Colorado and AIA Denver)

Repositioning in Colorado: A Comprehensive Look at the Structure and Service Provided by the State and Local Components

Innovation Fund grant award: $20,000

Category: Component Structure

The retreat is designed to address component autonomy versus unity, component structure, tier coordination, prioritization of initiatives, board size, and composition. Through a more focused organization with an effective leadership model, approximately 2,500 AIA Colorado members stand to gain better experiences and value. Our goal is to hone in on—and allocate resources to—what matters most in supporting Colorado architects and architectural interns, and stop the additive culture that is leading us to become an inch deep and a mile wide. We also hope this collaboration between the state and local chapters will allow us to avoid duplicated efforts and fragmented benefits.

This initiative starts with a one-and-a-half day retreat facilitated by an association management expert to help Colorado’s state and local components streamline their focus and governance structure to best serve all AIA members in Colorado. The relationship between AIA Colorado and the four local chapters (AIA Colorado South, AIA Colorado North, AIA Colorado West, AIA Denver) has not been reexamined since 1997, when we went from five separate chapters, three of which were unstaffed, with separate offices, to our current structure (one staff and office provides support for one state chapter and four local chapters). The state focuses on statewide issues and services and the local chapters focus on local issues and programs.

AIA Northwest Wisconsin

AIA Northwest Wisconsin

AIA Chapter Connects

Innovation Fund grant award: $5,500

Category: Component Structure

Many chapters struggle to communicate at the chapter level for various reasons. Geography and time are significant ones. Chapters that cover large distances and have few members are challenged even to meet on any regular basis with most of their members. This alone contributes to an inability to “connect” especially at the local level. Using online meeting technology will solve distant related connections.

This proposal calls for a digital template to guide chapters in their efforts to connect at the local level and beyond. We have done some experimenting with technology already, but this template will better implement new ways of communicating among or chapter members. If Repositioning is to succeed, chapters like ours that are distance-challenged need to tools better interact and communicate the value of membership.

AIA Space Coast

AIA Space Coast

Local Component Management Feasibility Study

Innovation Fund grant award: $10,000

Category: Component Structure

AIA Space Coast is currently unstaffed and completely volunteer led. As dedicated as our volunteer leadership is, it is often difficult to devote the time necessary to manage a chapter while running firms and locating new business leads. Centralizing to the state component would ensure that all members are receiving the highest quality level of education that has become to be associated with the AIA. No longer would components that lack the time and resources to provide quality education have to struggle to develop programs. State centralization would eliminate duplication and redundancy of topics, provide a continuum of course work, and guarantee that each geographic area of the state is being serviced equally.

   
 

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