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What does “Repositioning the AIA” mean?

The AIA Board of Directors approved an alignment statement on September 20, 2013, crafted in consultation with Kotter International, the firm helping the Institute make this significant and lasting change. Kotter helped the Institute combine all of the feedback and key takeaways from the Repositioning research and created a simple compelling distillation of our commitment and direction toward a renewed AIA:

Together, we agree that the time is now to change the way we think and behave in order to shape our future. To become a more valued, relevant organization, the AIA will focus our priorities to:

    (1) Elevate public awareness

    (2) Advocate for the profession

    (3) Create and expand the sharing of knowledge and expertise to ensure a prosperous future for our members

Never before have we needed this level of bold, visionary leadership to inspire architects to work together and build a better world for all people—through architecture.

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 analyses conducted by the AIA in the past?

We’re in a different world today and the AIA is a legacy institution that must balance its historic value with the needs of the future. The Repositioning initiative is about what we need to do, collectively, for the entire body of architecture today and going forward. This is for the profession. Architects and architecture are at a 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? That question drives our current Repositioning efforts today and will influence our path tomorrow.

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, conducted in 20012, and has completed its work for the organization.

Where are the reports and findings related to Repositioning?
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 overarching goal of Repositioning is to determine how the Institute should reposition architecture, architects, and how to reflect current client and public perceptions. This is a long-term and deep examination of what it means to serve our members and why architecture matters. Through our Community Conversations, Virtual Town Halls, and special sessions at Grassroots, National Convention, and the Council of Architectural Component Executives (CACE), the AIA has focused the examination on four main areas:


    • Component autonomy versus unity

    • Component structure

    • Tier coordination


    • Efficacy of communications

    • Engaging emerging professionals


    • Leadership tenure and agendas

    • Board size and composition


    • Prioritization of initiatives

    • Taking a stand on important issues

    • Resource allocation

Where are we in advancing Repositioning within these four areas? Read the 2013 AIA Repositioning Report.

Repositioning Implementation

The consultants identified 10 areas for the AIA to reassess at the 2013 Grassroots Conference and 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 about changing the lens through which we view how we serve members and advance the profession.

    • Mickey Jacob and Robert Ivy have spoken at length over the past year at Grassroots and the AIA Convention, among other places, 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.

    • If you have specific questions about the findings or the plan, 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, Senior Vice President, Strategic Marketing, Communications, and Convention ( or Phil Simon, Vice President, Strategic Communications and Marketing (

Learn about other ways to get involved at the city, state, and national levels.


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