About The AIAState & Local Components (Chapters, Councils and Societies)
About John D. Morris II, AIA: Mr. Morris, principal of John Morris Architects in Camden, Maine, and former president and currently treasurer of AIA Maine, has been a board member for 36 years. The firm is known for its highly detailed residential design work and its imaginative and very successful assisted living communities. As an architect with his own construction management and development firms, Mr. Morris plays an active role in statewide legislation and nationally as a member of the AIA State Government Network (SGN). In 2011, he was recipient of AIA Maine’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
John, 2012 is AIA Maine’s 100th anniversary. This must be a special year! What events do you have planned to celebrate?
AIA Maine has decided to celebrate its 100th in two very different ways.
First, we’ve decided to create a sustaining fund to benefit Maine students interested in becoming architects through the University of Maine Augusta (UMA) Architecture Program. This fund, which will be initially funded by a grant from AIA Maine and augmented by a challenge gifts from both member firms and a few key building products suppliers, will be managed by the University of Maine Foundation and will be available to students who meet certain academic criteria. Long term, UMA will augment this fund with further contributions from architects and the construction products industry, creating a substantial endowment to expand the pool of future designers in Maine.
Secondly, AIA Maine decided to create a 40- to 60-minute video created from scores of video clips shot by AIA members expressing something each feels is worth sharing about our built environment.
The video promotes architecture in the state. Can you explain why the video was created?
This video is being created to raise public awareness of the importance of the design in the built environment through an integrated series of two-minute video clips of spatial experiences both familiar and unfamiliar that speak to the importance of design. Individual members will create the two-minute shoots, and AIA Maine is hiring a professional film editor/producer to work the raw material into an engaging finished product for Web site distribution and public TV.
Your chapter has a very successful design awards program, with submissions this year ranging from a bus that had been converted into a guest house to a major renovation of the Portland Public Library. What is the value of the design awards program for your members?
This program honors a wide range of design work to both honor the creators and “spread the word” through our Web site to the world beyond. Our small firms in particular depend on seasonal clients residing elsewhere for most residential work, so outreach like this is critical to expanding our client base.
You have been very involved with AIA Maine since you became licensed—you are currently treasurer on the board of directors, you’re a former president, and you’ve been active in various committees. What is the value to AIA members in volunteering with their state and local components?
The satisfaction of being helpful, whether to your local planning board as it considers permit applications or to a legislative committee as it ponders the implications of a proposed bill, can be enormous. As architects, we are trained problem solvers. Seizing the opportunity to help your local community as a board member, or the whole profession in your state as a designated representative explaining the implications of a piece of proposed legislation, is both empowering and fun. And in the process, it’s humbling to witness how many committees genuinely appreciate an architect’s perspective.
You have designed several highly-regarded retirement communities in Maine. As the population ages, and issues of universal design become more important, what did you learn from those projects?
We’ve learned how fun it can be to think up and create environments for older residents to enjoy that don’t feel like overstuffed and overheated nursing homes. By thinking of hotels one’s really enjoyed, with a variety of opportunities to socialize in many different ways, get assistance with their computers, gather to listen to a live volunteer jazz trio, all without spending a bundle or costing a bundle to stay in, we’ve come up with some long-term winners.
Our most affordable private pay facility enjoys consistent full occupancy by simply making all units fully functional, “quietly” accessible compact apartments (rather than glorified nursing home rooms) with ample storage and the ability to bring in one’s own furniture, plus dog or cat. Outside gardens with compact sitting areas offering both shade and sun, plus a modest croquet lawn, are popular even in spring and fall.
About AIA Maine
John D. Morris II, AIA
Phone: (207) 236-8321