Issues & AdvocacyFederal
About Russ Davidson, FAIA: Mr. Davidson is the president of Kaeyer, Garment & Davidson
Architects P.C., and has 20 years of experience planning educational, commercial, religious,
and municipal facilities.
He has been active in furthering the profession of architecture since 1999, when he was
president of AIA Westchester Mid-Hudson. He served as president of AIA New York State in
2007 and currently is a national vice president and chair of the Board Advocacy Committee.
The AIA created a five-point federal agenda for the 113th Congress, targeting job creation for small businesses as a top priority. Also included in the agenda are policies to repair and strengthen our buildings; build sustainable, resilient, and vibrant communities; reform government to build better with less; and invest in the next generation of design leaders. Mr. Davidson, please comment on the role architects should play in the political arena.
As architects, we have a profound responsibility to shape the environment in ways that are inspiring, safe, sustainable, and healthy. Effective advocacy enables us to better fulfill these responsibilities. We need to talk to policy makers and the public about how good design improves the quality of life.
What was the process for creating the AIA’s agenda for the new Congress?
This agenda comes from AIA members across the country, who in record numbers expressed their views on which policies the AIA should promote. Our agenda speaks to the big issues our country needs to tackle, which include growing the economy to help small firms thrive, making buildings and communities more resilient and sustainable, and investing wisely in good design.
Upon review of our agenda, policy makers and the public will see that architects have a great deal to contribute to the public debate.
What are the next steps for architects to secure congressional support of the policies outlined in the agenda?
As all architects know, the job doesn’t stop when the documents are signed and sealed—if you are not on-site talking with the rest of the team and advocating for your design, then you can’t control how the project turns out. It’s the same with advocacy. Coming up with good policy ideas is just step one. We need to be on-site and engaged with policy makers during these debates so that they know where architects stand.
During the 2013 Leadership and Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., March 20–23, hundreds of AIA members will share this agenda with Congress. However, we must realize that the responsibilities of being an advocate for our profession last more than just those few days.
Architects must engage with Congress 365 days a year by talking with their representatives about the value of what architects do. For instance, we must emphasize the following:
1. Architects are at the leading edge of an industry that accounts for one in nine dollars of gross domestic product.
2. Laws that have an impact on design will affect the quality of life for millions of people.
What resources will be available at the 2013 AIA National Convention for attendees who want to learn more about the federal agenda for the 113th Congress?
There will be a number of opportunities to connect with members of the Board Advocacy Committee and the AIA Advocacy staff at the 2013 convention. The Architects in Advocacy and Public Service reception on Thursday, June 20, at 6:00 p.m., will be a good place to network.
AIA members who want to support the advocacy effort can sign up to be part of the AIA’s grassroots network. They may also want to consider making a financial contribution to ArchiPAC, AIA’s federal political action committee. The more members who join the effort, the more successful the AIA will be.
What would you say to an architect who agrees with the federal agenda but who has not joined the AIA?
For nonmember architects who support this agenda, we need you—not just to join our collective voice but also to be part of the overall advocacy effort. It is our professional responsibility to watch over our own profession, because if we don’t speak up for architects, someone else will.
ArchiPAC, the AIA’s federal
Russell A. Davidson, FAIA
KG&D Architects’ approach