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By Mark Demerly, AIA

Cincinnati's CRAN committee was started in 2005 by a small group of local residential architects who had a desire to connect and promote residential architecture in the area. Though the committee started as a component of CORA (the Congress of Residential Architecture), it transitioned to CRAN in 2011 in an effort to build on the National CRAN and AIA efforts. The AIA Cincinnati Chapter has been a strong supporter of the committee's efforts of promoting quality residential architectural design while conveying the value and benefits of residential design by licensed architects through monthly continuing education programs and an annual design awards program.

Cincinnati CRAN chair, Rob Busch, AIA, of the firm Drawing Dept, states that having a local CRAN chapter brings value to members that attend the monthly meetings. “Our members enjoy the opportunity to engage with fellow architects and share experiences related to our profession,” Rob says. The lunchtime meetings, which are held on the first Tuesday of the month, attract 30 to 55 attendees for programs that include educational presentations by vendors, panel discussions, or round tables about hot topics related to residential architecture. Rob added that, even though AIA learning units are only offered for the vendor educational programs, the attendance at the non-vendor meetings is typically much higher.

Rob highlighted a recent meeting (see flyer) where a panel of four local architects talked about the pitfalls of residential architectural practice, and shared some of their own horror stories and how they might have avoided them. The panel included both sole proprietors and representatives of larger practices, and attracted attendees from all areas of the profession, not just residential architects. Other meetings have featured panels where local contractors shared what they liked and disliked about working with architects. For a meeting like this, it’s good to bring your thick skin!

Executive Director of AIA Cincinnati, Patricia J. Daugherty, Hon. AIA, feels that one of key messages of the group is to be inclusive. The meetings are open to registered architects, regardless of whether they are AIA members or not, along with affiliates including contractors, suppliers, vendors, and manufacturer representatives. Many of the affiliate members, including lumber, plumbing, and lighting suppliers, consultants, and even a modern furniture dealer, help organize and host the lunch meetings at their businesses. Despite the fact that lunch and the program is provided by each month's sponsor, CRAN Cincinnati charges $10 for AIA members and $15 for non-members. Pat pointed out that the committee is not only self-sustaining, but it has generated income for the chapter. Their 2013 CRANawards held on May 2 generated a list of 34 sponsors which is record number of sponsors for AIA Cincinnati CRAN. Another benefit to the chapter has been an increase in volunteers and chapter leadership. AIA Cincinnati currently has four active CRAN committee members on their Board of Directors.

The committee's leadership, which includes the 2014 chair Andy Corn, AIA, from RWA Architects, aims for two non-vendor roundtable sessions, seven vendor presentations, a holiday party, an events coordinated with other AIA chapter committees, and their annual residential design awards program that receives 45-50 entries with 10-12 winners. This year's awards (see flyer below) were announced on May 2nd with the Best Overall Project Award going to John Senhauser Architects for their Walnut Woods Studio. This awards program is in addition to the chapter’s Cincinnati Design Awards program, which is also held every year. The residential award winners are featured in a local magazine "Venue," with a distribution of 20,000 households.





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