Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture
Institute Update: What the AIA is Doing for You
At the AIA National Convention in New Orleans in early May, AIA National leadership provided members at the Saturday business meeting with a comprehensive look at the past year’s accomplishments and a look forward to how the AIA will be working for its members in the months ahead. Some highlights:
The state of the AIA is healthy, despite the lingering impact of the Great Recession on the design and construction industry. The tough economy persists for all AIA members, though, and the Institute is redoubling its efforts to see its suffering components and members through to better times. That’s why the AIA will be offering a membership dues installment payment plan for 2012, which will allow new and established members to pay dues over several months.
In the wake of unprecedented natural disasters at home and abroad, the AIA has risen to be a leader in disaster response with a new level of national and international engagement. After Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, the AIA mobilized its Disaster Assistance Task Force, made connections to local architecture groups and associations, and quickly established a landing page presence on AIA.org dedicated to information about the disaster. When deadly tornadoes struck Alabama, vast swaths of the American South, the Midwest, and especially Joplin, Mo., only weeks later, the AIA reached out to make these same kinds of connections.
With the beginning of the integrated media partnership between Hanley Wood and the AIA, 2011 started with a commitment to communicate more fully about all that the AIA and its members do. Too many members don’t fully understand the roles the AIA plays, and clarifying and communicating these messages is a top priority. This partnership brings four magazines into the AIA’s fold (ARCHITECT, residential architect, ecohome, and Eco-Structure), as well as numerous online and multimedia platforms that will help inform members and the wider world of all the initiatives and projects the AIA takes on to elevate the public’s appreciation and understanding of the value of design.
Contract Documents are consistently rated one of the AIA’s most-valued aspects of membership, and the coming year will see them improved in several ways. On the heels of AIA Contract Document’s 100th anniversary, there are two new offerings of particular note:
• New service upgrades available in 2012 will make Contract Documents more accessible, flexible, secure, and affordable.
• The AIA recently released a sustainability guide for contract documents, available for free download.
With mid-term elections dramatically changing the balance of power at the federal and state levels, the government advocacy team has had a very busy year. A few of the most important initiatives:
• The Department of State recently adopted a Design Excellence program for embassy and consulate buildings, shaped by significant AIA input.
• The AIA remains committed to guiding the International Green Construction Code to its completion next year.
• The advocacy team is also focused on increasing tax credits for sustainable design, fighting for qualifications-based selection, Small Business Administration regulations that help architects, and promoting the value of design.
The AIA is dedicated to serving members’ educational needs by making the continuing education process simpler. With the AIA CES Discovery system, tracking of all continuing education credits and programs have been brought in-house. The tracking system and functionality are also improved for the new system, as it’s been transitioned from pen-and-paper to a digital system. More AIA CES Discovery member improvements are planned for later this year.
• There were 227 new continuing education providers added in the first quarter, now making a total of 2700 providers.
• The 2011 AIA convention in New Orleans featured more than 200 continuing education offerings.
Looking ahead, the AIA will continue to strengthen its focus on three strategic priorities: emerging professionals, innovations in collaborative practice like IPD, and making architecture and the AIA’s members a more diverse and representative group.
AIA National’s Integrated Web Strategy and Technology team is a vital part of the AIA’s efforts to support AIA systems and processes, and by extension AIA members. This includes maintenance or upgrades for AIA.org, Contract Documents, CES, and Web product fulfillment. In June, the AIA will unveil a newly upgraded version of netFORUM, the AIA’s association management database. This new version will feature a new look and better functionality, offering a more flexible and personalized interface, and the ability to work with a greater number of Internet browsers. All this hard work earned AIA.org a 2011 Webby Award (an international award honoring excellence on the Internet presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences) in the Associations category.
Continuing work that began last year, the Institute has been repurposing component relations positions to enhance component support, communications, resources, and training. The development of a “4Cs Commission” (collaboration, communication, continuity, clarity) to ensure that AIA leadership, CACE executives, and AIA staff are collaborating in the most effective way remains a high priority. Working together, these four concepts will lead to stronger relationships between AIA National and its components, and a better functioning Institute.