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Take Five: The Value of Architecture

By Robert Ivy, FAIA

EVP/Chief Executive Officer

This special organization, the American Institute of Architects, has been more of a family home for me than just another professional association. When I was an intern and in my first job, my employer was an AIA regional director who believed in the organization enough to pay my dues and send me to the state convention, even in hard times. Fresh from Tulane, I cut my teeth as the Gulf States convention program chairman when he fell ill and needed help. Talk about pressure at a young age—but what an opportunity for an intern.

Year after year, I found support from older leaders who took a personal interest in my development, as I showed an interest in the profession and what it could become. I wrote, and edited, and met colleagues early on whom I still value, and, well…here I am today. After all this time, I have become more convinced by the power of the AIA and its ability to gather us together around the power of design, provide information and good counsel and career growth, stability in two recessionary storms (not unlike this one), vision, and friends.

Consequently, I’m going to write directly to you each month in an issue of AIArchitect, sharing my personal insights into the AIA I’ve discovered in my new role as EVP/Chief Executive Officer, from the local to the international level. Along the way, you’ll hear about services you might already recognize, programs already in place you might not have thought about, and ideas for our shared future. Take them for what they are worth.

Here’s one such observation: We architects give away too much, particularly in difficult times. In doing so, we often overlook the multitude of supplemental services that can help provide sustenance for our practices.

Here is another: All of us have our tales of woe, in which our good intentions, cooked up with colleagues during late evening office hours, rocketed into unsolicited civic plans (I’m citing this one from personal example). Too often we’ve seen the ideas snatched up by competitors or ignored for a while, only to be reinvigorated and implemented months or years later. Wake up!

Certainly there are occasions when we should donate our time and intellectual power. However, your peers and staff at the AIA have collected a rich array of offerings, like that downtown plan that might be treated as supplemental services and charged for. Who doesn’t need additional income in 2011?

Consider this listing of services, for example: accessibility compliance, architectural acoustics, building measurement, code compliance, commissioning, contract administration, demolition planning, and energy analysis and design. That’s the alphabetical tip of the iceberg, any one of which might bring you satisfaction, allow you to exercise your skills while contributing real value, develop relationships with clients, and send a bill. We all like to send a bill.

Take a look at the complete list of Supplemental Architectural Services to get a few ideas. The AIA National Knowledge Resources staff has created this online resource that includes 48 potential services (with more to come), each with a quick PowerPoint overview, a more detailed essay on the subject from the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, and guidance on using contract documents—in short, everything you need to know to start offering these services. Compare this list to your skills and your own clientele, and think how you might expand your range of professional offerings beyond putting in for the latest RFP.

You may have your own list of suggestions for the AIA, including what we are doing to meet your needs and what we need to emphasize or improve. As the newest CEO on the block, I’ll be making a tour around the country, listening and meeting old and new friends, perhaps coming your way.


Robert Ivy, FAIA

Photography by Noah Kalina



Back to AIArchitect June 24, 2011

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