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Take Five: The AIA and the Clinton Global Initiative
DATELINE: NEW YORK CITY--The blare of sirens, as black cars and vans push their way east toward the United Nations from the Sheraton hotel. Security personnel duck their heads, talking into their microphones, exposing wires running into their collars. The president is leaving the building.
Actually, not one president occupied the hotel yesterday, but two: In a rare public gathering, the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, had just conversed for almost an hour onstage with the current president, Barack Obama, at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) before a packed house of dignitaries. The AIA was very present.
Just that morning, we and our friends at Architecture for Humanity had shared that same stage with former President Clinton, as he announced our partnership in the 100 Resilient Cities Commitment—a major initiative anchored by the Rockefeller Foundation. Although we had been deepening our relationship with Architecture for Humanity in disaster mitigation, the Clinton organization’s role as broker among worthwhile organizations brought us together with the Rockefeller group just days before. What did we commit to?
Together, we will create five Regional Resilient Design Studios that build on our profession’s collective expertise in helping communities recover in the wake of major disasters. These studios, which will train and engage architects in their communities before disasters strike, are exciting opportunities to reach beyond our profession and to collaborate with the right people, on the right issues, at the right time. This initiative builds on the AIA's long-standing focus on resilience and community development. Stay tuned for more to come on this in the weeks and months ahead.
But our work does not stop at resilience. Architecture and design also took center stage at CGI in the form of the AIA’s update on the “Decade of Design” Commitment to Action we made at last year’s CGI Annual Meeting. In this project, we have committed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) to develop design and technology solutions for cities that address public health, sustainability, and resiliency challenges. Check out the video, Decade of Design: The AIA Global Urban Solutions Challenge. Presented at the meeting on Wednesday, it’s a succinct summary of ongoing activities and research.
“Design as Long-Term, Preventative Medicine,” a theme for our important work, repositions the architectural profession as a primary catalyst for making America’s cities healthier places to live and work. A written report available soon covers research conducted in eight American cities--Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, and New York. Teams of researchers fanned out in each city to gather data about major design projects. The next step is to determine which city will serve as the ultimate laboratory for design solutions that can have a major impact on public health.
At the Clinton Global Initiative (l to r) Robert Ivy, FAIA; New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Cameron Sinclair, co-founder Architecture for Humanity; Former U.S. President Bill Clinton; Martyn Parker, Chairman Global Partnerships at Swiss Re; Alex Karp, co-founder Palantir; Judith Rodin, Ph.D, President of The Rockefeller Foundation.
Perhaps your own city will be selected as one of the initial cities chosen by the Rockefeller Foundation as a showcase for resilient design. Perhaps you live near a city being studied by the Decade of Design. Regardless, the issues raised in both programs, concerned with design for healthier, more resilient communities, should be relevant to your own hometown, wherever you live. We’ll all learn more, and in the process, heighten the relevance and value of what we do.
Robert Ivy, FAIA
Photo: ©Vincent Ricardel