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KCs, Member Group Awarded Innovation Grants

The Small Projects Practitioners, Custom Residential Architects Network, and Small Firm Roundtable each were awarded grants under the Repositioning the AIA Innovation Fund:

First Projects--Oral History Pilot Program ($5,102)

Starting a career as an architect is a daunting proposition. Even if there are dozens of how-to guides, none of them compare to hearing how others have done it. The Small Projects Practitioners (SPP) Knowledge Community’s “First Projects” will chronicle how established architects began with the intention of encouraging emerging professionals. Importantly, “First Projects” will also highlight the vital role that small-scale projects play in the early years of an architect’s professional life—as building blocks, as research tools, and as ways to gain credibility.

“First Projects” is a year-long pilot project, for which Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, has agreed to talk about his Fayetteville, Ark., Keenan Tower House (2000), a 560 square-foot outlook in the Ozark Mountains that helped launch his award-winning career. After Blackwell, SPP will approach others to talk about their first projects with the goal of developing a video library covering a range of project types, regions, and architects that can speak to the emerging professional’s concerns and hopes for practice.

CRANtv ($7,000)

Word-of-mouth is a time-honored way that potential clients seek out architects. Reputation matters. Words matter, too—and giving clients a vocabulary to talk about hiring an architect is just as important as giving clients a reason to hire you. CRANtv, from the Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) Knowledge Community, is a 12-episode digital video series designed to educate the general public on the importance of hiring a registered architect. Each three-minute episode features a different attribute of the architect’s training, design process, or practice.

CRANtv is a partnership between CRAN Knowledge Community members and Doug Patt, AIA, whose 2013 book How To Architect (MIT Press) positions the word “architect” as a dynamic verb rather than an inert noun. Building on Patt’s approach, CRANtv covers several dimensions of what it means “to architect,” such as how an architect’s office works; what insurance, contracts, and basic services mean for the architect’s work; and defines sustainability for a lay audience. Watch CRANtv’s pilot episode.

Architect’s Professional Primer ($13,000)

In good economic times and bad, emerging professionals need support to understand the professional landscape, gain confidence to make strategic decisions, and set goals to make their practice a success. The Small Firm Round Table (SFRT) proposed an “Architect’s Professional Primer” to give emerging professionals the resources they need.

In 2011 and 2012, the SFRT collaborated with various AIA Knowledge Communities to identify the need for a toolkit that would draw on existing AIA resources (such as the Architect’s Handbook for Professional Practice and the AIA Trust) to create an accessible and comprehensive digital interface. Using the six principles outlined at the 2012 Young Architects Forum Summit as a framework, this primer will cover career advancement, the profession of architecture, the value of design, starting a firm, the value of licensure, and the economy and change.

The SFRT will solicit material from numerous sources, including Knowledge Communities such as Practice Management, Technology in Architectural Practice, Small Project Practitioners, the Custom Residential Architects Network, and Project Delivery; collateral organizations such as the Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards; and AIA initiatives such as the Center for Integrated Practice. This primer is, above all, a collaborative effort with multiple constituency groups, but its “client” will be the tens of thousands of emerging professionals and associate members that look to the AIA for leadership and guidance at a critical time in their careers.


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