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Emerging Professionals Questions for AIA National Election Candidates

John Padilla, AIA (AIA Santa Fe) Candidate for 2015-16 AIA Secretary

1. What are specific examples of things you have done in your own professional activities and in your local component to build future leaders and promote active participation in the AIA by emerging professionals?

My professional life has been one committed to leading by example, mentorship, community and civic engagement, and volunteerism. Promoting emerging professional’s active participation has always been a top priority for me in practice and at all levels of the AIA, striving to make us sustainable and relevant.

As president of AIA Santa Fe and AIA New Mexico, I advocated for and successfully expanded participation and engagement of emerging professionals on our boards and committees. Both local and state components have positions specifically assigned to student, associate and YAF representation.

As a member of the Western Mountain Region Board serving as treasure and regional director, I strengthened the region’s commitment to emerging professionals with active support of our regional associate director (RAD) and young architect regional director (YARD). WMR’s commitment to emerging professionals and their role in our AIA continues to serve as an example for other regions on how to engage and support emerging professionals in leadership roles. As a member of the National Board of Directors and a member of the AIA National Diversity Council, I worked to develop and produce the Shadow an Architect Program which was launched at the National Convention in San Antonio. This program was designed to engage high school, community college, and university students with the national convention through a shadow program with architects, emerging professionals, and board members serving as mentors for the day, and giving them a firsthand, close up and personal convention experience. This program continues today, and is a part of convention and the Grassroots conference each year.

As AIA National Vice President (2011–2012) I was a keynote speaker at the 2011 Fall West Quad Conference hosted by UNM School of Architecture and Planning. The topic of the presentation was my path to architecture, architectural education and mentorship, diversity and inclusion, civic engagement, and how the AIA is supporting students’ and associates’ activities.

I’ve served as the AIA’s representative to NCARB’s Internship Committee (IC), and served as co-chair of NCARB’s Internship Advisory Committee (IAC). As a member of the IC and co-chair of the IAC, major changes to NCARB’s IDP process were made which include the elimination of the duration requirement, and IDP credit for construction work experience.

I was invited to and participated in the AIA-sponsored Emerging Professional Summit where young and aspiring architects gathered to discuss the critical issues facing the next generation of architects. I am proud to have been a part of this effort, where a clear and poignant statement for the AIA was formed: “We assert at you join the community of architects from the day you begin architecture school, and we affirm that the world needs architects with all their talents and career paths.”

2. Where do you see voids in representation of emerging professionals within the Institute and the profession, and how could filling those voids improve career development for emerging professionals in general?

The AIA has committed to representation by emerging professionals at all levels of the Institute, and has challenged our members to support our emerging professionals, as they are the next generation of leaders in our components and our firms. I firmly believe that our components and firms should look to their emerging professionals as leaders now, and would strongly advocate that they be mentored and given access to leadership roles and incorporated into a transition tract for the vitality and future of our profession and firms.

“Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sake and ours.”—César Chavez

By engaging meaningfully the ideas, concepts and aspirations of our emerging professionals, we can strive to

become sustainable and relevant to our next generation of AIA leaders and firm leaders. The AIA must be willing to open and expand our tent to the non-traditional architect that has chosen an alternative field that may not include or require licensure. These individuals should be embraced, included, and invited to engage for their out-of-the-box perspectives.

3. While the National Design Services Act is one step, how else can the AIA take leadership in reducing the problem of skyrocketing tuition and student loan debt, and the non-linear relationship these have to low early career salaries that are saddling our profession’s emerging professionals with significant financial hardship?

I strongly support the National Design Services Act because it promotes civic engagement and can make an impact and a difference in the careers of our young architects and emerging professionals all across the country. It provides student loan assistance for architects that contribute their design talents to community design centers (CDC) while exciting that next generation of architects to advocate for our profession. I agree that the cost of an architectural education has become costly, and upon completion of one’s education, a tremendous financial burden. The rising tuition costs and misrepresentations in the media of the value of an architectural degree have threatened the ability and desire of the next generation of architects to attend college.

The AIA can take a leadership role in supporting the next generation of architects by:

  • Continued government advocacy on behalf of the NDSA and championing strong grassroots efforts in our components to have our members lobby their members of Congress to support this legislation.
  • Components must engage with their universities and colleges and actively support the efforts of their community design centers that provide design services to the underserved and underrepresented.
  • If a component’s university or college does not have a CDC, work with them to develop a CDC to provide design services to the underserved and underrepresented.
  • Support the efforts of community college architectural programs as a start to one’s architectural education, and advocate for fair recognition of articulation agreements with universities and colleges.
  • Advocate for more co-op architectural education programs as a means to work experience and incomes for students, and support existing programs.
  • Support NCARB’s endorsement of licensure upon graduation as another avenue for licensure, which would allow for internship and licensing exams as part of the architectural curriculum.
  • Expand the efforts of the AIA Foundation’s scholarship program to fund the architectural education of our underrepresented students.

4. In what ways do you see the AIA more effectively educating the public on the importance of good design?

The AIA’s Repositioning effort can play a major role in how we educate the public on the importance of good design, as this effort has as its priorities:

    1. Elevate public awareness

    2. Advocate for the profession

    3. Create and expand the sharing of knowledge and expertise to ensure a prosperous future for our members

Never before have we needed this level of bold, visionary leadership to inspire architects to work together and build a better world for all people—through architecture.

To me, these words are our base plan to develop a strategy and a framework within the Institute and with our members to be the credible voice and the authoritative source for good design. It is our responsibility and duty to create architecture that is sensitive to our clients’ needs, and elevates their understanding and appreciation of good design. We as a profession must elevate the public’s awareness and appreciation of the benefits of good design with every project type we execute and build better communities for all people.

5. Much discussion continues to take place regarding the title of “intern.” With regard to titling and beyond, how would you propose the AIA take action to better describe and empower this essential demographic of our profession?

As a participant of the AIA 2014 Emerging Professionals Summit, I fully support the clear and poignant statement that “the term ‘intern’ has outlived its usefulness. We further declare that the isolated and unhealthy behavior of training and educating future architects should no longer be tolerated, and we assert that you join the community of architects from the day you begin architecture school. We affirm that the world needs architects with all their talents and career paths.”

For the AIA, the power will come for us stepping forward and defining the problem with the term, and identifying all the stakeholders and engaging them in the conversation. What is the right title--Architecture Graduate, Graduate Architect, Architect in Training? Well, I’m not sure. However, I do know that the AIA must commit the time and resources to address the titling issue as we move forward with repositioning, and make the change we need, and just do it!

As we move forward we must be prepared to work with NCARB and their member boards to be the champions for a new title to empower our emerging professionals and the next generation of architects. Thank you.


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