Practicing ArchitecturePracticing Architecture
Emerging Professionals Questions for AIA National Election Candidates
Edward Vance, FAIA (AIA Las Vegas) Candidate for AIA 2015-16 Vice President
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?
I have endeavored to consistently prepare emerging professionals as the next generation of professionals and leaders. The following are a few examples of these efforts:
Nevada State IDP Coordinator for NCARB (1995–1998)
Initiated College Scholarship Fund (2002–Present)
Promoted Middle School Career Initiatives (2008–2012)
Supported High School Leadership Programs (2011)
EPYAF Mentorships (2011)
After learning of Charleston, South Carolina’s award winning Mentor Dinner Series, I opened our home and office to emerging professionals, including the EPYAF Mentorship Dinner series, which provided opportunities for young professionals to exchange ideas with the local design community.
Citizen Architect (2010)
Local YAF Initiatives (2012)
Promoting the mission of the Young Architects Forum, AIA Las Vegas initiated the Architect’s Speak lecture series, to which I spoke to emerging professionals on practice, leadership and the academy.
2. Where do you see voids in representation of emerging professionals within the Institute and the profession, and how could we fill those voids to improve career development for emerging professionals in general?
I share in the notion that you join the community of architects the day you begin architecture school. The world needs architects with all their talents and career paths, and it will take a broad and sustained effort to make this a reality. So what can we do?
I believe that every AIA component should have dedicated leadership positions for emerging professionals, and we should be providing them with specific mentoring resource conferences and symposiums, along with leadership training that is so critical in their development.
We need to meaningfully include young professionals and their perspectives in all of our committees, task-forces, and conferences, and most importantly, recognize and leverage the changing skills and competencies that young people bring to the table, especially their knowledge and experience with regard to technology.
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?
Almost everyone agrees that colleges have become increasingly costly to attend and are a growing burden on society to finance. Rising tuition costs threaten the ability and desire of students to attend college. I believe there are a number of things that the AIA can support in terms of significantly reducing the cost of college in the first place! Some examples are:
1. Encourage More Students to Attend Community College for Their Core Requirements
2. Reform Academic Employment Policies
3. Outsource More Services
4. Reduce Administrative Staff
5. Cut Unnecessary Programs
6. Overhaul the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid form)
7. Streamline Redundant Programs at the State Level
8. Promote Collaborative Purchasing
9. Improve Facility Utilization
10. Increase Teaching Loads
11. Encourage Timely Degree Completion
12. Move More Classes Online
13. Reduce the Cost of Textbooks
14. Digitize Academic Libraries
15. Ease the Transfer Process among Public Institutions
16. Reform Financial Aid
17. Reform Accreditation to Reduce Barriers to Entry
18. Subsidize Students, not Schools
I firmly believe that by supporting initiatives that reduce the cost of an education, we’ll be far more effective in achieving our goal of making college more accessible and affordable to all members of our society.
4. In what ways do you see the AIA more effectively educating the public on the importance of good design?
As one of the most highly respected professions in our society, I believe there is little room to improve the public’s perception of us. But when we speak of the public, perhaps what we really mean instead are the clients that pay for our services. And if this is true, then our mission should be focused on improving our client’s understanding of design, the value of our services, and that we as members of the AIA are the gold standard to which all non-members should aspire.
This is not to suggest that the AIA should abandon efforts to educate the general public on the value of design and the importance of architecture in building neighborhoods and communities. However, it does suggest the AIA should focus its external communications on the clients of architecture, and less on educating the “users” of architecture. I believe we should embark on a well-financed national campaign of targeted client messages, focusing on the “business case for design,” and how design influences project profitability: well-designed multiple family housing that lower vacancy rates; well-planned neighborhoods that create livable communities; well-designed classrooms that contribute to the learning process; and that evidence-based design in health care facilities results in healing environments.
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?
I share in the notion that you join the community of architects the day you begin architecture school. The world needs architects with all their talents and career paths, and it will take a broad and sustained effort to make this a reality.
Webster’s defines “Intern” as:
a. A student or a recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training, or
b. A physician who has recently graduated from medical school and is learning medical practice in a hospital under supervision, prior to beginning a residency program.
In as much as there is little argument that the first is an accurate description of any intern, the second, referring to the profession of medicine, has no problem calling the intern a physician during internship. Unfortunately for us, many if not all state boards of architecture preclude us from using the word architect or architectural intern in our titling of our recent graduates.
I believe that we should be leading a national effort to work with the every state board to allow the use of title “Architectural Intern” or “Intern Architect” to better describe and empower our young people. We need to do everything we can do to inspire our interns to continue their pursuit of licensure and let them know that the destination is worth the journey.