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About Jared Hueter, Assoc. AIA: Mr. Hueter is the 2012-2013 Regional Associate Director for the Gulf States Region, and is an outspoken advocate for responsible design. He is an intern architect with Mathes Brierre Architects in New Orleans, which he joined in 2011 to focus on educational design. He is in the process of completing the Intern Development Program in preparation for the Architect Registration Examination.
Mr. Hueter, you were a fellow of Design Corps, a program that creates positive change in communities by providing architecture and planning services. How does an architect need to alter his/her approach in order to work effectively with a community that serves as a co-designer on the project?
The architect has to listen and be flexible enough to accept solutions from the most unexpected sources. It doesn’t always have to be novel or complex to be appropriate, beautiful, and functional.
As a Design Corps Fellow, I quickly learned that before good architecture can be designed, relationships have to be built. In our case, it was a relationship with the community. The community was brought to the table as the site experts, as co-designers. Our challenge was to ask the right questions, listen to the answers, and propose a solution.
When a community serves as a project co-designer, the community representatives are the experts on the pressures affecting their community. Architects are trained in critical thinking and problem-solving, so they are experts on finding solutions. What has to happen in order for both sides to agree on a design solution?
You start by not looking at it as two sides, but rather as one team. As with any design problem, the goals, objectives, and expectations must be clearly stated and agreed upon by the team. The team comes to an agreement on the design solution because the team members all have an integral role in producing that solution.
You were the Dean of Design at the Priestley Charter School of Architecture and Construction—a charter school in New Orleans created for at-risk youth to learn design/build skills. How can design education change a student’s perspective on his/her community?
Our design based curriculum provided a new lens with which our students could view the world. Many of our students were surrounded by problems perceived to be insurmountable. In fact, they were often seen as the problem. Significantly, when students learned the design process they saw within themselves the ability to create the solution.
When working on a project collaboratively with community representatives, how do you think this collaboration impacts the "value" of design—particularly in New Orleans? Have you found the process has brought together a community that has endured so much in recent years?
New Orleans communities are some of the strongest and most closely-knit communities. A category five hurricane couldn't tear that fabric apart, and I doubt that the greatest design could produce a close-knit community, but design does make a difference.
When the community members’ knowledge and unique experiences, are coupled with the expertise of the architects, the value of the final product increases significantly. In these dynamics, the “value” of the design is the team’s sense of ownership and pride in what is accomplished, building even closer relationships.
How many years out of school was it before you decided to become a member? What happened in your career to make you change your mind?
It was about four years after I graduated before I joined the AIA. At that time, I had been primarily working with non-profit organizations around New Orleans utilizing my architecture education to create a non-traditional career. While I felt that I was practicing architecture on a daily basis, I realized that many did not share my broader definition of the profession.
However, when I decided to join the AIA, I was surprised to find that the AIA had great interest in different perspectives. I saw potential for someone like myself—with non-traditional experience—to be involved and be heard. I had, and still have, much to learn about this profession, but the AIA provided a great opportunity for me to get involved and grow as a professional.
Mr. Hueter, you are the National Associates Committee 2012 Regional Associate Director for the Gulf States region which means you’ve taken the steps to be an involved and active member. How have these leadership experiences with the AIA benefitted you? Can you think of an experience or benefit you may have received as a direct result of your leadership role?
The first benefit in being in leadership is the opportunity to play an integral role in shaping the future of the Institute. Second, as the Regional Associate Director, I meet many great designers with many different perceptions and diverse approaches to design. Every time I attend an AIA convention, whether it is a state, regional, or national convention, I learn something new about this profession and leave the convention proud to be a member.
Finally, as one of the three National Associates Committee 2013 Directors we expect that you will renew your membership. What is the main reason you continue your membership and involvement with the AIA?
I renew my membership for the same reason that I joined, which is to continue to have a voice in the future of my profession. As an AIA member, I see so much of what this profession has to offer to improve our world. The complexity and diversity of ways that architecture can be applied to improve the way we live amazes me. The AIA has the opportunity to bring these uses of architecture together like no other organization.
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Jared Hueter, Assoc. AIA