President's Report: Are You an "Autumn Architect"?

Daryl Dean, AIA, AIAW 2017 President

Are you an “Autumn Architect”?

You may think this question is asking if you are a senior partner in a larger firm or a seasoned practitioner in a smaller office or even a retired Emeritus AIA member? However, it also may be relevant for emerging professionals if you are an Associate member preparing for the registration exam or a recently licensed AIA member exploring the next steps in your career.  

Thinking of the autumn season often spawns visions of Halloween and Thanksgiving – Halloween with it’s scary things and Thanksgiving reflections of appreciation and gratitude. With these kinds of images in mind, today I’d like to speculate on the more literal concept of what this autumn season is stirring up for our profession.   

It’s scary to witness the damage and loss of life from the recent hurricanes, floods and wildfires.   

It can be scary to learn that the Wisconsin Legislature is questioning the necessity of licensing professionals like architects.

Does it scare you that new and creative approaches for delivering public projects are being proposed to reduce costs without provisions to protect accountability and quality?  

Does it scare you that state building code requirements may reduce fire protection for multifamily dwellings?  

It scares me to learn that significant state incentives can be offered to lure a business into Wisconsin with little or no expectations for high performance design and use of renewable energy resources.  

And, on a positive note, it is unquestionably scary to conceive of all the ways to enlighten our friends, neighbors, community leaders and elected officials about the value architects, as “trusted advisors,” add to the discussion on these topics.

In my last report, I anticipated positive outcomes from the AIA Wisconsin long-range planning session, AIA “SpeakUp” advocacy conference and Fall Workshop on emerging practice trends. I am excited to report that these programs generated relevant discussion, innovative ideas and energetic attitudes on how AIA Wisconsin members can address the oftentimes scary challenges facing our profession.

The key word here is “MEMBERS.” As a member, you might be intimidated by the idea of stepping up or speaking up, but know that you are not alone and that you are also more qualified than most to take a stand by stepping up to ratify the relevance of the profession. When you do, others will, too. AIA Wisconsin and your local AIA sections have a variety of resources to support you and inspire you. I encourage you to check them out today and scare your angst away!   

Stepping up and speaking up is revitalizing and exhilarating

While stepping up and speaking up can be scary, it is also revitalizing and exhilarating. This year’s planning session focused on diversity, resilience, leadership and next practice. An inspiring one-day gathering ended with dozens of initiatives. This is where member involvement is welcomed and encouraged. Now is a perfect  time to get involved even if it’s only an hour a day for the AIA.

A different aura of the autumn season is Thanksgiving. Awareness and gratitude or appreciation is beneficial to all of us. While there always will be concerns, there also is a lot for which to be grateful.

It can be fulfilling when we are able to speak to what’s scary and help make a difference or change something for the better. We should be thankful that our talents and our abilities can be useful in so many different areas to solve so many different problems.

The AIA provides a resilient network of member colleagues – many of whom have already been applying their expertise and facing many of the scary issues that are challenging our profession today. It’s gratifying to be able to speak up and make a difference.

Let’s all be advocates for architects!

Image credits

Daryl Dean, AIA, AIAW 2017 President

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