2018 through the eyes of architects
The most memorable stories from AIA.org and ARCHITECT Magazine highlight the topics architects are thinking about, as well as the work they’ve accomplished.
2018 was a year of progress for architecture and for AIA, as the Institute embraced calls for a more diverse and equitable profession, prepared for a technological revolution, and continued to support sustainable strategies that can help combat climate change. This review revisits the top stories from AIA.org and ARCHITECT Magazine that highlighted the best and brightest the profession has to offer.
Technology is trending
“Many in the industry are derogatory towards technology or see it as subservient, and that’s one of the things I’ve been working hard to change.” The words of Cory Brugger, Assoc. AIA, chief technology officer at HKS, resonate now more than ever. Technology is reshaping the world, and it’s time for architecture to welcome the new tools at their disposal. Here are some steps the profession has already taken:
- There is a growing sense that, if firms don’t incorporate artificial intelligence into practice, they’ll get left behind
- As BIM software evolves, firms are looking beyond the visualization elements and focusing on the data within
- Creating a culture of collaboration between design and technology teams can minimize disruption and maximize the benefits of new technologies
Making an impact
One of the Institute’s main focuses in 2018 was creating a Blueprint for Better, using programs like the AIA Film Challenge to highlight how architects strengthen communities. We also took action, advocating for two pieces of legislation on disaster recovery and education that became law as a result of our outreach to members of Congress. Learn more about architects that are examining big questions and improving the world around them:
- At an AIA summit on design justice, architects asked themselves, “Who does design include, benefit, or harm?”
- The annual AEC Cares event saw architects come together to renovate a Houston treatment center
- To combat homelessness in Los Angeles, architects and designers will need to explore new strategies and think outside of the box
One of the major themes at AIA Conference on Architecture 2018—also known as A’18—was equity, diversity, and inclusion. Through new resolutions and personal commitments to collective action, architects proclaimed that it was time for change. Find out how else the Institute and its members are contributing to a more equitable and inclusive profession:
- Women leaders offer four tips to pursue equity in your firm, including speaking up for both your work and yourself
- In the wake of the #MeToo movement, architecture firms must address harassment and foster a culture of respect
- Harassment can come in many forms; find out how to establish workplace policies that can help overcome discrimination
Practice makes perfect
The final keynote speaker at A’18 was a firm CEO who shared her biggest frustration with a room full of architects. “We spend so little time talking about the actual business of architecture,” lamented Sheela Søgaard, chief executive officer of Bjarke Ingels Group, who proceeded to explain the firm’s philosophies to a truly captive audience at Radio City Music Hall. Fortunately, AIA places an emphasis on helping members better run their businesses. Here are some of the year’s best stories on firm and practice management:
- When it comes to calculating an architect’s fee, AIA’s new B101-2017 agreement brings clarity to percentage-based compensation
- In a tough economic climate, one small Texas firm doubled down on serving one client type and grew exponentially in the process
- A small firm principal explains how financial transparency and shared responsibilities improved morale and built a culture of honesty
Sustainable strategies, sustainable future
The clock is ticking on global warming, and architects need to be at the forefront of answering the latest calls for urgency. Though the 2018 report from AIA’s 2030 Commitment shows genuine progress, incremental steps forward will not be enough. This isn’t just about energy; new research into materials, healthy design, and resilience has given architects more tools than ever to create a more sustainable environment. It’s up to all firms and all designers to rethink how they do business and help make the world a healthier, stronger, better place.
- To slow troubling trends in bad diets and poor mental health, this Upjohn-supported research explains how design can prompt healthy behaviors on college campuses
- Many architects are moving beyond LEED alone and embracing new opportunities for sustainable design, including the Living Building Challenge
- Building safety assessments are integral in helping communities recover from disasters; they can also save everyone a lot of money
Steve Cimino is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor with a focus on architecture and design.