AIA Board of Directors approves new AIA Strategic and Climate Action Plans

The AIA Board of Directors met virtually over four days between April 14-17 to discuss a range of issues from approving the association’s new strategic plan to operational disruptions related to COVID-19. Below are a few of the top items directly related to members and the profession.

Strategic Plan

The AIA Board of Directors approved the association’s 2021-2025 strategic plan to guide the organization’s actions and business operations. AIA President Jane Frederick said, “We are at a turning point, a crossroads in the AIA, a crossroads in the profession, and a crossroads in the world we live in. What we do in the next few years will determine what we become in the next 50.”  The AIA approved a five-year strategic plan that focuses on the following areas:

Climate Action. To have the AIA and the profession focus on real action that mitigates climate change.

The Role of the Architect. To elevate awareness and understanding to help society see who architects really are, that architects collaboratively help to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

Research and Technology. To recognize that knowledge is a valuable currency that defines who we are and what we do, and that innovation allows us to create a better world.

Architectural Education. To better prepare architects for the future ahead and to include a true cross-section of society.  

Equity. To further promote equity in the profession and for all who inhabit the built environment we design. The Strategic Plan, based on member input and feedback, also emphasizes collaboration and prioritization.  

Create a bigger tent…and collaborate with all those who care about architecture and the world we all inhabit.

Focus selectively on issues that really matter…and mobilize our resources, educate and preparing architects, advance knowledge, and shed things that are not part of our core values.

Raise up a whole new generation of leaders…and prepare architects for the leadership these roles require.  The Board approval allows the association to begin creating the necessary plans to carry out these directives. The new Strategic Plan will be shared broadly soon.

Climate Action Plan

The Board reconfirmed its commitment to climate action and architects’ ability to create positive change through the built environment and approved a Climate Action Plan, developed by members and staff. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board prioritized language for the climate action plan to address “Human and Ecological Health.”  The Climate Action Plan will be shared broadly soon.

AIA Honors & Awards

Last summer, AIA selected Covington & Burling, LLP, and its partner Eric Holder, Jr.—who previously served as the U.S. Attorney General—to conduct a comprehensive review of the association’s Honors & Awards programs, and College of Fellows candidate selection.  The work was specifically around the vetting of candidates and addressing any allegations that may arise about an individual. AIA’s primary goal is to promote the highest professional working standards throughout the profession, and among its members.  The Board has reviewed the draft “American Institute of Architects Harassment and Discrimination Policy - AIA Members and Event Participants,” which is among the priorities outlined in the Covington recommendations. At the Board’s direction, the policy is also being reviewed by key committees for additional input.  In addition, the AIA Board amended the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and added the following language:  

Statement on the Professional Standard of Care

The Code is not intended to suggest or define the standard of care an architect is required to meet in providing its professional services, and should not be used in a civil action against an architect as evidence that the standard of care has been breached. Finally, architects should continue to consult with state laws or regulations governing the practice of architecture. The Board further delegates authority to the Secretary to determine where in the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct this language shall appear.

AIA Regions

The Board received the final report of the AIA Regions Task Force made up of members from across the country. Following review of the report, the Board chose an option called the “Adaptive Reuse of State Components.” This has been proposed to increase efficiency and effectiveness while maintaining geographic input from members. The approach is designed to eliminate regions from the AIA structure.  The “Adaptive Reuse of State Components” model is directed toward creating a direct connection of state components to AIA National through state-elected Strategic Councilors. The move is intended to provide more opportunities to engage future leaders, and to create more transparent and equitable election processes to increase inclusion and diversity. President Jane Frederick is considering appointing a new task group to analyze the Regions Task Force report and the Board’s direction, and to develop recommendations for moving forward. Findings will be presented to the Board later in the year.

A’20 Cancellation and the Annual Business Meeting, Elections, Investiture, and Honors & Awards recipients.

Finally, the AIA Board of Directors discussed the ramifications of cancelling the 2020 Conference on Architecture and Design (A’20) due to the COVID-19 outbreak. With the cancellation there remain myriad questions and challenges that require answers. That includes…

  • The AIA Annual Business Meeting, which includes important pieces of business. AIA is incorporated in New York and is subject to that state’s laws governing annual meetings.
  • Elections that are normally held during conference.  
  • College of Fellows Investiture allowing the profession to recognize new Fellows.
  • 2020 Honors & Awards recipients acknowledgement.  AIA employees are working with members where appropriate to develop plans to address these and other issues. The association will announce its plans, once fully vetted, by June 30 at the latest.  

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