AIA responds to racial injustice, economic uncertainty at 163rd annual meeting

In an unprecedented year, AIA leadership outlined a new institute initiative and reported that the organization's finances are strong.

After cancelling its annual Conference on Architecture due to Covid-19, AIA conducted its 163rd annual meeting remotely last week. There were no bylaws amendments or new resolutions on the agenda this year. The meeting followed on the heels of Architecture in Turbulent Times: Equity, Environment, Health, and Economy – An AIA Learning Event that garnered more than 2,140 attendees.

In her opening remarks, President Jane Frederick, FAIA, recognized the ways in which architects have led their communities in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis in 2020.

“From adapting buildings into health facilities, to providing guidance for safely reopening where we live, work, and relax – the commitment and ability of architects to help society meet big challenges has been made clear, not through words, but by deeds that have touched millions of lives,” she said.

Frederick also announced AIA’s renewed commitment to combatting systemic racial injustice in the architectural profession and the built environment. She shared that AIA will participate in the NAACP 2020 Diversity & Opportunity Report Card for the Sustainable Building Sector. Slated for release in 2021, the audit will evaluate equitable practices within the AIA, including: staffing (composition and perceptions), programs and services, procurement, and governance.

The AIA’s commitment to fighting climate change, Frederick said, continues to be crucial. “Since our members overwhelmingly approved a resolution last year making climate action our top priority, we’ve been working to turn policy into action – focusing every aspect of our operations toward reducing carbon in the built environment.”

AIA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA, introduced the AIA’s Policy Platform in light of the upcoming national election.

“As well look ahead to 2021, we will build on our 2020 AIA Policy Platform—a first, by the way—that lays out AIA’s policy priorities for elected leaders at all levels of government,” he said.

AIA’s Treasurer, Evelyn Lee, AIA, reported that AIA finished 2019 in a sound financial position. During the current pandemic, the AIA has been fiscally responsible and has adjusted its spending to be commiserate with lower revenues, while continuing to prioritize member programs and resources.  

The results of the 2020 campaigns for AIA national offices were announced Friday, Sept. 4 after elections were conducted virtually. Daniel S. Hart, FAIA, was elected 2021 First Vice President and 2022 President-elect, while William R. Turner, AIA, was elected 2021-2022 Secretary and Ryan J. Gann, Assoc. AIA, was elected 2021-2023 At-large Director.

Frederick acknowledged a challenging year ahead and encouraged architects to use their specialized skill set to meet the challenges head-on. “Specific to this moment in history, we are called to help society see the connections between the climate crisis, social justice issues, and the impact both have on human health, and to offer solutions through design thinking,” Frederick said.

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