Where we are going, and why
The state of the member-led Institute is strong, and our aim is greater influence in every city and state
Over the last six months, we have received many expressions of concern from members all over the country and abroad, and from all points on the political spectrum. Those concerns addressed AIA directly, as well as the future of not only the profession, but our nation.
As Institute president, I have taken steps, with the support of our Board of Directors and the expertise and recommendations of AIA staff, to bring our focus back to our values and the issues of greatest importance to our members, and to build the confidence and trust among members that our national organization is working for all of us and our profession.
Today, I am pleased to report that we are gaining ground in several important ways, not least of which is the number of members who choose to join our Institute:
We have a strong, united, and directed voice and are influencing critical issues. We have spoken out on immigration, national budget priorities, and climate impacts. There will be more. With bipartisan member support, and from a solid policy footing, we are focused on what matters—to our work, our clients, and the public.
You lead your organization. Members direct the path for AIA, and this renewed focus on who we are as a profession has created new enthusiasm and energy, so much in evidence at A’17, where we experienced a huge outpouring of excitement over our new direction.
Open, innovative thinking has allowed us to reinvent our main national event. Over the last couple of years, AIA leadership and staff have transformed what is now the AIA Conference on Architecture. “A’17”—and onward, A’18, A’19, etc.—goes beyond just a name change. It reflects a genuine push to reshape our annual gathering for the benefit of architecture. Behind the name is a spirit of involvement and inclusiveness, from the general sessions to the quality of the educational offerings, to the entire conference experience.
Our aim is influence—we seek to stimulate demand for architecture, to be effective everywhere we can, certainly in our annual conference, but also in everything that we do. For example, I am going to ask the board to take up the issue of how better to help state and local components in lobbying in statehouses and city halls. Also, I am working with other volunteers and staff to implement several simple, low-cost, high-impact opportunities to highlight the value of architecture and your work, and to support our ongoing public relations campaign. The public will understand what architects do, and they will see outcomes that matter to all.
But our work needs to be at the forefront of the Institute’s unified voice, leadership, and its influence—not only in the trade press, but also in the mainstream news. We will continue to engage with members of the national and international media to develop new relationships that center on the work that AIA architects everywhere do on behalf of communities and the environment.
AIA components and the national organization must work in alignment to offer continuing education programs, partner with sponsors and manufacturers, reach the public, and launch business ventures that generate non-dues revenues. To that end, I am appointing a task force with component executives and members to find constructive and innovative ways to both earn and distribute revenues.
With our unified voice, innovative leadership, and effective influence, we will accomplish much together. As a professional body, we are stronger and more effective than ever. And, with your help and support, we will reveal our hard work in communities everywhere, demonstrating the incalculable value of architecture and what we do.
Thomas Vonier, FAIA, is the 2017 president of the American Institute of Architects.