2021 AIA/ACSA Intersections Research Conference: Communities

September 29 – October 1, 2021
11:00 am -7:00 pm ET
virtual event


American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)

Virtual conference: September 29 – October 1, 2021

Conference co-chairs:

  • Rico Quirindongo, AIA, City of Seattle, Office of Planning and Community Development
  • Georgeen Theodore, AIA, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Interboro Partners

As we find ourselves a year plus into a world pandemic, what has changed? What can we as architects, academics, researchers & design leaders do to improve our world, environment, our cities, our buildings & our communities? How can we take a cue from the call for social justice which has been elevated during a time of COVID to address our communities of need, our communities of color, and a legacy of redlining and environmental racism? How can we use and share this knowledge to impact the critical issue of Climate change? Architects are called on to see the bigger picture beyond singular buildings, to ensure the buildings and developments they design have a long-lasting beneficial impact on our cities, regions, towns, and environment.

The keynote speaker will be author Jelani Cobb, Columbia University’s Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism and a long-time staff writer at The New Yorker, who will examine the legacy of our built environment and its communal implications.

Leading firms will also be represented including CallisonRTKL, Gensler, Gould Evans, Perkins+Will, Mahlum, Miller Hull, Olson Kundig, and SOM; plus researchers and experts from ASHRAE, Bloc Power, Groundwork USA, The National Science Foundation, The Institute for Sustainable Communities, The University of Chicago, Urban Institute and Yale University, who are engaged in creating equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities.

For this conference, there will be five tracks:

  • Equitable communities - Design solutions affect more than the client and current occupants. Good design includes considerations of community history, context, culture and more to positively impact present and future occupants and the larger community.
  • Healthy communities - Good design supports health and well-being for all people, considering COVID, physical, mental, and emotional effects on building occupants and the resilience of the surrounding community.
  • Post-pandemic communities - As we wrestle with the impacts of the pandemic and pressing calls to address systemic racism and inequities, we need our communities to thrive and bounce back in climate-responsive and resilient way. How can we take a critical look at the disproportionately negative impact of COVID to our communities of color and provide a pathway for a better future? What are the lessons learned and silver linings that can inform our future for the better?​
  • Zero-carbon communities - Given our current and future climate challenges highly energy-efficient community-based projects are needed to create carbon free & renewable energy powered resilient places.
  • Community localism - Showcasing resilient community-based design responses to one’s own area or region, such as grassroots efforts, community design centers and local ventures. Localism also takes into consideration material supply chains, local trades education, the impacts of community culture and engagement and other aspects of small-scale community reality.


The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)


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