A November conference in Chicago marks the launch of the Association of Architectural Organizations, a new network of groups devoted to raising public awareness of architecture. It's the brainchild of Lynn Osmond, president of the Chicago Architecture Foundation, who spoke with ARCHITECT about its genesis. Learn more at architecture.org/aao.
So this is sort of a meta-association. Who belongs, and what's the purpose?
It's open to everybody who's providing architecture education to the public and to the profession: centers, museums, schools, and so forth. We really have no peer network. We call ourselves the "translators," because architecture is such a big word. It's not like art.
What are the AAO's top priorities?
We want to have conferences to share best practices. We're not going to be advocating policy at the government level but advocating for a better-educated public. We can talk about how to do architecture festivals. We can network the curators to get more exhibits traveling around the country.
Where does the money come from?
Initial funding came from the Driehaus Foundation and the Graham Foundation. The National Endowment for the Arts has given us some travel funding. And we've got about 20 founding members who've each given us $1,000.
What helps get regular people thinking about architecture?
Public engagement. Letting them touch and feel. I love getting people on a tour who don't understand Mies. When it's done, they may not like him, but they understand him. And they understand that a glass house can sit respectfully next to a brick house.