The AIA's biggest event of the year is almost here. ARCHITECT is counting down the month leading up to the 2015 AIA Convention, being held in Atlanta on May 14–16. Each day until Convention, we'll post an idea for something fun to do while you're there, some neat factoid about the city, or a tip on how to plan before you arrive. See you in Atlanta!

1 Day to Go ...

Visit ARCHITECT at booth 445.

ARCHITECT Live interviews and panels will take place on May 14–16 on the expo floor. Make sure to stop by and listen in on the discussions on topics ranging from sustainability to new AIA contract documents. We'll host guests such as 2015 AIA Gold Medal winner Moshe Safdie, FAIA, and Architects Foundation executive director Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop. You can meet some ARCHITECT editors at a panel discussion moderated by Hanley Wood residential design editor Katie Gerfen on Saturday, May 16, at 10:30 a.m.

2 Days to Go ...
Vote for the next leaders of the AIA.

Modified from Valerie Hinojosa v

Be an informed voter when you head to the polls this week to cast your votes for first vice president/president-elect, treasurer, and at-large directors. Read ARCHITECT's interviews with the candidates on their goals, the benefits of AIA membership, and the Institute's "I Look Up" public awareness campaign. All nine candidates will give speeches on Thursday at 9 a.m. and delegates will vote at the AIA Town Hall, located on the Expo floor in booth 4345 on Thursday, May 14, 3:30–6:00 p.m., and Friday, May 15, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

3 Days to Go ...

Hear Bill Clinton's keynote speech.

Alan Light via Flickr Creative C

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will take the convention stage on Thursday morning to give a keynote address. The AIA has participated in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a sect within the Clinton Foundation that encourages members to form Commitments to Action, or plans that would spur significant global change. Called the Decade of Design, the AIA's initiative conducted research to develop infrastructure for urban settings, in hopes of positively affecting the public’s health by using natural, economic, and human resources. The AIA also worked with CGI on a commitment to resilient design.

4 Days to Go ...

Watch Ehrlich Architects receive this year's Architecture Firm Award.

Noah Kalina
Ehrlich Architects is the 52nd recipient of the AIA's Architecture Firm Award. The Culver City, Calif.–based firm, which made it into the 2014 ARCHITECT 50, was recognized for its “multicultural modernism,” a style consisting of: cross-cultural fusion, openness to change and technical innovation, and a focus on developing quasi-public spaces as a solution to density. Ehrlich Architects will be honored on Saturday, May 16.

5 Days to Go ...

Celebrate architecture that has stood the test of time with the presentation of the AIA's Twenty-Five Year Award.

Richard Waite

The Broadgate Exchange House, designed and engineered by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, won the AIA's Twenty-Five Year Award for its cohesive design in an urban area built on top of thousand-year old infrastructure. The exterior of the 10-story office building is clad in repeated mid-century modern cube forms, and supported by four parallel curved arches, which are built both externally and internally. The building, which opened in 1990, was in demand after London experienced a financial boom in the 1980s. Serving as the centerpiece of the Broadgate Development, a modern and pedestrian friendly area in the city, the site acts as a hybrid structure a top of the rail infrastructure made in collaboration with British Rail. The Chicago-based firm will receive the award on Saturday, May 16.

6 Days to Go ...

Take some tips from Catherine Fox, executive director of

Bruin via Flickr Creative Common
ARCHITECT asked Fox to weigh in on what to see and do during the convention week.
  1. "The Atlanta Botanical Garden will have a great night spectacle by installation artist Bruce Munro." []

  2. "The Westside is a jumble of rehabbed industrial buildings with lots of restaurants."

  3. "The Center for Civil and Human Rights is certainly worth a visit, especially in terms of the exhibition design." Check out ARCHITECT's piece on the building, designed by the Freelon Group and HOK. [ARCHITECT]

The Atlanta BeltLine: "Those folks conduct bus tours that take you around the 22-mile loop, of which only eight or so miles are built, but walking the west side is fun, and you can see how it has impacted the area in terms of development."

7 Days to Go ...

Honor AIA Gold Medal Recipient Moshe Safdie, FAIA.

Noah Kalina
Moshe Safdie won the 71st AIA Gold Medal for his lasting influence on architecture, primarily for urban-scaled projects. Habitat 67, realized at Montreal’s Expo 67 is considered one of his most revered works, which hones back to his graduate thesis project at McGill University. The building is comprised of 365 prefabricated units of varying sizes, and stacked asymmetrically so that they could each have their own terrace. Safdie later established Safdie Architects, based in Somerville, Mass., but also has offices across the world in Jerusalem, Toronto, Singapore, and Shanghai. Safdie will receive the award on Thursday, May 14.

8 Days to Go ...

Celebrate important members of the architecture and design community.

Noah Kalina

The AIA is giving out a handful of awards this year to industry leaders who have made impacts in public service, education, and diversity in the profession.

This year's Whitney M. Young Jr. Award will be presented to Auburn University's Rural Studio for its dedication to improving the infrastructure of underserved, rural Alabama on Thursday, May 14.

The Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education will go to Peter Eisenman, FAIA, on Friday, May 15.

Also presented on May 15, the Edward C. Kemper Award will go to Edward Mazria, AIA, for his significant contributions to the profession and the AIA.

9 Days to Go ...
Take some tips from Betsy Riley, editor of Atlanta Magazine's HOME.

ARCHITECT asked Riley to weigh in on what to see and do during the convention. Here are three of her picks:

  1. Atlanta Decorative Arts Center 32nd Annual Sample Sale:

  2. Atlanta Movie Tours:

  3. The Buckhead houses: "[J]ust driving around the residential area of Buckhead can be pretty impressive — that's where you'll see the white columns and sprawling lawns. It's where the Governor's Mansion is."

10 Days to Go ...

Visit the Hurt Building designed by James Edwin Ruthven Carpenter Jr., in 1913.

atlexplorer via Flickr Creative

Plenty of cities have triangular blocks and, occasionally, you’ll find a building whose architect took full advantage of an acute angle to design something special. It’s a matter of “turning a corner,” in studio parlance, but it’s also a matter of acknowledging the city beyond. One of the most handsome examples of this, which also happens to be a model of the Greek Revival in America, is William Strickland’s Merchants’ Exchange Building in Philadelphia (1834). There, Strickland made the most of an odd angle by designing a rotunda that borrowed the proportions and scale of a monument on the Athenian Acropolis, and created a piece of urban sculpture.

Three generations later, James Edwin Ruthven Carpenter referenced Strickland’s approach with the rotunda for his Hurt Building, one of Atlanta’s own “flat irons” designed for a difficult triangular site downtown. But Carpenter had to turn more than just a corner using Classical proportions. He also had to deliver a 17-story structure behind it. Working with the building’s patron and builder John Hurt (an engineer by training), Carpenter turned to Daniel Burnham’s Flatiron Building (1902) in New York and Louis Sullivan’s Carson, Pirie, Scott Building (1899) in Chicago to not only understand how to design a tall office building (“artistically considered,” as Sullivan would say) but how to humanize it at street level.

-Bill Richards for AIArchitect

11 Days to Go ...

Find success through effective communication.

On day two of the upcoming convention, the AIA will host keynote speakers Welby Altidor, Cirque de Soleil executive creative director, and Julie Dixon, research director of National Journal's Communications Council. They will discuss how to embrace failure and find your narrative to establish creative and compelling communication in order to drive success. Don't miss out on this opportunity to "tap your creative courage!"

12 Days to Go ...

Circle in the Square.

MFer Photography via Flickr Crea

Cycloramas were the 3D movies of the 18th century—spectacles that you have to see to really believe—and, like 3D movies, they continue to endure as a singular experience. Roughly 100 years after the debut of the cyclorama-as-art-form, Atlanta’s cyclorama opened, depicting the Confederate routing in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Painted by the America Panorama Co. in Milwaukee in 1885, the 400-foot-long tour de force was eventually installed in architect John Francis Downing’s Neoclassical cyclorama in 1921. Plans are afoot to move the painting to a new venue, but you still have a chance to catch it in situ.

Learn more at

-Bill Richards for AIArchitect

13 Days to Go ...

Earn Learning Units (LUs) and maintain your professional credentials.

Conference Room at The American Institute of Architects, Washington, DC

NIDDK Workshop.
Jun Seita via Flickr Creative Co Conference Room at The American Institute of Architects, Washington, DC NIDDK Workshop.

Stay up to date on new advances in the field, learn best practices for your business, and expand your skills with courses in the AIA/CES continuing education program. At this year's convention, there will be plenty of options to choose from: AIA will offer more than 300 seminars, workshops, and expo education sessions. The schedule is segmented so you can choose an education track or an area of focus.

14 Days to Go ...

Learn how to build your business.

On May 16, Fox Business Network anchor Trish Regan will moderate a panel on the business of architecture. The panelists include: Latent Design founder Katherine Darnstadt, AIA, who was a finalist in the Architecture Business Plan Competition; Steven Ehrlich, FAIA, the founding partner of Ehrlich Architects, which won the 2015 AIA Architecture Firm Award; Mark Ripple, AIA, a partner and director of operations of Eskew+Dumez+Ripplelast year's Architecture Firm Award recipient; and Curtis J. Moody, FAIA, president and CEO of Moody Nolan.

The discussion will explore topics such as how firms can thrive in the long term and what you can do to make your practice profitable.

15 Days to Go ...

Explore the Georgia World Congress Center.

Design Collective. When the original Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta—designed by tvsdesign (when they were Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates)—opened in 1976, it was the first state-owned convention center in the U.S. Three expansions later, it’s the fourth-largest convention center in the U.S., at 3.9 million square feet—which is more than 68 football fields combined. It’s also the site, for the third time in the Institute’s history, of the AIA National Convention (May 14–16, 2015), for which thousands of architects, product manufacturers, and allied industry representatives will converge.

Register on site or online at

-Bill Richards for AIArchitect

16 Days to Go ...

Visit the Central Library.

Aleksandr Zykov via Flickr Creat

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, Marcel Breuer Associates, 1980.

Thirty-five years ago, Marcel Breuer completed his final building—the Central Library for the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System—at the age of 80. It’s often compared to the Hungarian-born architect’s Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, with a steel frame supporting concrete slabs and façades composed of bush-hammered precast concrete panels—reminiscent of an inverted ziggurat. It’s also a fine piece of formal Brutalism, a style of architecture coined by British architecture critics decades ago that’s attracted some press of late, predictably centering on maintenance issues and divided public opinion on aesthetic propriety.

The Breuer library is a more troubled building than its New York counterpart, dogged by costly water damage, material failures, and performance issues. A $5 million renovation in 2002 stemmed the leaks, but the building remains imperiled by years of deferred maintenance, which landed it on the World Monuments Watch for endangered buildings in 2010—galvanizing the local preservation community. “If you want a home run you pick Hank Aaron,” said the Atlanta library system’s director, Carlton Rochell, to convince his selection board to go with Breuer. Looking back on Breuer’s oeuvre, it’s clear that, in a 50-year career, he rarely ever swung and missed. There were only Aaronesque hits—thoughtful, sculptural, and stirring works of architecture all over the world. Atlanta’s library is no exception.

-Bill Richards for AIArchitect

17 Days to Go ...

Enjoy a Coca-Cola.

Josh Hallett via Flickr Creative

There are some analogies that will never change. For example, Atlanta : Coca-Cola :: Boston : Dunkin’ Donuts :: Dublin : Guinness :: Providence : Del’s Lemonade. But there’s something about Atlanta’s relationship with that caramel-colored, syrupy soda that transcends glib analogies. Right now, at the High Museum of Art, you can catch “The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100” or, situated on the northeast corner of Pemberton Place, you can check out The World of Coca-Cola, designed by Rosser International (with a master plan by Venice, Calif.’s Jerde Partnership)—perhaps the largest building dedicated to a single beverage.
Learn more at and
-Bill Richards for AIArchitect

18 Days to Go ...
Get out and draw.

Frank Harmon

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, and Frank Harmon, FAIA, are architects’ architects who, individually, have won countless awards and have nearly a century of experience. But, if you ask them, they’d probably tell you that the key to it all is looking and drawing. It’s how architecture starts and how it lives on in the mind’s eye; it’s the basis of muscle memory and the juice that fuels design. Join them on May 16 for “Urban Sketching,” a half-day workshop that includes a seminar and field excursion to look, sketch, and paint.
Learn about what to bring and register at
-Bill Richards for AIA Architect

19 Days to Go ...
Take a tour of Turner Field.
Charles Atkeison via Flickr Crea
The Atlanta Braves will be in Miami during Convention, but that doesn't mean you can't check out Turner Field, home of the baseball team since 1997. Best to catch it while you can, too, since the team plans on moving to its new Populous-designed SunTrust Park, currently under construction, by the 2017 season. The Turner Field tour includes the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame, Coca-Cola Sky Field, Scout's Alley, clubhouse, dugout, the luxury suite, the press box, the broadcast booth, and the museum store. Tours can be booked online and run every hour and a half from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays, and at 1 and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.
-Sara Johnson

20 Days to Go ...

Get out and play!
Beatte Sass

Playscape: Piedmont Park, Isamu Noguchi, 1976

When Parc de la Villette opened in 1986, it transformed the career of Bernard Tschumi, FAIA, as well as a corner of Paris that lost its abattoirs and much of its identity. Parc de la Villette’s follies—museums, sculptures, and stages—elevated the idea of a “playscape” for urbanites, defined by elemental shapes and bold colors. It also represented a reinvestment by the city in civic space expressly for public benefit. When cities do that, it becomes one of those quality-of-life issues that pay dividends ad infinitum.

Rewind a decade, and you will find an important precedent: Isamu Noguchi and Herman Miller’s Playscape in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park—an echo of the Japanese sculptor’s failed 1933 plan to turn one New York City block into Play Mountain (reportedly killed by parks czar Robert Moses). Playscape, completed in 1976, continues to thrive—its elemental shapes knit together in a tight radial plan. Its follies, rendered in blue, green, orange, and red, feel just as inviting to adults as they do to children. Sure, there’s a slide and swings, but there are also sculptures that have no purpose other than to be climbed, sat on, and explored.

The park’s 3.5 million visitors each year—more than six times the population of Atlanta proper—confirm its popularity. Those who find their way to the southwest corner of the park find a moment that’s open to interpretation. And, so long as we rate cities according to quality of life, our ability to interpret our cities remains vital (or, derive and détournement, as a younger version of Tschumi would have claimed). If Atlantans are guilty of anything, it’s of having a good time—particularly at Playscape. 
-Bill Richards for AIArchitect

21 Days to Go ...

Advocate for equity in architecture.

Jen Tai

Inspired by the successful Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action! symposium held last October in San Francisco, The Missing 32% Project is hosting a half-day workshop on how to promote equitable practice in architecture, advance the profession, and communicate its value. The packed itinerary of session WE310 includes a review of the landmark 2014 Equity in Architecture survey, a discussion of pinch points in architecture, and the first-ever AIA Convention mini-hackathon, in which participants will break out into groups and put their charretting skills to use by proposing actionable initiatives for fostering equity in architecture. They will then pitch their proposals in 5 minutes or less to a panel of judges before they relax at a complimentary post-workshop happy hour at Studio No. 7, where the jury will award the best pitches.

Sign up for the workshop, held on Wed., May 13, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., when you register for Convention. It costs $190, but architecture students, emerging professionals, and newly licensed architects (under 5 years) can apply for a scholarship. But hurry: Applications are due Mon., April 27.

Can’t make the workshop but want to partake in the evening happy hour festivities? Sign up (and pay) for the fun separately.

22 Days to Go ...

Check out the Atlanta Jazz Festival.

Atlanta Jazz Festival

Architecture has been described as frozen music, and Atlanta has been described as one of the best cities for live music. If you combine the two, you get the Atlanta Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park (May 22–24). Dozens of acts, old and new, will be spread out over 189 acres of Olmsted-designed meadows and groves. But you don’t have to wait until the week after the 2015 AIA National Convention to slip on your dancing shoes; live performances related to the festival take place all over the city all month long.

Learn more at

-Bill Richards for AIArchitect

23 Days to Go ...
Bret Jordan via Flickr Creative

"Applied Research in Architecture Education that Advances Practice" is the inaugural symposium in a series developed jointly by AIA and ACSA that will explore intersections between architecture’s academy and practice. Co-chairs Gregory Kessler, FAIA, and Stephen Vogel, FAIA, will focus on healthy and resilient communities, materials and fabrication, and modes of applied research. The symposium, a pre-convention workshop for the 2015 AIA National Convention in Atlanta, is scheduled for May 13.

Learn more and register at

-Bill Richards for AIArchitect

24 Days to Go ...

Go above the treeline for city views.

Nikki Wolfe via Flickr Creative

Heighten your Atlanta experience with the SkyView Ferris Wheel, towering over 20 stories high in the city’s Centennial Olympic Park. It offers unparalleled views of the city, all the while keeping you cool and relaxed in one of 42 climate-controlled gondolas. A VIP gondola is available for a longer flight time, and features leather seats and a dizzying glass floor. The ferris wheel is a sure bet that will add a little spice—at 200 feet—to your convention experience!

Adult tickets are $13.50 + tax, and the ferris wheel is open everyday.

25 Days to Go ...

Visit the High Museum of Art, or "the High," originally designed by Richard Meier & Partners with an addition by Renzo Piano Building Workshop.

Sapoague via Flickr Creative Com

You barely have to scratch the surface of “famous debates in architecture” before your nail hits the Whites versus the Grays—two groups of architects, conveniently packaged by critics in the 1970s into diametrically opposed camps: the Whites, Corbusian in their spare approach to form and regard for context; and the Grays, willing to adapt historical precedent and critical of architecture that makes no attempt to reference the broader culture. It’s much more complicated than that, as ideological debates often are (perhaps taking a Gray view), but it’s also just about that simple (perhaps taking a White one).

Richard Meier, FAIA, typifies the Whites (perhaps more than anyone) and his High Museum of Art typifies a Late Modernist approach to design. It’s a stark white “machine for living” (or, in this case, gallery-going) in which the abstract geometrical plan drives its basic organization and program. The plan also defines its basic experience and procession through atria and galleries. It’s also an iconic part of the skyline in Atlanta—everyone knows the High and how to get there—and it attracts more than half million visitors each year. An addition, which was completed in 2005 and designed by Renzo Piano, Hon. FAIA, doubled the amount of available gallery space; its aluminum panels gel nicely with the 1983 building’s enamel façade, and its subtle massing balances some of the sweeping heroic gestures of the southeast corner.

More importantly, the Piano addition proves that the debate between Whites and Grays—acontextualists and contextualists—is still a viable one. These aren’t mutually exclusive camps after all—just as Meier’s and Piano’s contributions to the High aren’t mutually exclusive buildings. Rather, they are part of a timeless discussion about architecture’s role. And, in the end, Whites need Grays to prove something just as much as Grays need Whites to disprove something. -Bill Richards for AIArchitect

26 Days to Go ...

Check out a design exhibition at the MODA.

James Klotz / Knoll

Find out how revitalization projects like Atlanta’s Beltline are promoting healthy habits at the Museum of Design Atlanta’s (MODA's) new exhibition, “Design for Healthy Living.” Focusing on today’s man-made environment and the designs that encourage daily physical activity and healthier lives, the interactive exhibition will feature local projects and installations by design artists like Tristan Al-Haddad of Formation Studios. It's sure to leave you wondering why you hailed a cab to get to the museum.

"Design for Healthy Living" runs from April 19 to Aug. 9 at 1315 Peachtree Street.

27 Days to Go ...

Tailgate with thousands of your peers at the AIA Party.

Brassfield & Gorrie

Test your networking skills and your knowledge of sports trivia at the AIA Tailgate Experience on Friday, May 15. Held at the College Football Hall of Fame, just steps from the Georgia World Congress Center, this year’s official convention party invites you to explore the building’s 94,256 square feet of interactive, high-tech activities. Dance (or sway awkwardly) on the 45-yard indoor football field, light up your alma mater’s helmet on a 55-foot-by-29-foot wall installation, and live out your sports-casting fantasy on a replica set of ESPN College GameDay. Designed by local firm TVSDesign, the $68.5 million facility opened its doors last August—which means the playing turf is still in good shape.

Purchase your ticket when you register for convention. Bonus: Your $35 admission includes two complimentary drinks to help you party to music by ’70s light-rock cover band Yacht Rock Review.

28 Days to Go ...
Take a guided walking tour through the city’s historical places.

Sure, Atlanta boasts an impressive skyline with gleaming high-rises. But when you stop craning your neck to look at the skyscrapers, you also realize there is an array of historical architecture dating as far back as the mid-1800s. To see how the locals live, take a guided walking tours through true Southern neighborhoods like Ansley Park, Grant Park, and Druid Hills; or see how the elite classes of the past sprawled out at their estates like the L.P. Grant Mansion and Swan House. And if you want to explore the major areas of cultural transformation for the city, head over to Midtown SoNo Commercial District, Ponce de Leon Corrider, and Sweet Auburn. If you’d rather have a guide to help you navigate the city, check out guided walking tours planned by the Atlanta Preservation Center, Underground Atlanta, and Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

29 Days to Go ... 

Plan your convention schedule.

David Brokentaco via Flickr Crea

This year's program is chock full of keynote speeches, parties, seminars, workshops, tours, and more. Explore all the available events here. To get the most out of your days, plan ahead and sign up for events that most appeal to you. Want to know what the ARCHITECT staff is most excited about for this year's convention? Check back to our countdown throughout the next month to find out! 

30 Days to Go ...

Have you registered yet?

James Willamor via Flickr Creati

Hurry up! You have until tomorrow to register to attend the convention at the advance prices. You may have already missed out on the early bird deals, but you can still save some cash by signing up now before full admission prices increase by $100 for AIA members and non-members, alike.

Additional discounts are available for young professionals (who can save nearly 30 percent) and students (who can attend for $25). Also, if you decide to become a new member of the AIA before May 14, you can attend for free. You'll also get another amazing membership perk: a free subscription to ARCHITECT, the official journal of the AIA.