What are the concerns of today's architecture students?
Two common threads are the focus on environmental stewardship and the nature of being a socially responsible architect. We're looking to support students developing an ecological literacy as well as a socially responsible focus. We had a roundtable with A1 Gore at the AIA convention, and the basis of his message was to imagine the future and to realize that today's students are the ones who will radically impact what that future looks like.
Does the AIAS have a presence?
We're represented in 140-plus schools around the country as well as in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Europe, and Canada. Crit is our journal that's published twice a year. It's the only journal of student thought and work that is also edited and published by students. Our members receive the publication, but schools and firms subscribe because they want to get the current beat of the student population.
Are there any particular schools that are making significant contributions to the AIAS today?
All of them do in a unique way. Recently, for example, as part of our “Freedom by Design” community service program, a school in Michigan designed and built a ramp for a family with a child who is disabled. And [the students] wrote to us to tell us about not only how they were able to change the lives of that entire family through design, but, in fact, how that process changed them and started to shape their future as practicing architects. We see these kind of opportunities popping up in our chapters all across the country.
How does the AIAS adapt to a field that's increasingly multidisciplinary?
One of the key issues that our organization is bringing to the table is that students recognize the need to be able to collaborate across disciplines. On the local level, we're trying to connect our members with their peers in other disciplines through partnerships with urban design associations, landscape architects, and engineers. That is something that needs to be supported at the foundation level, so students are prepared for that type of relationship-building when they get into practice.
With the growing requirements of continuing education, all architects are students. How does this affect the AIAS?
We're looking to create a culture of lifelong learning in the academy so that students understand that part of being an architect is to pursue that type of learning in practice.