When it comes to dealing with the media, the AIA just gained an edge: In October, it elected David A. Thurm as one of two nonarchitect “public directors” on its 50-member board. Currently a senior vice president of The New York Times and the chief information officer for the New York Times Co., Thurm spoke with ARCHITECT about his career to date and his new role.
ARCHITECT: Can you tell me a little about your work with the Times?
DT: I've been at The New York Times for 25 years. In the course of that I ended up working on a number of building projects, not just as a lawyer but as someone who found it interesting.
ARCHITECT: What were some of your most memorable projects?
DT: I was lucky enough to head the team to build a printing plant in Queens. I felt that the design would make a difference, but we'd never really used a design architect before. I convinced the company, which hired Jim Polshek and Richard Olcott [of Polshek Partnership], and they did a spectacular job. After that, when it came time to build our new corporate headquarters, there wasn't a moment's hesitation about the fact that we were going to use a signature architect [Renzo Piano Building Workshop, which led a design team including FXFOWLE and Gensler].
ARCHITECT: What are your goals for the AIA?
DT: I can't say that I'm coming in with hard-defined goals. The thing that I bring most to the table is the notion of what an owner's perspective is—having hired architects and appreciating what they do, but also sticking within strict budgets and other constraints.