Thomas Vonier, FAIA, 2017 AIA President
Photography: Carl Bower Thomas Vonier, FAIA, 2017 AIA President

Envisioning what could happen, and then designing for it—that’s the essence of what architects do: We anticipate needs, changes, and challenges—and we plan for them.

Today, is there any pressing need, any change or challenge facing the world, that does not implicate architecture directly?

Climate: Buildings are essential in our efforts to counter global warming and cope with extreme weather. Architects were deeply involved in shaping COP21 and COP22, and we remain firmly committed to the aims of both agreements.

Habitat: Architecture and urban design are crucial to accommodating the world’s urbanizing billions, many of them poor and living on the margins. Architects dominated Habitat III, and remain firmly committed to its outcome, the New Urban Agenda.

Food, Water, and Air: Damage to our supplies of fresh water and arable land—to our forests, to our seas, and to our air—must stop. We critically need new urban infrastructure and new building systems, new designs for cities and landscapes. Architects know how to reshape them all, and reshape them we must.

Security: Who better than architects can integrate systems to promote the vigilance and the sense of public ownership that can make our buildings and public spaces safer?

Energy, Materials, and Resources: Architects know how to design buildings and communities that are more livable, safer, and more efficient. We can make cities and buildings more responsible.

In short, we can design a better world. And in tackling great global challenges, our Institute accomplishes one of its primary missions: to stimulate public demand for architecture. Through design, architects can help governments, citizens, and organizations everywhere address new needs and cope with new threats. We provide tangible examples and realistic solutions. We give form to innovation. Alongside clients and fellow citizens, we design for a better world. We will never retreat from commitments to equity, diversity, sustainability, and social progress. Upholding these values, we design for a better world through engagement. We apply our talents and abilities to anticipating needs, accommodating changes, and addressing challenges.

What’s next? In an era of great challenges, let’s devote ourselves and our Institute to quests for new, sound solutions to serious problems, both here and abroad. As we do, the power of architecture will resonate.