Russell A. Davidson, FAIA, 2016 AIA President
Photography: Carl Bower Russell A. Davidson, FAIA, 2016 AIA President

Most architects have probably been accused of being dreamers. I know I have. The ability to form a complete vision of that which is not yet real is an essential design skill for architects. This is often a lonely adventure. Providing the full range of architectural services today and advocating for your client’s project are both unique challenges that architects face. The AIA realizes this and is working on two initiatives this fall to provide the kind of support our members need to practice, and our communities need to restore its public buildings.

The first is the Center for Practice, which will concentrate the AIA’s resources for practitioners, to help them work smarter. It will build upon the work done by the AIA Board of Directors’ Practice and Prosperity Committee, and the Center for Practice will continue to add features to assist small, medium, and large firms. The goal is to provide assistance so that architects may save time and energy on operations and focus more on creativity and providing more value to clients.

The second initiative is the Build America Summit, which will focus on infrastructure, public buildings, and facilities that define our communities. The event will be held in New York on Nov. 29 and 30, and will include presentations that will address issues related to improving the social infrastructure in our small towns and cities. The fact is that public buildings in every county and state are in need of significant improvements, and the Build America Summit, will be a way to start that conversation in earnest.

In advance of the Summit, the AIA will gather data nationwide (by working with a reputable polling firm) to find out how Americans feel about their public buildings and facilities. Many Americans have formative memories of an elementary school or public library that defined their childhoods and, ultimately, influenced their adult lives. We all know how critical the public buildings and social infrastructure are to the value of our homes and the identity of our villages, towns, and cities. This poll will provide actionable intelligence for the AIA and its members. These two initiatives will also provide support for members and communities by establishing a practical set of tools and a conceptual framework to address the challenges ahead, so that we can all better realize our dreams.