Welcome to our new College of Fellows Newsletter! I hope you will find our new quarterly format both informative and consistent with the new messaging initiative that we worked so hard on this year.
My, how time flies by! It was one year ago that I wrote:
“So, as we enter 2015, I am transforming the topic of my speech from ‘The Joy of Leadership’ to my theme for 2015 of ‘The Joy of Fellowship.’
It is my goal to lead our College this year by promoting the fundamentals of Our Why, Our How and Our What. We have embarked on “re-branding” the College to make our mission known and help members understand their important value as Fellows and leaders in giving their time, talent, and treasure to ensure the sustainability of our College, mentoring the young, and supporting research funding of The Latrobe Prize.
Please join me this year in celebrating our joyful lives as Fellows in this great College of the American Institute of Architects. I look forward to meeting and hearing from you.”
The College has accomplished so much this year with our PR/Branding consultant, IMRE. Our efforts were all grounded in “The Why” of the College:
We undertook three tasks with IMRE in our “Re-Messaging” initiative:
The initial products of our IMRE work are this newly formatted newsletter and communications site, which we believe will be a destination for relevant and unique COF content for 2016 and years to come.
What a year it has been for the College. Our EXCOM visited Fellows in Palm Springs, CA, Atlanta, GA, Salt Lake City, UT and Washington, DC. We are so fortunate to have so much pride in ourselves, our accomplishments, and the College. Our new messaging identity “a passion for doing more” really hits the nail on the head!
In my travels this year, I have been asked, what is my greatest moment/memory as Chancellor? In the spirit of “The Joy of Fellowship”, it was the recessional at the 2015 COF Investiture in the Horizon Sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, when all of the new Fellows and Former AIA Presidents and Chancellors left the church to the tune of “Oh Happy Day” sung by the gospel choir. This memory is forever etched in the minds of all those present that day, and its legacy will continue.
My goal this year was to bring joy and happiness to the College through fun activities and entertaining speeches. I believe the New Fellows Lunch, Investiture, Annual Business Meeting, Convocation Dinner and 2016 Inaugural “Sorrenti-Fest” achieved just that.
It has been an honor to serve as your Chancellor this year. It is my hope that my legacy will be that the College has entered a new “memorable” chapter in its relevancy, one of understanding our passion for doing more, having fun doing more, and for the joy of Fellowship. So, I leave you with the College’s new brand mantra:
As leading Architects, we don’t just have the opportunity to change the horizon. We have the chance to change the way people live. We have the tools to contribute to society in profound ways, and we are committed to improving everyday life. As Fellows we are recognized as the leaders. The ones who seize the opportunity to be mentors to the next generation. The ones who elevate the profession through our vision. We are the ones who represent the values, support the development, and encourage the sustainability of the practice of architecture. We are the doers. We are the difference. We are the AIA College of Fellows.
Albert W. Rubeling, Jr. FAIA
As architects, it’s our passion and vision that drive us every day. What do these aspirations and inspirations say about our organization? Do emerging architects share the same beliefs? We sought to see how our own points of view stood up to those of young professionals, so we surveyed Fellows and a select group of YAF Members and asked each of them four questions that we feel are critical to understanding the future of the profession of architecture. Here’s what we found.
Fellows and YAF members cite a variety of reasons for their career choice, both emotional and tangible. Among the most popular:
80% mentioned at least one tangible reason for becoming an architect
55% mentioned at least one emotional reason for becoming an architect
For two of the key pillars of Fellowship, there are notable differences based on age and gender:
Older architects, and female architects, mentioned community-building more often than younger architects and men.
Younger architects, and female architects, mentioned education and mentorship more often than older architects and men.
Fellows and young professionals had a wide variety of visions for the future of architecture.
Architecture is a profession that requires constant learning, and learning through experience. As architects, we are continuously growing and expanding on our knowledge in our areas of practice, well beyond the years and time spent in the classroom. Because of this, mentorship is one of the most valuable resources available to young emerging professionals who are studying and pursuing careers in architecture.
As Fellows, it is our duty to embrace our passion for the profession of architecture by helping to grow the careers of the architects coming up behind us. The future of our profession. So, how does one become a great mentor, and what is it that young architects are looking for in a leader?
Throughout our careers, we will have many mentors who will help to shape and guide our career paths. These mentors can be family members, friends, colleagues, professors or advisors. Many professionals will have more than one mentor during their careers, offering a wide range of perspectives and experiences to support different aspects of a mentee’s professional growth.
No matter who they are, the most successful mentoring programs and relationships are those that establish a personal and meaningful connection. They go above and beyond to create a comfortable environment and have a willingness to support and push the young professional in the right direction. Many members of the Young Architects Forum (YAF) expressed that they were pleasantly surprised when their mentors would call out of the blue to check in. Across the board, emerging professionals agree that the strongest relationships have the ability to pick up right where they left off, even if it’s been a while since they’ve connected.
A great mentor is also one who can relate to the current projects their mentee is working on. They have a willingness to listen and offer advice, while also being able to share their own successes and failures, and how they’ve grown throughout their career.
For example, YAF member Virginia Marquardt, AIA, LEED AP and senior associate at DLR Group, works in the education sector (K-12) and was recently tasked with developing a plan for how architecture and design can enhance the way teachers deliver the curriculum. When she found herself asking, “Where do I start?”, she reached out to her mentor, Lisa Johnson, AIA, LEED AP and senior principal at DLR Group, who advised her to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Stepping back allowed Virginia to reflect on why she does what she does every day – to help students and teachers, and to give back. A simple, informal conversation with Lisa helped her to put things into perspective and she reached that “ah-ha moment” that allowed her to successfully develop a business plan to address the task at hand.
A great mentor is open, honest, and has the interests of their student in mind at all times. They take the time to proactively seek opportunities for their mentee to grow and further their experience and skill set.
When Peter Kuttner, FAIA, and president of Cambridge Seven Associates, started his collegiate studies at the University of Michigan, he was a literature undergrad. The Resident Assistant (RA) in his dorm building was an architecture student and introduced Peter to architecture school, where he bonded with studio professors. This connection ultimately led him to choosing a career in architecture.
Whether it is a formal program or informal relationship, mentorship is a critical part of the work we do as leading architects and Fellows. As young architects work their way up through the profession, it’s only natural for them to experience some challenges and roadblocks along the way. Having a mentor to turn to for advice can help alleviate the stress that can be triggered when these roadblocks do arise. A great mentor can help resolve the issue by allowing the young architect to come up with a solution on their own, without even knowing they are doing so.
For example, each time Ron Blitch, FAIA, FACHA and president of Blitch/Knevel Architects, has a mentee reach out with an issue or challenge, he instructs them to outline the steps they think they should take to come up with a solution. Most of the time, his students develop the correct approach on their own.
A mentor’s perspective and experience can also be invaluable when an architect begins the journey of starting their own firm. A self-proclaimed entrepreneur often has limited knowledge about insurance, hiring, human resources issues, leasing space, marketing their services, and all the other resources they need to get their business off the ground. A seasoned mentor has the ability to offer insight about what needs to be done before the key can be put in the door to open for business; something that is never taught in architecture school.
No matter what stage an architect is at in their career, mentorship plays a huge role in shaping and developing their career path. For Fellows who take advantage of opportunities to mentor emerging professionals, the most rewarding outcomes lie in the ability to help guide the aspiring architect into areas of practice, to be able to give them a nudge in the right direction and witness their successes.
For more information about mentorship opportunities available to you as a member of the College of Fellows, please email John Sorrenti at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AIA Latrobe Prize is a $100,000 grant provided by the College of Fellows that supports a two-year research program, selected biennially by a jury of seasoned practitioners. There are very few research opportunities available to architects that are as significant as the Latrobe Prize, so the role this award plays in the world of architectural research is one that has great impact on the profession. Recently, we had the chance to speak with the recipients of the 2013 Latrobe Prize, Bimal Mendis and Joyce Hsiang of the Yale School of Architecture and Plan B Architecture and Urbanism, LLC, to learn about the evolution of their research, “Urban Sphere: The City of 7 Billion”.
1. How did you go about applying for the Latrobe Prize?
We actually submitted our proposal for “Urban Sphere: The City of 7 Billion”, twice – first in 2011 and then again in 2013. In 2011, we were selected as finalists and made it to the interview phase of the selection process. As a finalist, we had the opportunity to meet Thomas Fisher, Associate AIA, Dean, College of Design, University of Minnesota, who was actually one of the nine people that made up the advisory committee for this project. When the next call for submissions was announced in 2013, we re-applied and won. The topic selected by the jury and EXCOM happened to align with our areas of research at the right time. We would have never been able to fulfill the vision of our original sustainability research, which began in 2008, without the help of the College and the contributions of the Latrobe Prize.
2. How did you come up with the idea for “Urban Sphere: The City of 7 Billion”? What was your inspiration?
The overall inspiration for “Urban Sphere: The City of 7 Billion” evolved from our expertise in the study of urbanization and sustainable development research, which was a topic we’d been working on for a number of years prior to receiving the Latrobe Prize. Our vision for this project was to develop a sustainability index that goes beyond scalability (larger than the scale of a building, or the scale of a city—we wanted to encompass the entire world). In order to achieve this, we had the research focus on the public and enhanced the presentation by modeling something physical that expands on existing issues, such as population and resource consumption, as they relate to the entire world. The purpose of the project was to demonstrate the impact of population growth and resource consumption by examining the world as a single urban entity.
3. How did you approach the research for this project?
From the beginning, we approached this project through a historical lens and took a look back over three-to-four-thousand years of habitation and commercialization of the world. Again, the goal of the project was to show the world as one, connected object. In order to do this, we positioned it as something that has always been present, and brought it to life through commonalities. We began with a broad and general examination of the topic to determine what it means to urbanize and think about the world. Furthermore, we analyzed the ways in which architects contribute and think on a global scale, and how this thinking has manifested over time. We spoke to Phil Bernstein, vice president, Autodesk, who challenged us to explore the implications these factors have on the profession of architecture. We also gained perspective from people in the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) field, and analyzed larger cultural issues, trends, themes, historical literature and research archives to further expand on insights drawn from existing global models and strategies.
4. How has the project come to life at the Yale School of Architecture exhibition? What went into the design of the exhibition that accompanied this research?
We wanted to bring our research to life through an exhibition that visually depicted the world as one city. The exhibition was on display at Rudolph Hall, the Yale Art and Architecture Building, from Sept. 3 through Nov. 14, 2015. The purpose was to create a public and physical/visual component that represented the overall findings garnered by our research. The exhibition was purposefully scaled and set up to show the simplicity, as well as the complexity, of the overall project, represented through six components. This visual representation was critical to depicting the global scale, and featured original models and drawings that re-conceptualize the world as one unit.
5. Can you explain the six components of the exhibition, and the role each plays in the overall project?
The six components that make up the exhibition are: Figures & Ground, Urban Cores, Sphere of the Unknown, Scenes from the Horizon, Drawing Set, and Models of the World.
6. What do the findings say about the future of architecture?
The “Urban Sphere: The City of 7 Billion” project reveals that architects need to consider a much larger scale and scope. The research demonstrates that we are now living in a new geological epoch, as humans have continued to transform the world over time. Every individual has become a designer and constructor of the world, and as a result we are now more individually responsible than ever. This project has developed a new scope for what architecture can be in the future. It builds upon the fact that architects can provide real value and serve as spatial thinkers who can collaborate on a larger scale to bring to life new ideas that encompass the entire world. We’ve revealed larger design implications on a global scale, as they relate to policies, infrastructural questions, and other similar areas. Overall, the research sought to find commonalities to create a better overall environment, and the findings have provided significantly more awareness around global implications that currently exist and have led to the shift of looking at the world as a whole for future projects.
Research such as the Latrobe Prize is critical in advancing and addressing a larger set of implications and unknowns in our profession. It allows for proactive feedback and collaboration, and provides the opportunity to grow and expand the profession in a meaningful way. It looks beyond the conventions of the practice and allows the study of architecture to continue to grow and advance.
The College of Fellows is solely responsible for funding the research conducted for the Latrobe Prize, through donations from Fellows. Therefore, as Fellows, it is our responsibility to support the advancement of our profession through research programs like the Latrobe Prize. To donate to the Latrobe Prize or another initiative supported by the College of Fellows, visit our Donation Page.
As Fellows, it is important to celebrate the individuals and teams who come together to give back in support of our professional community, either through the donation of their time or through monetary donation. By actively giving back, they have embraced the mission of the College and are helping to shape the future of architecture.
Architecture is a lifelong learning profession, where both young professionals and seasoned practitioners continue to learn and grow from one another, and those around them. As Fellows, one way that we are able to demonstrate our own passion for the profession and support this lifelong learning is through the donation of one of our most precious commodities—our time.
Several teams at local AIA Components throughout the country deserve recognition for supporting the College’s mission of mentorship. One of the most effective formal mentorship programs is the “career strategy roundtables”. AIA San Francisco is one local AIA chapter that hosts these roundtable events twice a month. These meetings offer the opportunity for architects to assess the current job market and discuss interview strategies with other professionals who represent the spectrum of experience and age. In a time where the luxury of a familiar work setting is absent, these roundtables create a venue in which to discuss the profession, providing valuable insights into the complexities of the practice of architecture.
Current Emerging Professionals Director for the AIA Las Vegas chapter, Jeni Panars, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, also embodies the true vision of what the College stands for. She has dedicated her time to organizing key mentorship programs for the chapter, which include monthly Hard Hat Tours, which give students and young professionals the opportunity to visit an active construction site. These tours are organized with both the architect and contractor, and provide a glimpse into the realities of construction. Since being named Emerging Professionals Director in January 2015, Jeni has held two of these events, one at the renovation of University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Thomas and Mack Center, and the other at an addition for an indoor intersection for accessibility training for the community at the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC).
Jeni has also championed the Memoir Monday program, which brings together a small group of emerging professionals and experienced architects to discuss their careers and the profession. The sessions are informal and create a platform that allows seasoned professionals to discuss how they started their careers, the ups and downs of firm ownership, how their firms have evolved, their favorite projects and how they got them, lessons learned, and any advice they would like to pass on to the next generation. Jeni organized four of these events in 2015, and plans on growing both of these initiatives in 2016.
While every philanthropic program needs a champion at its helm, none would be possible without the financial support the College receives from our individual donors. For those who cannot make the time commitment to support a program like the above, a financial contribution can also go a long way to supporting the mission we are all passionate about. As Fellows, your donations support a variety of programming aimed towards advancing the study of architecture. These programs include:
The programs above are necessary to propel the profession forward. Today, only 8% of Fellows contribute to the College through financial donations, so it is important to recognize that each donation, no matter how large or small, goes a long way in supporting our mission.
We’d like to recognize three of our Chancellor’s Circle members for being three of our top donors in 2015. These individuals have shown their passion for our profession through their financial support of the programs listed above:
To be a Fellow goes beyond wearing the medal. Fellowship symbolizes excellence and leadership, and there is a great deal of value for those who give back to the profession through a monetary or time commitment. As Fellows, we encourage you to support this future, for it does not exist without your help.
On December 3rd, John R. Sorrenti, FAIA, was inaugurated as the College of Fellows 2016 Chancellor. For the first time in College history, the Inaugural was held away from the AIA Headquarters, at the Samuel Rayburn Senate Office Building, Kennedy Caucus Room on Capitol Hill.
The EXCOM extended its thanks to Stephen Ayers, FAIA, the Architect of the Capitol for his efforts coordinating the Inaugural event and catering in this amazing architectural space.
For the first time, the 2016 Executive Committee of the College was formally introduced to Inaugural guests:
As the newly appointed Chancellor, Sorrenti gave an inaugural speech on how the College will go forward in 2016—focusing on mentorship, financial growth and visibility. Sorrenti also presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Gary Desmond, FAIA, for his tenure as the Chair of the COF Regional Representatives, and Former Chancellor, Al Rubeling, Jr., FAIA, presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Bob Selby, FAIA, for his past efforts as editor of Fellowscope.
On behalf of the College’s new 2016 Executive Committee, we wish you all a pleasant and successful 2016!