International Region

Statement to International Region

In his March letter to AIA Hong Kong, 2016 Chapter President Kenneth Hau AIA wrote about the desire of many millennial-generation architects to do well by doing good. The thinking Hau expresses is central to the future of the architectural profession and the AIA. As the world explodes in population and economic growth, and as it shrinks through globalization and the technology revolution, the spectrum of issues architects are asked to resolve fans out ever more broadly. These are exciting times and also challenging times.

My candidacy for 2018 AIA President is founded on the belief that AIA’s commitment to relevance and repositioning is turning from inwardly focused issues, most particularly revamping AIA’s governance and chapter structures, to view a wide world beseeching our profession for solutions. As Mr. Hau expresses it: “The social responsibility of architects lies in the belief that we can create better places, that architecture can positively affect society, and that it can even have a role in making us a more civilized society through the creation of more livable communities.” Well said.

As AIA shifts from the tactics of repositioning to its substance, there is no better body than the International Region to sharpen awareness of the challenges facing the architectural profession and no better laboratory for creative solutions and innovative practices. The AIA, and especially the next generation of architects, needs the International Region to be fully engaged if we all are to have an opportunity to do well by doing good.

The future prosperity of the architectural profession depends on our ability to recognize evolving social and economic needs, comprehend value propositions in them, and foster innovative business and practice models to address them. AIA members in the International Region are on the front lines. You are the scouts. While the U.S. debates the science of climate change, you are designing carbon-neutral cities and tower buildings that don’t cast shadows.

The architectural profession faces the retirement of the boomer generation, which will reduce AIA membership by nearly half. Attracting an inspired, skilled, and diverse workforce is perhaps the biggest challenge facing both the profession in general and the International Region specifically. Here also, the IR points the way forward. Not only does your membership reflect far greater diversity than the AIA in the continental U.S., but more importantly, members of the IR have decades of experience reaching out to, and being part of, the global community in all it diversity. If AIA is to succeed in strengthening the profession by attracting the next generation to it, the IR must play a central role.

During my conversations with IR leaders, difficult issues have been repeatedly raised. Geography alone is a significant challenge. Travel costs limit participation for IR leaders, even attendance at Grassroots and Convention. As part of the current redistribution of national dues to components, an approach should be found to mitigate travel costs. This issue in not IR’s alone; “fly-over” regions within the U.S. struggle with travel burdens also.

Another problem confronting the International Region is titling. International Associate AIA misrepresents the credentials of thousands of licensed IR members. The IR is not alone in challenging current AIA terminology. AIA must resolve these issues now.

With Tom Vonier FAIA serving as AIA President in 2017, the International Region will have a strong advocate occupying AIA’s most influential position. As 2017 First Vice President and 2018 AIA President I will work with Tom and you to resolve the difficulties that slow the growth and effectiveness of the International Region. The greatest opportunities for the next generation are in the IR. The IR leads the way forward in dealing with many of the most intractable challenges facing the profession. If we are to do well by doing good, the IR must be fully engaged in every dimension of AIA and the profession.
 

© 2019 Carl Elefante