3. Other Actions and Accomplishments
Emerging Professionals Section of AIA.org Website
In 2003, the AIA significantly added to the scope and quality of resources available online through a new “Emerging Professionals” section of its national website. Information about NCARB’s IDP, the AIA National Associates Committee, local and national AIA component programs geared toward young professionals, and direct contact information are all available online–and new items are added and updated regularly. In addition to their quarterly editorial publication, the NAC also launched a monthly email newsletter, to keep Associate members informed. These are significant initiatives that require a lot of maintenance and work to put together, and we believe these resources will only continue to improve awareness of Associate member issues in the coming year.
2003 ArchVoices Essay Competition
In an effort to showcase the writing skills of individual young professionals, as well as to learn from their experiences and insights as a group, ArchVoices launched the first annual ArchVoices Essay Competition, last year at this time. This competition was intended to encourage, promote, and reward critical thinking and writing by young professionals. The structure and theme of the competition were developed by a diverse group of interns who participated in the 2002 Internship Summit. The biggest lesson for us in this competition was exactly how eager young architects are for meaningful opportunities to express themselves. We received literally ten times as many submissions as we expected, and three to four times what we dared hope for. Planning for the second annual ArchVoices Essay Competition has been underway for a few months, and the 2004 theme will be announced shortly.
“Tomorrow’s Architect” issue of the AIA/J
In 2003, the AIA launched a quarterly research journal called the AIA/J, now in its third edition. The second issue of this print and web-based initiative focused on the successes and ongoing challenges of internship and IDP, where the AIA’s CEO said that “the wrong choice would be to stick with the status quo.” While the AIA/J publication so far has only dubious relationship to “research” itself, it is significant that the AIA leadership chose to focus an early edition of this high-profile initiative on what used to be the controversial issue of internship. As with any social disease, the age-old response was consistently one of denial. But with the publication of “Tomorrow’s Architect,” the problems associated with internship are finally officially out of the closet. 70,000 copies of this publication were distributed to AIA members across the country.
Architectural Internship: Everybody’s Issue
Proceedings of the 2002 National Internship Summit
This print publication was a tangible documentation of the discussions and ideas presented at the 2002 Internship Summit, organized by ArchVoices. The point was partly to capture in print what’s already on the web (as many people whose opinions matter do not navigate or trust the web), and partly to document a moment in time that will hopefully be read a few years from now as laughably out of date. Given that the discussions from the 1999 Collateral Summit were documented, but only minimally distributed and then subsequently lost entirely, we hoped to create a more permanent record on which to improve at the next Internship Summit in 2005. Five thousand copies of this publication were distributed to a cross-section of individuals in the profession.
2003 AIAS Forum: “Off the Beaten Path”
This event drew 800 students to Austin, TX for five days to discuss alternative career paths in architecture. The event included dynamic speakers in a variety of disciplines, showing built work done in new ways, traditional design realized in new environments (digital and outer space), and examples of design as highlighting and presenting solutions to persistent social problems. 800 young, aspiring architects gave a standing ovation to the founder of Architecture for Humanity–a young architect, like themselves, who is doing incredible work in design and the built environment, but who will almost certainly never be a licensed “Architect” in the eyes of any U.S. state or their parent organization. Is the system more legitimate for not accommodating this citizen architect, or less? Students attending this conference pondered these questions earlier in their careers than most, and are thus better prepared to deal with the vagaries of graduation and internship than most.
Data collection fits in both the “Accomplishments” and in the “Ongoing Challenges” section of this review. In addition to the two survey reports mentioned above, the ACSA Guide to Architecture Schools was republished in 2003 after a long hiatus; the AIA Diversity Committee convened a Data Summit, including numerous organizations beyond just the collaterals in an effort to compile reliable data to make reliable decisions; and the RIBA published a report titled, “Why Women Leave the Profession.” Additionally, for the first time ever, NCARB reported the number of newly-licensed architects in the U.S. over the previous calendar year (2,820, if you’re interested).
4. Special Acknowledgement
AIA Emerging Professionals Director
The role of Emerging Professionals Director at the AIA has too often been a steppingstone for good people to move to other AIA staff positions, and one result has been inconsistency in the AIA’s provision of services for interns. However, the current Emerging Professionals Director, Suzanna Wight, AIA, was recently an intern herself, and sought this job because of her commitment both to young people entering the profession and to the profession in general. Many accomplishments over the past year were supported in large part by Ms. Wight’s initiative and pure hard work, including the AIA’s web resources for emerging professionals as well as the 2003 NAC/ArchVoices Internship & Career Survey. She would be the first person to say that these successes have been the product of the efforts of many people, however Ms. Wight arrived in 2003, and over the past year the AIA national component took a significant leap forward in becoming a genuine and understanding resource for interns and young professionals.
5. Approaching Milestones
The following milestones will be reached in 2004:
– 147th anniversary of the AIA
– 92nd anniversary of NCARB
– 85th anniversary of the ACSA
– 64th anniversary of NAAB
– 48th anniversary of the AIAS
– 32nd anniversary of NOMA
– 25th anniversary of IDP
– 8th anniversary of Building Community (“Boyer-Mitgang Report”)
– 7th anniversary of the computerized ARE
– 5th anniversary of the 1999 Collateral Internship Summit
– 5th anniversary of ArchVoices
– 4th anniversary of the AIA National Associates Committee
– 2nd anniversary of the 2002 National Internship Summit
6. Ongoing Challenges
1999 Collateral Internship Summit
The 1999 Collateral Internship Summit begat the Collateral Internship Task Force (CITF), which spent two years working on a final report of long-term recommendations to the five collateral organizations that sponsored the 1999 Summit. Those nine recommendations are the product of the collaterals’ own lengthy, collaborative process, and represent the sole outcome of the 1999 Summit. However, exactly none of the collateral organizations have endorsed or accepted those recommendations, and last year the only continuing collaborative effort loosely related to the 1999 Summit disbanded. Until there is actual, rather than just alleged, consensus about specific and interrelated issues regarding internship, the promise of this “pivotal” and “defining” event will remain hollow.
Collateral Internship Management Group
The challenge here is that there is no longer a CIMG. To quote from our 2002 in Review issue, last year, “With the completion of the work of the CIMG in following up on the recommendations of the 1999 Summit and CITF, there is a significant question of what comes next. The collaterals arguably need a coordinating group, as the challenges of internship are shared challenges. But it needs to be a group with real power, purpose, funding, and authority–as well as accountability. 2003 will either produce such a group or it will produce more opportunities to simply pat each other on the back and go out for cocktails.” In May of this year, the CIMG submitted a final report to the presidents of five national architectural organizations and then disbanded. The admittedly minimal collaboration represented by the CIMG was the only remaining intangible result of the 1999 Summit, and someone or group needs to provide leadership in maintaining that spirit.
What gets measured is what gets done. And not a lot gets measured in this profession. While there were a number of really neat and promising developments this year, there is still a lot of information that we don’t bother to collect at all, and even when we have collected it, we haven’t done so consistently or over time. Or occasionally when we do collect it consistently, we hide it from other people (you know who you are). What are we possibly afraid that we’ll find out?
So the 2003 Internship & Career Survey, of which ArchVoices was a part, must be done a number of times over the course of the next few years to be more than just a one-hit wonder. However, we also still need a hit of any kind relative to students, schools and the employment experiences at firms. The NAAB and ACSA have alternately decided to go forward with various data collection initiatives, only to drop the idea a few months later. The NAAB should be embarrassed by the amount and consistency of data collected by their peer organizations in other major professions. In the interest of disclosure, two years ago ArchVoices submitted a proposal to do data collection for NAAB that was voted down by the Board. What is most important is that as the consumers of their services (either as students, employees, or as employers), we need to be able to compare individual institutions along commensurate metrics–not in order to rank schools or firms, but in order to ask relevant questions and make informed decisions.
This was originally under the heading, “Two steps forward, one step back,” and is related to the challenges of data collection. The AIAS has posted the official motions online from every AIAS Board Meeting since 2000, as well as all their public policies. Last year we applauded NAAB’s decision to post their Board minutes online as well, starting with the January 2002 meeting. That initiative seems to have ended with the January 2002 meeting as well, unfortunately. Also, the AIA did post their public policies regarding architecture education online, and even solicited public comment throughout the process.
NCARB has historically printed a virtual transcript of their annual meetings, comprising two volumes each year, and detailing initiatives to be voted on at their Annual Meeting along with their Board’s position–an impressive and consistent commitment to documentation that could be expanded immeasurably by making these documents more widely available to the public through the Internet. However, the IDP Coordinating Committee (IDPCC) committed perhaps the most egregious example of secrecy and obfuscation in 2003 by acquiescing to NCARB’s claim that the IDPCC meetings were all of a sudden confidential.
With these few exceptions, openness isn’t something being avoided, just not something we’re paying regular attention to. So it’s an easy challenge for 2004.
7. Annual Reports
“2002 AIA President, Gordon Chong, suggested that the collateral organizations come together to develop a single strategic plan. That’s a great idea. However, making a decision to do something is not the same thing as doing it. Thus, as they consider working on a single coordinated plan, we urge the collateral organizations to also consider working together on an annual report–a ‘state of the profession.’ Such a report would be a regular opportunity to track accomplishments and to thank volunteers and staff. It would also be a chance to measure–and thus encourage–tangible progress.”
The paragraph above has appeared in each of our last two ArchVoices “Year in Review” issues, and there is, in fact, nothing resembling a single plan, strategic or otherwise, even hinted at by the collateral organizations to date. Ironically (perhaps), it’s the “younger” organizations–ArchVoices, the National Associates Committee, and the Young Architects Forum–that have made an effort to publicly document their own progress in something resembling an annual report. Believe in the future.
ArchVoices Progress Report
NAC Annual Report
YAF Year in Review
8. 2003 News
ArchVoices celebrated its four-year anniversary in 2003. In the past year, 50 issues of ArchVoices were published, including 17 editorials, 16 resource issues, 12 news issues, and 5 special announcements. In 2003, ArchVoices’ readership increased almost 60% from 9,885 readers this time last year, to 15,463 today. To find out what we were talking about last year and the year before at this time, click on the links below.
2002 in Review
2001 in Review
As always, we welcome your thoughts by email at email@example.com.
ArchVoices is an independent, nonprofit organization and think tank on architecture education and internship…