05.24.06 Seventh Anniversary
“To be a revolutionary, there must first be a revolution.”
–Che Guevara, 1960
The ArchVoices revolution began seven years ago today on May 24, 1999, in an email that started with this very quote.
It is surprising that so simple a concept could be revolutionary: that architects who are moving from graduation to licensure should have “a means through which [we] can be more informed about decisions made in [our] name.” Yet the idea that architects not yet licensed should be well-informed about the organizations and decisions that affect their professional lives — and should be active participants in those organizations and decisions — became a rallying point for a national group of young-at-heart architecture leaders. The ensuing discussions about entry into the profession, firm and educational culture, and the nature of architectural practice were alluring enough to draw in over 16,000 online readers and radical enough to draw critical fire from the architectural establishment.
Since the ArchVoices email newsletter suspended weekly publication in September 2005, many have wondered if the energy, ideas, and activity behind that newsletter had fallen away. Although the activities of ArchVoices were harder to see, the organization has continued to work on issues and initiatives, such as our ARE+IDP advocacy and fourth annual ArchVoices Essay Competition. However, these past months were also a time of evaluation and transition, as ArchVoices’ existing leaders began to move on to new phases of their personal and professional lives.
Last month, ArchVoices gathered its board members, participants of the 2005 Internship Conference, members of the AIAS, AIA National Associates Committee and Young Architects Forum as well as young Boston-area designers to provide an update on ArchVoices’ activities with respect to ARE+IDP advocacy. The weekend also included discussions about ArchVoices’ future direction and the development of a new leadership group. At the end of the weekend, two adventurous individuals agreed to lead the organization, assisted by several additional attendees.
“Whether you care about the content of this particular message or not, the simple fact of this communication has got to be a good thing. I truly hope this list takes on a life of its own, but one step at a time….”
–ArchVoices, July 23, 1999
As we embark on ArchVoices’ eighth year, we look forward to continuing our pertinent role as “watchdog” of the profession and to communicating the profound things yet to come. Our next stage will build on the successful work of our predecessors and continue some of their initiatives, such as the essay competition and regular email updates. Over the next few months, we’ll also be planning the focus and form of new ArchVoices activities — but always maintaining ArchVoices’ commitment to addressing the concerns of those architects who remain both unrepresented and underrepresented in the profession and its governing bodies. ArchVoices will remain a resource for accurate and accessible information about those who enter into architecture and the variety of ways that they practice. We look forward to your input and support as we continue to pursue more inclusive and responsive education and practice.
The July 23, 1999 issue of ArchVoices newsletter also quoted then-AIA National President Michael Stanton, FAIA, which set the stage for the future of ArchVoices (and, we believe, the future of architecture itself):
“Lately, I am beginning to wonder if our profession and the AIA have come up with the right answer [to who is an architect]. Is our point of view too narrow? Are we excluding some because of a definition that is increasingly arbitrary in the context of modern practice and society’s needs?
Let’s be frank: In today’s AIA there really is neither a membership category nor, more fundamentally, a welcoming attitude that reaches out to embrace [those who have chosen to use their architectural training in exciting but nontraditional ways].
A more representative profession and a more inclusive AIA would be better positioned to serve society–and isn’t that the ultimate test of what it means to be a professional?”
We look forward to continuing the dialogue — and the revolution! — in this forum for all of our voices.
–Ashley Marsh & Brandy Brooks, Editors
ArchVoices is an independent, nonprofit organization and think tank on architectural education, internship, and licensure.
Comments? We welcome your thoughts by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.