While traveling for AIA business recently, I called up a close friend and confidant in the profession to let him know that I would be in his town. With excitement, we synched our schedules and connected over dinner and a libation or two. As I was sharing with this individual how proud I was of all that he had accomplished in the profession and community, I asked him an important question.
My question was, “Why are you doing all of this?”
His response was, “if not me, then who…”
This answer resonated with me. As I look around, I see that architects struggle to remain relevant in today’s world. Some may disagree. But how do you explain the United States of America having a neurosurgeon instead of a design professional as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development? Locally, why are there Planning Commissions with no appointed architects? How come the majority of the general public has no idea this is Architecture Week?
Perhaps, it is because we work our 9 to 5 and go home. We don’t have any more time to give with the competing priorities in our lives that are already tugging on us. Perhaps, we think other people are going to raise their hand and step up. The fact of the matter is that it is not happening. Maybe, we believe the timing is not right. Let’s wait for this to end or that to pass. The reality is that there is never a perfect time.
This leads me to ask you, “Why are you an AIA member?”
I’m hopeful the answer is deeper than “my firm pays for it” or “I need some letters after my name”. If that is your answer, then you are short-circuiting the power of what you can accomplish through your training as an architect. As the membership renewal season just closed, my challenge to you is to find one way you will use your skillsets this year to make a difference in your firm, the profession, or the community.
When you determine the answer, use the AIA as the vehicle to achieve those aspirations. Start small. Join a local AIA event committee that has a finite start and stop duration. Volunteer to be a design critic at one of our universities. Attend a Meeting of the Roundtables to discuss pertinent practice issues with your colleagues. This is the true value of membership.
Individually, let’s take control of our own destiny. If we all do that, we will collectively control the destiny of the architecture profession.
R. Corey Clayborne, AIA
Executive Vice President