Most of you have recently received your membership dues statement from 1735 New York Avenue, NW, the home of the American Institute of Architects. As we all consider this payment of our professional dues, I thought it might be beneficial to reflect on what our membership in the AIA should mean to us. (Keep in mind, this is coming from a self-proclaimed “AIA Junkie”):

Through the AIA, we have a shared heritage.

In 1857, thirteen men gathered in New York to form the American Institute of Architects. These gentlemen did not have a plastic card in their wallets; they did not have a pin to wear on their lapels; they did not have an acronym following their names. What they DID have was a vision in their minds and passion in their hearts for what the profession of architecture could become … IF there was a collective body … to unite in fellowship; to promote the profession; to advance the standards of education, training, and practice; and to increasingly serve society. These core values of the AIA, we should reflect upon as we design our own futures.

Yet, we have a wealth of individual experiences.

Now with over 89,000 members, the AIA serves as the collective voice of architects across the country and around the world. However, even though we as a profession are bound by our shared experiences in our respective paths through architectural education, training, and practice, we each approach our work – and our passion – as individuals. Every member of our profession has something unique to offer, and the profession needs each one of these varied talents, skills, and abilities. We’ve been ‘called’ to the practice of architecture because of our desire to enrich the living experiences of those we serve, and how wonderful it is that we can do so in our own unique ways.

Together, we look to the future.

In France, as in many countries, architects swear a solemn oath upon becoming licensed. Roughly translated, this vow reads, “In respect to the public interest, which attaches great value to architectural quality, I swear to exercise my profession with conscience and integrity and to observe the rules contained in the law on architecture and the Code of Professional Duties.” How different would our profession be if we pledged – even privately – to uphold the ideals of our beloved profession for a public that “attaches great value to architectural quality?” This shift in our own professional culture is what we’re working toward … to foster a broader, societal culture that appreciates architecture and values what we do as architects.

Advocacy to ensure our profession’s relevance to the public is what the staff team at AIA Virginia dedicates itself to every day. We work to combine our sincere compassion for the individual – a true dedication to each member – with a strong collective direction for this profession in the Commonwealth. We hope that as you pay your 2017 AIA dues, you perceive this level of devoted service and support. Many thanks for your contributions to society through your work, and for renewing your membership in your professional society!

Helene C. Dreiling signature





Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA
Executive Director

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