Lately, I have been reading “Race for Relevance” by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers. It is truly a great read and discusses what membership organizations, such as the AIA, need to do to remain relevant. I thought it was so valuable that I purchased a book for each staff member. Soon, we are going to commence group discussions on each chapter together. Our President, Sean Reilly and I are doing the same thing.

A question you should ask yourself is how will you – as an architect – remain relevant to our society?

Our community leaders are still grappling with how to reopen schools. Our U.S. Capitol was stormed by thugs and now this symbol of our democracy is behind barricades. We continue to see our black and brown brothers and sisters claw through systems that were not necessarily designed for their success.

Again, how will you remain relevant as an architect? How about during a pandemic?

This answer becomes increasingly difficult during a public health crisis. However, it can be done. Let me tell you three things AIA Virginia is doing to remain relevant which I invite you to be a part of.

  1. Elevating the Voice of the Architecture Profession Through Strategic Industry Partnerships
    There is strength in numbers. This is why we are partnering with the American Council of Engineering Companies and the Associated General Contractors for our first ever AEC Virtual Symposium on March 17-19. Together, this coalition has enough prominence to attract the Governor of Virginia in accepting an invitation to be one of our keynote speakers. If the Governor thinks we are relevant, then I would say we are moving in the right direction.
    Please register at and join us for this event!
  1. Relentlessly Advocating for Architects to Receive Gubernatorial Appointments
    Architects play such a vital role in our communities through the design of spaces and places. As such, we should have a seat at the table on Boards and Commissions whose work focuses on these spaces and places – thus impacting the quality of life in our communities. Our nominees from AIA Virginia were chosen by the Governor to serve on the Fair Housing Board and the Secure and Resilient Commonwealth Panel. Reach out to me directly if serving in a capacity such as this is of interest to you. Your skills are needed and desired.
  1. Being a Part of the Solution in Making our Profession Better Reflect the Society we Serve
    The data says it all. For some demographics, there are leaks in our profession’s pipeline and sometimes even the entry to the pipeline seems obscure. I’m proud to say that we were an instrumental partner in the formation of Virginia NOMA and have a Memorandum of Understanding with the organization to memorialize our partnership well beyond its “start-up” phase. In addition, AIA Virginia was intentional about its fundraising efforts in supporting Hampton University – the state’s only HBCU architecture program. We are hopeful that you are standing with us in these efforts. Moving the needle on an issue like this takes time and perseverance.

Being relevant does not mean you have to be super-human. Just pick one thing to do. And let AIA Virginia help you.

R. Corey Clayborne, FAIA, NOMA, MBA
Executive Vice President