The Seasons Change

At mid-year, we take a look back at the accomplishments of AIA Virginia this year was shared with the membership during our virtual membership meeting on June 16, 2017. First and most transformational, the organization has implemented the strategic plan as the focus of board and council meeting agendas giving all board members the ability to engage and have a voice in a meaningful way.

2017 AIA President Bill Brown, AIA

With thanks to Maggie Shubert, AIA, Marshall Dreiling, and our AIA Virginia staff, we launched a very successful inaugural Art of Practice Conference which will be an annual alternating companion event to the Design Forum. This opportunity brought practitioners from around the state to share ideas on the business practice of architecture. To recognize the different climates we work within we initiated the creation of a small firm roundtable and a mid-size firm roundtable. Continuation of the large firm roundtable which had been convened three years ago elevated the conversation of how AIA Virginia is of value and relevant to these firms in light of our needing their continued support with the planned phase-out of supplemental dues.

Through our Government Advocacy Council, we continued our successful legislative activities. Efforts lead by Rhea George, Hon. AIA Virginia guided the development and approval by the board in our June 16th meeting of AIA Virginia’s Directory of Public Policy and Position Statements. Also, I want to highlight that all statewide legislators and the three elected offices are up for election this year so support our PAC so that we can continue our valuable relationships with incumbents that have worked toward our mutual vision of the built environment in Virginia.

Under the guidance of Nick Vlattas, AIA, we conducted a successful nationwide search for a new EVP and have appointed the amazing Corey Clayborne, AIA. His commitment to the service to the profession and to the individual members that make up our AIA family is unparalleled. As July starts he has already begun his position and is implementing his 30/60/90 day plan. We see great things to come in our collective future with Corey at the helm!

This is a special moment in time for AIA Virginia as the seasons change we are experiencing a notable change ourselves. This past June 30th marked the departure of our esteemed EVP and my friend, Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, and the arrival of Corey Clayborne, AIA, at this same post. I can’t think of two persons that have been and are so passionate, focused and exemplary to lead our organization. Together AIA Virginia has re-envisioned and transformed the organization under Helene’s leadership to be member focused, transparent in our governance, financially sustainable and of value to the architects in the Commonwealth. There is a seamless transition underway that warrants a great confidence in the organization.

For her part, Helene has gone far above and beyond the call of duty in her role as leader. She has used her nurturing spirit and passion for architecture to strengthen our organizations working tirelessly to effect positive change. I want to share a personal side of saying farewell to my friend Helene as she and I were in the same architecture class at Virginia Tech and I had the privilege of speaking for AIA Virginia at the recent Branch Museum event to recognize her tireless service to our organizations. When Helene ran for president of the American Institute of Architects, she did so on a platform of cultural change. As Virginia architects watched with pride at her inauguration in 2014, we were confident in her leadership and her capacity as a change-maker for our National organization. She brought this same spirit to AIA Virginia and The Branch and both organizations are better for it.

Throughout her career, Helene has dedicated herself to mentoring young professionals and advocating on their behalf. As the volunteer leaders of AIA Virginia pondered a fitting way to acknowledge her contributions to our profession, we could think of no more appropriate recognition than the naming of the Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA Studio. This space at the Branch will permanently honor Helene’s legacy by fostering the cultivation of interns at the cusp of their professional lives. This cause has been a cornerstone of Helene’s professional career, and The Studio will be used to nurture the growth and development of the many interns who come to The Branch each year. It is a fitting symbol to honor her dedication to and support of both the profession of architecture and The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design.

Take care, my friend!

Bill Brown, AIA
2017 President AIA Virginia

Inspiration from A’17

I was honored to attend the AIA Conference on Architecture 2017 last month in Orlando to represent you and AIA Virginia. I thought I’d use my column this month to share a few of my takeaways and inspirations.

The conference was highlighted by inspiring keynotes on what impact architecture has on society and our responsibility to be aware of this influence.  Learning sessions offered something for everyone and I attended ones on design, net-zero, building sciences, codes, and virtual and augmented reality. If you take a tour you are bound to miss something but I couldn’t miss experiencing Celebration, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Florida Southern College and Santiago Calatrava’s Florida Polytechnic University. The Expo offered learning sessions on the floor, new product roll outs, and informative conversations with exhibitors. Bylaw changes and resolutions were considered at the annual meeting and officers were elected during voting. Bill Bates, FAIA, was asked and stated what three key values drive him, he identified integrity, honesty, and forthrightness; to elevate what he does and leave it better through positive change and; to have fun and enjoy the value of design. During the convention, five Virginians were elevated to Fellowship.

The Region of the Virginias reception offered a venue to see old friends and meet new ones and gave us the opportunity to recognize Helene Dreiling, FAIA and celebrate her tireless work for all our members as she transitions to a new direction in her career. We also were very pleased to publicly announce and introduce our new Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, AIA and shared his strong commitment and dedication to serving AIA Virginia in the years to come.

In her first public appearance since leaving the White House, Michelle Obama choose to join the architects attending A’17 to discuss issues of closing the gender gap and building a diverse profession. She praised the efforts of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects on the design efforts for the Obama Presidential Library. The audience made some noise when AIA President Tom Vonier, FAIA reminded everyone that former President Barack Obama once wanted to be an architect.

Of the keynotes, one statement that made an impression on my reflection of architect’s impact was from Michael Murphy of MASS Design Group.

“As architects, we have tremendous power in the choices we make. Whether or not we intend them, the consequences of our decisions cannot be divorced from the social and political impacts they have on the public. The question is not whether we have a social impact, but whether we make humane decisions that empower the communities we work for.”

Attending the convention re-energizes my appreciation for what architects and architecture can be and to make a positive contribution to our communities and society. I think of courageous leadership, to be bold and brave, have no fear but be informed, be empathetic and be sincere. We need to respect and civilly discuss the perceived differences between us. Courageous leadership requires a strong ability/aptitude to work through adversarial differences through effective communication and find common ground. Don’t avoid the civil obligation to resolve or at least acknowledge difference and then find a path forward. Don’t shrink from what you can achieve.

Bill Brown, AIA
2017 President AIA Virginia

Road Map For 2017

“We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves.” John Glenn

2017 AIA President Bill Brown, AIA

I am honored to have served as president-elect in 2016 as staff and the board collaboratively imagined what AIA Virginia could look like in 2020. I was taken by the collective energy in the room and the passion for our profession and our organization. I truly am humbled and honored to serve now as your 2017 President and my road map for 2017 is to guide the implementation of the Strategic Plan through my term.

My introduction to the AIA was through Edgar C. Beery Jr. FAIA in 1984 and I continue to find it to be such a wonderful community of people and resource for professional practice. Through this, I have come to ask myself the question of “How do I make a difference?” Whether it is making a difference in the community, at work or on a personal level the approach is not too different.

Recognize your beliefs and passions, be sincere, and be involved. Serve the community by first; educating yourself, second; contributing to the body of work and knowledge and consequently; volunteering your time to better our profession. I am committed to guiding the association’s continuing momentum to be member focused and reinvented as an effective and efficient organization. I pledge to “speak up” and advocate for our profession, and the communities we are part of, guided by the principles of the Virginia Accord. I truly believe that only through being personally engaged in the AIA can we accomplish great things as the AIA.

My passions are;
Advocating for the profession,
Leadership development and mentorship of those aspiring to rise, and
Enhancing the membership experience

There is much work to do to make our organization what we imagine it to be. There will be change, some easy and some difficult. I see myself as facilitator, advocate, and champion of the organization

In 2016 significant transformation in our organization was led by our President, Nick Vlattas, AIA and our Executive Vice President/CEO Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA with support from an exceptional Board of Directors and a deeply committed and dedicated staff.  There was significant collaboration with leadership from our five local components and with AIA National as the institute repositions itself for the fast-changing practice of architecture.

It is my hope to build upon the firm foundation of this last year with five goals:

  • Elevate public awareness by positioning architects as vital contributors to our built environment.
  • Advance the knowledge and expertise of members.
  • Advocate for the profession.
  • Implement a communication program that informs and facilitates connections.
  • Become a model of a strong nonprofit and vibrant membership organization.

Highlights for next year include;

The inaugural Art of Practice will be a one day conference presented by AIA Virginia designed to build skills required by the practice of our profession. Topics for discussion will include firm culture, marketing, new technology trends, and how to grow your practice. With relevant content for both small and large firms, no matter what stage in your career, we are sure there will be something for everyone. See you March 31, 2017, for this exciting conference!

As we structure our programs and services in 2017, I also believe that we can build upon the principles of the VIRGINIA ACCORD. Shortly after the Centennial Celebration, under the leadership of then AIA Virginia President and Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, Jack Davis FAIA, the VIRGINIA ACCORD brought together planning, design, construction, and real estate disciplines to examine key themes critical to our future in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VIRGINIA ACCORD recognized the excellent contributions of the past century and offered our promise for the future with five guiding principles:

  1. Commitment to contributing to job creation and a growing and thriving economy
  2. Commitment to constructing environmentally sustainable buildings
  3. Commitment to public health
  4. Commitment to systems of mass transit
  5. Commitment to responsible land development and urban infill

We will continue to work to create a healthy business environment for the architects in the Commonwealth. Raise the awareness of Citizen Architects and encourage members to be involved in their communities. We must create a more robust AIA VA PAC that is in line with other organizations to support those legislators that have a proven track record working with us in alignment with our priorities.

Continue the support and encouragement of emerging leaders. Strategically engage with ELA alumnae in order to encourage networking, engagement, and the future growth of the citizen architect program. The voice of emerging leaders must be heard.

In summary, I am proud to be a part of this group of thought leaders and staff members that are diligently working collaboratively in your best interest to make these ideas actionable to the benefit of our members. It is with that frame of mind and with that spirit in my heart, working with my colleagues that I embark on the year ahead as a servant leader to the members of AIA Virginia.

Thank you.

Bill Brown, AIA
President 2017
AIA Virginia