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News > Advancing Architecture and Design > Membership, Purpose, and the Future Architecture Industry: A New Narrative

Membership, Purpose, and the Future Architecture Industry: A New Narrative

Closing out my (almost) decade-long tenure as the Executive Director of the AIA Philadelphia, I have been reflecting on our ever-present question – what is the value of AIA membership? Based on the conversation with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of architects over the past ten years, a global pandemic, the painful closing of a beloved bookstore, and current softening economic conditions -- I believe the value of AIA membership is that this organization is truly and deeply committed to making sure architects thrive. And the only way we continue to reach for that goal is through active engagement with our members and a relentless focus on that goal. 

Your Voice, Our Future 

Over the next 12 months, my primary goal is to chart a future course guided by answering the question: What will it take to change our industry so that architects are thriving?  We have started to build an engagement framework from the collective wisdom of our Board, Committees, and Staff’s input and through community meetings, social media, board member outreach, and monthly lunches, we plan to reshape our programs, continuing educational offerings, and advocacy approach. 

Redefining the Stereotypes of Architects 

I urge you to engage passionately, participate purposefully, and demand relentlessly. In doing so, I also challenge you to rethink your perception that “all architects are (fill in the blank).” This is something I have heard almost as much as the “what’s the value of membership” question. The stereotypes—often unflattering—fail to capture the true character of the architects I've met. They've been passionate and principled, committed to service and progressive action, not self-interest and stagnation. I believe that reframing and rewriting this narrative is a critical piece to pushing for an architecture industry that is healthy and advocating for change in the built environment.  

We all have good reasons and experiences that create these types of stereotypes, and you can choose to disregard my opinion. But of the hundreds of architects I have had to pleasure to work with over the past ten years – truthfully, I can count the “stereotypical ego-maniac architects” on one hand. 

Marching Forward, Together 

Thank you for reading my opinion – I believe that AIA is an extremely valuable and useful organization in the lives of architects and the larger community – but we can always do better. I hope you will engage with us over the next 12 months and beyond. 

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