Let us be motivated to engage! “Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” Among the many notable quotes attributed to Albert Einstein, I believe this one is most relevant to the time at hand for the architectural profession and in particular the AIA membership of North Carolina.
The population of North Carolina continues to grow rapidly and the economy of the state is moving more and more each day from a rural, agricultural base to one driven by technology and science. Although we have the good fortune to be surrounded by many natural beauties and areas to enjoy and explore the outdoors, in our daily activities we are challenged by a multitude of issues related to the growth of urban areas throughout the state. As a profession trained in creative problem-solving we must be a part of the development of the physical solutions that will influence the quality of life for all North Carolinian residents and for those outside the state whose lives are touched by our creations.
Three years ago I was asked to return to the NC AIA Board in the line of succession to become president. I was very humbled by this request and although my immediate instinct was to say yes because of the honor, it was essential that there be the opportunity to be able to make a difference. After a good deal of introspection and discussion with the leadership in place at the time, it was clear that the AIA NC was ready for a change. To thrive and not just survive, our association needs to embrace change and define our future. Echkart Tolle said, “Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
In the past two years, AIA National has restructured the Board of Directors to a smaller, more effective decision-making body; created a Council for strategic thinking; and through the Repositioning mandate, charged all sections and chapters to redefine how each of them will better serve their membership. As part of the 3-year strategic plan developed by AIA NC in the fall of 2014, the Board entered into a statewide memorandum of understanding (MOU) addressing how all member services will be provided throughout the state. This task was at times challenging for the Board and required an honest evaluation of what mechanisms of the past needed to be released in order to evolve towards a better way of providing member service throughout the state.
I am proud to have been a part of this process and look forward to continuing to move our association in the direction of better serving all our members. Several initiatives will be key components for improving member service. Begun in 2014 at the Center for Architecture & Design, it is time for the ACTIVATE Public Engagement campaign to grow and expand in a coordinated manner throughout the state. Initially, Activate 14 provided various local forums for architects to interact with the public in educational activities that promote the betterment of the profession. This type of activity is not unique to any one locale and in fact, each section currently engages in some form of public engagement. To better engage the public; provide a more comprehensive set of opportunities for participation; and to increase the value of our membership throughout the state and beyond a coordinated statewide effort has begun.
A second important effort for the coming year will be the continuation of the implementation of the 3-year strategic plan. In an effort to keep the State Board focused on issues relevant to the our membership, the strategic plan developed in the Fall of 2014 was modified from the traditional 5-year plan to a 3-year plan. Because changes in our profession occur faster as technological advances continue to modify how we produce projects, the shorter plan length was seen as a way to foster the relevance of Board activities. A second benefit is that there is increased continuity of institutional knowledge within the Board Executive Committee since officers make a five-year commitment to the state level organization. For anyone interested in getting more involved in AIA, the strategic plan outlines many opportunities for participation.
Similarly, now more than ever, the need for mentorship is vital. The younger members of our profession are well-trained and eager to contribute. Changes in the way licensure is attained have made it easier to “sit” for the testing portion of the process, but demands to produce work faster and more efficiently often create challenges for young professionals in getting the varied experience needed to complete IDP.
Both UNCC & NCSU are currently developing integrated curriculum programs that will allow architecture students to take their licensure exams while in school or immediately upon graduation. For some this program will provide the needed mentorship through alternating periods of study and practice. To make these programs successful, member firms will need to work with both institutions to provide meaningful work opportunities for students — another opportunity to Engage!
This year our Design Conference will be a combined South Atlantic Region Conference and will be held in Wilmington, NC September 29 — October 1st, 2016. The conference theme is Growability with the intent of focusing on issues of growth and increased density in our cities. As the host chapter, North Carolina AIA is responsible for logistics and sponsorships and there are plenty of opportunities to assist in making the event a success. Building on the success of last year’s conference in Durham, the conference will offer attendees a combination of in-class continuing education sessions, as well as, community tours related to the conference theme. It will be a meaningful event and we hope you will join your colleagues at the coast.
The public needs our leadership. As you move through this year in your practice of architecture I encourage you to Engage. Be willing to evolve your practice — ACTIVATE!