Posts tagged with "AIA":

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AIA urges Trump to reverse decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement

Yesterday President Trump formally notified the United Nations that he intends to pull the United States from the Paris Agreement, which he had been promising to do since he took office in 2017. In response to the Trump administration’s notice, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) called for the decision to be reversed.  “The AIA deplores the administration’s shortsighted decision,” said AIA 2019 president William Bates in a statement. “The economic impact of the United States as a participant in the Paris Agreement is a fraction of the toll we will pay if we do not make climate action a top priority as a nation. The stakes couldn’t be higher—a reversal of this decision is critical.” Nearly 200 countries signed the accord in November 2016, which served as a collective pledge to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions around the world. President Obama brought the U.S. into the agreement, but President Trump—who once described climate change as a “hoax”—has been warning neighboring nations that he would withdraw. As of Monday, the first day possible to do so, the Trump administration submitted its intentions to remove the U.S. from the agreement. It will take a year for the formal exit to go into effect on November 4, 2020—the day after the 2020 election.   While cities and states across America from Seattle to Los Angeles, Maine, New York State, and even Washington, D.C., have announced individual plans to go carbon neutral in the decades to come, having little-to-no federal oversight is still not acceptable to many believers in climate change, including several architects. AIA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy said the “abdication of America’s leadership on climate action undermines our nation’s credibility on the global stage.”  When AN reported earlier this year on the Green New Deal, design industry leaders noted how the impact of climate issues goes beyond global warming. While the Green New Deal calls for decarbonization across the entire U.S. economy, it also pushes the idea that a carbon-free economy is a socially-just one, too. That means thinking beyond environmental impact and shifting the focus to public projects that benefit all people, like affordable housing.  The AIA and many among the architectural community, in general, aim to solve the climate crisis by promoting healthy building design and reducing carbon waste during and after construction. In August, many architects took to the streets for the Global Climate Strike with climate activist Greta Thunberg. Even if President Trump is able to get what he wants by removing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, there are a number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates running against him who have trillion-dollar plans to reverse his damage. Regardless, the AIA has announced its opposition to the president’s move this week and urges him to think again:  “In order to move the needle on this global crisis, it will take the efforts of every industry, every company, and every citizen in the United States as well as the leadership of the United States government,” said Ivy. “The AIA will continue to prioritize climate action in an effort to support architects—and the entire design and construction field—in this critical role.” 
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A federal database for designing safer schools is working through the Senate

A bipartisan bill to improve school safety reached the floor of the U.S. Senate this week. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the proposed legislation known as The School Safety Clearinghouse Act on Monday, an aisle-crossing effort that would help state and local officials make schools safer through smarter design. “Children deserve to go to school and learn in a safe environment,” said Senator Jones in a statement. “School leaders should always have the resources they need in order to protect our children and their teachers.” The School Safety Clearinghouse Act would establish a federally-funded national database full of information on the best design practices for enhancing security and safety in schools across the country. Managed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the clearinghouse would include recommendations from architects, engineers, building security experts, first responders, and mental health advocates. It would not, however, advocate or advertise for specific technologies or tools for schools to use.  The program is the follow-up to the STOP School Violence Act which gave school districts access to funding for safety-enhancement projects. The School Safety Clearinghouse Act provides information to those districts so stakeholders can make informed design decisions using that money.  The American Institute of Architects released a statement confirming its commitment to working with Democrats and Republicans, as well as DHS, on the build-out of the clearinghouse—an idea first brought forward by the organization to the federal government when AIA members testified in front of the Federal Commission on School Safety last August. The AIA’s support is the latest move in its growing effort to address school safety and gun violence. In 2018 and 2019 alone there were over a total of 40 school shootings that resulted in injuries or death, according to Education Week “More than 20 years after the attack on Columbine High School, our schools deserve to be safer. As architects, we know how to help,” said AIA EVP and CEOOffice Robert Ivy in a press release. “Design serves as a critical element in making our airports, stadiums, and office buildings safer following September 11. Senators Purdue and Jones should be commended for introducing new legislation that will give education officials the vetted information they are desperately seeking to create and secure schools for America’s children and teachers.” 
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Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz on why Puerto Rico needs the help of more architects

Less than two years after Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, the politics behind its recovery and rebuilding efforts have come to the forefront of national news again and again. In recent weeks, two FEMA officials were indicted and arrested for taking bribes, committing fraud, and using federal funds for personal gain.  It’s a massive relief, but one that wasn't too surprising to Puerto Ricans who knew the money set aside for post-hurricane recuperation was being mismanaged by the federal government. One Puerto Rican, an internationally-renowned architect who served as a liaison between the private sector and FEMA for the past two years, has been very vocal about this.  “I’ve been trying to explain that Puerto Rico has been unfairly cast out as the most corrupt place in the U.S,” said Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz, founder of the San Juan- and Miami-based studio Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón. “And most of the attacks have been labeled towards local people. But this news is a silver lining and basically what I’ve been saying for the last year.” Álvarez-Díaz told AN that only a sliver of the $92 billion promised by President Trump last year has been managed locally. “Some of the people in FEMA were forcing local people to hire companies from the mainland that were not necessarily the right fit for what we are trying to do in our rebuilding," he said. "If you don’t use them they said, they would not refund the investment.”  Now that the news is out that ex-FEMA deputy regional administrator Ahsha Tribble had allegedly taken bribes from the Oklahoma City-based energy company contracted to restore the island’s power grid, it’s not crazy to think that other projects there have been subject to corruption as well. Álvarez-Díaz, who has been busy promoting the resiliency of the Puerto Rican people and making the case for more help, said the key to stopping this is three-fold: to get more locally-based architects and companies involved in the rebuilding process “to ensure it’s done in a very localized manner,” encouraging mainland architects to help out, and lastly, educating the next generation of Puerto Rican architects.  “We don’t have enough people on this island to do the work that needs to get done,” he said. “In Puerto Rico, there are less than 600 licensed architects out of 3.2 million people, but there are 15,000 licensed engineers. We need more help.”  Álvarez-Díaz’s firm practices in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, New York, and Florida. As the founder and co-chair of the local chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), and a board member of both Invest Puerto Rico and the ENLANCE Project Corporation of the Caño Martín Peña, two governor-appointed positions, he’s keenly aware of the island’s poor reputation and is constantly working to change it. His studio recently completed what’s been touted as the most resilient structure in Puerto Rico. Completed this summer, Renaissance Square is a $35.5 million mixed-income affordable housing project located in San Juan’s Gold Mile financial district. Though construction began years ago and was only 80 percent done when Maria hit, not a single window was broken. It was built through a public-private partnership between the Department of Housing, developer McCormack Baron Salazar, Citi Community Development, and Hunt Capital Partners. Of its 140 units, 60 percent were reserved for low-income families and there’s currently a 1,500-person waiting list to get a space. The demand is high. “Materials can be scarce here on the island and because there’s so much construction, the perception of lack creates a false sense of inflation, so people just want to use the cheapest materials instead of the best ones,” said Álvarez-Díaz. “We aim to convince the next group of developers that doing sustainable housing projects like this is actually profitable.”  Creating awareness is Álvarez-Díaz’s main mission. That’s why he’s also urging the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to use its influence to spread the knowledge that Puerto Rico is looking for outside assistance. He wants a chunk of next year’s AIA convention to be dedicated to educating architects on working in disaster zones, helping them connect with companies or organizations that need help, or advocating on behalf of equitable recovery efforts. “The AIA traditionally tends to be inside out instead of outside in,” he said. “Many architects aren’t invited to the table where big government decisions are being made and therefore are forced to talk among themselves about how to make things better. Local engineers are very successful in putting the word out there that Puerto Rico needs a lot of licensed engineers, experienced contractors, and developers. The more engineers we bring in and the less the amount of architects we attract, the more likely it is that we will miss an opportunity to create a holistic architectural vision for Puerto Rico.” The AIA already has an initiative set in place like this, its formal Disaster Assistance Program. But the goal of the program, which has certified architects for 47 years, isn’t for professionals to get more paid work, said an AIA spokesperson. Instead, it’s to provide technical expertise on development, planning, and policy, coordinate with local agencies, advocate for Good Samaritan legislation, and train for and share lessons on post-disaster building safety assessments—all things Álvarez-Díaz sees as good, but still not enough.  “We need to make sure this isn’t just about disaster recovery,” he said. “That’s the first step out of a three-step process. Once that’s done, we have to plan a whole island for the next 100 years. It’s not every day you can start from absolute scratch and benefit the next four generations of Puerto Ricans. I see the island as a kind of guinea pig for post-disaster development. Other places could one day learn from our successes and failures.” 
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Architecture Billings Index dipped to record lows in August

Looks like nonresidential construction in the United States has dipped yet again to record lows. Per the AIA’s monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI), the demand for design services on commercial, industrial, and mixed practice projects has fallen from a score of 50.1 in July to 47.2 in August. The ABI gives architects a glimpse into what the construction industry will look like a little less than a year from now. When the ABI falls below 50, that means billings have decreased from the prior month and helps the industry understand where to look for new work and of what kind. In May, AN reported on what was then the largest contraction the U.S. has seen in over two years: from February to March, the ABI fell from 47.8 to 50.3. The drop in the most recently-issued index is even larger. “The sizeable drop in both design billings and new project activity, coming on the heels of six months of disappointing growth in billings, suggest that the design expansion that began in mid-2010 is beginning to face headwinds,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker in a statement Calculated every three months, the average regional statistics for August showed that there was an increase in billings across the West with 51.2, but individual decreases in the Northeast (49.1), South (48.2) and Midwest (46.4).  Per sector—also broken down quarterly—the Architecture Billings Index revealed that institutional and multi-family residential work saw slight increases with 50.6 and 50.5 respectively. Commercial/industrial projects dropped to 46.9 and mixed practice projects fell to 46.3.  Furthermore, the Project Inquiries index for August was 54.5 and the Design Contracts index was 47.9.
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AIA and NCARB establish new alliance to push for licensing standards

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) have helped form a new coalition intended to educate policymakers and the public on the importance of high, consistent licensing standards across various technical fields. Architects, engineers, surveyors, landscape architects, and certified public accounts make up the newly-established Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL). “Complex professions are at risk of being swept up in broad calls to reduce licensing requirements for occupations and vocations,” said NCARB CEO Michael J. Armstrong in a statement. “It is important for us to work with other technical professions to ensure public safety isn’t compromised by broad brush deregulatory efforts.” In other words, rigorous licensing standards across these industries should stay in place in order to keep their professional work from harming the American people. According to NCARB, it’s up to ARPL members to stop sweeping legislative cuts from stripping key standards of practice from authoritative licensing boards such as the American Society of Civil Engineers and more. Professional licensing is getting more political year after year. The debate and criticism surrounding architectural regulations, at least, has been going on for quite some time within the field itself. NCARB, for example, has been working to minimize the burden that licensure candidates have when trying to pay and study for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), as well as the amount of earned experience hours it takes to get there, by, as they've described it,  "modernizing the path" to licensure.  Together with the ARPL, NCARB will clarify their moves to make the licensure process stronger, while maintaining the rigorous standards that ensure a safe built environment. According to a press release, the coalition’s mission is exactly that: to protect the public and represent the voices of these various professions when it comes to reasonable regulation and licensing.  AIA CEO Robert Ivy echoed Armstrong’s statement, saying any attempts to “weaken or undermine” these requirements for architects harms both the profession and could endanger the health, safety, and welfare of the public they build for.  “When an architect designs a hospital or a school, the public must have confidence in its safety and structural integrity,” said Ivy. “The best way to maintain the public’s confidence is to continue to require that architects demonstrate rigorous and ongoing education, examination, and experience.”
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Check out the best new building products and tools from the 2019 AIA Expo

With over 750 exhibitors, the AIA Conference on Architecture is the premier event of the year to see the newest building products. We ventured to Las Vegas to speak to the building product manufacturers on the expo floor and discovered the latest materials and high-tech solutions. You’ll find highlights in openings, painting/coatings, software, acoustics, and more below. Enjoy!

Openings

Sun Tunnel Velux This unconventional daylighting solution brings natural light inside through a discreet aperture. The light tunnel provides diffused sunlight that runs all the way from the roof to the room below. YWW 60 TU YKK AP Designed to fit floor-to-ceiling spans, this thermally broken window wall system is equipped with YKK’s patented Megatherm insulating gasketing system. It provides thermal performance for one-inch glazing (or ¼ inch infill using adaptors).

Paint/Coatings

Chinese Porcelain PPG PPG named Chinese Porcelain—a deep, saturated, navy blue—the 2020 color of the year. The hue is said to promote relaxation and tranquility in “the anxiety of a fast-paced world.” 2020 Colormix Forecast Sherwin-Williams Paint purveyor Sherwin-Williams debuted 5 palettes of 45 colors to promote the ongoing trend of wellness. Combinations of neutral, nature-inspired hues are designed to foster healthy building environments via the beauty of color.

Software/Digital Platforms

Unity Reflect Unity Technologies At last! No more waiting for files to transfer from Revit. The new platform automatically syncs projects in real time in Autodesk across all platforms—from desktop, to mobile, to VR, and AR. It will be available in fall 2019. OpenCA IngeniousIO This cloud-based construction administration management platform is designed to help architects and engineers collaborate. The visually-driven design clearly illustrates process, progress, goals, and landmarks while simultaneously allowing for real-time feedback.  

Acoustics

LightFrame Decoustics Utilizing back-lit LED lights, these acoustic fabric panels emit light while simultaneously absorbing noise. A UV coating is applied to the stretched fabric to prevent color fading and ensure optimal lighting. MetalWorks Torsion Spring Shapes Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions These geometric tiles create custom ceilings that absorb sound. The modular design allows for a range of applications to control noise in open areas and small spaces. It is available in 2D- or 3D-patterned panels, non-perforated or perforated, in a full spectrum of custom colors.
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AIA enlists Eric Holder, Jr., for new award recipients vetting guidelines

The AIA has launched a review of its selection processes for its Honors & Awards and Fellows programs, and has hired Covington & Burling, LLP, and, by extension, partner and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., to help guide the process. The architecture industry, along with too many others, has been embroiled in a series of #metoo-related scandals, as architects have come forward with their claims of sexual harassment, assault, and belittling at every level. As revelations about once-revered designers emerge, organizing bodies have grappled with whether they should revoke the awards given to offenders. While Richard Meier was able to retain his Pritzker after a New York Times article early last year alleged that he had engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, AIA New York chose to strip Meier of his 2018 Design Award. Now the national AIA is trying to put procedures in place for vetting the professional conduct of its nominees and to develop a standardized protocol for dealing with allegations that arise after an award or fellowship has been bestowed. The AIA’s Board of Directors and National Ethics Council will work with Holder as part of an advisory group to build out the new guidelines addressed above. Additionally, in the same press release, the AIA touted four rules it had recently changed to demonstrate that it was serious about stamping out harassment:
  • Standardizing rules across awards: The guidelines underpinning the Institute Awards now apply to Knowledge Communities awards program, which are geared towards specialized topics.
  • Making all letters of recommendation confidential, so that potentially troubling behavior can be brought to the AIA’s attention without fear of reprisal.
  • Members of the AIA’s leadership groups are now able to put forward confidential messages about a candidate, which will be appended to the candidate’s confidential review.
  • The AIA will now conduct random background checks on its award and fellowship nominees.
AN will follow this story up once the AIA’s review is complete and the new guidelines have been developed.
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Architecture Billings Index dips for the first time in two years

The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI), the institute’s indicator of nonresidential construction activity, has contracted for the first time in 25 months. The ABI tracks architecture billings across the country, and as such, is indicative of what construction industry will be 9-to-12 months later. The March 2019 ABI, a measure of the national monthly billings rate, fell to 47.8 from 50.3 in February. The ABI measures month-over-month statistics, so a score below 50 means a decrease from the prior month, while a score over 50 reflects an increase. “Though billings haven’t contracted in a while, it is important to note that it does follow on the heels of a particularly tough late winter period for much of the country,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a press release. “Many indicators of future work at firms still remain positive, although the pace of growth of design contracts has slowed in recent months.” The regional statistics for March, which are calculated on a three-month basis instead of monthly, break down the figure further. According to the AIA, regional averages were as follows: the South 54.2, Midwest 48.7, West 47.2, and Northeast 43.5. By sector, which is also calculated on a three-month average, mixed practice was reported at 53.1, commercial/industrial at 47.0, institutional at 48.9, and multi-family residential at 47.7. The Project Inquiries Index for March, which is calculated monthly, was 59.8, while the Design Contracts Index, also reported monthly, held in positive territory at 50.8.

AIA New York State Design Awards

The AIANYS Design Awards celebrate projects that epitomize what we have come to expect from architects in New York State. Projects range from skyscrapers, to residences, and from firms of all sizes. Projects are built all around the world and all designed to achieve different goals – with the commonality of being designed by architects from New York.
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Over 600 citizen-architects meet with Congress members on Capitol Hill

Today more than 600 citizen-architects are lobbying on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to advocate for public policies that promote school safety and improved energy saving in buildings across the United States. As part of Grassroots 2019, an annual conference for AIA chapter leaders, these architects will meet with 135 members of Congress and 197 Congressional staff spanning 358 House districts in all 50 states. This event comes after the AIA has become more vocal in recent years about amping up architects' role in policymaking. Under 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante’s leadership, the organization pushed for members to take a seat at the table by getting involved with local efforts to create safer, healthier, and more equitable cities. Through both the individual efforts of its members as “architect-activists” and the overarching authority of the AIA itself, the group has put more stake into the public realm than ever before. From most recently coming out in support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, to proposing legislative ideas that ensure safe school design to senior cabinet members at the White House, the AIA has not been shy about making sure elected leaders hear from architectural experts regarding some of the country's biggest problems. In November, the organization outlined six key issues it would address with the new Congress in 2019, two of which are being tackled on the Hill today. Of course, not all of the AIA's outspoken moments have satisfied all of its members. At times, people have taken to social media and other venues to oppose the national group, or to castigate the group for staying silent on design-oriented national issues. In recent months, however, the organization has seemed to be more committed to political advocacy. Today's collective meetings bring AIA representatives from across the country—real, diverse practioners—to D.C. to share their experience both living and working in the built environment. Not only that, but hundreds of local architects are also meeting with state officials to discuss these issues while others are using the AIA's virtual portal to express their voices.
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AIA issues statement of support for proposed Green New Deal legislation

American Institute of Architects (AIA) president William Bates has issued a statement of support for the recently unveiled preliminary Green New Deal (GND) legislation.  In a press release, Bates said: 
We applaud the efforts of Congress and its committees this week to find new ways to support achieving a carbon neutral future by 2030, which is critical to our global future. By investing in infrastructure, upgrading the existing building stock, and improving resilience in the built environment, we can make progress towards AIA’s 2030 Commitment goals. However, there’s a great deal of work that needs to be done. AIA encourages Congress to swiftly enact public policies today that will address the dire consequences we’re facing.
The statement comes just days after a non-binding draft resolution calling for the wholesale decarbonization of the American energy grid was unveiled by New York congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts senator Ed Markey. Last week The Architect’s Newspaper spoke with architects from around the country to gauge what they would like to see included in an eventual plan.  According to the AIA press release, AIA members are scheduled to visit Congress on March 6 to advocate for legislative action on a range of initiatives related to climate change, resilience, and energy efficiency. As currently planned, the AIA delegation is scheduled to meet with several House and Senate committees, including the Energy & Commerce, Transportation & Infrastructure, Energy & Natural Resource, Environment and Public Works committees as well as the recently reinstated Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in an effort to “to achieve measurable outcomes.” AIA’s support for the GND follows the adoption of the organization’s 2030 Commitment, a program that seeks to “transform the practice of architecture in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project based, and data-driven” by prioritizing energy performance in order to make America’s building stock carbon neutral by 2030, a goal that is roughly shared with the preliminary GND legislation. A draft of the GND legislation calls for “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort, and safety,” among many other goals. 
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Venturi, Scott Brown's Sainsbury Wing wins the 2019 AIA Twenty-five Year Award

After awarding no building the prestigious Twenty-five Year Award in 2018, a first since the prize’s founding in 1971, the AIA has changed its tune for 2019. The 2019 award has been bestowed upon the Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA)–designed Sainsbury Wing addition to London’s National Gallery. The Twenty-five Year Award was created to honor buildings that have “set a precedent for the last 25-35 years and continues to set standards of excellence for its architectural design and significance.” Additionally, buildings must be in good shape and still represent the original design intent. The Sainsbury Wing, a 120,000-square-foot addition to the 1838 National Gallery, was completed in 1991 and originally drew a mixture of scorn from both traditionalists and modernists who felt the scheme was trying to have the best of both worlds. As Adam Nathaniel Furman noted in an essay on the building’s convoluted history, VSBA used Postmodernism as a way to thread the needle between opposing demands. Clad in a large, unifying facade but containing a delicately-balanced and intimate set of galleries within, the Sainsbury Wing feels both new and old at once. In 2018 the addition was awarded Grade I preservation listing status, the highest level of recognition in the UK. The decision to recognize the Sainsbury Wing this year is likely in deference to the late Robert Venturi; the building falls well within the 1983-through-1993 range that the jury was considering last year. This isn’t the first time the AIA has recognized the Sainsbury Wing though, as it was awarded a National Award in 1992. The 2019 jury included Jeanne Chen, AIA, Chair, Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners (Santa Monica, California): Rania Alomar, AIA, RA-DA (West Hollywood, California): Alicia Berg, AICP, University of Chicago (Chicago): Raymond M. Bowman, Assoc. AIA (Pittsburgh): Katherine K. Chia, FAIA, Desai Chia Architecture PC (New York City): Shannon R. Christensen, AIA, CTA Architects Engineers (Billings, Montana): Eugene C. Dunwody Jr., AIA, Dunwody/ Beeland Architects (Macon, Georgia): Henry Moss, AIA, Bruner/Cott & Associates, Inc. (Cambridge, Massachusetts): and David Rosa-Rivera, Savannah College of Art and Design (Bayamón, Puerto Rico).