The importance of AIA membership and licensure was a common thread throughout this year’s convention. Whether it was at the “IDP Outstanding Firm Awards,” the “AIA Associates Awards 2011,” or “Focus Your Network of Mentors” (hosted by the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee for the second year in a row), similar questions came up about what the future holds for emerging professionals and how they, as well as those in allied professions, can find a niche in their local chapters.
During the “IDP Outstanding Firm Awards,” panelists discussed how a firm’s culture can instill the importance of licensure. Andrew Caruso, AIA, head of intern development and academic outreach at Gensler’s office in Washington, DC, described the firm’s structured Licensure Experience Reporting System (LERS). This database analyzes employees’ timesheets, and enables the firm to track the progress of its interns, making sure they fulfill the necessary requirements for IDP. Most importantly, according to Caruso, this system provides an incentive for interns to continue their professional development through licensure. Many of the principals who attended “Focus Your Network of Mentors” talked about how their firms cover exam fees and give raises to recently licensed architects. So what is the hold-up for young designers to get licensed? Practitioners seem to agree that, although firm culture is important, the individual must also realize that licensure is an important personal goal to pursue.
On the other hand, Ernest Hutton, FAICP, Assoc. AIA, received a 2011 AIA Associate Award as a long-time active AIANY Chapter member in an affiliated profession. Although he has an architecture degree, he is a city planner, a real estate developer, principal of Planning Interaction, and a key player in New York New Visions, PlaNYC, and the Active Design Guidelines. His vast experience encapsulates how the impact of related fields can pertain to architecture. During his presentation, he spoke about how collaboration has always been the key to success, and suggested that it may be time for the AIA to “rebrand” the Associate label to celebrate diversified career paths.
With changes in the economy, and with a new generation of up-and-coming architects and allied professionals, the AIA is expanding its umbrella. By looking to its committees and its link to local towns and cities, and by developing a strategic plan to expand membership both within and outside of the architecture profession, the AIA is becoming a more facetted, comprehensive community of professionals.