AIANY Generates “Center Envy” Across Nation

Event: Big Sibs
Location: San Francisco, 10.11-12.07
Participants: AIA Atlanta; Boston Society of Architects; AIA Chicago; AIA Dallas; AIA Houston; AIA Los Angeles; AIA Minneapolis; AIA New York Chapter; AIA Philadelphia; AIA San Francisco; AIA Seattle; AIA Washington, D.C.

Big Sibs

Connie Wolf, Director/CEO of The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, gives a walking tour during the Big Sibs conference.

Rick Bell

Big Sibs, a group of the largest AIA urban chapters with more than 1,000 members, brings focus on urban issues such as affordable housing, infrastructure and transportation, pollution, and urban sprawl. Every year, the Big Sibs gather for a “show-and-tell,” providing an opportunity to hear what AIA components are doing for their members and get a feel for how the construction industry is faring nationwide. Right now, business is booming everywhere, but there is an overall sense that we have reached the peak and will start heading downhill soon.

AIANY’s Center for Architecture has become a hot topic for other components. Many of them are suffering from “Center Envy,” and as a result centers are springing up like mushrooms after a rain. Richmond, VA, opened a center April 1, 2006. AIA San Francisco just built out a new headquarters, including a large exhibition/multipurpose space open to the public. The local SF Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is constructing a new building that uses LaGuardia Place as a model. Houston and Austin have recently opened centers. Dallas is also planning new centers. Even our national AIA headquarters is getting a big overhaul that will make it more open, transparent, public, and green (complete with a geothermal system similar to NYC’s Center).

Hearing that so many chapters are engaging more with the public was really inspiring. It made me appreciate individuals like Margaret Helfand, FAIA, Rolf Ohlhausen, FAIA, George Miller, FAIA, Dennis Kuhn, FAIA, and many more, who had the vision and foresight to conceptualize the Center and the guts to take the chance on actually seeing it through.