Architecture Community Comes Together: Advocacy, Volunteerism, Expertise

Event: Not Business As Usual
Location: Center for Architecture, 01.07, 01.21.09
Organizers: AIANY; Center for Architecture Foundation
Sponsors: AMX; Chief Manufacturing; Lutron Electronics

As the economy has yet to take a turn for the better, AIANY and the Center for Architecture Foundation continue to make an effort to ease the situation for design professionals in the city. In the last issue of e-Oculus, the report “AIANY, Center for Architecture Foundation Address Economic Woes”, introduced the Not Business As Usual series — lunchtime forums bringing together the community to brainstorm ways to cope in these difficult times.

After two general sessions, the forums will be topical going forward. The next meeting focused on advocacy will take place February 11 at 12:00pm at the Center for Architecture, and the following will be an opportunity fair on February 25 at the same time. A website has been created with information about recent discussions and future events, as well.

Here is a summary of what’s been brought to the table so far in terms of advocacy (by Rick Bell, FAIA), volunteer opportunities (by Jaime Endreny and Suzanne Mecs), presentation skills (by James McCullar, FAIA), training programs (by Ken D’Amato), and virtual communication (by Abby Suckle, FAIA, LEED AP, and Diana Darling):


Energy Survey. Modeled on the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), which uses trained professionals to assess building conditions, an energy survey or audit of public and private structures in the U.S. would create employment opportunities and provide a starting point for a facility-based discussion of energy conservation and physical remediation.

Design Corps. Based on the AmeriCorps approach to channeling the idealism of recent graduates, a design-oriented component of an expanded AmeriCorps or Opportunity Corps would allow young design professionals to find employment in nationwide design-related endeavors. In NYC, Design Corps members could be posted to public sector offices such as the Department of Design + Construction, non-governmental organizations such as Architecture for Humanity or the Center for Architecture Foundation, or possibly even to private offices working on public projects.

Infrastructure. Advocating for an expansive and inclusive definition of infrastructure is timely as the AIA and other professional societies increase their outreach to the new administration. The Economic Stimulus proposals in Congress presently address the importance of “ready to go” projects that lack funding, such as school projects as well as bridges and roadways. Discussing other types of urban infrastructure, including, for example, window replacement at NYC Housing Authority structures, can also incorporate energy considerations into the discussion of funded tasks and commissions. Collaboration on the definition of infrastructure with the engineering community was felt to be most needed, particularly in the context of the Make It Work: Engineering Possibilities exhibition at the Center for Architecture.