Future Now

With the start of the new year, I have been thinking a lot about the 2012 AIANY President’s theme, “Future Now.” Considering that much of our present centers on economic downfalls, political turmoil, and environmental devastation, how can we as design professionals affect change? During last month’s inaugural, President Joseph J. Aliotta, AIA, LEED AP, said, “We will determine our own future by how thoughtfully we respond to those challenges.”

Recently, the Chapter has responded to many of these existing challenges. The recent Freedom of Assembly panel addressed First Amendment rights despite increasingly limited public space in the city. The Emerging NY Architects Committee (ENYA) launched the Harlem Edge competition to rethink food, infrastructure, and water along the Hudson River. The New Practices Committee is hosting its biennial competition to highlight the work of emerging practices (a feat in this economy!). The newly established Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) is planning events and discussions about disaster relief. To encourage healthy lifestyles and better multi-modal transportation systems citywide, an exhibition on the NYC Bike Share program will open on 01.11.12, in anticipation of the program’s launch this summer.

It appears that the architecture profession is beginning to dig its way out of the recession as construction projects are on the upswing (shovel-ready projects now have shovels in the ground), and firms seem to be hiring for the first time in a couple of years. With this forward motion, I feel a new immediacy among practitioners to get things done. Architects want to tap into new fields that have not been explored in the profession, diversifying practice. They want to help where they can, whether it’s locally at Occupy Wall Street or globally to aid in disaster relief efforts. They want to roll their sleeves up and get to work!

This being an election year, the theme “Future Now” is poignant. It is essential for the profession to take steps to sustain its relevancy in the public for the betterment of the city’s future. Hopefully, this momentum will continue throughout the year.