While you were still sleeping on 01.01.15, the Center for Architecture was reborn as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit entity with aspirations to become the preeminent place for architectural education and discourse geared to improving the social, cultural, and environmental aspects of the public realm. While it remains a sister institution to AIANY, with shared staff and a governance structure intertwined with the Chapter’s, it now has its own Board of Directors and a unique mission rightly distinguished from a membership-driven organization like AIANY. One of my responsibilities as 2015 AIANY President is to partner with Center for Architecture President Joseph Tortorella, and thoughtfully design the details of a mutually-beneficial, productive, and symbiotic relationship between the two institutions.
As I awoke on New Year’s Day (very late and a little hazy), my thoughts focused on how to clearly make sense of the bond between these two institutions. I found two terms that help me begin to order the universe: Think Tank and Public Portal. The AIANY is truly a think tank for architecture, and the Center for Architecture should be seen by our membership as the public portal for the broad dissemination of our innovative ideas. Utilizing the Center as a conduit where the potent research developed by our committees, membership, and staff can be exposed to the lay-public can further elevate the role of design in public life, and ensure that our ideas benefit from interdisciplinary interaction and intellectual exchange with non-architects. At AIANY we think big, and through the Center we allow our research to have real global impact. Sharing our ideas is good for membership as it allows new opportunities for architectural engagement, and increases the stature of the architect in society.
So as I begin to unfold my presidential theme, “Dialogues from the Edge of Practice,” I intend to sponsor a monthly think tank on an issue related to the new horizons of the discipline and the expansion of the architect into new modes of practice. I also plan to use the Center to broadcast these ideas to a larger audience.
The only way this will all work is if we at AIANY adopt a New Year’s resolution: bring a non-architect to the Center for Architecture. A nano-technologist or a social scientist, a politician or a community activist; an artist or an industrialist, a school teacher or a financier – the more diverse our audience, the more our ideas can meaningfully drive culture and improve civil society.
I resolve to bring in “the other,” and I hope you will too.
Let’s have a great 2015!