Addressing the Issues Facing the Architecture Profession

AIA president George Miller, FAIA shares insight into the current efforts and programs underway at the American Institute of Architects:


GeorgemillerWith a long and distinguished history and nearly 83,000 members, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is an established organization of licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners that is dedicated to creating better-built environments for current and future generations. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct that assures the client, the public, and colleagues of an AIA-member architect’s dedication to the highest standards in professional practice. The AIA is also the collective voice of the profession and is intent on articulating the benefits of enlisting the services of an architect at the earliest stage of building planning.


Towards that end, AIA Knowledge Communities are focused on the various aspects or types of practice including healthcare, school design, sustainability or “green” design, historic preservation, and facility management. By hosting conferences and seminars throughout the year, the AIA Knowledge Communities provide architects the opportunity to network and collaborate with other architects, construction, and design professionals in different areas of specialization.


In order to share important industry-related trends and statistics, The AIA Economics and Market Research Group issues a monthly Architectural Billings Index (ABI) – the only predictive indicator of construction activity in the marketplace – that is compiled from the “Work on the Boards” survey of AIA member firms. The results amount to a nine- to12-month glimpse into the future of non-residential construction, which can serve as a valuable resource for all business involved in, or affected by, the construction industry, especially with respect to raw material procurement planning. Another initiative within the AIA Economics and Market Research Group is a quarterly residential design survey, and the information collected is a snapshot of where the housing industry is and where it is moving.


The AIA is keenly aware of the issues facing the construction industry and has helped members with online resources. Our Navigating the Economy Web site provides resources such as a career center and resources for firms to help weather the economic downturn. 


As the AIA examines the issues facing the architecture profession and the public at large, the organization continues to extend the reach of its influence by encouraging architects to engage in broader public policy issues with the distinct goal of creating more livable communities, in addition to advocating thoughtful design and planning. With a Government Advocacy group that represents the interests of architects before federal, state and local governments, and other policy-making bodies and organizations relevant to the architecture profession, the AIA is actively involved in the political process through lobbying efforts and member outreach. These actions enable the AIA to lead and advocate effectively on legislative, regulatory, and related issues of importance—like brownfields redevelopment, historic preservation tax incentives, and renewable energy sources that affect all citizens.


In a more general sense, the AIA seeks to increase attention around a host of subject matter that affects the everyday life of virtually all people. One of the objectives of the AIA is to spotlight the link between workspace and organizational performance, showcase concepts in healthcare facility design that promotes an environment more conducive to healing, explain how mixed-use urban developments contribute to the success of residential communities, explore ways to address population growth and density, and to consider ways in which new educational facilities can have a profound impact on the way students learn.


As a way of promoting the public awareness of architecture and architectural services, the AIA National Honors & Awards program is part of a long tradition of recognizing individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements in support of the profession of architecture. With over 20 different specialty and general awards bestowed annually, the Institute recognizes excellence in design in categories that range from library design, to green buildings, schools, and urban planning. By focusing attention on a broad range of exemplary architecture, the general quality of architectural practice is elevated and a standard of excellence is established against which all architects can measure their own performance.  


The AIA remains steadfastly committed to the overarching themes of encouraging diversity throughout the profession, promoting environmental integrity and sustainability, strategies for enhancing the design of affordable “green” housing, high performance design criteria and performance codes, the planning and design of healthier communities and workplaces, and the overall ability of architects to add vision and value to their communities.



George Miller, AIA president, FAIA

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