The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is in the midst of a significant self analysis, and the intent is a better professional organization for the nation’s architect. The AIA has engaged strategic marketing, advertising, and design firm LaPlaca Cohen and design consultancy Pentagram to conduct the study, known as AIA Repositioning. Arthur Cohen of LaPlaca Cohen and Michael Bierut of Pentagram presented the final research recommendations and the AIA Repositioning Implementation Plan to the AIA component leaders gathered from across the country at the annual Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference in Washington DC, on March 21.
The plan analyzed most every aspect of the organization, and calls for the AIA to make bold changes at every level.
You can view the entire presentation video by clicking here. Watch the video to understand the essence of the plan. The presentation was made to a room of about 800 AIA leaders: the board members, chapter presidents and component executives, leaders of the AIA Young Architects Forum and National Associates Committee, and knowledge community leaders. To be sure, the presentation captured the attention of all in the room, and everyone was hanging on every word from Cohen and Beirut: that may be difficult to see in the video, which appears primarily as a Powerpoint presentation. But the audience was rapt with attention.
That presentation, video of the subsequent Repositioning discussions at Grassroots, the AIA Manifesto video, and additional information and updates about the Repositioning can all be found here: www.aia.org/repositioning.
Cohen noted that their study included interviews and other analysis with more than 31,000 points of research. The message from LaPlaca Cohen and Pentagram? To paraphrase: The nature and practice of architecture is evolving and the AIA must evolve with it in order to secure its leadership position. It’s time to shift the conversation away from what AIA does and towards why it does what it does and why it matters. A positioning statement was developed: The AIA is a visionary member organization providing advocacy, leadership, and resources for architects building a better world.
Cohen and Bierut highlight key building blocks for telling the AIA story. The AIA and its members should:
– know that they are good for business
– fuse practice with passion
– demonstrate relevance
– focus on connectivity (no more sole star architect; no more Howard Roark model)
– make everyone a messenger
What’s next for the AIA Repositioning? This presentation was simply one step in a process that does not have a finite timeline. The consultants and the AIA leadership made it very clear that the real emphasis needs to be on individual members feeling engaged and willing to embrace change as part of the organization. It has to be a bottom-up rather than top-down approach. That will take time and change from the individual component level to the national office. A refreshed graphic identity developed by Pentagram will be unveiled later this year, and further plans for Repositioning implementation will be developed at the local and national levels of the organization. Stay tuned.