Previewing the AIA Convention in Chicago this June

As many readers know, I have the honor and privilege to serve as the chair of the advisory committee for the 2014 AIA National Convention, to be held June 26-28 at McCormick Place in Chicago. 2014 AIA National President Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, and I have been collaborating for more than a year with the convention advisory committee, AIA Chicago, and AIA staff to develop the theme, keynote presentations, and content for an outstanding convention. The theme Design With Purpose has been established to inspire AIA members and to remind all that we are part of a profession that has real impact and meaning in people’s lives and the world around us.


The convention will kick off with a general session focused on Chicago with the opening keynote by the Chicago architect Jeanne Gang, FAIA. A MacArthur Fellow, and recipient of the 2013 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture, Jeanne heads the architecture and design firm Studio Gang Architects. Her talk will be followed by a second keynote presentation by Theaster Gates, a visual artist who is an urban catalyst and renaissance man. Gates has committed to the revitalization of the neediest neighborhoods in Chicago through an inspired marriage of urban design, community engagement, and culture. He is a change agent, positively transforming Chicago with a sense of purpose.


Jeanne Gang, FAIA


Theaster Gates

On the second day, the general session will focus on design for resilience and will begin with a presentation by Ed Mazria, FAIA, the founder and CEO of Architecture 2030. He will provoke the audience to think about sustainability in new ways with an update about the 2030 Challenge. Then, the highlight of the second day general session will be a panel of four women who are thought leaders on design for resilience and sustainability: Majora Carter (MacArthur Fellow and urban revitalization strategist), Ellen Dunham-Jones, AIA (co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia and chair of the Congress for New Urbanism), Robin Guenther, FAIA (co-author of Sustainable Healthcare Architecture and a principal at Perkins+Will), and Rachel Minnery, AIA (disaster recovery expert). Carter, Dunham-Jones, Guenther, and Minnery will discuss resilience as it relates to communities, healthcare, public health, urban design, and disaster recovery.

More highlights are to come, and the final keynote speaker announcement will be made in May. But, you can already see that we have a diverse, vital lineup for the general sessions, including two MacArthur Fellows, and the promise of discussions that are extremely relevant to the profession today. This promises to be one of the largest and most fulfilling AIA Conventions ever, with the architecturally significant city of Chicago as a backdrop. Amazing locations—such as Adler & Sullivan’s Auditorium Theatre, which will be the setting for the AIA College of Fellows investiture ceremony—will inspire attendees. And a major party (that will be both affordable and open to all attendees) will be held Friday night in the Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing of The Art Institute of Chicago.  To learn more about the convention and to register, visit I’ll see you in ChicAIAgo in June!





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