Florida/Caribbean Architect - Summer 2015 - (Page 11)

My PersPective: the AiA Florida citizen Architect-in-residence Program DonalD Gray, assoc. aIa As the first recipient of a fellowship from AIA Florida's Citizen Architect-inResidence program, I had a hands-on opportunity to experience the association's advocacy effort on behalf of its members and I gained many valuable insights into the things that affect my profession. I came to understand that the foundation of good architecture is directly related to the combined diversity of skill and expertise of many architects working together. I now appreciate that in order for the profession to survive and thrive, it is necessary to advocate for current legislation that promises to strengthen, rather than impair, the practice of architecture. In order to preserve the unique perspective and insight that we bring to the profession, we must be our own champions. If we want to continue to make positive changes in our communities and on the built environment, we must make our voices heard. There is no one definition for what an architect does in his or her practice. While the public might perceive all architects alike, professional skills and interests vary greatly. Professional diversity must be encouraged to keep the profession vibrant. Some architects choose to focus on pure design, while others choose education, project management, administration building process or code-related matters. Many will find success in serving the profession and/or the public. In graduate school, I was advised to "focus on one area of the profession and excel". In that way, I would "make my mark". At the time I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but later I learned there are many roles for an architect beyond creating buildings. As an intern this past year, I was honored to meet architects working in a variety of areas and to learn florida/caribbean ARCHITECT | summer 2015 how each became an expert in that area. Individually, each architect I met made a unique contribution to the profession and collectively, they were making a contribution that will ultimately benefit all of us. I met many architects who are dedicated to advocating for the legislative issues important to the practice of architecture. These men and women have an aptitude for understanding complex legal issues that give them insight and perspective into problems the profession faces. Until this year, I was unaware of their contribution and dedication to keeping members of the profession away from "death by legislature." My meetings with members of the Advocacy Committee taught me that laws should be created to solve problems, not create them. Good legislation provides the protection and flexibility necessary for architects to create better buildings and more resilient communities - and that the legislative landscape is always changing. For example, this year many hours were spent discussing public/private partnership legislation. Together with AIA Florida's legal council, the committee reviewed proposed bills and found that some of the wording could undermine long-established protections for public entities seeking design/build proposals. For this reason, a huge effort was made to raise legislators' awareness of the areas in the bills that might have negative consequences on the design of public facilities. The 2015 legislative session proved to be both turbulent and challenging. Several bills were introduced that had the potential to negatively impact the profession. One of my specific tasks as intern was to develop and design, with the input of the Advocacy Committee, the "Blueprint" for AIA Florida's Legislative Day. The event is held annually in Tallahassee at the start of the legislative session, usually early February. This "Blueprint" is AIA Florida's branded visual tool used by architects to engage debate and discussion with legislators. In preparation for creating the content for the AIA "Blueprint," I participated in strategy meetings with a dedicated team of AIA Florida's leadership, attorneys, lobbyists and other stakeholders. I witnessed the politics of alliances on particular pieces of legislation and the sharp division of opinions on others. It was a thoughtprovoking opportunity. But, most interesting to me were the visits we made to the legislators' offices. On these visits, we used the "Blueprint" as a tool to help explain the issues important to architects. I also saw first-hand the passion that individual architects have for their profession and how their advocacy gives voice to issues of professional concern. Looking ahead, as the legislative environment for architect's changes, I am heartened to know that AIA Florida and its many dedicated members are working tirelessly on behalf of the profession. ■ Donald Gray, Assoc. AIA, has a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from Florida A&M University; a Master of Architecture (MArch) from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Urban Design (MAUD) from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He currently works with the Fitzgerald Collaborative Group in its Tallahassee office. Joyce Owens, AIA, RIBA assisted in the preparation of this article. 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Florida/Caribbean Architect - Summer 2015

President’s Perspective
Legislative Update
My Perspective: The AIA Florida Citizen Architect-in-Residence Program
Mark Hampton, FAIA
South American Restaurants’ Headquarters
Blue Dog Holler
Center for Architecture Sarasota
Walmart to Go
Spotlight: Emerging Professionals/ Patrick Thorpe, Assoc. AIA
Advertisers Index

Florida/Caribbean Architect - Summer 2015