Contract - April 2013 - (Page 16)

photo: Meg Walton editorial Time for Architects to Reposition Evaluating an organization’s mission and goals is no simple task. 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. And readers who are interior designers should pay attention, too, because the broad scope of the analysis and eventual changes to the profession may have a wider impact. 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 approximately 800 AIA leaders gathered from across the country at the annual Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. in March. The plan analyzed most every aspect of the organization, and calls for the AIA to make bold changes at every level. You can learn more, and watch a video of the March presentation, at The study included interviews and other analysis with more than 31,000 points of research. The message from LaPlaca Cohen and Pentagram? To paraphrase the premise of the study: 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 clear positioning statement was developed: The AIA is a visionary service organization providing advocacy, leadership, and resources for architects to design a better world. The analysis was absolutely sobering and did not hold back in its conveying criticism. In the presentation of key findings, in a section titled “Why Members Don’t Believe,” Cohen noted: “[Members] perceive a sense of detachment of leadership in relation to real needs and experiences of members,” Cohen said. “There is a profound sense of missed opportunity to be the definitive voice of architecture in an increasingly design-savvy culture. Design thinking has never been more ingrained into the general psyche of the public consumer than 16 16 Editorial.indd 16 today. Where are [architects] as a profession rooted in design thinking? What AIA members see and say is that we are not riding this wave.” Cohen and Bierut went on to highlight key building blocks for telling the AIA story. The AIA and its members should: • know that they are good for business (architects are held in high esteem and, frankly, design is cool). • fuse practice with passion (practice has to be based on passion). • demonstrate relevance (what architects do is relevant to clients and society at large). • focus on connectivity (that is, less of a focus on the Howard Roark model of a sole hero architect). • make everyone a messenger (all architects must deliver this message, not just leadership). What’s next for the AIA Repositioning? The March 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 but, as Robert Ivy, FAIA, EVP/CEO of the AIA wrote in AIArchitect, “rather than focus on perceptions and outward imagery, we have chosen to focus on the structure initially, examining the fundamentals of who we are, what we do, and how we can enhance our opportunities for success in the future.” Change is exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Further plans for AIA Repositioning implementation will be developed at the local and national levels of the AIA. And as AIA evolves, so will the architecture profession overall, and perhaps perceptions of the work of all design practitioners broadly in the United States. Sincerely, John Czarnecki, Editor in Chief april 2013 4/11/13 12:24 PM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - April 2013

Contract - April 2013
Industry News
Columnist: How Young Practitioners Can Present Themselves As Leaders
Product Focus: Rugs the Right Way
Product Focus: Sitting Pretty
Product Focus: Basking in the Sun
Product Briefs: Hospitality
Das Stue
Carousel Bar
Andaz Amsterdam
W Seattle
Designers Select: Hospitality
Ad Index

Contract - April 2013