AIA 2014: City of Architecture

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
As I leave the great city of Chicago after the AIA 2014 National Convention, I am once again reminded that the strength of our national organization lies in it’s people. I am not referring to the national staff although all of them which I deal with regularly are exceptional. My statement refers to the AIA members. Every convention I continue to meet great people who just happen to work int the field of architecture. That is what is great about any convention. It offers the opportunity to meet colleagues and bond a bit over our shared profession of choice.
Main Stage at AIA 2014 Convention.

Main Stage at AIA 2014 Convention.

I rarely attend conventions for the sole purpose of gathering my required CEUs. Those are overly not difficult to attain. I definitely still attend sessions with presentations given by my colleagues. I enjoy learning from their practices and garner the knowledge they have to share.  Yet, the bulk of my mission is to meet others in our field; to share the unique realities, which we as architects, reside in daily. The camaraderie that can be established over such daily trivialities as software issues, plotter problems or pen choices bind us together with a common yet individual vocabulary. And with the digital media capabilities in today’s world, I meet new and old friends got the first time. Despite all of the wonderful technologies of our time, nothing beats good ol’ face to face encounter (F2F for you digitals). And this is one of the best opportunities do to that with people across the nation. And honestly, it is what keep me coming back.
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Socializing with New and Old Friends.

Socializing with New and Old Friends.

Socializing with Friends, Food and Drinks.

Socializing with Friends, Food and Drinks.

This year was great. I am currently my local component AIA chapter president, so I had extra duties that kept me busy. (voting, business meetings etc.) Yet I still managed to go on a fabulous tour each day, get some CEU credits, and socialize with peers. I was present for what may be one of the most significant events in the AIA’s 157 year history when voting for the restructuring of the national board was conducted and approved. It was actually a tense moment of change. I hope this change will impact our organization in a positive way. Only time will tell, but I am glad that portion of “re-positioning” is behind the organizations and now we can finally focus on the real issues for our profession such a public perception/outreach and membership value. Those are the issues that really deserve the focus of the AIA.
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View from 96 Floors Above Chicago

View from 96 Floors Above Chicago

Also there were outstanding tours of the wonderful architecture that exists in and around Chicago. I was fortunate enough to go on a few of these and heard more about others I was unable to attend. One of my fellow attendees claimed to have a religious experience during every tour. Each day was a summary of the profound enlightenment gained by that day’s tour. It was such a great city to convene 20,000 architects. For architects, Chicago is a bit like Mecca. Keynotes were also enjoyable. Tony Hsieh had me booking a flight to Las Vegas to experience the community being established in downtown Vegas by his Project Downtown. All of the events and gatherings after 6 pm each day were equally great. Networking and socializing in wonderful architectural venues that are often closed to the public makes for great experiences.
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Chicago Skyline from a Boat!! One of Many Great Tours!

Chicago Skyline from a Boat!! One of Many Great Tours!

As usual, convention leaves me tired, yet refreshed; ready to move forward with some renewed vigor about my chosen profession and wanting to create and be the change in the world in inhabit and shape.
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–Andrew Hawkins, AIA
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