Annually around this time of year, the American Institute of Architects convenes for its National Convention and Design Exposition. This year, the convention takes place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., where the theme this year is “Design Connects”. Now that day two of 2012 AIA National Convention is complete, I wish to provide a few briefs about the stories made today at the show. As with CES 2012, I will be doing this for the rest of this convention, so now, here are my favorite stories from day two of the 2012 AIA National Convention.
Donovan, a Harvard-trained architect and former director of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, called on architects to utilize their talents and take charge to become a primary force in encouraging re-engagement with troubled neighborhoods and bring health and efficiency to inner-city areas. He expressed disapproval the once-popular urban renewal philosophy that believed that inner cities were nothing but unsalvageable “tabula-rasa” canvases, as that way of thinking involved the idea of governments and design professionals razing entire sections of a city to make way for new development (see China). Donovan stated that “neighborhoods were once seen as problems to be solved, diseases to be cured, creating many victims of displacement.” “They filtered out the diversity of uses and people that is the very essence of urbanism.”
At the 2013 AIA National Convention (to be themed “Leadership for Architecture, Leadership Beyond Architecture”),which will be held June 20-22, 2013 in Denver, the AIA will examine architects’ roles as civic leaders. Design professionals will convene in Denver next year to present and tell these stories, empower the profession’s collective voice, sharpen leadership skills, and collaborate on their visions of how architecture can improve the quality of human life.
Sometimes, you just can’t resist a good “top ten” list. For the 16th year, the AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) has selected the Top Ten projects that represent a sophisticated understanding of sustainability with an integrated approach to community engagement, natural systems, economics, and technology. The COTE Top Ten is widely considered one of the country’s most prestigious sustainable building award programs, which considers projects that are existing buildings, new buildings, projects that give back the the local community, and overcame multiple obstacles related to the project.
The Gold Medal is the highest honor that the AIA can present to an architect. The work of 2012 medalist Steven Holl, FAIA, is a testament that architecture can (and should) show how to live in a more sustainable, healthy, happy, and equitable world. Holl’s buildings showcases that he understood for a long time that architecture should also disregard the imagined and shallow correlation between design excellence and social responsibility. (VIDEO)
NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood reports that keeping our nation safe should not ruin the presentable aesthetic of buildings in Washington D.C., proving the point of the message of this year’s AIA National Convention, “Design Matters.”