Motoring into the Sunrise of a Bright New Day
Judson Kline, FAIA, LEED AP
AIA Ohio President
It has been my privilege to serve AIA Ohio as its 2012 President and I want to thank the membership for the opportunity to serve the profession and the Institute in moving forward through these challenging times. From the beginning of my year of leadership, I promoted the idea “we are the architects of our own future”. I then added the corollary “Architecture IS an Economic Engine”. Now, as I wind up the year, I have merged these thoughts to energize us going forward promoting “We are the Architects of an Economic Engine for our Future”. In leading AIA Ohio, I have sought to develop the theme suggesting 12 strategies to reinforce it. I have put forward programs in their support and told their stories throughout the year. The message has suggested action, speed and power. The themes:
1. Promoting the value of architects
2. Educating our members in the skills to become the trusted advisor
3. Strengthening our diversity
4. Promoting collaboration within the profession and beyond.
5. Recognizing the value of community service as a worthy endeavor.
6. Expanding the domains of practice.
7. Building the next generation
8. Developing leadership and investing it within our communities.
9. Engaging in the legislative process
10. Celebrating success
11. Honoring the past
12. Envisioning the future.
These topics have been discussed in each of the newsletters in articles with titles including: “Get Your Motor Running; Now is Not the Time to Idle the Motor; and First Gear, it’s Alright; Second Gear, Lean Right; Third Gear, Hang on Tight…Faster”. The message is action, speed and power. In summarizing the year’s efforts, I will highlight each of the 12 strategies in building an economic engine through the practice of architecture and conclude with a summary of my vision for our future.
- Promoting the value of architects: We have initiated a panel to develop a strategic approach to promoting Ohio architects across the State. The “Roundtable Task Force for the Development of an AIA Ohio Strategy to Promote Local Design” is being led by President-Elect Michael Schuster and will include members from all seven chapters to develop strategic initiatives and practical strategies to change the flow of work and fees to out of state firms where local taxes and investments are producing the work.
- Educating our members in the skills to become the trusted advisor: The Institute has begun a journey towards repositioning and identifying the true role of the architect for the future recognizing architects as facilitators and advisors. To this end, AIA Ohio has introduced the concept of the STAR Architect-the Strategic Trusted Advisor Resource. We need to work collaboratively toward re-establishing our position in this role. The process of becoming the STAR Architect requires us to build confidence in ourselves and then promote it in the communities and clients we serve. The programs AIA Ohio has produced from our Legislative Day to the convention are the incubators to learn practices and gain confidence to achieve the STAR status.
- Strengthening our diversity: As our professional relevance depends upon it, AIA Ohio has focused on building the pipeline to engage future architects from all members of our society, cultures, genders, races, religions, ethnicities and sexual preferences. To this end, the leadership of AIA Ohio has begun the development of the Robert P. Madison Scholars program, named for Robert Madison FAIA, who has given of his time and resource to enable many minority and disadvantaged students to pursue careers in the field. The program is being designed to provide mentoring for minority and disadvantage students in collegiate architecture schools in Ohio in helping them fully access their education and to potentially develop a stipend program of intern scholarships. A committee led by AIA Ohio’s IDP coordinator, Sandra LaFontaine is working on developing the program to launch it in the Spring, 2013.
- Promoting Collaboration: architecture is a collaborative process; in fact that was the theme of the AIA Ohio 2004 Convention in Cleveland. To this end, AIA Ohio produces the annual convention providing a forum to facilitate this potential. The convention has been conceived as the platform to build on our shared knowledge, interact with colleagues and network with allied professionals. Building our value begins with expanding our visible knowledge base. We have begun through “Carpe Convention”, seizing the convention and using the opportunity it has provided to build our knowledge and strengthening the bonds between us as professionals in making a bigger contribution to our practices, profession and community through a collaboration of colleagues.
- Recognizing the value of community service as a worthy endeavor: This offers us an opportunity to build our practices and our value as members of the communities we serve. The creation and promotion of the AIA Ohio Advocacy Grants program was established to encourage our chapters to create outreach and engage the communities they serve. We have invested in this program and will continue to do so. This program has been led by Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, the AIA Ohio Secretary and this year’s Gold Medal recipient. The specifics of the Advocacy Grants program will be addressed in the Secretary’s report.
- Expanding the domains of practice: We own a knowledge province that has significant value and we need to exploit its potential to be the architects of our own future. In an effort to encourage consideration of expanded practice, AIA Ohio invited Dr. Fred Collopy, Professor of Information Systems and the leader of the Management by Design Program at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Business, to provide a keynote for the AIA Ohio Convention in helping us grasp the magnitude and power of this process. With this understanding, we can better and more broadly define services we can provide for clients and communities. This is our domain and a future for our professions, if we choose to embrace it. AIA Ohio has provided a glimpse into the design domain from a different perspective to stimulate thought for expanding the breadth of our practices.
- Building the next generation: This is among the most important endeavors we need to pursue. The “Great One”, Wayne Gretsky, once answered a reporter’s question regarding how he was able to be so successful at creating scoring opportunities by stating, “I skate to where the puck is going to be”. His insight has great value to our future and where our puck is going to be. Over the last four years, we have been focused on survival, and rightfully so. We had to focus our attention on surviving into the future, let alone envisioning the future. Now it’s time to consider the future we want and design the plan to achieve it. We also need to expand the voices of tomorrow being more inclusive and diverse. A more diverse profession will offer up solutions we have not previously considered. Therefore, we need to reach down into the collegiate community and create stronger bonds and access to connect the profession and the academy. In building the foundation for a closer link to the academy, AIA Ohio is pursued two avenues of activity. The first, already underway, is a research grant created for the teaching staff of the Ohio schools of architecture to allow for the creation of original research to be developed and made available to the profession in advancing our knowledge band width. The second initiative is being developed to roll out in 2013 and focuses on the students of the Ohio schools of architecture developing an inter-scholastic design event. A committee led by Past President, Stephen Shinn, along with representatives of the schools is considering the form of this program. AIA Ohio has budgeted funding to support this endeavor for 2013.
- Developing leadership and investing it in our communities: Leadership development is critical to the future of our communities, as well as our profession. The goal for making the effort to become the leaders we need to be is to rediscover our role as the client’s trusted advisor and to become the STAR architect. There is no better way to achieve this recognition than being seen as community leaders with dynamic, visionary ideas and the capabilities to provide for their implementation. Among the directions emerging from the AIA Ohio planning retreat held last fall was an imperative to pursue a strategy to develop such a program. In the effort to produce a Leadership Development Program, AIA Ohio has reached out to the Cincinnati Chapter, who has created the “Vision Cincinnati Program”. Their program brings together young architects in a twelve month learning experience to challenge and expand their perceptions, knowledge and capabilities to provide greater community engagement. With an existing program in place, AIA Ohio has sought to promote the sharing of this quality course and engaged the Cincinnati facilitators to make their program available statewide for all the chapters to benefit from the success of this outstanding Cincinnati program.
- Engaging in the legislative process: Our engagement in this endeavor is a critical role of AIA Ohio. An often heard quote raised in the discussion of political involvement is “you’re either at the table or on the menu”. AIA Ohio has made an effort to be at the table. This year has been no exception. Two programs have been initiated to provide ongoing connection to the Ohio government and legislative process. At the beginning of the year, AIA Ohio launched the GoReLA (Government Relations and Legislation Advocacy) committee to play a pro-active role in getting ahead of the legislative agenda and to address concerns of the profession. The committee, led by Past President Bruce Sekanick, is charged to provide resources for AIA Ohio where we need to respond to legislative action in a more timely and thoughtful manner. The GoReLA committee also provides a forum to consider action AIA Ohio should consider in the interest of its members.
Then introduction of the merger of Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) and the State Architect’s Office (SAO) into the Ohio Facilities Commission (OFCC) has led to the development of a second avenue of government engagement through two programs. By connecting with the OFCC’s Rick Hickman, AIA Ohio has sought to shape the organization of the OFCC to include AIA architects at the highest level of leadership in the new entity. In addition to the organizational discussion, AIA Ohio has championed the creation of an OFCC Resource Committee to work with the OFCC in the development of language, policies and protocols benefitting the people of Ohio and the interests of AIA Ohio in making the best use of the resources at the disposal of the OFCC. The advisory committee including: Hal Munger, Henry Reder, David Brehm and John Rademacher met at the convention to begin the development of an agenda priorities and objectives for their work with the OFCC. The advisory group also includes representatives of the ACEC and is set to meet later in the fall and begin work with the new commission.
Finally, with the help of members’ contributions to the PAC fund, AIA Ohio will continue to play the role of political advocate and maintain access to political leaders making a difference on behalf of our members and the best interest of the community. The need to continue to build the PAC is important. Therefore, through the Advocacy and Opportunity Grants programs, AIA Ohio has challenged the chapters to contribute to the PAC and get bonus funding for chapter programs.
With Ohio having a place at the center of the political whirlpool this year, AIA Ohio is encouraging the chapters to take advantage of the opportunity to raise awareness of architects as political leaders. In promoting meet and great or candidate nights, AIA member chapters can raise awareness of the value and importance of design as a political resource for the good of the community. We can participate in making decisions and be a positive community influence.
- Celebrating Success: AIA Ohio has recognized the need and value of celebrating and sharing the successes of our members. In fulfilling this need, AIA Ohio created a section on the website tabbed “Members Matter”. In this section, AIA Ohio is acknowledging newly licensed architects, milestone occasions and successes of our firms and members. To post an item, a member is able get on the website; download the appropriate acknowledgement form and AIA Ohio will upload the information onto the webpage. When we share our successes we all are enriched.
- Honoring the past: In honoring the past, AIA Ohio has begun a tradition of honoring its past presidents at the convention. AIA Ohio presidents enter the office with no recognition or ceremony, complete their leadership service and leave office without acknowledgement of their work on behalf of AIA Ohio. Therefore, it is time to build a tradition of acknowledging and thanking these leaders whose shoulders we stand on in building the future of the profession. In the same way as the past presidents of the National organization are recognized at the opening of each convention, AIA Ohio has introduced a similar ceremony to, hopefully, continue it into the future. Furthermore, these leaders leave office with no token of appreciation for their service to memorialize and commemorate their extensive contribution. Therefore, AIA Ohio has undertaken to design an AIA Ohio President’s medal to be presented at the conventions.
- Envisioning the future: If we are the architects of an economic engine for our future, we need to look at what we have done well and how those successes can contribute to the future we want for ourselves, our families, our profession and our communities. We need to participate in creating the role for the institute and AIA Ohio, in particular in producing it. In this effort, last November’s planning retreat engaged the Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School to work with us using their Appreciative Inquiry Process to assist us in the exploration of our future. This methodology begins by acknowledging our successes and uses the lessons learned from those wins to build for the future. It removes the negative and proposes the idea “what would you do if you knew you could not fail”. Many of the programs described in the previous 11 strategies have been derived from this process. The future for our profession extends beyond the designing of buildings and places into playing a role in addressing the issues of food, education, environment, energy, healthcare and work. These are all design problems and we can contribute to finding real solutions. Our involvement in the process can only lead to an expanded profession.
So, if we are to achieve a future where architects lead social initiatives resulting in renewed economic vitality for our profession, the Institute and our communities, we must strengthen and expand our capabilities and skills apply them to our endeavors and bring an optimistic view of their outcome. Together, we will take advantage of this opportunity to envision the future, see ourselves in it, recognize and take the action necessary to achieve it. We Are the “Architects of an Economic Engine for Our Future” and we will work together to build the future we want.
As we have begun many initiatives and will continue to build upon them, I leave you with a message of encouragement taken from the eulogy given by Susan Saunders McKenzie of her father, the late Arthur Saunders, a Cleveland African-American architect and former Tuskegee Airman, she said “the mission is not over, we are the mission”. We need to be inspired by these words and renewed to strive for the world we want and build the dreams we need.
I take my leave and hand off the baton to Michael Schuster, who has vision and passion enough to continue the mission. Thank you for both criticism and support. With it, we have collectively contributed to building a better future for ourselves, our communities and the Institute.