June 7, 2016
We recently attended the 2016 American Institutes of Architects (AIA) Convention held in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. The convention was held over 4 days and is the largest gathering of architects and design professionals coming together to connect, be inspired and be empowered in the field. This is an annual convention that is hosted in different cities each year throughout the United States.
AIA members host seminars and workshops during the convention to discuss various topics of interest. This year, some of the topics included innovative ways to practice architectural design, case studies of net zero energy projects, ways to attract, engage, retain and promote talent to your design firm, and climate challenges for coastal cities in extreme weather. The highlight for each day was the general session, where keynote speakers or interviews were conducted. On day 1 Julia Louis-Dreyfus was interviewed by Terry Gross from NPR’s host of Fresh Air, on day 2 Neri Oxman spoke about “Design at the intersection of Science”, and on day 3 Rem Koolhaas was interviewed by Mohsen Mostafavi.
Between seminars and workshops, there are many additional hands on learning experiences. The AIA expo is available to walk through, explore, and gather knowledge of new products and technology to help run your design practice. The expo floor is more than 170,000 square feet of booths and galleries set up to highlight the hundreds of manufactures exhibiting their latest products and services for Architects and designers to choose from for future projects. This provides great opportunities to connect with different manufactures and vendors and hear about their products. There were also educational tours of local projects guided by docents or members of the design team. This a great way to see the wide range of architecture the city has to offer—historic sites to recently completed projects of housing developments, office campuses, and educational facilities.
We look forward to AIA’s convention every year as it is a great showcase of what we are capable of and reminds us to be innovative, not only on the projects we work on, but how we deliver services to our clients and partners. It is also helpful to hear how other people approach design problems—whether it be achieving a net zero building, or how to keep, retain and attract happy employees. It’s always a great opportunity to visit and explore a different host city and hang out with fellow architects and design professionals. We’re already looking forward to next year!