Like a lot of my contemporaries, I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was a little kid. As you can imagine, becoming president of AIA Cincinnati is a very personal realization of my dream to not only become an architect, but to represent my fellow architects on a professional level. It’s humbling, and makes me very proud. I’m honored to serve in this role for our local design community.
Since my swearing in ceremony a few weeks ago, I’ve been asked by several peers what my priorities will be for the year. I can sum them up in two words: connection and growth.
One thing that I’m personally interested in – and which has been a topic of conversation locally and nationally – is how to engage young professionals. It isn’t lost on any member of our industry just how important it is to make sure we do all that we can to ensure that the next generation of architects is positioned to lead the profession, and AIA, to a better place for the future.
My first real interaction with AIA occurred when I was an undergrad at Miami University, via the local student chapter. At the time, I didn’t “get” the value AIA might bring to my professional career; I just knew participating in AIAS was a good resume builder. Then, the summer between my junior and senior years, I received a scholarship from AIA Cleveland – maybe $1,500 or so, which was a significant amount of money for a poor college kid! This scholarship allowed me to spend the summer travelling through Europe with other Miami architecture students, as part of their Luxembourg Summer Studio.
We immersed ourselves in the local culture and studied everything we could, everywhere we went: Notre Dame Cathedral, the Pompidou Centre, Behnisch’s designs for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, to name but a few. Having those experiences helped me begin to really understand what it means to be an architect and the role architects have in shaping a community. This transformative trip, which I look back on with deep appreciation, wouldn’t have been possible without the scholarship from AIA. It was a pivotal moment in my burgeoning career.
That’s why I’m personally so invested and interested in fostering a relationship with the next generation. I want to help advance the kinds of seminal moments I experienced, in future architects, firm leaders, etc. Happily, we’ve already made some progress in engaging with young professionals and demonstrating the value of being an architect and an AIA member. For example, we recently voted to offer reduced membership rates for associate members. Associates can also apply for scholarships through the State office for successfully passing the ARE sections. This kind of good work will continue in 2015.
AIA has a great Board of Directors of extremely dedicated and passionate professionals. As a member of the board for the last four years, I’ve experienced firsthand how highly regarded our chapter is at a regional and national level for being proactive, progressive and offering great services to our local membership.
We took a hard look at programming and continuing education opportunities over the last several years. We have tried to offer content that appeals to a wide variety of interests. And by making our events free and open to the public, we’ve been able to expose our members and the general public to what we do. I believe the programs we’re offering are at the highest level in our recent history.
My charge for the coming year is to continue to position AIA as the voice of the profession. I want to continue to raise public and professional awareness of AIA members and to actively advocate for what we do. Many talented, creative, thoughtful people have led this chapter; I want to continue what they began.
It’s going to be a great year for AIA. We are celebrating our 145th anniversary, making the Cincinnati chapter one of the oldest in the AIA (after New York, Philadelphia and Chicago). But that’s not all: this year Pat Daugherty will celebrate her 20th anniversary as Executive Director of AIA Cincinnati, a tremendous accomplishment. I know I’m not the only one who is incredibly grateful for all the support and leadership she provides!
2015 will not be about making sweeping changes, because we’re already in a good place. Instead, the year will focus on building upon what we’ve started. There is already a collective vision in place that defines how and why we do things and what it means to be an architect. I’m so excited to guide AIA further down this path. Want to discuss this further? Email me at jsackenheim [at] shp [dot] com. I promise you won’t be disappointed.