Anne Swager, Hon. AIA has been called many things – progressive, outspoken, ballsy, an ally, a foe, compassionate, cheerleader, easily distracted, thinker of big ideas. And for the past 27 years, she’s also been called Executive Director of AIA Pittsburgh. With Anne’s recent retirement on June 5th we are re-running this inspiring interview with then-editor Becky Spevack. Best of luck in your future travels Anne! Columns: First things first, did you ever expect to be at the AIA this long, to make a career out of it? Anne Swager: No, absolutely not! I never thought I would be around this long. You know, my mom used to say she thought I’d become an architect but my kindergarten teacher spent the...
Lessons in Human Nature
Anne Swager's 27 Years with AIA Pittsburgh
By Becky Spevack Posted on June 21, 2017
The Nonprofit Paradox: High-Performance on a Budget
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Annex, Byham Center for Dance
By Nicole Grayburn and Melanie Como Harris, AIA Posted on April 17, 2017
All photos Adam Warner, IKM Incorporated “High-performance building” takes on new meaning when showcasing a visual art like ballet. When the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced plans to build an expansion in 2013, they accepted an obligation to grow responsibly and ensure the longevity of a beloved arts organization. With this obligation comes a distinct set of priorities (and constraints) for nonprofit organizations where sustainable practices often fall short in the face of time and budget. How, then, does a brand in the business of “pushing the limits,” push the limits of green design on a budget? In partnership with IKM, a firm committed to the goals of the AIA 2030 Challenge, the Ballet agreed on a design that puts art on...
ACTION-Housing’s Penn Mathilda Development
What an Affordable Housing Solution Can Look Like in an Urban Neighborhood Business District
By Maya Henry Posted on March 28, 2017
All photos by Nathaniel Rice courtesy ACTION-Housing, Inc. unless otherwise noted. ACTION-Housing’s Penn Mathilda development designed by mossArchitects seems to defy conventions about what affordable housing is, can, and should be. The project provides 39 units of affordable housing with half reserved for veterans. Additionally, the commercial spaces are fully leased to arts-based, locally-grown businesses including Assemble, Level Up Studios, and Silver Eye Center for Photography. The project is contextual, adjacent to public transportation, and takes into consideration the Penn Avenue Corridor Master Plan that recommends that new developments be pedestrian-oriented and contain ground floor retail, restaurant, and gallery uses to promote active storefronts. Columns recently sat down with developer Lena Andrews of ACTION-Housing and architect Andrew Moss, AIA of mossArchitects to discuss the project....
Thomas Vonier, FAIA
Get to Know Build Pittsburgh's Keynote Speaker
This year AIA National President Thomas Vonier, FAIA will deliver the Keynote Address at Build Pittsburgh on Wednesday, April 5th. Make sure you are registered to hear Mr. Vonier present on the nature of influence and demonstrate how good design delivers. He will discuss how the American Institute of Architects is seeking to harness the power of association in order to wield influence more effectively. Name: Thomas Vonier FAIA Firm: Thomas Vonier Architect LLC Family: Françoise (my spouse), Pascale (our daughter) and William (our son-in-law) Years in practice: 38 Education: B.Sc.Arch. and M.Arch. Your first job: Delivering newspapers and shoveling snow in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Project you’re proudest of: . . . is still to come. What have you always wanted to...
And the Winner is … Affordability
A Juror Highlights Affordable Projects from the 2017 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture
By Bea Spolidoro, AIA Posted on February 15, 2017
Each year AIA National the 2017 Architecture program celebrates the best contemporary architecture regardless of budget, size, style, or type. These stunning projects show the world the range of outstanding work architects create and highlight the many ways buildings and spaces can improve our lives. Here are four 2017 winners highlighted by Pittsburgh’s own Bea Spolidoro, AIA who was invited to participate on this year’s jury. Last summer, I was invited to be a juror for the 2017 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture with other eight professionals. The jury typically features architect members of the AIA and one non-architect, acting as an allied professional and client representative. At the time, I was serving as the Associate AIA member of the...
I Belong to the AIA Because …
Architects on the Value of Membership
By AIA Pittsburgh Posted on February 7, 2017
Columns has included a ‘Dossier’ of AIA members almost since its inception as AIA Pittsburgh’s chapter magazine. Here we feature a selection of members’ answers about why they belong to AIA. 1. Paul Rosenblatt, AIA I value the talents, perspectives, and friendship of my colleagues in the profession. Architects are a rare breed and it takes one to know one. 2. Nicole Graycar, AIA The amazing young women in YAF. 3. Dutch MacDonald, AIA It allows me to stay connected to my colleagues in the profession and contribute to the ongoing evolution of the practice. 4. Christian Hughes, Assoc. AIA It is an association of professionals from all ages, walks of life, and backgrounds with one common goal – designing...
Four Benefits of Creating Transit-Oriented Development with Mixed-Income Housing
Can Housing Be Truly Affordable Without Public Transit?
By Maya Henry Posted on January 25, 2017
When transit-oriented development is combined with mixed-income housing the benefits multiply. Transportation is a hidden cost of living and is at the heart of equitable access to services and jobs. It’s difficult to have truly affordable housing without access to multi-modal transportation choices. Transportation is so crucial to healthy communities that former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx called it “one of the top social justice issues of our time.” Local officials agree. Last year at an event at Pitt’s Institute of Politics Kevin Acklin, Chief of Staff to Mayor Peduto, said, “transportation can be a bridge to lift people out of poverty.” He noted that the administration is paying special attention to places of disinvestment and displacement. The p4 PITTSBURGH PolicyLink...
My Path to Licensure, and Some Lessons Learned
By Bea Spolidoro, Assoc. AIA Posted on December 12, 2016
It took me seven “pass” notifications from NCARB, but soon I will be able to call myself a registered architect. I still need state approval, but as of right now there is only a 40-dollar check to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania between me and my professional seal. Until two years ago, I was not interested in being registered. For one thing, as an immigrant in the US, there were too many uncertainties. I am not a registered architect in Italy and this is the only licensure I now carry. My friend Mindy Fullilove, Hon. AIA convinced me that a license in the US would be important for my career here. At the time, she was serving as Public Director on the...
Architects Who Run
A Semi-Serious Essay on the Importance of Running for Architects
By Bea Spolidoro, Assoc. AIA Posted on June 28, 2016
The English poet, William Wordsworth, defined poetry as “a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” I feel similarly about running, with the difference being that my thoughts take origin from pain in my left knee. Tranquil once again following the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I want to address why architects, more than anyone else, should run. This is especially true for those who, like myself, are not quite yet registered, but on their way. Running is like life: we set goals and then we go about achieving them. The pride I feel when I finish a run allows me to study harder and design with increased rigor. Also, we all know that running releases lots...
Michael McDonnell, AIA
AIA Pittsburgh's 2016 President!
Name: Michael P. McDonnell, AIA Firm: IKM Incorporated Family: Son Luke – 14 years old in 8th grade Years in practice: 25 years Education: Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture Your first job: Lifeguard for the Recreation Department in Davenport, Iowa Project you’re proudest of: The Ice Rink & Fountain at PPG Place. It transformed an otherwise unused public space. What’s the best part of your job? The best part of my job is that every day presents something new. New design challenges, new technology, new clients. I never really know what the day will hold until I am in the middle of it. It drives me forward with excitement. What would you change about your job? I wish I could change the timeline projects typically have today. There...