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Lessons in Human Nature

Anne Swager's 27 Years with AIA Pittsburgh

By Becky Spevack Posted on June 21, 2017

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...

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Creativity in the Architectural Design Process

How We Make Sense of the Many Tools That Are Available in Today's Profession

By Ilana Gutierrez, Assoc. AIA and Collaborators Posted on March 13, 2017

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we work and think within the architectural world. I have spoken with many architects at different levels in their career to understand how technology, hand drawing, and other conventions play a role in the design process and the effective communication of architectural ideas. Through these conversations with principals, directors, and collaborators at Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, I have learned that there should be a constant dialogue between all creative conventions of design such as hand drawing, physical modeling or computer programs to enhance the architectural design process rather than allowing creative tools to shape us. The approach to architectural education teaches us to problem solve using creative tools. Drawing from my experience, the first year...

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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...

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New Year, Old Face

What's Old is New Again

By Maya Henry Posted on December 28, 2016

Here at AIA Pittsburgh we are ringing in the new year with a new editor at Columns (you may have read that Becky Spevack signed off to devote herself full-time to her bacon-making business).  I’m Maya Henry and I worked here from 2001-2006 when I left to pursue my degree in Historic Preservation Planning. It was working at AIA Pittsburgh and meeting so many passionate architects and designers that got me excited about historic preservation, and I was proud to have the support and mentorship of many of you as I made the decision to attend Cornell. While pursuing my degree I had many opportunities, including leading a trip to Pittsburgh for the whole Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell,...

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To Be Licensed

"Why quit before the finish line?"

By Lee Calisti, AIA Posted on May 3, 2016

I want you to know, I’ve avoided this for years. Time’s up. There’s something in the air these days. There seems to be a belief growing that becoming licensed as an architect is optional or even unnecessary. A thought exists that there needs to be irrefutable value clearly demonstrated in bullet points on a highway billboard for candidates to consider pursuing it after they’ve completed their education. If this is you, you are asking the wrong question. It’s axiomatic. Why is getting a license even a question? Every time this issue arises, I try to listen and be empathetic. I helped start AIA Pittsburgh’s YAF in 1996 for goodness sake – I’m an advocate for emerging professionals. I’ve taught hundreds...

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New Year, New Approach

2016 Is All About Pittsburgh

By Becky Spevack Posted on January 12, 2016

It’s a new year. Again. It happens every 12 months, but it still gives us a feeling of hope and possibility. A chance to start anew, to look back and think about what’s been working and what hasn’t – in our lives, in our work, in our play – and to maybe make some adjustments to increase the chances of a better, more productive, more fun year ahead. With this new year, I’d like to think about giving Columns a fresh start, a renewed focus on filling its hypothetical ‘pages’ with articles that our members will find interesting and intriguing. I’d like to propose a year-long focus on Pittsburgh. Well, sure, duh, that’s where we live and work. But we...

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Thoughts on the Recent Hire of BIG…

Thoughts on the Recent Hire of BIG as Part of the Civic Arena Redevelopment Team

A Letter from AIA Pittsburgh’s President, Alan Schlossberg, AIA and AIA Pittsburgh’s Executive Director, Anne J. Swager, Hon. AIA As you might imagine, we get quite a bit of feedback when an “out-of-town” architect is hired for a large local project. When this happens, we are often asked to “take a stand” against this practice. While we share some of the frustration many feel, it is perhaps too simple a reaction. We know the architectural talent in Pittsburgh is nothing short of extraordinary. Most in our design community work extensively throughout the region, but many also work across the country and around the globe without restriction. The AIA will always advocate for good design, informed by a deep understanding of...

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Recycling Space

New Architecture for Old Places

By Eric Fisher, AIA, LEED AP Posted on September 7, 2015

This was originally presented as a lecture hosted by Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, and subsequently posted to Fisher BLOGitecture. This has been edited and reposted with the author’s permission.  I’ve been thinking about the following idea I presented in a previous post, Reimagining Pittsburgh: Only by carefully studying Pittsburgh’s existing context may an architect design new forms for it.  I’m now of the opinion that that not only is context important when you are coming up with the project ideas, it is also important as you design and build the project. There are different ways to take action. There’s the kind of person who (carefully or not) studies a situation where change needs to occur, forms a strong opinion...

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Take Five

Clarification from the AIA-Appointed Architect Licensing Adviser of PA...

By Sean Sheffler, AIA Posted on August 25, 2015

Anyone that knows me has probably noticed that I spend a lot of time talking to a lot of young professionals. And it surprises me that, even with the massive effort NCARB has undertaken to educate the community about the pending changes in the exam process (including publishing the Test Specification), there’s still a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding about what’s actually going on. So let’s all take a collective breather –take five, if you will – and review some of the more important facts about ARE 5.0… 1. The new version of the exam is still over a year away.  ARE 5.0 is not set to launch until late 2016, well over a year from now.  Anyone that...

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Lessons in Human Nature

Anne Swager's 25 Years with AIA Pittsburgh

By Becky Spevack Posted on August 23, 2015

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 25 years, she’s also been called Executive Director of AIA Pittsburgh. I have worked with AIA Pittsburgh and Anne in a handful of capacities over the past decade and one thing I have learned is, if she has a story to tell (and she will), you should sit down and listen. We touched base over a cup of coffee recently to look back over this quarter century of her leadership at AIA Pittsburgh and her career serving as a voice for the architecture community. Columns: First things first, did you ever...

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