2018 Letter from the President: A Year of Designing with Purpose

By Michael Gwin, AIA Posted on December 21, 2018

Dear Fellow AIA Members,

2018 has been a great year to be President of AIA Pittsburgh and be part of the many changes and accomplishments of the last 12 months. Our chapter is in a moment of significant growth and has been creating opportunities to design with purpose in our practice, communities and society. We even applied this year’s theme – Design with Purpose – to our internal discussions about how we want to design our organization with a view to the future.

This year, we advanced our strategic goals and mission to serve the regional membership in three key areas:

  • Building community among members and beyond to enhance our professional lives and our ability to contribute to the greater good of our region
  • Improving tools and services that we provide to assist members in a changing practice
  • Disseminating knowledge across our profession

In short, 2018 was about engagement. Sometimes this meant showing up in new places, speaking up, or extending a hand. Other times it meant listening, posing new questions and thinking through where we want to go. It is by engaging that we demonstrate the value of architects. For example, our chapter recently received a grant to help the public better understand how the built environment affects human well-being. We are excited to use our knowledge and skills in this way, and to create opportunities for architects to affect change.

It is by engaging that we demonstrate the value of architects.

Locally, we seek to foster opportunities, education, and skills development for our members, and to be more inclusive and collaborative as an organization. Membership and member participation is up – we have a little over 600 members now, plus a number of allied members and supporters. Next year we will gather feedback from individuals, partners and firms to ensure that what we offer is keeping pace with the needs of Pittsburgh’s architecture community.

At state and national levels, we continue to provide leadership through advocacy for our profession and the built environment. We are thankful to the many members who represent and advocate for us in Harrisburg and Washington. Next year, AIA Pittsburgh will be in the very rare position of having members in strong leadership positions at both the national and state levels: Bill Bates will be AIA National President; Chip Desmone will be AIA Pennsylvania President, and Marc Mondor will be AIA PA President-Elect and Chair of the PA Committee on the Environment.

Our Foundation for Architecture continues to provide leadership development opportunities through the Leadership Institute, now in its third year. Your support and continued participation in this program will benefit our profession and our city for years to come. We will grow the AIA Pittsburgh Foundation for Architecture next year, seeking new ways to advance architects’ meaningful involvement and civic leadership.

Our young and emerging professionals continue to provide great energy and dynamism to our chapter. This year the Young Architects Forum took to Market Square (even in the rain) during Doors Open Pittsburgh and provided architectural learning activities for the public, as just one example. We hear from our mentor programs, like PALM, that both emerging and established architects are benefiting from the cross-generational exchange.

I invite you all to actively engage with AIA Pittsburgh – it has been an invaluable experience for me. What I have written about here is only a small window into what we are hoping to do in the next few years – and I encourage you to join in shaping the community you are a part of. I hope to see you at upcoming events as we continue to move forward together.

Michael Gwin, 2018 AIA Pittsburgh President

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