AIA Pittsburgh Year in Review: 2021

Looking back at a Year of Perseverance

By Michelle Fanzo and Dina Snider, AIA Posted on January 7, 2022

Dear Members, Partners and Friends,

We all know how challenging the last year was, so we’re going to skip over the global pandemic, stressed public, wild weather, and – more recently – exploding meteors, and tell you what went well in 2021: our members continued to develop their skills and knowledge, the architecture community as a whole has been extremely busy, and AIA Pittsburgh continues to provide valuable resources, shared knowledge and fellowship to its members.

Though some of our usual gatherings and events could not happen during year two of COVID-19, we continued to find ways to build relationships and collaborate virtually as well as in-person, deliver quality continuing education, and support the work of our committees and the aspirations of our members.

Chapter highlights of 2021 include:


AIA Members: 603
Allied Members: 23

Committee Impact:

Advocacy Committee: Held meetings with city and county representatives, including Ed Gainey and his transition team, to provide architects’ perspective on issues ranging from energy efficient buildings, stormwater management and permitting and inspections. Participated virtually at city/ county meetings; continued quarterly meetings with PLI.

AIA-MBA Joint Committee: Published a white paper on the Building Envelop and completed another paper on Approved vs. Review Stamp; the Joint PLI Task Force continued.

Blueprint for Better Pittsburgh: Made significant steps forward this year with the completion of a 1-3 year strategy; the initial formation of an Advisory Group, including healthcare and design professionals; and the development of communications messaging.

COTE: Held 3 Framework for Design Excellence seminars exploring the 10 elements of the framework; increased clarity of purpose for the 3 subcommittees: education/ sustainability, mass timber, deconstruction/ reuse/ circular economy.

Design + Research Committee: Hosted a robust presentation series sharing new research and practice developments (i.e. EDAC, CMU, Pitt, DLA, Cannon Design).

EDI Community: Ongoing focus on learning and sharing resources, and has been developing a presentation to firms as their Firm Outreach initiative for 2022.

Healthcare Committee: Hosted a number of meeting speakers, building tours, and 3 sub-committees: Knowledge, Emerging Professionals, and Collaboration.

Outreach Committee: Held the En Masse Mixer, engaged in outreach to welcome new members and support international architects.

YAF: Orchestrated a robust series of events and offerings, including: YAFAPOLOOZA – their signature fellowship event; the Young Architects Studio Competition, the PALM Kickoff and Fall program, participation in ACE mentoring, a Sketch Challenge, ARE support, virtual building tours, and outreach to AIAS.


Events and Programs:

Build Pittsburgh was held virtually in April, offered 24 CEUs and attracted 195 attendees; Keynote: Curtis Moody, FAIA.

Design Pittsburgh was held in-person at Nova Place in September and attracted 300+ attendees. 14 awards were given, plus the James Kling Award was presented to George Ehringer, AIA.

Annual Meeting & President’s Party was held in-person in the lobby of 11 Stanwix Street with 71 attendees and much holiday cheer.

AIA-GBA Mass Timber Workshop, with excellent attendance and takeaways. We plan to hold a follow-on deeper dive event in Spring 2022.

The Chapter continued to raise the profile of architects in our region by:

– Publishing the 2021 AIA Pittsburgh Annual Report in June and distributed it to members, partners and the public.

– Employing the Framework for Design Excellence as a part of all Design Pittsburgh submissions and receiving media coverage that allowed us to explain how architects address sustainability and climate change. Media coverage included: NEXT Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Business Times.

– Increasing followers on all four of our social media platforms.

– Sponsoring Doors Open Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Architecture Foundation (PAF): While much of the public-facing work of the Foundation was put on hold for a second-year due to COVID, the Leadership Institute launched its 5th cohort in September. Including this new class, the number of attendees is now 98 leaders-in-training from 32 firms.

Staff: Wished Kira Kellner well in her new life in Florida and welcomed Jessica Pfauth to the AIA Pittsburgh team.

Looking ahead: Last year we laid the ground work for a big project in early 2022: the complete revamping of our website (overdue, we know!) and if all goes well, we plan to launch the new site by late April.  At the same time, we will be implementing an Association Management System that will help us, and you, track your engagement with AIA Pittsburgh, and allow you to connect more easily with fellow members and committees. We will be launching a Member Survey in early January to get a pulse on our members’ needs and ideas, and this will inform our strategic planning for the year in February and Build Pittsburgh in April.

We look forward to connecting with you more in the months ahead in whatever ways we can. Reach out with your thoughts and ideas anytime:

Be well, design well.

Dina Snider, AIA , 2021 Board President




Michelle Fanzo, Executive Director






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