Through its member chapters, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) advocates for the value of architecture and supports architects through resources, educational programming, and professional development events. With more than 90,000 members and 260 chapters, AIA is the largest and most prominent professional organization for architects in the United States.
For most of his career, Drew White, FAIA, has been heavily involved with AIA. He’s served in several leadership positions within AIA Indiana and AIA Ohio Valley Region (which includes Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio). Drew is also a regional representative for AIA’s National Strategic Council.
“There are 54 of us on the council, representing many different parts of the country,” Drew said. “We like to think that we’re an innovative body focused on futuristic, strategic ideas that pertain to the profession, the organization, and its members.”
Most of these ideas revolve around two major focus areas within the profession: “resilience” and what’s referred to as “the new urban agenda.”
Resilience focuses on environmental factors, such as climate change and natural disasters.
“[Resiliency] is a movement that asks how can we design better buildings in environments that are subject to natural disasters.” // Drew White
When reflecting on the destruction of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, it’s not hard to see why AIA has made resilience a priority. Architects have a responsibility to not only design buildings with resilience in mind, but also find ways to help with reconstruction and provide community support after disaster strikes.
And when it comes to the new urban agenda, architects must consider the many ways in which people interact with their environments, and tackle tough questions, such as:
• How do we build more sustainable buildings?
• How can we adapt and reimagine older buildings, instead of just tearing them down?
• How can we make communities more walkable and more connected to transit?
• How can design influence younger families to return to the urban core?
These questions address areas in which Indianapolis is making progress as a city (the new transit center Axis designed is a major step in the right direction), but is ultimately still lagging behind.
“It’s not yet a cohesive approach,” Drew said. “As a result, we’re focused on training ourselves and our members on this particular agenda.”
Locally, one of Axis’ project architects, Geoff DeSmit, is involved with AIA in a different way — currently, he is the co-chair of the Excellence in Architecture awards program, a local AIA event that showcases architectural achievements through a variety of categories and corresponding awards.
Geoff also served on the committee of the Architects’ Home Tour. The annual event allows visitors to tour homes — in different neighborhoods and of varying architectural styles — designed by a local architects.
“We really want to make sure all the firms in Indy are aware of all the great work that’s being done within the profession,” Geoff said.
This type of involvement with AIA has always been a priority at Axis, which — according to Geoff — isn’t the case at all architecture firms. Because of the unique experiences and networking opportunities AIA provides to its members, the entire Axis team is encouraged to take advantage of these benefits to expand their personal careers and, ultimately, provide value to Axis clients.
“If you’re only concentrating on your own work and not engaging other groups of people, you’re missing out. There’s so much going on in the architectural world, and AIA can really broaden your horizons.” // Geoff DeSmit
Engaging the world outside of Indianapolis through our AIA network puts our team at the forefront of innovation, design, and the latest thinking in architecture. It’s our forward-looking approach and global perspective that helps Axis Architecture + Interiors deliver unique concepts to our clients and sets us apart from other firms.