Architecture is the heart of the entire infrastructure we see around. Without the efforts and works of architects, our world would be in its medieval form. Whenever you look at any wonderful structure such as a skyscraper, bridges, and houses, the role of an architect must cross your mind. Apart from the beautiful designs, their work is also very complex and entails a lot of training and education, therefore the need for a body which can advance their interests.
In the U.S, the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) is the only body which has the mandate of representing architects. This body offers government advocacy, education for architects, community growth, and public outreach services for the entire architectural industry. The AIA does all this with the intention of offering support to the architecture profession while at the same time improving the profession’s public standing.
AIA was founded back in 1857 by a group of thirteen architects in New York who felt it was time to promote the practical and scientific brilliance of architecture and its members and elevate its worth in the society. Its first president was Richard M. Upjohn. Before the establishment of the group in 1857, no formal architectural licensing laws were governing the profession in the United States, and hence anyone would claim to be an architect.
The group was initially called New York Society of Architects before it had its name changed to American Institute of Architects. AIA is currently headed by Robert Ivy who is the CEO and Executive President, and Thomas V. Vonier who serves as the Group’s President.
Its current headquarters in Washington D.C was arrived at through a competitive process. In the 1960’s AIA organized a design competition to help them choose an architect who will draw the design for the new headquarters. Mitchell/Giurgola was the winner of the competition, but his design was not approved by the Commission of Fine Arts. The group had to go back to the drawing board and with the guidance of the Commission, they were able to choose The Architects Collaborative (TAC) for the design of the structure. Its design was then approved in 1970, and they completed constructing the building named the “American Center for Architecture” in 1973.
Each year, AIA supports various education initiatives for architectural students to enable them to retain their licenses. AIA is also mandated to set the construction industry operational standards in contract documents. It also has a keen eye in conducting research and is always on the lookout for economic factors affecting the industry. To motivate its members and stimulate innovation, the organization has an award initiative whereby the best industry performers are awarded every year in different categories.