Professional organizations don’t usually have much impact outside of their membership, but the American Institute of Architects is an exception to this rule. With almost 100,000 members, the AIA is on the forefront of improving communities and advancing the status of architecture in today’s world. From encouraging positive legislation to educating architects and the general public alike, the AIA strives to improve and beautify the world around us.
1. Giving back to the community
Although it works to improve the lives and careers of its members, the AIA does a lot for local communities as well. AIA members regularly volunteer their time to help people in their own neighborhoods. In 2015, AIA architects volunteered their services to the town of Louisville, Kentucky to help come up with a plan to revitalize the city’s Russell neighborhood, an area filled with poorly designed, hastily constructed buildings. AIA members also receive special training to assess the safety of buildings after fires, floods and other natural disasters. The AIA itself also works with local charities to raise money for good causes like food drives.
2. Legislation and laws
One of AIA’s main goals is to advocate for improved laws and legislation. AIA representatives are active in encouraging Congress to pass helpful laws that provide tax credits for historic buildings and environmentally conscious design. They especially champion America’s energy tax credit program, which has contributed to the national economy by creating almost a million new jobs since its introduction. The AIA is also enthusiastically committed to identifying and protecting historical buildings. They work with the Library of Congress on the Historic American Buildings Survey, a valuable record of historically significant structures within the United States.
3. Architecture tours and events
The AIA hosts many architecture-related events to entertain and educate the general public. Their popular architecture tours offer sightseers the chance to see beautiful cities through the eyes of architectural experts. These tours to important cities like Barcelona, London and Chicago give visitors the chance to delve into lesser-known cityscapes and learn new facets of classic buildings. In addition to worldwide tours, the AIA hosts many local events like ArchtoberFest, an annual San Diego festival that offers a film festival and informative lectures for those wishing to learn more about regional construction styles.
Through education, advocating for historic preservation and volunteer work, the AIA has extended its influence far beyond the realm of architecture.