President's Viewpoint - SIXTY WAYS TO AIA

Originally published in the 2006 newsletter of the American Institute of Architects, Westchester Mid-Hudson Chapter.

by Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED - April, 2006

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When I am at a dinner with a group of architects, it is usually an AIA event. However, recently I had dinner with four former classmates of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that graduated with me back in 1985.

Only one of them was an AIA member and he had a lot of complaints, which he was more than happy to share with me. I won’t go into the fact that this AIA member suggested we meet at a place called “Pfiffs” located at 35 Grand Street in New York City only to find a half finished restaurant/bar with heavy chains on the door. I also won’t talk about who had to leave early and who stayed out too late and why.

However, since I am the president of AIA WMH I felt it my obligation to try to convert some of these non-believers. Readers and AIA members (of which I assume most of you are) should have received by now the 2006 AIA Members Benefits pamphlet that details the substantial benefits and services AIA provides.

I am dedicating this article to the one former classmate who arrived late and who claims to be the inspiration behind Paul Simon’s song of similar title.

Back in January we published a matrix of member benefits from the national, state and local components. There are over 60 programs, services and benefits that help our members meet their personal and professional goals. I know many members have joined AIA recently because of the state mandated continuing education requirements. We tell new members that your annual dues are more than made up for in the money saved meeting these requirements. Our chapter’s trade show and summer school programs alone can help all members meet all their annual CEU requirements. Over half of our 500 members who took part in our building exposition last month received as many as 5 continuing education credits, at no cost. In between classes members visited with 51 consultants and vendors exhibiting what is new and exciting in the design and construction industry.

Many of you know some of the benefits that our national component offers. AIA contract documents are the industry standard in construction and have been for over 100 years. Our magazine, newsletters and national convention are all well known and well utilized. AIA’s national advertising campaign has been a success and has enhanced the image, stature and importance of our profession in the eyes of the public and community leaders. For AIA members of any specialty there is, most likely, a Knowledge Community that can help you stay informed about the trends and issues in your area of practice and provides an opportunity for collaboration, networking and sharing knowledge with similar professionals. I hope all of you have taken advantage of the discounts AIA negotiated for Dell computers or with some of the rental car and shipping companies.

There are 18 other benefits brought to members by our local chapter alone. If you are a Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Kahn fan, we have building tours for you this year. If you are interested in how gypsum board is manufactured or how to use dry wall to make your building more environmentally friendly, you can join us on April 26th. If you missed our Outreach Breakfast in Newburgh last month where, world-renowned architect Steven Winter, FAIA, talked about the latest trends in the green building movement, you can join us in Rockland County for breakfast this Fall. We have chapter dinners every month where you can dine, connect, collaborate and get credit (2 HSW – CEU’s) all in one evening for $30.00.

The one AIA member at my recent reunion had complained about supplemental dues and health benefits. I told him our national component is working on these among many other issues. I even tried to have our next reunion with our fellow graduates on the West Coast meet up in June at our AIA National Convention, which is in Los Angeles this year. I don’t think I was successful in getting any new AIA converts at this dinner; however, if some of these architects have not met their CEU requirements by December, I invited them to our program entitled “Last Call CEU’s”. From our recent reunion it seemed they liked the sound of “Last Call”.