President's Viewpoint -

Post Occupancy Evaluation and Design Guidelines

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

by Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED - December 2006

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If someone were to do a post occupancy evaluation of my year as president of AIAWMH, what would they find? Did we satisfy our membership? Were we timely with our programs and events? Did we stay within our budget? My primary goal has always been to leave our organization a little better off than when I arrived. On that note, it seems we have had a good year. Our financial house is in order, and the future sustainability of our chapter, which cannot function on dues along, has moved in the right direction. I hoped to continue the tradition of AIA being the premium provider of continuing education credits for our membership. I believe, based on the attendance, diversity and feedback from our programs this year, we are just that. Communications with our members has improved with our well-received e-Notes electronic newsletter, which complements well our General Notes.

While many goals have been realized, two important objectives remain unfinished. Our chapter and others like us are attempting to become a stronger voice for our communities. “Architecture as public policy” was this year’s theme for the AIANY chapter. As part of our by-law update proposed for 2007, AIAWMH will be encouraging members to write position papers on community and public policy issues they feel strongly about. It is my hope that our chapter’s first position papers will address design guidelines, affordable housing, the new Tappan Zee Bridge, community planning issues and green building design. We plan to have your Board of Directors review and approve position papers on these and other issues. So next time you want to complain to an elected official or planning board member you will hopefully have an AIA position paper to support and help you affect positive change in our communities.

Design guidelines have been discussed and debated in communities throughout the nation. One of the longest e-mail dialogues I have read between presidents of AIA chapters throughout the nation has been discussing and debating the benefits and challenges that design guidelines create. Many chapters have been asked to help their communities create design guidelines. I have had dialogues with community members in our region who would not only like our help creating design guidelines, but to go even further and generate a list of qualifications for people who serve on architectural review boards, for these are the individuals entrusted to implement any design guidelines a municipality would adopt. We have discussed providing a training symposium for architectural review board members and perhaps even a scorecard highlighting communities that do this well. I encourage any architect in our chapter interested in these issues to join our effort and help make this dream real.

While I have looked forward to the end of my term as president, my commitment to AIA is not over. In January I will be serving as your State Director and hope to make a difference at another level. With former chapter presidents Russ Davidson, AIANYS president 2007, Ted D’Amore, AIANYS vice president /public relations 2007, and myself our chapter will be well represented in Albany. I encourage all members to reach out to Russ, Ted or myself or if you think AIANYS could help you in any way.

I wish you and your families a very happy and healthy Holiday Season.