Architects Can Be Leaders

History is witness to the many ups and downs we go through in our lifetime. Wars, terrorism, natural disasters, accidents, etc. have always been part of the society. These devastating natural or human acts, although disastrous, bring the affected people together. The inevitability of rebuilding communities follows. That’s when architects are needed the most.

Not very far behind security and medical professionals, architects are the leaders that make a positive difference in the society through rebuilding or uniting efforts. Although architecture can at times be a cut-throat profession with architects competing to win the limited amount of paid work available, at the time of disasters these same architects can be seen working hand-in-hand in all parts of the world doing pro-bono work to serve the people. Those are the citizen architects that are truly fulfilling the oath they took when they first got their license, and those are the true stewards of the built environment.

Architecture can have a powerful impact in the aftermath of a tragedy. Whether in the form of a memorial, or a healthcare or security facility, or any public service building, architecture begins to serve those in mourning or rehabilitation. A single building can have the strength to drive the rebuilding of communities and cities around it. A single building can turn the economy around and bring work to a city. A single building can invite tourism into a city, and a single building can survive through the ages and live to tell its tale a century later. Multiply this impact with the number of architects living in a city and the number of buildings each architect is designing, and the value of architects begins to surface.

But does getting an architect’s license make one a leader? Simply because someone is an architect in a project team doesn’t make one a leader, especially in the collaborative team environment we live in today. Going to an 8-5 job and occasionally getting CE credits doesn’t make one a leader. Making a positive impact in the community through architectural or non-architectural service makes one a leader.

It is during the times of turmoil when we are reminded of what purpose we serve in the society as architects. Are we in this profession for winning awards for aesthetically pleasing projects? Are we in this profession to win accolades for our service to the profession? Or are we in this profession because we want to help people in a way that gives them the strength to face the challenges of daily life? If we could just remember the oath we all took as architects and make it second nature, all of us are not far from becoming citizen architects. Being an architect doesn’t automatically make one a leader, but architects can be leaders.

Collaborations: At Work and Beyond

It is proper to acknowledge in a business environment that collaborative efforts lead to success. How many truly believe in it? Can a sole mind bring to reality one’s vision? Is there a clear improvement in a vision when it comes from more than one brain? We are surrounded by teams everywhere we go. Design teams, construction teams, maintenance teams, to demolition teams. Would the game of architecture play the same way if one person controlled everything, vis-à-vis the master architect? Is a project more successful if there is a shared vision along the ‘integrated approach’ to execution?

The Pecha Kucha Nights are becoming commonplace in most major cities. What is the driving force making them successful? A platform that brings people together allowing peers beyond professional boundaries to share laughter, dreams and stories. There are multiple non-profit organizations in the nation today that bring various design disciplines together under a common umbrella. Astonishing quality of output is created, many resulting in real projects that benefit the society. From disaster relief to humanitarian projects, from public facilities to home remodels, from art installations to raising awareness through education, from interventions to social mixers… value is generated when we collaborate.


The Young Architects Forum is a body made of and meant to serve the young architect masses. One young architect cannot achieve the results that all of us can together. As we finish our twentieth year as a knowledge community of AIA, we’ll find that we have come far from where it all began. Yet we have far to go. How aware is your community of the value and issues specific to young architects? Can young architects bring a positive change to society? Who will make it happen? Are you completely aware of your goals versus clout? Are you making a difference in the profession and beyond? What is success to you? What are your opinions? Do you recognize YAF Connection as a medium to share your stories? We want to hear from you. Contribute.


We witnessed an increasing number of contributors to YAF Connection in 2011. The maps show the widespread locations of the authors. We also crossed the national boundaries in the Travel issue. It is fascinating to see the variety of coverage through the year apropos the shared goals. Was your region represented? Would you like to have some authorship in 2012? Would you like to play a part in the editing process? Would you like to provide graphic input? I am one note away.


We close the year by thanking all the young architects who served with the YAF or on AIA boards through their leadership at national, regional, state or local levels. We’d like to thank all the young architects who made a difference in their communities through volunteer service or through their professional input. We thank all young architects who provided mentorship to younger professionals or seasoned professionals. Thanks to those who crossed boundaries and shared fellowship with community members and external design disciplines.


On behalf of the AIA Young Architects Forum, happy holidays! Be safe.