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.


To me “resilience” is to not accept failure, to work harder each time the challenge is bigger, and to keep trying until I succeed. I’m not sure where it all ends, but I’m far from my end. Each one of us has that energy within us to bounce up when we fall. We are designed with the mechanism needed to reach the top and win each failure. This applies to every aspect of our lives. The fact that you are reading this proves that you are a professional who is curious to read your organization’s newsletter, and are still surviving in the midst of the seemingly never-ending recession. You have what it takes.

This is the first recession I’ve faced. But as I understand from my superiors the cycle of recession repeats itself again and again, while some stress that this is the worst recorded recession. Simple conclusion is that even when things get better, another recession will come back after a few more years. The building industry is one of the worst hit industries each time. We need to figure out a way so we don’t suffer this next time around.

We started this year with the theme of “rejuvenating architecture” in which we pledged to fight back the results of 2009 recession with renewed energy. How are we doing? We are coming to an end of this year very quickly. Have we architects done better this year than the previous? What are our future prospects? Don’t give in yet; be resilient. We will prevail.

The “it” word these days is “resilient” in all sorts of business world discussions. Architects shouldn’t stay behind. On November 17 the AIA Las Vegas Emerging Professionals and Young Architects Forum (EPYAF) has organized a half day workshop on the theme of “Resilient Architecture”. While we try to stay afloat in these tough times, maybe we should take advantage of the down time and gain some skills to avoid facing similar problems in future. There are certain avenues that we can focus on, maybe some level of diversification, and key steps we could take to secure our futures as the leaders of the building industry. Based on the predicted future trends of the profession, the workshop will focus on four areas – wellness, education, technology, and economy. The results of the workshop will be presented at the end of the evening. This workshop might widen your perspective towards future, so please join us. The details of the workshop are included in the newsletter.

By the way, election period is here! More than ever our legislative committee is working very diligently during this election to plant some seeds in our leaders’ future plans. We were approached by Senator Horsford to help on the plans for “Envisioning Nevada’s Future” created by the Nevada Vision Stakeholder Group. Our task force is working together on the expansion of the vision.

We are continuing to increase the PAC funding, and support all the leaders’ policies that help the future of our profession. AIA is a non-partisan association and provides a support system to all candidates who need guidance from architectural or construction standpoint. If you are in support of a candidate and would like AIA’s assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Don’t forget to vote.

And now for smiles, I’d like to congratulate all the winners of 2010 AIA Nevada Design Awards and Honor Awards. Thanks to everybody who participated and I encourage you to do so again next time. Congratulations to all the winners of product show giveaways, and thanks to all the exhibitors and speakers for the CE classes. If you attended the WMR conference, share with us your stories!

Enjoy the winter and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!