YAF at AIA Convention

It is always a joy to see old friends at the wonderful annual event of AIA Convention. Design Connects. As Jeff Potter FAIA elaborated, the theme for 2012 stood for how the art and science of design connects us to one another.

The convention was a big success for Young Architects Forum (YAF), and emerging professionals in general. YAF and NAC co-hosted the EP lounge at prime real estate in the convention center. Our design was fit for the location decked out with interactive boards, exhibits, multi-media presentations, and comfy couches. We held several presentations at the lounge, such as Repositioning Initiative and Future of Architecture by Lee W. Waldrep and David Zach, YAF Summit20 Outcomes by Jennifer Workman AIA and Brad Benjamin AIA, and 2012 YAF/COD Ideas Competition by Virginia Marquardt AIA. A tweetup was held at the lounge moderated by Joe Benesh AIA that garnered a huge audience of social media junkies. Most importantly, the candidates that were running for the national AIA elections made an appearance at our lounge and addressed questions and concerns of the emerging professionals. Congratulations to all of them for the legacy they have formed in the AIA and beyond, and we hope they will continue to support emerging professionals moving forward.

Board Candidates addressing emerging professionals

YAF organized two sessions – Young Architects Awards Winners presentation, and Leadership Forum panel discussion both moderated by Matt Dumich AIA. In addition, Brad Benjamin AIA moderated the YAF/COD 2011 Ideas Competition panel presentation. Young architects also co-presented with Fellows during the College of Fellows 2+2 presentation. The 2012 Young Architects Award winners were honored during the Honors and Awards ceremony.

Our publications effort didn’t lag behind. We released the 2012 Young Architects Award book created by our editorial team led by me, and 2011 Ideas Competition book created by Brad Benjamin AIA. They were made available at the AIA bookstore and sold out by the last day! The May issue of ARCHITECT magazine was released at convention featuring an article about YAF Summit20. To get some real estate in the official national magazine of AIA was a big feat that we will need to continually strive for.

We got some media coverage as well. Jennifer Workman AIA was interviewed and broadcast live on convention TVs talking about Summit20. I had the opportunity to be part of the I AM AIA video campaign. I was also fortunate to be interviewed for the Repositioning Initiative.

And of course we socialized! It began with Golf with Donald Trump in which Adam Palmer AIA, Jennifer Workman AIA and Brad Benjamin AIA represented YAF. There was a meet-up of Young Architects Regional Directors on the first evening organized by Jason Dale Pierce AIA. The YAF Advisory Committee held the annual YAF Legacy Lunch with the past AdCom members the following day. Some of us made it to the fab Chapter Host Party at the Newseum at night. The emerging professionals reception was the second evening co-hosted with NAC. The attendance was fantastic as usual! We attended the AIAS Nightcap reception afterwards. We did manage to take care of some business items the day after in the AdCom business meeting. This evening was taken by the COF Convocation Dinner, which Adam Palmer AIA was lucky to attend.

So at the end of it all, I got to participate in yet another fantastic convention, attend a few great sessions, catch up with old friends, and form new connections. The weather in DC was perfect and AIA|DC did a fabulous job of organizing the event. But my favorite part was the Michigan Alumni Reception of course where I got to see some old friends from school. What a successful and memorable week!

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.