An Architect’s Guide to Creating Safe Polling Places

Despite the popularity of mail-in voting in the US this year, millions of people will still be voting in-person at the polls in less than a week. According to the CDC, people who vote in-person on a single day are at higher risk for COVID-19 because of the larger crowds and longer wait times. With that in mind, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is hoping that election administrators take advantage of their recently released “safe polling place” resource guide.

As we’ve already seen, thoughtful design can help reduce the chances of exposure to COVID-19.To help protect everyone at the polls, AIA’s resource guide “provides architectural, engineering, operational and administrative strategies that election administrators and polling place workers can employ—as well as modify—for polling places and voting centers.”

Example Polling Place Modified To Reduce Transmission Risk Of Covid-19 / From

AIA created the guidelines using a combination of the latest public health information and their own research found in the “Re-Occupancy Assessment Tool.” The 3D illustrations, which were produced by the design firm Corgan—give clear examples for how to use the strategies in places large and small.

Have you worked on any recent projects that are COVID-19 related? Let us know on social media! And remember, if you’re an Architect in one of the following states, your license renewal deadline is December 31st! 

  • Alabama
  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Nebraska (L -Z)
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

To view all state approved continuing education course packages, start by choosing your state.

Check out our on-demand continuing education courses by choosing your state below.

AIA Criticizes New Fair Housing Ruling

On July 23, 2020, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced that he would effectively end 2015’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule.

The purpose of the AFFH ruling was to ensure communities complied with the 1968 Fair Housing Act. In order to get any HUD funding, local governments needed to track poverty and segregation in their communities by completing a 92-point questionnaire. Now, without AFFH, municipalities can declare they’re in compliance with fair housing rules themselves, and HUD will accept it based on their word.

Instead of making housing providers pass a sort-of fair housing exam (the 92-point questionnaire), responsibility largely lands on tennents to file complaints. In an official press release, HUD said they can still “terminate funding if it discovers, after investigation made pursuant to complaint or by its own volition, that a jurisdiction has not adhered to fair housing regulations” (emphasis added).

AFFH has been under attack since 2018, when HUD stopped strictly enforcing it. Since then, a 2019 National Fair Housing Alliance report found 31,202 complaints of housing discrimination in 2018, the highest number since the NFHA began collecting such data in 1995.

In response to the termination of AFFH, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) published the following statement.

“AIA strongly opposes the Administration’s dismantling of this critical rule,” said AIA EVP/Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “Our federal government should confront the legacy of discriminatory housing policies as intended in the Fair Housing Act of 1968, not shrink away from the responsibility of ensuring our communities are equitable. At such a critical moment in time for addressing racial inequity, it’s clear we need to do more, not less, to provide equitable opportunity to all Americans, especially for a basic human need such as shelter.”

To learn more about HUD regulations in your state, click here.

Check out our on-demand continuing education courses by choosing your state below.

AIA’s Tips for Career Resilience

Despite the economic uncertainty facing the world right now, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) wants to help all architecture professionals keep their careers going strong. They recently hosted a webinar where they spoke to four panelists who lived and worked through the last Great Recession. Below are the highlights from their advice on how to have career resilience during difficult times.

Utilize Your Network

Staying connected with previous professors, classmates, or co-workers is a great way to find new opportunities. Here are three simple tips for using your network:

  • Be upfront when looking for a new job, and give back by helping others in their search once you find a position.
  • Reach out to professors, even if you weren’t close. Remember: your school wants you to succeed.
  • Reach out to career services, alumni networks, and local AIA chapters to ask for help, request a mentor, or re-engage when you need encouragement.

Get Involved

  • Use design competitions and events to supplement your portfolio with new building typologies to broaden your experience.
  • Volunteer with AIA, Open Architecture Collaborative, USGBC, Urban Land Institute, and others to extend your network within the profession and to stay engaged if you’re working in a different field.
  • Keep pursuing your license to maximize your skills and marketability.*

*Architects Training Institute consistently adds new online continuing education courses starting at $29

Think Outside the Biz

  • Expand your search to different sectors, different size firms, and new locations. Or consider architecture-adjacent positions such as real estate or facility management.
  • Panelists who accepted positions like these during their job search said they gained useful experience that gave them an advantage in future interviews.

Whether you’re a recent graduate or experienced professional, always remember you have resources and a support system that will help you through economic hardship.


Aging in Place: Part 4 | 4 HSW Credits

Below is the 4th snippet from the online narrated course, Aging in Place - Eliminating Pitfalls.  This course is AIA Approved for 4 HSW credits.

Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


Don’t Expect Gratitude. Sometimes we just do what we have to do, regardless of the resistance faced. But don’t expect aging loved ones to be grateful when we suggest or implement changes in their lives.

    • No one likes to change, not even us. We have set routines, set ways to do things, habits we cannot break if we tried, and even ways we’ve developed to do things based on many, many years of experience learning to get it right. Regardless of whether another way seems like a better choice to you, if we haven’t decided on the necessity of change ourselves, nothing will be done.
    • No one likes to admit they can improve or be improved, not even us. If we felt like there was a better way to accomplish something, we would already be doing it that way. What we generally don’t care for, is someone younger than we are, telling us how much better they can make our lives. Especially when they are our children. We don’t really intend that anyone should decide for us which of our possessions we will need to eliminate in order to declutter. What we own, we own for a reason. We’d rather take chances with falling than give that priceless item away. Store it in another place for a while? That’s ridiculous. Why pay for storage when we can just keep storing it here?
    • No one likes role reversals, not even us. When we have been in charge our whole adult lives, we don’t expect to have anyone dictate anything to us. We are the decision makers and problem solvers in our relationships. We have years of experience and hard-earned wisdom on our side. If we want your advice, we will ask for it.
    • No one likes admitting they need help, not even us. We have spent lifetimes helping others who need it. We have little interest in feeling helpless, tired, weak or damaged. Because in our minds, we are still strong, twenty-year-old problem solvers. To admit otherwise will be to acknowledge the coming end of our time. Do we need help? No, but thank you anyway.


Choose Your State Below

Aging in Place: Part 3 | 4 HSW Credits

Below is the 3rd snippet from the online narrated course, Aging in Place - Eliminating Pitfalls.  This course is AIA Approved for 4 HSW credits.

Read Part 1 | Part 2


We have a long history of aging, pretty much since the beginning of time. It is no longer difficult to predict what will happen in our lives and bodies as we add to our years.

Balance will become a significant issue. This problem can arise from a loss of physical strength, effects of different medications, cognitive and visual impairments. Without thinking through a strategy to prevent or at least minimize falls, an issue with balance can become a significant health hazard. It’s a really good idea to periodically determine if loved ones (or you) can safely do these:

    • Climb up and down stairs with confidence
    • Stand and sit down again on chairs, beds, toilets, etc.
    • Get into, bathe and safely exit bathtubs and showers
    • Drive and return from destinations, from a standpoint of both physical and cognitive capability
    • Bend down and pick up items from the floor or lower shelves
    • Easily carry items like grocery bags and laundry baskets
    • Successfully use public transportation
    • Keep the home and property clean
    • Properly use all appliances
    • Manage personal health

A consequence of deciding to stay at home, whether alone or not, is the strong possibility of home accidents. Depending on the severity of the accident and whether injuries occur, if someone falls, they may not be able to get back on their feet. Cognitive issues like dementia can lead them away, but not necessarily back home. Extended periods of solitude, especially around holidays and in periods of inclement weather, can foster feelings of depression. In the presence of confusion and absence of assistance, medication use can turn dangerous when ignored, taken in excess or inadvertently combined with other medicine. Limited mobility leads to other issues like avoiding grocery shopping or failure to make scheduled health appointments. There are also various health conditions like strokes or Parkinson’s disease where the victims can simply no longer function alone.

Even if your loved one will allow you to make changes, it’s a very good idea to ease into them gradually. Prioritize the changes you (and they) feel will be beneficial and set a time frame to implement them. Discuss options and let the resident choose which ones will best meet their needs. Then accomplish agreed upon tasks in portions. Give those you love a chance to adapt to a few changes, before the next set is implemented. If all that sounds like it will be easy, it won’t.

Learn More in Part 4.


Choose Your State Below

Aging in Place: Part 2 | 4 HSW Credits

Below is the 2nd snippet from the online narrated course, Aging in Place - Eliminating Pitfalls.  This course is AIA Approved for 4 HSW credits.

Read Part 1


Every design or building issue dealing with the disabled or handicapped cannot be dealt with here. Massive laws have been passed for the purpose of guiding design decisions for buildings intended for use by the disabled. Many of these focus on commercial buildings financed with taxpayer funds, institutional projects where users regularly come when facing health challenges, and multi-family housing of various types, possibly used for occupancy by the elderly.

Where published guidelines for public facilities cross building types, we will touch on them. Since pictures are worth more than words, where possible, we will include graphic illustrations of guidelines from the United States Access Board. Understanding the intent of such rules can at least open a glimpse into similar issues also faced in less public settings.

Our focus here, however, will be on private residences. Millions of private homes are becoming more difficult to use as we age. Aging-in-place simply refers to the desire to stay in a familiar home as long as possible in life. According to the Center for Disease Control, it is “ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.” The easiest way to do that is to adapt the living facilities to changes in physical capabilities anticipated to arise. Otherwise, our beloved homes can slowly become prisons. And according to the AARP, over ninety percent of polled seniors want to stay home as they age. This obviously creates challenges for their children.

Our intention with this course is to look at what can be done to make it possible to stay in our homes for as long as possible, despite the debilitating effects of advancing age. We wish to demystify what is needed to age-in-place, rather than in an institutional setting. And to hopefully do so, while not driving our children crazy with concern for us.

Learn More in Part 3.


Choose Your State Below

Aging in Place: Part 1 | 4 HSW Credits

Below is a snippet from the online narrated course, Aging in Place - Eliminating Pitfalls. This course is AIA Approved for 4 HSW credits.

Imagine this scenario: your once very active mother is making every excuse in the world not to leave the house in which you had grown up. She will not even allow you to take her to places you know she loved. Her reasons are totally out of character and implausible. What is going on?

A year before, she had slipped on ice taking trash out from a back deck. Falling on the steps, she had broken one of her kneecaps. Given her advanced age, it was slow to heal. In the process, favoring one leg had put undue stress on the opposite side hip, which had begun to severelytense pain from the fall, coupled with the weakness in her hip, has left her afraid and unsure of her ability to successfully climb down the front or back steps. Pain, and the fear of more pain, has made her a prisoner in her slightly elevated home.

Without saying anything, you drive to a nearby home improvement store and buy all the components you are going to need. Once back at her home, you install sturdy railings leading down from her front porch to the walk below, and easy to grip handrails down from the back deck to the back yard.

Suddenly, your mother is once again free. But the year she spent in captivity is burned into your mind. You had no clue, because you had never known that kind of failure. And she was too proud to admit she was afraid or to ask for help.

This is not remotely an isolated case. There are millions of homes in our country where aging parents and other occupants face steps needed to exit from their homes. These are steps they no longer have confidence or strength to negotiate. They also face life with a bewildering array of technology with which they have never felt comfortable. Bathrooms have become dangerous places. Their own second floors and basements are no longer even accessible to them. They must sometimes grope their way through a fog of confusion just to accomplish daily tasks that were once mundane and second nature. All the while they remain silent, because they don’t want to “be a burden” and ask for help.

Some problems they face cannot be helped. But many can, with the simple installation of equipment and hardware, or a few modest changes in routine. This writing is to familiarize others with problems faced by our aging population and possibly ourselves, along with suggestions on how to mitigate these issues in our residences, because someone needs to remove the invisible bars.

Learn More in Part 2.


Choose Your State Below

An Interdisciplinary Look at Sustainable Architecture

A report (published by from an expert panel composed of architects, engineers, and behavioral scientists discusses how an interdisciplinary approach to sustainable design can help us overcome many of the environmental issues that the infrastructure industry faces. The report, entitled “Twenty Questions About Design Behavior for Sustainability,” asks and answers just that: 20 questions about how designers and behavioral scientists can come together and how behavioral science can impact design choices.

Over three dozen experts “from diverse fields—and spanning academia, practice and policy” (p. 3) were included in a discussion that took more than a year to culminate in this succinct and well-thought out document. Their main goal was to identify “ways to advance [the] current understanding and practice of design for sustainability in the environment” (p. 3).

Panelists looked at four areas of design: individual/interpersonal behavior, organizational processes, community engagement, and the impact of environment and policy and how those areas can be impacted by knowledge of behavioral sciences. The result was a cogent discussion about the need to consider how people use their spaces when designing and, conversely, how those spaces can in turn influence desired behaviors to produce sustainable outcomes.

To read the full report, please visit


3D Printing: A Decade in Review

3D printing has been around in one form or another since the 80’s. A brief history of the origins and maturation of 3D printing processes can be found in this article, A Detailed History of 3D Printing from (it’s detailed but brief, an excellent introductory article that’s worth the 10 minute read).

The mid-2000s saw 3D printing really hit its stride, after 3D printers became commercially viable and affordable.  Within the last decade, we have seen immense growth within the 3D printing industry, to the point where 3D printers are now affordable enough to be purchased by hobbyists. These developments have led to big things in the world of architecture, and so we’ve compiled a list of notable milestones within the last 10 years.

2010-Lowering the Cost of Architectural Models: Charles Overy, the founder of LGM (an architectural modeling firm) was quoted in the NY Times that his firm was able to reduce the cost and time of building architectural models from 2 months and $100,000 to one night and $2,000 using a 3D printer and homegrown software.

2011-Concrete as a Printing Medium: Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello of Rael San Fratello Architects published a paper detailing the development of concrete polymer building components for 3D printing.

2012-World’s First Room Printer: The KamerMaker became the “world’s first mobile 3D printer [with the ability] to print “rooms…” up to 11 feet high and 7 feet wide.” (

2013-Printing In Space: The European Space Agency (ESA) partnered with architects at Foster + Partners to investigate the feasibility of 3D printing lunar bases using lunar soil as the medium for construction. (

2014-World’s First 3D Printed House: Dus Architects began work on the first 3D printed house, a canal house in Amsterdam. (The Guardian)

2015-The Bloom Pavilion: A UC Berkeley research team unveiled a 9x12x12 structure printed entirely out of cement polymers and was the largest printed structure at the time of its construction. (UC Berkeley)

2016-The Fastest Printer in the East: Chinese construction company HuaShang Tengda printed a 400-sq meter two-story house on-site in a month and a half. (

2017-Bridge to Innovation: BAM Infra, a construction company in the Netherlands, built a concrete bridge from 3D printed, pre-fabricated, pre-stressed blocks. (

2018-US Military Utilization: “The Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) constructed [a] 46-square-meter building in 40 hours at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Champaign, Illinois. (

2019-Printed Neighborhood: Ground was broken on the world’s first 3D printed neighborhood in Latin America, a project by non-profit New Story and design firm Fuseproject. These houses are meant to be affordable, sustainable dwellings for underserved populations in rural Mexico. (

2020-Anything Goes: If the rapid development and deployment of 3D printing techniques within the last decade is anything to go by, the future of 3D printing in architecture is bright. International infrastructure group, Balfour Beatty, is predicting that humans will no longer be present on construction sites by 2050 due to advances in robotic printing advances. Who is to say what tomorrow brings, but it is surely to be an interesting ride.


AIA Continuing Education FAQ’s

What are the AIA’s requirements for continuing education?

AIA measures continuing education in learning units (LUs). One hour of continuing education earns one LU. AIA Architect members are required to complete 18 LUs each calendar year. Of those 18 LUs, 12 must be in Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) topics.

Are Associate, Allied, and Emeritus members required to earn LU credits?

Associate and Allied members are exempt from the continuing education requirement but are encouraged to participate for their personal benefit and the benefit of the profession.

Emeritus Architect members are required to complete 1 LU annually. Other Emeritus members are exempt from the continuing education requirement.

Records are kept for all members who report their activities. Those pursuing their license to practice architecture may also use the AIA continuing education transcript services.

As a new member or member who just upgraded from Associate status, am I required to meet the continuing education requirement?

New first-time members and members who upgraded from Associate membership are not required to complete continuing education requirements during the calendar year that they join. Your requirements will begin January 1 of the following year. However, AIA maintain transcript records for all members from the time their membership starts. Any credit earned in the first year will not apply toward the following year’s requirement unless the member earns enough credits to meet the requirements for rollover credit.

I live and work outside of the United States. Am I required to complete AIA continuing education?

Yes. The same requirements apply regardless of where you live and work.

How can I earn AIA approved continuing education credits?

Architects Training Institute provides online HD video courses that meet AIA requirements.

How do I know if a course is AIA approved and how many credits it’s worth?

AIA CES providers display the AIA Continuing Education logo with their courses. Additionally, they are required to display the credit designation and number of units (for example, 1.5 LU or 1.0 LU/HSW) with the description and learning objectives for the course.

What are the AIA's guidelines for Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) courses?

Only approved courses may carry HSW credit. Because the guidelines for HSW credit require learning in a structured environment, you may not self-report HSW credits. Courses approved for HSW credit contain at least 75 percent HSW content, including related activities. This helps the AIA ensure content credibility so AIA members can satisfy their membership and state mandatory continuing education (MCE) requirements for HSW topics. Read more.

How does HSW relate to CES?

The AIA requires Architect members to earn at least 12 LUs (of the 18 total LUs required) in HSW topics. You may earn more than 12 LUs in HSW topics. Any addition LUs earned will apply to the overall 18 LU requirement.

What specific subject areas qualify for AIA HSW credit?

HSW subject areas are defined by the AIA, NCARB, and state licensing boards with HSW requirements. Some states have specific continuing education requirements and guidelines for what types of courses and content qualify. Be sure to check with the licensing board for states where you are licensed to determine any jurisdiction-specific requirements for content or reporting.

What if I don’t meet the annual requirements or the deadline for AIA membership?

Each year, the AIA audits a percentage of eligible AIA members for compliance with the continuing education requirement. Members who fail to meet the annual requirements are given a nine-month grace period through September 30 of the following year. Any credit earned during the nine-month grace period will apply towards the deficit from the prior year and not to meeting the current year’s requirement. For example, an LU/HSW credit earned during the nine-month grace period will apply towards any LU/HSW deficit from the prior year. During the grace period, members can retroactively report any activities they completed but failed to report in the prior year.

What if I take an AIA course before the September 30 deadline but the provider does not report attendance in time?

As long as the course was successfully completed before the deadline and the provider reports it, the course will still apply. Please contact the AIA and us if you anticipate this happening.

What is the AIA/CES non-compliance policy?

Members are considered in non-compliance with the AIA continuing education requirement if they have not completed and reported 18 LU hours (including 12 LU/HSWs) by December 31 of each year. Members in non-compliance have an opportunity to report missing continuing education credits and earn the credits necessary to address any deficiency before September 30 of the following year. During this nine-month grace period, members who are found not in compliance through the annual audit are at risk of membership termination for non-compliance.

If I meet AIA’s continuing education requirements, will I satisfy my state licensure requirements?

AIA continuing education requirements are aligned with NCARB’s model law and regulations so that the requirements parallel the MCE requirements in many jurisdictions.

However, we cannot guarantee that you will satisfy your state’s licensing requirements if you meet AIA’s continuing education requirement. State requirements may change, and some states have specific rules about courses that meet their MCE requirements. Please check with your state licensing board.