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.


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Looking Forward: Architecture in a Post COVID-19 World

In an effort to give you a break from the negative news cycle, we want to look forward toward the future and the many possibilities it brings for architects.

In recent weeks, the Moving Forward Act has made its way through Congress. Late last month, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced their support of the bill. AIA President Jane Frederick said “Passing the Moving Forward Act is a necessary next step that we must take as a nation in order to deliver the opportunities that American workers—including architects—desperately need.”

The proposal allocates billions of dollars for infrastructure improvements such as:

  • The Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which would provide funding for improvements to school infrastructure, especially those in high-poverty areas, and upgrading child-care facilities.
  • Encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings through the temporary increase of the Historic Tax Credit
  • Improve affordable housing infrastructure by creating and preserving 1.8 million affordable homes
  • Establish a new Neighborhood Investment tax credit that would subsidize certain development costs to encourage the rehabilitation of vacant homes or construction of new homes in distressed areas

As architects, you’re responsible for much more than just designing safe and beautiful structures; your work can make a positive difference in communities around the country. The schools you help build or renovate (especially in lower income areas) bring opportunities for success that weren’t possible before. Working to increase affordable housing works toward lowering homeless rates and gives families a sense of security.

When it comes time to rebuild the nation (financially and literally), we are proud to help architects like you make positive changes in your local community.


Is it almost time to renew your license?

The following states have continuing education deadlines approaching:

7/31/20 - WI

8/31/20 - MA

10/31/20 - MI

11/31/20 - IL

12/31/20 - AL, AR, DE, FL, KY, LA, MO, MT, NC, NE (L-Z), NM, NV, OH, OR, TX, UT, WV, WY

MONTHLY - ID, MD, NH, NY, SD, TN, VA, WA


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ICC vs UpCodes

The International Code Council has filed suit against San Francisco based company UpCodes.

UpCodes is a software firm that is utilizing the ICC’s building codes in an AI program which helps architects review their plans in comparison to the building codes. Architects can upload the plan models and the program will flag areas in the design that are not up to code, saving valuable time and money when it comes to design errors. While the program is not fool-proof, many say that the low cost makes it worth the investment if it catches even one costly error.

According to the Architect’s Newspaper, UpCodes believes their use of the codes are fair, as there is precedent that once copyrighted material becomes law it passes into the public domain. Court cases dating as far back as 1980 have been cited by UpCodes founder in defense of their use of the codes as public domain material.

The ICC argues differently, however, citing that “loss of copyright could impair code development” (ArchPaper). The ICC is a non-profit organization, and the codes are developed essentially by volunteers from multiple industries. The Code Council recoups the cost of the production of the codes through sales of code books, as well as training and consulting programs. Their claim is that they make the codes transparently available, whether online or in print form, and that UpCodes should not be utilizing the codes in order to turn a profit.

Essentially, these two companies are on opposite sides of the same coin. They both want to ensure that buildings are being built up to code and are therefore safe for the public. UpCodes feels the ICC has a monopoly on the printing of building codes, while the ICC feels their control over the codes is important to the integrity of the code itself. Time will tell which side prevails, as the decision now lies with the courts.


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Detroit Revitalization

In 2013, Detroit became the largest municipality in the country to ever have filed for bankruptcy. Nearly 7 years later, city leaders are bringing the city back from destruction: one revitalization project at a time.

While the city still has many problems, ranging from abandoned buildings to infrastructure issues, city leaders have begun implementing initiatives to revitalize the city. Big on the docket: city planning. According to an article in The Architect’s Newspaper, Maurice Cox, architect and former Charlottesville mayor, has developed a team of “36 planners, architects, urban designers, and landscape designers” billed as a think tank to reignite the city of Detroit—preserving existing culture while rebuilding infrastructure in a fresh and vibrant way that will encourage investment and draw new populations to the city.

Cox and his team are determined to harness Detroit’s high levels of community engagement, taking advice gleaned from town halls and other resident inputs to achieve their goals. Many of the team’s initiatives have focused on areas with low population density that are surrounded by higher population-dense areas. Their plans have included a new bike/pedestrian loop through median-income neighborhoods, neighborhood re-designs, and building incentives throughout the city.

In the spirit of preserving Detroit traditions, developers have been given double density allowances if they are able to preserve the architectural facades of buildings while re-designing the interiors. This plan is one of many ways that city planners are trying to encourage developers to keep the unique landscape of Detroit in tact while providing new and improved spaces for residential and commercial use.

Another initiative being put into place by developers Fitz Forward, is a complete overhaul of the Fitzgerald neighborhood, where over 300 properties will be revitalized. By remodeling some homes and beautifying vacant lots with parks and meadows, the developers seek to draw targeted populations to the neighborhood, thus revitalizing the area for current residents as well. Fixing up run down properties and drawing in new tenants helps home owners currently in the area by bringing up property prices and making the area more secure.

These types of projects show forward thinking on the city planner’s part: by determining the needs of current and future citizens alike, they are aiming to use design as well as innovation to heal the city. Both strengths and weaknesses abound in Detroit, but Cox and his team are working hard to “provoke a new kind of urban revitalization: one in harmony with nature and existing cultures, [and] informed by the urban progress made over the last few decades.” (ArchPaper)


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Make It Right Foundation, Did Not Make It Right

The actor Brad Pitt and his foundation have come under fire after homes built for residents that were hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina developed leaks and flaws attributed to defective design work.

Between the years 2008-2015, Make It Right set out to build 150 homes in New Orleans to replace ruined homes. These houses were sold at affordable prices to former residents but many of them houses started deteriorating much sooner than expected.

On September 7, 2018, New Orleans attorney Ron Austin filed a class-action lawsuit against the Make It Right Foundation on behalf of two residents whose homes were damaged by leakage. Austin issued a statement expressing his belief that “Make It Right, its board members, including Pitt, and chief officers knew about the structural and construction problems associated with the Make It Right homes for years, yet said nothing to the residents,” according to NOLA.

In turn, Make It Right filed a lawsuit against the project architect John C. Williams for the defective design work. The foundation accuses Williams of being responsible for several failures to adequately waterproof the homes. The lawsuit does not hold Williams liable for damages caused by TiberSIL, an experimental weatherproof wood product. Make It Right sued the manufacturer of Timber SIL for $500,000 back in 2014. In a prepared statement, the Make It Right Foundation pledged to work proactively with the homeowners.


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