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.


Copenhagen Named 2023 World Capital of Architecture

The International Union of Architects (UIA) will hold their triennial World Congress of Architects in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2023. Copenhagen has been chosen in partnership by the UIA and UNESCO as the second World Capital of Architecture designee. This designation is part of an agreement between UNESCO and the UIA that was signed in 2018 to foster cooperation between the two organizations. The agreement "aims to extend the response to [the challenges facing urban development] by developing opportunities through the mobilization of local and national governments, the media and communities" (UNESCO).

An outcome of the agreement is that the jointly named World Capital of Architecture will now play host to the World Congress of Architects. The UIA World Congress has been in existence since 1948, however this is the first time the Congress will be held in a Nordic country. The theme for the 2023 Congress will be “Sustainable Futures – Leave No One Behind." The UIA strives to make architecture a force for realizing the United Nation’s 17 sustainability goals meant to help guide developmental thinking on a global scale.

“Copenhagen ranks as one of the most livable and loveable cities in the world and is aiming to keep this title. As host for the UIA World Congress, Copenhagen provides a unique combination of culture, tolerance, global connectivity, well-functioning public transport, green spaces and high-quality architecture” (UIA).

The year long designation as World Capital of Architecture will allow Copenhagen to showcase the great strides they have already made in sustainable urban development and serve as a global forum for the sustainability discussion.


World Famous Architect Michael Sorkin Dies at 78

The world of architecture lost one of its greats due to the coronavirus outbreak. New York architect Michael Sorkin died of COVID-19 on March 26, 2020 at 78 years old. Sorkin was an award-winning architect, writer and educator. Most recently, he won the 2019 American Institute of Architecture Collaborative Achievement Award.

Up until his death, he was working at Michael Sorkin Studios and teaching in the graduate program at City College of New York.

Sorkin specialized in projects in and around cities with particular focus on sustainability, flexibility and cohesiveness with nature. He designed environmental spaces in Hamburg, Germany, New York, numerous cities in China, and tens of other cities around the world.

His work can be described as innovative, creative, bold and modern.

Sorkin ran Michael Sorkin Studios in the Big Apple and operated satellite offices in Shanghai and Xi’an, China.

“We work towards innovative solutions that respect the natural environment, local cultures and economic realities and collaborate with our clients to produce designs that are both sustainable and beautiful,” reads his website. “[We’re] devoted to both practical and theoretical projects at all scales.”

He was also president of Terreform, a nonprofit “urban research studio and advocacy group.” On the group’s website, they say their mission is to “investigate the forms, policies, technologies and practices that will yield equitable, sustainable and beautiful cities for our urbanizing planet.”

Sorkin was also a noted critic, offering his perspectives for The Nation and The Village Voice. He also wrote more than 20 books on architecture.

Architects are mourning the difficult loss, with AIA CEO Robert Ivy stating “The world lost a brilliant consciousness when Michael Sorkin died…Sorkin’s critiques cut to the core with trenchant, linguistic finesse. Few in architecture matched his mind.”

To view more of Sorkin’s work, visit


Thermoset Technology – Stronger & Lighter Than Steel

Stronger and lighter than steel, Thermoset technology may be the future of architecture. According to an article by Arch Daily, this revolutionary material solves many common structural and construction problems while simultaneously allowing architects a new freedom with their designs.

Originally created as aerospace technology, advanced fiber-reinforced materials are now being used in the manufacturing of new buildings, opening new and exciting design possibilities for architects.

Makers of these materials can manufacture building components off-site, and the light-weight material is then shipped to the construction site where it can be put together quickly and easily by smaller crews of contractors, thus cutting down on construction costs.

Additionally, the strength of Thermoset materials far out-weighs steel, by nearly 6 times. This strength has immense applications for building considerations, allowing for more structural freedom while still providing protection from environmental hazards like earthquakes.

Another benefit is that these materials can be molded into literally any shape, giving architects open concept freedom when it comes to building design--fantastic shapes can be brought to life on a huge scale while still maintaining structural integrity. The possibilities are quite literally endless.

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Longs Peak Toilets in Colorado Recognized In AIA Awards

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recognized 12 exceptional designs with the 2019 Small Project Awards. They describe the program as “raising awareness about the value and design excellence that architects can bring to projects, no mater their size or scope.”

One interesting project called Longs Peak Toilets brought a unique design to a national park in Colorado. The National Park Service partnered with University of Colorado design program called ColoradoBuildingWorkshop to re-design and construct new backcountry privies at the Rocky Mountain National Park. According to the design program, “the new Long’s Peak Privies explore lightweight prefabricated construction and emerging methods of waste collection to minimize the human footprint in Colorado’s backcountry.” This unique and innovate construction assembly allowed for a quick set up in 8 days. The design of the architecture disappears into the surrounding landscape, helping hikers enjoy their experience better.

View the other recipients of the Small Project Design on the AIA website. The AIA gave out awards in 3 categories:

  • Category 1--small project construction, an architectural object, work of environmental art or an architectural design element that cost up to $150,000 in construction.
  • Category 2--include small project construction that could cost up to $1,500,000 in construction.
  • Category 3--could include small project construction, an architectural object, work of environmental art or an architectural design that is under 5,000 f2.

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NEW Architects 30-Hour Complete Renewal Package for All States**

Are you an architect or designer licensed in multiple states?

Architects Training Institute now offers a new package to make fulfilling CEU requirements for multiple states simple and easy! This 30-hour renewal package will help with architect continuing education across different jurisdictions and will meet all online* state continuing education. It fulfills requirements for all 50 states and is equivalent to 30 HSW credits.

*New York and Nebraska require architects to take part of their required hours in-person—check your state page for details.

This renewal package consists of 10 courses:

  • Course 1: 2017 Gable End Anchoring and Framing in High Velocity Hurricane Zones Advanced (1 hr video, FL adv. Building code)
  • Course 2: 2017 ADV Thermal & Moisture Protection: Keeping the Weather Out (1 hr online narrated, FL adv. Building code)
  • Course 3: CA Building Code Division 2: Accessibility (5 hr online narrated, CA ADA course)
  • Course 4: AIA Successful Building Design (3 hr online narrated)
  • Course 5: AIA Construction Documents For Successful Projects (3 hr online narrated)
  • Course 6: Getting Decked: And Choosing How That Happens (3 hr online narrated)
  • Course 7: Weatherization and Energy Efficient Building Course (4 hr online narrated)
  • Course 8: Acoustical Design in Modern Architecture (4 hr online narrated)
  • Course 9: Danger in the Damp – Dealing with Mold (3 hr online narrated)
  • Course 10: Drier By Design – Designing to Keep Water Out (3 hr online narrated)

Credits earned on completion of this course will be reported to AIA. Certificates of completion for both AIA members and non-AIA members will be available to print upon completion of this course. This package is registered with AIA for CEU credit.

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Lasers Used To Map Out Notre Dame Cathedral

The task of restoring Notre Dame is underway after a fierce fire shocked Paris and the world on April 15th. The fire ravaged two-thirds of the roof and collapsed the cathedral’s spire. The main structure was saved after firefighters prevented the flames from spreading. French President Emmanuel Macron says he would like the church to reopen within 5 years but experts familiar with medieval restoration work said that type of timeline is unrealistic and could take around 2 decades to complete.

The restoration of Notre Dame in the upcoming years will be supported by modern digital technologies. Hexagon and Leica Geosystems has made available laser scanning data of Notre-Dame captured by the late Dr. Andrew Tallon. It consists of scans from fifty locations in and around the cathedral, with more than one billions points of data. The laser scans will help with the reconstruction of the church with an accuracy of 5 millimeters.

Andrew Tallon was an architectural historian and Professor at Vassar College, who adopted 3D laser scanning technology to measure buildings more precisely than traditional means could. Tallon with the assistance of Columbia’s Paul Blaer, was able to scan Notre-Dame Cathedral inside and out over a 5 day period back in 2010. They did this by using a Leica scanner on a tripod and positioned it repeatedly—to map out the dimensions for a digital three dimensional form.

Tallon’s interest in 3D laser scanning technologies goes back to 2001 when he helped produced the first laser scan of Beauvais Cathedral using one of the first Cyrax laser scanners. Nearly 10 years later, he was one of the first to use Leica ScanStation C10s to produce a high-density scan of Notre-Dame. The Leica C10 helped workflow to be more productive with sophisticated new functions and advances in cloud-to-cloud registration that made scanning much faster. Speed on the project was important in the fact that the cathedral in Paris is visited by approximately 13 million visitors per year. Scanning the cathedral with an area of 4,800m2 had to be to a minimum so that the daily liturgy and tourists were not disturbed.

“This type of work simply would not have been possible before the 3D laser scanner. Manual measurement would have required extensive scaffolding and months of work to accomplish—not to mention the inevitable errors due to imprecision,” Tallon stated in a global magazine of Leica Geosystems.

Tallon’s 3d laser scanning and research is featured in a documentary called Les cathédrales dévoilées.

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Pepperdine’s Architecture And Fire Safety

Pepperdine has developed a shelter-in-place policy with close collaboration with the Los Angeles County Fire Department that allows students to remain on campus for a range of disasters, including the Woolsey Fire that hit California last fall.

The policy was developed after a close encounter with a wild fire in 1985 and has been implemented for every fire since 1993. Another key reason that Pepperdine took more preventative measures was how close they are to the Pacific Coast Highway. If Malibu residents are ordered an evacuation, gridlock becomes a big issue especially since a lot of students may not have vehicles.

Pepperdine’s best defense against wild fires is the campus design itself. Its architect was William Pereira, who was based in Los Angeles. Pereira was commissioned to create a master plan for Malibu in 1965, but the plan was never made public. Instead he was able revisit his ideas with Pepperdine years later when they gave him the opportunity.

Curbed describes the campus as “Mediterranean modern: angular cast-concrete volumes situated around wide concrete plazas with spectacular ocean vistas.” The campus structures make good use of fire-resistant decorative materials like glass and ceramic. Even the shape of the buildings with steep Spanish-tile rooflines helps ensure that fire won’t get trapped beneath the eaves. Of Pepperdine’s 830 acres—500 acres have no structure. Pereira’s vision for the campus included dense clustering of buildings to maintain open spaces. He also preserved a meadow and designed a water infrastructure to recycle waste water and store it on site.

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Weatherization and Renewable Energy Course

This is a snippet from our Weatherization and Renewable Energy Course - Purchase the course for AIA & State Credit

Thermal and Moisture Protection

Most construction claims result from a failure of the building envelope or shell caused by poor design or construction. Often, damage is caused  by contractors and laborers while maintaining or erecting residential and commercial structures. Unfortunately, the original building plans or original design may lack sufficient detail to prevent exterior shell failure.

Workers often fail to assemble structures in accordance with properly written plans. Too often, workers are uneducated about proper construction of building systems and the use of materials per the manufacturer’s recommendations and reasonable “best practices” for construction of homes and buildings in coastal, mountainous or areas with relatively high humidity. Thermal and moisture protection is the entire country’s problem!

Occasionally, construction workers inadvertently damage the building envelope while maintaining or working on items not directly related to the building exterior, causing it to be compromised and fail over the course of time. The time it takes for an “EXTERIOR SHELL” mistake to cause noticeable damage can take from only a few days to several years. At times, repairs may cost more than the building is worth!

Unfortunately, most workers and contractors of new homes rarely get to see, first hand, the mistakes they’ve made. It usually takes a period of time before the building shell failure becomes evident. Often, the failure happens after the original warranty has expired and the repairs are then the responsibility of the disgruntled home-owner who feels compelled to hire a different contractor!

Improper design, construction application and inadvertent damage can all compromise the exterior shell of a structure and result in immediate or delayed building envelope failure. Building shell failures often result in water being allowed to enter the structure in a manner that is contrary to the intended design. Water must be forced to the exterior of the envelope by weep holes or ventilation.  Delayed failure is almost always more expensive to remedy!

Primary claims.  Water, whether liquid or vapor, when allowed to enter the building shell can cause a host of problems. Warranty and insurance claims result from:

•  Damage to exterior systems and structure
•  Failure due to rot
•  Damaged, unrelated components that are not part of the building envelope
•  Mold

In areas prone to damage by water and water vapor, programs are often available to provide weatherization and energy conservation services at no cost to households with relatively low median income. Primary funding for these programs is from the U.S. Department of Energy with other funds from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, utility companies and local entities like Community Action or Habitat for Humanity... Yes...there is program assistance for those who need it, but remember assistance still costs taxpayers. In the long run, everybody pays!

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5 Things Architects Can Do To Help With Climate Change

1. Retrofit Existing Buildings

An easy way to reduce the carbon footprint is to not build new buildings. Minimize the demolition and maximize the reuse of existing structures. Transforming a building also helps preserve history and installs future promise.

2. Reduce the Use Of Concrete

The main reason concrete has a huge carbon footprint is because of the large quantities being used. A study recently showed cement and concrete is responsible for 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions. “If concrete is replaced by almost any other material, it would have a bigger carbon footprint,” said Piers Taylor, founder of Invisible Studio If the construction industry is to make a reduction in CO2 emissions, it needs a new strategic design approach when it comes to concrete.

3. Understand How Buildings Are Performing In Use

Whole life carbon is viewed through embodied carbon and operational carbon. Carbon emissions associated with a building’s day-to-day energy can be measured through information from energy bills and meter readings. This information can give architects a better understanding of how well a building is performing and help encourage them to engage with design solutions.

Understanding embodied carbon is equally important as operational carbon, and there are BIM-based tools to get an easy and fast assessment on projects.

4. Treat embodied carbon with higher importance

According to The Architect’s Journal, “The embodied carbon costs of the materials and systems we choose for our buildings, perhaps surprisingly, make up the majority of a building’s lifetime carbon emissions.” Architects oversee the design’s carbon performance.

Reducing carbon and being resource efficient goes hand-in-hand like using recycled content, the reuse of structures and buildings, and using renewal materials. To understand this the architect must understand the supply chain of:

  • What things are made of
  • Where they come from
  • Where they will be going at the end of a building’s life

5. Make sure every design has optimized massing and orientation

Work hard early in the design process to help optimize the building performance. They are basic principles but getting the massing and orientation right early on will help pave the way for net-zero buildings. Answering questions such as:

  • Is the building using more energy just because of its form?
  • Does it have too much surface area or too much glazing?
  • Is its thermal envelope easy to map?

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