Advancing Confidence in American Architects

March 17, 2006 · by Doug Steidl

I was asked to speak in Barcelona at Construmat, the largest exhibit of the construction industry in Europe. The topic was sustainability. I spoke not only of our concerns regarding the health and sustainability of the environment, but also about pressing societal issues such as distribution of wealth.

I was asked to speak in Barcelona at Construmat, the largest exhibit of the construction industry in Europe. The topic was sustainability. I spoke not only of our concerns regarding the health and sustainability of the environment, but also about pressing societal issues such as distribution of wealth.

Can a society be sustainable that is strongly divided between the wealthy and the poor?

I was able to relate some of the cooperation we are building through our roundtables with finance agencies, the EPA, the Department of Energy, Fannie Mae, developers, the Home builders, the Enterprise Corporation, the US Conference of Mayors, and others who, working side by side, can make a difference.

We have been empowered to think boldly, like architects, because our public policies create a strong platform from which to approach all our work in this arena.

Our RUDATs and SDATS and, most of all, our AIA 150 celebration with its “Blueprint for America” – all will help advance our commitment to sustainability.

But, I went on to say, that sustainability will not come until every member of this profession designs every one of his or her projects with a commitment to the future of this planet and the betterment of society.

When I finished my remarks, I was astounded at the reaction I received. World leaders in architecture told me they were so thrilled that the AIA has taken the leadership position in world sustainability, because they are now assured that a sustainable future is indeed within our grasp.

Wow! What a heavy load on the American architect!

But, I can attest that despite a rise in anti-American sentiment, there is nonetheless great confidence that American architects can, and are prepared to, make a positive difference. I’ve heard that confidence expressed wherever I’ve traveled – from Barcelona to Istanbul, from Paris to Beijing. I implore each of you as the leaders of this profession to make certain that confidence in the American architects is justified.

Doug Steidl, founding principle of Braun & Steidl and leading advocate for sustainable design, served as 2005 AIA National President.

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