AIA to AIA – A Staff Exchange Program

Melbourne Skyline

I made it! For the next two weeks you can find me at the Australian Institute of Architects‘ national headquarters, 41 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, VC, Australia. In February, my employer and architecture member organization, the American Institute of Architects, announced an inaugural staff exchange opportunity with our Aussie counterparts. After a quick application and selection process I was honored to find out I had been selected for the opportunity. It’s been a whirlwind of quick planning to get here but I’m happy to say I successfully completed day one in the office on May 2nd.

The exchange is set up so that I will work with the Australian Institute for two weeks, including travel to the annual national conference in Perth (more on that soon); then in June, the American Institute of Architects will host a staff member from Australia who will also attend AIA National Convention in Chicago. In order to be considered for the program, I produced a proposal that included goals and desired outcomes for the exchange in which I also highlighted the benefits of my proposed activities for both organizations. Below are some quick excerpts from my proposal, and explanations for what you’ll see as a result of my time here in Australia.

To support the American Institute of Architects’ Repositioning efforts:

  • “I will Connect with AIA staff, architects, and particularly emerging professionals in architecture through frequent messaging and communications.”  – You’re looking at it! I proposed a daily blog as well as continued social media engagement via personal profiles as well as our AIA Center for Emerging Professionals team accounts. Follow those accounts: @AIACenterforEPs & And of course you can follow me via the icons at the top of this page.
  • “I will Engage emerging professionals and Institute staff through a two-part video series.” – Beginning next week, I will be interviewing key staff from the Australian Institute of Architects to convey similarities and differences between the two member associations. In part two, I will be interviewing the Australian Institute of Architects’ EmAGN (Emerging Architects + Graduates Network) members to understand the challenges emerging professionals in Australia currently face.
  • “I will Lead efforts to expand our brand awareness, act boldly, and react transparently to the realities of the rising generation of architects.” – This is it. As a passionate staff and Associate member of the AIA, I am a daily ambassador for our mission, purpose, and brand. Hopefully these new ways of communicating and sharing better support our evolving role in the profession.
  • “I will Innovate by participating in the Australian Institute of Architects’ daily activities and Making 2014 with unique perspective of a staff team member and an architecture graduate/intern.” – My background is often a curse and a gift as an employee of the membership organization where I am also an active member. My involvement at the Australian Institute of Architects’ national conference, Making 2014, will be a chance to forget the stigma at home and embrace the unique perspective as staff support and a member.

A pause: Each year, the Australian Institute of Architects’ national conference is developed as the vision of a select Creative Director, or in this case, Creative Directors. This year’s conference theme is Making: 2014.

Making: 2014 will be a celebration of ideas, examining different approaches to achieving architectural excellence that challenge cultural, economic, social and political environments. We are intrigued by the role of the architect as the maker of environments and connections that extend the bounds of traditional practice.” 

Learn more about the four topics: Making Culture, Making Life, Making Connections, and Making Impact.

With the theme of the conference in mind, below is a full excerpt from my proposal to further emphasize how my experience and activities will impact the Australian Institute of Architects:

  • By Making Culture, I seek to Engage with EmAGN representatives while participating in the conference events. I also seek to interview the emerging professionals as part of the proposed video series. This interaction will allow me to create a culture of understanding and awareness between international partners.
  • By Making Life, I seek to Innovate through the development of connections and the creation of global relationships that will last a lifetime and impact not only personal lives, but also develop professional partnerships as extensions of personal life.
  • By Making Connections, I will Connect the American Institute of Architects and the Australian Institute of Architects by sharing information on demographics, licensure regulations, education requirements, and professional development standards to ultimately improve the course for future architects.
  • By Making Impact, I will Lead the critical conversations that will address the value of architecture from the public perspective. My hope is that key interviews and interactions with our global partners will highlight similar challenges in addressing the relevance of architecture in the public eye and allow both institutes to determine the appropriate path for heightened awareness.

So that’s what is on the task list for the next couple of weeks. Make sure you stop by here to see the progress and learn more about both of these great organizations I have the opportunity to better connect.

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