Striving for Greater Inclusivity in AIA of Non-Traditional Architects

An architectural education coupled with exposure to some degree of practical experience is a strong foundation for non-traditional professional pursuits. It used to be that only during the deepest of cyclical economic recessions did we see colleagues slip away to non-traditional employment out of necessity, but now, even in a relatively healthy economy, architects willingly seek unconventional ways to utilize their training.

My firm practices in six major market sectors, and clients in all six—be they government, institutions, or corporate/commercial entities—actively recruit practicing architects as managers of their facilities programs.  Some of these managers rise to higher level strategic planning positions, but many stay project-based, serving as a bridge between their agency, institution or company and those executing new building and renovation programs.  Also notable is the awakening of the construction industry to the value of recruiting architects, particularly those engaged in design-build and PPP delivery models.

Some have followed other paths such as the fine arts, construction law, and political activism—but regardless of where this contingent is on the employment spectrum, the AIA should actively seek them out and celebrate their stories.  Anything the AIA is considering as a means to address social diversity and inclusivity also should be applied to nontraditional architects.  If we cling to a narrow definition of an architect, our numbers will shrink and we will be professionally less enlightened as we lose the benefit of these nontraditional architects and their perspectives on architecture. Through purposeful, direct engagement the AIA can support the nontraditionalists and keep the notion of what an architect can do and can become broad and inclusive.

To view James’s thoughts on other issues facing the AIA and the architecture industry, click the below links.

The Role of Architects and the AIA for the Public Good
Promoting Pay Equity, Gender Equality and Diversity Inclusion in Architecture 
Prioritizing Sustainability throughout the Architecture Profession
Engaging the Current Generation of Emerging Professionals
The Importance of Group Political Action to Architects
Promoting Architectural Innovation in the AIA
Influencing AIA’s Role in Influencing Architectural Education
We Need to Reinforce the AIA Pipeline
Live or Die: Overcoming the Architecture Industry’s Biggest Challenge