As I get older, I’ve noticed that time seems to be moving faster… 2012 has gone by in the blink of an eye. I’m already seven months in to my stint as the State Coordinator, and five months have passed since my first stab at blogging about all things licensure. 2012 was one of the first years that I can systematically point to a series of events, each building upon the last, that had a profound impact on my career, and for that reason, I can’t let the year go by without a quick look back.
The year began with me passing the torch of AIA-Pittsburgh’s Young Architects Forum to our vice chair, looking forward to the next big thing, whatever that might be. Turns out that I didn’t have to wait long to find out. In March, I joined my chapter’s executive director and board president in attending my first Grassroots Conference (over which I waxed philosophic, in a column for AIA Pittsburgh’s website). Through advocacy at the national level, for the first time, I experienced the bigger picture of our profession, and the small role that I could play in it. “Come as you are,” the marketing for the event asked, “leave inspired,” and I certainly did both. (I also left with two small souvenirs from the AIA Bookstore — a copy of “Down Detour Road: An Architect in Search of Practice,” for me, and “Iggy Peck, Architect” for my son. Both have been read and re-read several times since then, each offering sly humor and deep inspiration that I never tire of.)
2012 also marked the 20th anniversary of the Young Architects Forum, an event that was celebrated earlier that same week by a gathering of 60 young architect leaders and emergent professionals from across the United States. The event was called YAF Summit20, and, like Summit15 before it, was intended to shape the direction for the next five years’ worth of YAF focus and initiatives. The bulk of the summit, and ultimately its main focus, was the identification of the top six issues facing young architects in the current state of architectural practice. One of those six, the Value of Licensure, seemed to permeate the discussions of each of the other five, and for good reason. Some of the underlying themes from Summit – including the introductory presentation by Marsha Littell (who, at the time, was the director of training and talent management at HOK) on the generational shift in the modern workplace, and, more specifically, my breakout group’s discussion on the “Value of Licensure,” one of the six issues that we explored at Summit — have influenced nearly everything that I have written, discussed, and thought about in the months since. I also made some great friends that have extended my network far beyond my little corner of the world.
The generational shift would play quite largely into a presentation that I was in the midst of preparing for Build Pittsburgh 2012, our chapter’s annual educational conference. Titled “(Not) Just Another Day at the Office,” we looked at shifting attitudes toward the traditional office landscape, which have largely been driven by technological advancements, but also increasing numbers of Gen-Ys in the workforce. We were speaking in general terms, of course, and focusing on an architectural response to the most mundane of spaces… but I found myself fascinated by the implications into our own profession.
In mid-June — my mind reeling with thoughts of generational issues, work-life balance, toilet room details, mentorship, record-high unemployment, career detours, intrepid second-graders, and the future of our profession — I accepted the position of IDP State Coordinator for Pennsylvania. I saw the position as a way of addressing some of the issues facing the profession, in a manner best suited to my interests, skills, and mindset. Less than a month later, I attended my first Coordinators Conference, and in October, I performed my first two school visits, literally within days of each other — visiting with Pitt’s AIAS Chapter on Friday, October 19, and Penn State’s Department of Architecture on Monday, October 22 — with a trip to CMU scheduled for early 2013.
Along the way, as part of AIA Pittsburgh, we continued with our series of ARE Review Sessions, performed outreach on behalf of the profession through Park(ing) Day and CANstruction, celebrated the registration of 13 newly licensed architects, and, of course, Facebooked/ blogged/ Tweeted/ Instagrammed about topics that were relevant to the future of our profession and our region (and, in some cases, both). I suppose I actually did some real work (for the paying job) somewhere in there, too. The end of the year celebrations brought a nice surprise… and some well deserved rest and reflection.
I am greatly appreciative of the opportunities that came my way in 2012, and hope that I’ve been able to help some of you on your own paths to licensure. Looking forward to what 2013 will bring…