Town Hall Series

Now is a time for action to step up, speak out, and get involved in shaping a more equitable, sustainable, engaged, and prosperous Philadelphia. AIA Philadelphia needs your voice and creativity to lead the change in our organization to insure that our programs and initiatives are reflective of the values we share as the design community in Philadelphia.

These conversations are timely not only because of the current political climate, but also because we are beginning a strategic planning process for the future of our association.

Recently AIA National composed a statement of values and where they stand on specific issues. The major themes of which are totally relatable from a Chapter standpoint. However, how do we react to those themes, what are Philadelphia architects already doing and what do they wish they could do more of? This is the role of these Town Hall sessions, to take the values laid out by the larger organization and discover how they fit within the context of practicing architects in Philadelphia.

The core values as developed by AIA National are as follows:

We stand for equity and human rights

Access to good design is a fundamental right, and architects are the agents of change to make this right a reality. We stand for human and civil rights, the universal respect for human dignity, and the unbiased treatment of all persons in employment, civic, and business transactions regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical abilities, or religious practices. Our commitment to tolerance is evidenced not just by the policies we adopt, but in the words we speak, the actions we take, and the buildings we design. 

This is why we advocate for protecting and expanding laws that reflect these values, such as fair housing policies, civil rights protections, and accessibility to the built environment for all. 

We stand for architecture that strengthens our communities

Infrastructure is more than roads and bridges. It is the public buildings that are the bedrock of our communities—like schools, hospitals, libraries, police and fire stations, parks and government buildings. For too long, policymakers allowed these spaces to deteriorate, reducing safety and diminishing the quality of life for millions across the nation. Architects are uniquely positioned to guide policymakers to make informed decisions about reinvesting in our communities’ essential buildings and spaces. That is why we advocate for policies that invest in well-designed civic infrastructure. 

We stand for a sustainable future  

At a time when the world is feeling the damaging effects of excessive carbon in our atmosphere, AIA will continue to advocate for policies that protect the environment by encouraging the design, preservation and construction of high-performing buildings. Reducing the carbon footprint of buildings is not just good for the environment; it’s good for business. According to a 2015 study, from 2011 to 2014, the green construction market generated $167.4 billion in GDP, supported over 2.1 million jobs and provided $147.7 billion in labor earnings. That is why we advocate for policies that lead to energy efficient, carbon neutral buildings. 

We stand for protecting communities from the impact of climate change 

Global warming and man-made hazards pose an increasing threat to the safety of the public and the vitality of our nation. Rising sea levels and devastating natural disasters result in unacceptable losses of life and property. Resilient and adaptable buildings are a community’s first line of defense against disasters and changing conditions of life and property. That is why we advocate for robust building codes and policies that make our communities more resilient.

We stand for economic opportunity

Architects, the backbone of the nation’s design and construction industry, are entrepreneurs and small businesses. Working in offices, storefronts, and home offices in every community, design firms do more than simply create great spaces: they create well-paying jobs and opportunity. But with narrow profit margins and increasing costs of running a firm, many struggle just to meet their business plans. 

We stand for federal policies that help firms thrive, not hold them back. That means a tax code that treats architects fairly, small business programs that provide loans and financing support and programs that give small firms the chance to compete. That is why AIA advocates for policies that ensure small firms remain strong contributors to the nation’s economy.

We stand for investing in the future 

A generation of young people is being held back by a lack of access to education and the crushing burden of student debt. Nowhere is this truer than in architecture, where recent graduates are often forced to leave the profession to pay down student loans. Without a pool of qualified architects to design buildings, projects will not move forward, stifling economic development. That is why AIA advocates for policies that provide better access and financing for young people to enter and remain in the profession of architecture.

We speak up, and policymakers listen

Together, AIA members carry a powerful voice for the values they uphold in their practices each and every day. As natural facilitators and problem-solvers, architects stand ready to develop new policies that create a better, stronger, and more equitable and sustainable society. Through a culture of values-based advocacy, AIA members are committed to engaging in the policy-making process and to focus the power of design on solving the challenges facing our great nation.