Contributed by:
Michael Malone
AIA

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The Texas Society of Architects in 2015

Greetings, architects! As a member of AIA Dallas, it gives me great pleasure to represent our city, in addition to the whole state, as I begin my year as our president. Dallas is my home, the place I love the most in the world, and a place I owe a great deal for the opportunities and nurturing it has provided to me and my practice. While I was visiting all of the chapters in the state last year, I opened my remarks with “Greetings from Dallas, the most beautiful city in the world.” I often got laughs, but I was dead serious. I believe the place you live and practice should be the most beautiful place in the world and if it’s not, you should revaluate your relationship to your home. I believe that if you live in a place, raise your children here, and design for its built environment, you better hope the things you are doing will make it better—not only for your clients, but for everyone who lives there. I don’t think of this city just as its urban environment or the buildings, but as the folks I live with and encounter in my daily life. This includes many of you and it gives me enormous pride, respect, and a fulfilling sense of beauty.

I am excited about the year ahead at the Texas Society of Architects.  We have an ambitious agenda and hope to leverage the great support we have from members like you to create new opportunities for the whole profession.  I’ve discovered that as president of TxA, you have broad leeway to determine what areas you want the Society to focus on during your presidency.  I have areas of concern and interest that I spent my president-elect year evaluating and, with the support of the other state leaders and the excellent staff at TxA, we have begun to look into these initiatives and move them forward.  The initiatives we are exploring this year are focused in three areas:  Chapter Support, Design Recognition, and Prosperity.  These are things that matter to me personally and, in discussion with my peers, seem to resonate among us all.

In terms of chapter support, it is obvious that an AIA member affiliated with AIA Dallas, or the other four staffed chapters in the state (Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth), has a much different membership experience than one affiliated with the other twelve unstaffed chapters.  These chapters not only don’t have staff or an office to call home; they also don’t have access to programs, continuing education, recognition, awards, support and the other things members in the large chapters might take for granted.  These twelve chapters have fewer members, so they have a smaller pool of volunteers to draw on for leadership and planning.  They also have fewer financial resources.  They do have considerable clout within TxA, however, due to the fact that all chapters, regardless of size, have a board seat and an equal vote in TxA board meetings.  Beginning with the leadership retreat this past December, TxA has begun to look at the services the unstaffed chapters would like to receive and how we can help to provide them.  Several models are possible and all are being explored.

Texas is a large state with an enormous economy, a tradition of building, and a culture of construction.  A variety of economic factors contribute to this, but, as a result, we practice design at an elevated level. A great deal of quality building takes place among the more mundane construction that surrounds us.  This year, we are initiating a task force to study the creation of a state design award to recognize individuals for a long-term pattern of excellence in the creation of meaningful and beautiful spaces.  Chaired by Paul Dennehy, AIA of Fort Worth, this task force will establish the guidelines and criteria for this award, in addition to the framework for recognizing outstanding contributions to the built environment.  We are hopeful the first award can be given this year at our convention in Dallas.

Finally, and most important to me, is an initiative to better understand prosperity in practice and why some of us are able to enjoy a pleasant and rewarding life in this profession while others struggle to make it work for them.  I literally want to be able to answer the question “What is AIA doing for me?” with the completed work of this task force.  We have convened twelve of the most accomplished and competent architects in the state representing all regions of Texas and firms of all sizes.  The three things they all have in common is they are all actively practicing architecture, not consulting or involved in alternative practices, they all operate practices that offer good places to work for their employees, and provide stability for their clients.  The members of this task force have agreed to a surprising level of transparency about their own firms with a goal of creating materials that can be used to support others in their practices.  We are hopeful they will be able to mentor and support our peers to allow them to find the comfort that many of us enjoy in practicing architecture.  As the task force continues its work, we will begin to share our findings in the months ahead.

If you have questions or ideas, I would appreciate your thoughts.  Please feel free to contact me with your ideas and how you might be willing to help.  My phone number is 214-969-5440 and my email is mmalone@mmbarchitects.com.  I look forward to a visit soon.