Joe McCall, FAIA
Joe McCall
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Joe McCall

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Why AIA Matters: Giving and Getting

The AIA gives us our base, our binding and our compass from which we practice.

It has earned an accrued authenticity from which we get to connect and to celebrate.

Mike Arbour recently called it our professional home.  It is, and it matters.

Many of my, and likely your friends are architects, for fairly obvious associative reasons.  Our family, friends, co-workers, professional peers, clients, vendors, and others in our life overlap, distill, and merge into our professional and personal circles giving definition to who we are.

To join AIA, we give $809.  Beyond the emblem of three or four letters, we get to harvest a myriad of initiatives, programs, resources and resulting benefits that are ongoing on multiple fronts, both in the foreground and often in the background.  Each of our levels of personal engagement within the AIA varies.  My sense is that ones’ degree of appreciation of how and why AIA matters is directly commensurate with their level of direct immersion. That is a choice, and possibly an untapped asset by some, yet to realize its bounty.  So, besides the giving of our money, we owe it to ourselves and to the well-being of our profession to also give back, reinvesting our time, talent, wisdom, and leadership.  It is not merely a public service, but a personal service that sows seeds and pays dividends, gifting us along the way. 

Such public service is not limited to the AIA, but is an obvious base from which to build.

Those friendships, sown seeds, and dividends can and have resulted in opportunities for architectural commissions as a derivative of association and referral from our AIA peers.  As with our architectural projects, our quality of service that we give is judged as well, a double edged sword.  I observe that some of the most prolific firms in the Chapter also have a keen track record of leadership in AIA as well as other civic arenas.  A fuzzy line may be drawn between marketing and service, and who to judge, if such service and leadership is in fact elevating our profession.  Opportunities abound for exposure of an AIA member’s skills and leadership both from within our ranks as well as the broader community, while accruing potential clients, contacts, and friendships.  At Oglesby Greene, we believe it matters and not only pay employees AIA dues, but credit up to 100 hours annually for public service, be it AIA or otherwise.

We get what we give.  There is joy and gratification in realizing one’s contributions to a committee, a board, or other AIA forums that have benefited others, while elevating the profession in doing so.  Just this past year, as chair of the Fellowship Committee, I received a note from a Chapter nominee, who at the end of his email stated, “…also, wanted to thank you for the work sessions over the last months. They’ve been among the most meaningful and collegial experiences that I had with the AIA”.  That is the rich gift I get from such giving.