Tipton Housewright
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Tipton Housewright

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Why AIA Matters

As an architect, I work in the greatest profession I could ever imagine. There is no other profession where creativity, problem solving, technology, and influence on the world are so thoroughly intertwined. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Nothing else would compare to the life experience of a practicing architect.

So how can a practicing architect be most effective and have the most impact?  I believe that for a practicing architect to be effective, he or she must have both education and experience.  (NCARB agrees with me, by the way!)  The more accumulated education and experience that architect has, the more effective, influential, and successful she will be. 

For me, the AIA has been a place of extraordinary education and experience.  Sure, I learned a lot and gained a lot of experience at the firms where I worked.  However, my learning accelerated exponentially by being involved at the Chapter level of the AIA.  I was given leadership opportunities that shaped me, gained valuable insights from the architects I served with, was mentored by older and wiser architects, and gained life-long friends that encourage me today.  Not a bad value for a few hundred dollars a year in dues.   As an employer, I will gladly provide flexibility in my staff’s schedules so that they can participate in activities and committee work at our Chapter.  I know it makes them more effective collaborators and leaders which is exactly what I am looking for at my firm. 

It seems to me that every employer should ask themselves why they would not pay the modest amount of dues for their staff to join the AIA when participation has benefits so rich and so tangible.  It is easy to fall into the trap of paying AIA dues for senior members of your firm and exclude entry and mid level employees.   While it may look like a benefit that senior firm members have earned, it excludes precisely the architects that need the AIA experience the most.  Did you know that in 2015, AIA Dallas reduced associate dues?  This was done to make it easier for employers to get their younger staff involved in the AIA sooner. 

The question of who pays AIA dues comes down to who sees the value.  In a day when all of us are concerned about attracting and keeping talent, it only makes sense to invest in that talent.  The payment of AIA dues and the flexibility to participate come down to a question of firm culture.  What does the firm value?  What does it stand for?  Will it actively assist interns to complete IDP and get licensed?  Will it encourage and support participation and investment in the AIA?  

I am grateful for the education and experience I have gained by remaining an active member of the AIA and I look forward to providing those same benefits for everyone at my firm.

Tipton Housewright, FAIA