Contributed by:
Wayne Barger

Talk About It

About 8 years ago: B. T.

Good thoughts Wayne. Thank you for sharing. AIA Dallas' voice in the community is growing louder and louder every day thanks to folks like you and the fantastic staff. Getting those just entering our profession used to using our local AIA megaphone early in their career will just elevate our collective relevance as well as put them on a path to become influential community leaders. My hats off to Bob Bullis for taking the initiative to get this important conversation started.

Why AIA Matters

“It’s more than three letters after your name.”

That’s how Kirk Teske, new AIA Fellow and former AIA Dallas President, opened his entry in last month’s “Why AIA Matters” blog – our series of posts by various Dallas-based architects on the value of AIA membership.

For much of my career, AIA really was just three letters after my name. Since all the practices and organizations I’ve been a part of paid for AIA membership, it was a convenient vehicle to convey to the world that I was a legitimate, licensed architect and qualified to offer professional services. Active AIA involvement did not extend much beyond that nice honorific on my business card. Some of you reading this may have gone through that phase in your career or know fellow architects who view AIA in this manner.

I first added those “three letters” way back in 1987, but in my career, I could be considered a latecomer to active AIA involvement. My current role as Treasurer of AIA Dallas has given me a better perspective on the broader scope and value that membership brings. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the vibrant design community we have in this city, and I’ve been fortunate to meet some to some incredibly creative and dedicated individuals.

Mostly, membership gives me access and leverage. Access to a range of services and educational offerings that even a large practice like RTKL does not offer—not to mention a deeper, wider pool of like-minded professionals. But membership also benefits the smaller practitioner by giving them a megaphone on the key issues impacting the industry, whether they be issues of professional practice, ethics or public policy. Within the AIA, there are no small voices.

Until I started serving as the “money guy” for AIA Dallas, I was not aware how well my own firm supports AIA participation at both the Associate and Full Member level. At RTKL, all full-time employees are reimbursed for up to two professional memberships. Most choose AIA as the primary membership and, for the second, one with a complementary, more concentrated focus, such as ULI, USGBC, CSI, etc. For us, it’s an easy and wise investment in not just our people but our profession.

In combination with AIA Dallas’ initiative to reduce dues for Associate membership, it’s important for large firms to provide a vehicle for young architects to gain a stronger foothold in the profession and to show support for their profession’s primary advocacy organization. Offering reimbursement for membership dues at all levels is a big step in the right direction.