June 1, 2016 / President's Letters

June 2016 President's Letter – A Dose of Inspiration


AIABaltimore staff congratulate Carl Elefante on being elected 2018 National AIA President.

Like apparently over 120 of you in our Baltimore Chapter, I have just returned from the AIA National Convention in Philadelphia. Despite my long involvement in AIA, this was only my second convention. But it was absolutely packed with inspiring insights in a wide range of areas. Let me share with you just a few of these:

  • Viewing the Future – Neri Oxman, an MIT professor, gave an absolutely spellbinding glimpse into the future in her keynote presentation on Friday morning. Her Mediated Matter research group looks to nature as a springboard for new materials and technologies. Her TED Talk has over 1,300,000 views to date and provides a hint of the program we were treated to. Although Oxman’s was the most striking, numerous convention presentations similarly focused on forecasting components of our profession’s future.
  • Gold Medal Couple – What a privilege to witness power couple Robert Venturi & Denise Scott Brown receive the AIA’s highest honor in their own beloved city of Philadelphia! Their seminal writings and innovative design projects have influenced numerous generations of architects. And they have made history yet again by being the first joint recipients of the Gold Medal Prize. Their case was so compelling that AIA National changed their rules to facilitate similar couple/partner gold medals in the future.
  • A Model Market –In the context of master planning for our UMB campus, it was suggested that Reading Terminal Market is a great model for what Lexington Market can be. Having now seen it myself, I can certainly understand why. Witnessing the exuberant vitality of the market with its range of delectable foods and tempting products used by a wide socioeconomic cross section of urbanites was inspiring. We should all do what’s in our power to return our own beloved Lexington Market to this kind of magnetic commerce center for Baltimore.
  • COTE’s Top Ten Plus – In viewing these projects, one sees a real maturing among sustainably designed buildings. For so many years, green buildings often seemed to sacrifice aesthetics compared to other design award winners. Especially noteworthy among the COTE winners are the Ventner Institute by ZGF Architects, a net-zero lab building in La Jolla, California, and the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building by SERA Architects/Cutler Anderson Architects in Portland, Oregon. I suggest you try this link to learn more: http://www.aiatopten.org/
  • Center for Architecture – Your AIABaltimore staff and I were provided an opportunity to speak to Rebecca Johnson, the Executive Director of Philadelphia’s CENTER/ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN. She kindly shared lessons learned from building their center over the past nine years. It was exciting to witness the center’s success in raising public awareness about our profession. Its location next to the Convention Center and the Reading Terminal Market greatly increases their public exposure. A future Baltimore Center for Architecture would be a big step that must be taken with eyes fully open. Our chapter will learn from Philadelphia and other Centers for Architecture across the nation as we move forward with this important initiative towards enhancing the visibility and understanding of the value Architects provide.
  • New Leadership – In case you have not yet heard, Carl Elefante FAIA (PVAIA member/ Quinn Evans Architects, Principal) was elected 2018 National AIA President. Carl served as MDAIA President several years ago and has been a strong leader in the sustainability movement. Many in our state worked hard to help him so it is gratifying to witness his success. Carl shared how enlightening it was for him to speak to so many members across our organization over the past several months, which brought him to fully appreciate the value of AIA. Please use this opportunity for Maryland to have a stronger voice with AIA National and let Carl know what YOU want AIA to do for you: celefante@quinnevans.com

Our jobs demand so much of our time and energies that it is difficult to make time for conventions and similar continuing education opportunities. Yet whenever we do, we typically find ourselves reenergized and reminded of what first drew us to pursue our profession.
Give yourselves the important gift of being inspired.
This relatively small investment of time reaps huge, ongoing dividends.
I look forward to hear which of our AIA events inspires you.
Thanks in advance for sharing your feedback with our chapter in this important way!
anthony sig
Anthony Consoli, AIA
President, AIABaltimore 2016
Campus Architect, University of Maryland Baltimore