Programs & Events


About CivicLAB

Gain the skills to be a citizen architect.

Architects are advocates for the built environment. CivicLAB is an opportunity to learn from experts about the local, state and federal issues that directly affect architects and develop the skills to be an effective advocate. Learn how to use your skills as an architect to take on leadership roles in your community and professional life.

CivicLAB introduces architects, designers, and allied professionals to opportunities for civic engagement across the full spectrum of their careers. We invite emerging leaders to expand their role in critical issues facing our communities and the profession and to communicate and demonstrate the role of architecture in civic life.

During monthly sessions, participants learn the tools of engagement from proven leaders who have guided communities to achieve advocacy results at local and national levels.  Group activities, assignments, and advocacy opportunities will illustrate how we can make a positive impact within our communities.

2023 Schedule

February 8, 2023. Session 1 – Citizen Lobbying for Architects and Designers

This session will introduce participating architects to opportunities for civic engagement across the full spectrum of their careers. We invite the chapter’s emerging leaders to expand their role in learning how to respond to critical issues facing our communities and the profession.

February 15, 2023. Congressional visits in conjunction with AIA Leadership Summit (optional)

February 22, 2023. Session 2 – Urban Infrastructure and Coalition Building

Sometimes in advocacy spaces too much effort is wasted reinventing the wheel when we just need to find a way to help those already doing the work. New advocates and activists bring energy and enthusiasm, but sometimes the best course of action is to start by listening. This Civic LAB session will expose participants to Baltimore-based groups/organizations that focused on infrastructure improvements including reimagining an outdated highway and the creation of a rails-to-trails Greenway. The session will ‘survey the scene’ and focus on the skills of listening, finding the gaps, and coalition building.

March 15, 2023. Session 3 – Housing and Equitable Development

The demand for affordable housing far outweighs the supply for an increasing number of Americans. This is a challenge not just in Baltimore, but in many urban areas around the country. Design excellence can and should play a key role in addressing this critical issue. In this Civic LAB session, participants will engage in a wide-ranging conversation about equitable development, addressing its positive impacts, its challenges, and how architects can be involved.

March 22, 2023. Session 4 – Architect Volunteer

Volunteer work provides a foundation in growing towards greater civic leadership contributions. AIA encourages volunteering as part of the Citizen Architect movement because the community leadership involved in volunteering through civic engagement, philanthropy, and pro bono work each demonstrate the essential elements of what it means to be an advocate through design and activism. This Civic LAB session will feature local architects who have lent their expertise to the Baltimore community in a variety. Conversation will cover the range of volunteer opportunities available to architects, why volunteering is beneficial to both architect and community, and how to get started in seeking and pursuing opportunities to volunteer.


Selection Process

While tailored to AIA Emerging Professionals (Associate AIA or AIA members within their first 10 years of licensure) participation in CivicLAB is open to all design professionals and limited to a maximum of 20 participants. Participants will be selected on the basis of a nomination and statement of interest. Criteria for acceptance to the program will include expressed interest in becoming involved in community advocacy or prior involvement in community organizations. Participants are encouraged to get sponsored by their employee with a nomination statement; however, scholarships will be available for members who need financial assistance or are in school. Applicants may self-nominate.

Tuition and Funding

Tuition is $100 for AIA Members/$150 for Non-Members. Scholarships are available to participants for whom funding is a challenge. Tuition is due after applicants are selected for the program and prior to the first session in February.

How to Apply

Step 1: Complete the application

Step 2: Have your employer or another reference complete the nomination form. Self-employed or unemployed applicants may self-nominate.

Step 3: Pay the application fee by sending a check to:

AIA Baltimore
The Center for Architecture and Design
One Charles Center
100 N. Charles Street
Suite P-101
Baltimore, MD 21201

Tuition is $100 for AIA Members/$150 for Non-Members. Payment can also be taken over the phone by emailing Katherine Somerville at

If you require financial assistance and would like to request a scholarship, please reach out to Katherine Somerville at with a statement of need.


The deadline to participate in CivicLAB 2023 has passed. The window to apply for participation in 2024 will open in late fall 2023.

Read about past CivicLAB particpants' experiences