American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Mar 25, 2010 11:01 AM
Website: www.aia.org and many related websites for state and regional entities
Markets Served: All
Demographic: Architects and Allied Professionals
AV Membership: Yes, as Allied Members
Member Benefits: Vary at the local, state, and national level Key networking opportunity: Varies at the local, state, and national level
Key events: Annual national conference and expo, state conferences, and market-specific conferences
Don’t miss: The chance to make a presentation at one of the state conferences or at more informal events
Want to meet architects? Consider becoming an allied member of your local and/or state AIA component; for some of you, a national allied membership may also be appropriate. The key thing to understand about getting involved with the AIA is that you can choose the scale that works for you. For example, Steve Thorburn, a North Carolina-based integrator, is involved with several local/ regional chapters, as well as the California state organization and the national organization. The national AIA website publishes a full directory that allows you to drill down into the component organizations by state and chapter. (It’s a great resource and exceedingly difficult to find. From the aia.org home page, go to About>Organizational Structure>State & Local Components, and then choose your state.) From there, you can click through to the local and state websites and determine where the opportunity looks best for your business.
Leslie Williams, manager of member and chapter services for the AIA’s Texas state component— The Texas Society of Architects (TSA) in Austin—emphasizes that a little research will help you choose the best way to get involved. Texas has 17 chapters in localities from Abeline to Waco—some offer allied memberships, some do not. The TSA accepts allied members. (See www. texasarchitect.org. On the left nav, go to Member Benefits and click on the link to Allied Members.)
“The chapters and states all set their own fees and benefits,” Williams explains, noting that for some people, local chapter mixers and benefits may be the best way to network, while others may want to take advantage of the state’s annual conference and expo. Allied memberships to the Texas organization are $250 for an individual or $625 for corporate (three memberships). Benefits include access to (and discounts on) the annual conference (held in October in San Antonio, Texas) and all other events, a magazine and newsletter, discounts on mailing labels that market your membership, and a listing in an annual handbook and membership directory that serves as a year-long reference for member architects.
Like many AIA components, Texas solicits presentations for its conference and expo (some states accept proposals from non-members). If you’re an expert on green AV or on digital signage design, you may want to develop a presentation and submit it for consideration. Check the websites for submission guidelines and deadlines. Educating architects and presenting your expertise to that audience is at least as good an opportunity as presenting to your peers. Some AIA chapters also accept more informal presentations throughout the year—if your presentation is accepted, it counts toward certification credits for the architects who attend.
At the national level, in addition to the national conference and expo, you can take advantage of market-specific communities and related events held for markets including justice, education, retail and entertainment, residential, worship, healthcare, and corporate. There are committees for green, education, design-build, and more as well as a group devoted to small-project practioners. Again, drilling down is key to determine which of the AIA Knowledge Communities and Committees are the best networking environment for you.
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