AIA National Conference Recap

The AIA National Conference rolled into Philadelphia two weeks ago, bringing together diversity of creative fields to share how design is shaping our collective future. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the incredible comedian known for her role on Seinfeld and more recently Veep, spoke to her approach to acting through innovation, disruption, and risk-taking. Neri Oxman helmed the second keynote, and through her MIT-based research at the intersection of architecture, fashion, 3D fabrication and ecology, delivered a presentation which was equal parts technical marvel and vibrant awe, and gave attendees a glimpse of the bleeding-edge of contemporary design. Rem Koolhaas, in his interview with Harvard Graduate School of Design dean Mohsen Mostafavi, made a case for a diversity of approaches when creating architecture.

Alabama was proudly showcased twice at the keynotes before more than 8,000 architects, once for the tornado relief project hosted by the AU Urban Studio here in Birmingham, and again for the amazing work Rural Studio has created in Hale County. It was amazing to witness our state put on stage and as an example of architectural design having a positive impact in our communities.

This is but a taste of the offerings at AIA Philadelphia – from the numerous CEU sessions covering a remarkable variety of topics, to the enormous trade show, and my personal favorite: the Emerging Professionals party, featuring hundreds of young designers dancing at the feet of Benjamin Franklin. I think the statesman would have approved.