I just returned home after attending and speaking at the 2012 convention of the American Institute of Architects in Washington DC. I’ve been a member of the institute for many years and have always enjoyed attending the convention. While last year’s event was held in New Orleans and next year’s will be in Denver, it was just a few years ago the event was in Miami. It would be great if a future convention were held in Tampa Bay. Certainly a plausible scenario as the president elect of the institute is Tampa Bay’s Mickey Jacob, FAIA.
In addition to speaking at the convention and attending several classes (especially on sustainable design), I was fortunate enough to attend the keynote speech by historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough. Mr. McCullough's newest book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, should be a wonderful read. I plan on picking up a copy from the Bloomingdale library and can't wait to jump in. I've thoroughly enjoyed some of Mr. McCullough’s other books (James Adams, 1776, The Great Bridge) and expect this book will be every bit as good as those.
Mr. McCullough’s words to a room of several thousand architects were truly inspirational. Though really hard hit by the current recession (the profession has shed some 66,000 jobs in the last few years), architects have it in them to inspire and create better homes, churches, offices and cities. In fact, the greatness of many civilizations is measured by the cities and buildings they built. Maybe, Mr. McCullough advices, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic if we built cities that encouraged, rather than discouraged, walking. I, like so many expatriate Americans before me, know firsthand how a leisurely stroll through Paris ends up taking all afternoon, surely a wonderful way to shed all those calories taken in at lunch.
So Mr. McCullough advised us to look to the past when designing for the future. He encouraged us architects to collaborate not only with who are here with us today but also with all of those who have come before us. And he admonished us that “History, however expressed, is an antidote to the hubris of the present, and we will be judged by history no less than those who went before us.”
And by the way, I recently met two graduating seniors at Newsome High. Both plan on attending architecture school in the fall and both weren’t concerned about the recession and current poor job prospects for architects. To those two young adults, you should know that current projections are that the profession will add about 75,000 positions in the next 4 to 6 years. So good luck and have confidence that there’s a great future in architecture for you.