New AIA President Addresses State of Architecture

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Architecture enhances people’s lives, and the emerging recognition of this effect is earning the profession newfound respect, says Clark Manus, the new president of the American Institute of Architects, in the March 7 issue of The Zweig Letter.  

In a wide-ranging interview in the weekly management journal published by professional services firm ZweigWhite, Manus said that more than ever architects are seen as “problem solvers.” As such, he said he relishes the role of being part of increased dialogue and dynamic about the importance of design and the importance of what design can do.  

“The biggest importance is really being the voice and the face for the profession,” Manus, who is also CEO of Heller Manus Architects in San Francisco, told TZL.  

Manus brought up the fact that the economic crisis has impeded the ability of many projects to take hold, which is the main challenge facing the profession. He sees the continued evolution of Building Information Modeling and the growth of collaborative approaches such as Integrated Project Delivery as the biggest trends in design, which he believes will generate a “greater benefit in the delivery of projects.” 

The emergence of the International Green Construction Code, in which the AIA has been closely involved, also will shift the baseline for the design profession, he says. A model IGCC code is expected by the end of 2011. Climate change and how design professionals can help craft solutions to deal with the alterations already underway is another major trend he identified. “We’re really talking about building efficiencies,” he said.

In the interview, Manus argued that architects need to enhance their value propositions to survive and thrive in the new economy. Concepts such as evidence-based design and lifecycle analysis will consequently become more common. “The fantasy of not having quantifiable data,” he said, “is a denier of good design.”

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