I just returned from the national AIA convention held in Boston and am pleased to report that it was time well spent. While the convention as a whole offers little to the residential practitioner in the way of seminars or exhibits, attendance was broad and offered a good time to reconnect.
While at the convention, I had the opportunity to reconvene with the leadership of the Custom Residential Architects’ Network and participate in discussions regarding its direction in the next year. CRAN is an initiative of the AIA’s Housing Knowledge Community, conceived to address the needs and interests of AIA’s residential membership. Up until now, it has been through awkward growing pains in its first three years. Communication has been largely limited to e-mails among the more active members and an annual meeting separate from the convention. A significant change this year at the convention is that CRAN was officially scheduled on the program and provided a meeting space for gathering. Though there were fewer participants than last year’s event in Chicago, there was more substantial open discussion regarding the directives and future role of CRAN.
Another initiative which you may recognize is The Congress of Residential Architects. CORA is similar to CRAN, perhaps in a more maverick sort of way. Established independently of AIA, CORA shares similar goals of increasing awareness and support to residential architects. CORA goes beyond the architectural community to welcome the general public as well as industry associates to get involved. CORA has national chapters cropping up around the country and annual meetings as a whole. Some of CORA’s leadership overlaps with that of CRAN, so these two groups with comparable goals may grow together in the future.
Both organizations are in their infancy stage and can benefit from new blood to their membership. Opportunities to get involved are scheduled over the next 12 months, and just getting involved in the e-mail communication provides insight into the happenings. For more information, go to coragroups.org.
Having gained a respectable place in AIA’s initiative-scape, CRAN will convene in Minneapolis this fall, and additionally be a part of the Housing and Custom Residential Knowledge Community’s full-day workshop in conjunction with AIA’s Small Project Practitioners at the May ’09 AIA convention in San Francisco. For information, contact AIA.org/housing.
If you are interested in strengthening the field of residential design, get in touch with some of these dynamic leaders and add your support to these worthwhile initiatives.
AIA residential architects are beginning to be heard in our call for recognition and support. Check your local AIA chapter to ensure it is proactively soliciting and supporting residential members. Become involved and help generate programs geared to your needs and interests, such as how to grow a small residential practice.
It is clear that there exists a huge need for increased professional involvement and support to the residential design community. A lot is beginning to happen and meetings are scheduled that can benefit from your participation. Look at it as a great excuse to travel and get away from the office for some creative regeneration.