Spring 2017 President's Report

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
— George Orwell, 1984

Happy spring, all! One can usually tell it is spring before the weather betrays the fact by the hastened pace of construction everywhere. I hope this finds all of you manageably busy and feeling the warmth of the lengthening sun.

Last month, Jesse Thompson, Jeannette Schram and I traveled to Washington DC to represent AIA Maine at the Grassroots Leadership and Advocacy Conference. While there, we had the opportunity to meet with Maine Senators Collins and King as well as staff members from Representative Pingree’s office (we tried to arrange meetings with Representative Poliquin, to no avail). We were able to discuss some of the issues that are currently top priority for our membership, including:

  • Support for affordable health care, including strengthening the Individual and Small Business insurance markets, which is what serves the majority of Architects of Maine;
  • Support for Historic Tax Credit and Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Cantwell / Hatch bill).
  • Support for Federal 2030 Sec. 433 Energy Policy legislation.
  • Rejecting the Travel Ban and Immigration Limits.

All of the Congresspersons and staffers we met with were enthusiastic about the role architects play in our society, and we hope to continue the conversations with each of them, as we remain vigilant to the changes afoot.

Anecdotally, Senator King, a self-professed architecture aficionado, was called to the Senate floor just prior to our scheduled meeting. Though the normal protocol would have been to have staff members meet with us in his stead, he insisted that they accompany us to the Senate to meet with him after he had voted. It was a rare treat to make the journey through the bowels of the Capitol and its security to experience some of the energy coursing through the veins of the complex. Senator King met us with a mission of his own: he is anxious to see CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) technology utilized and potentially produced in Maine. He encouraged us to visit the Timber City exhibit at the National Building Museum (which we did) and consider facilitating hosting the display in Maine when it ends its tenure in DC. It was truly an engaging exhibit and we have since been in communication with Senator King’s office with Jesse Thompson having stepped up to harness the momentum of that endeavor.

Board member and Past President, Judy Johnson, was also at Grassroots, but as a member of the AIA Strategic Council. The Council, also known as the “AIA Think Tank”, is charged with surveying the profession to identify opportunities and threats, and engaging in strategic planning in order to inform the goals, objectives and strategies of AIA.

Steve Rich continues as our Legislative Affairs ombudsman, tracking bills of potential impact to the profession through the state legislature. This important work allows us to take action when necessary to promote or defend the profession.

Board member Jill Johanning has been instrumental in bringing to our attention the possibility of endorsing The Maine Architects and Engineers Emergency Responder Program (ME AEER P). Commonly referred to as a Good Samaritan Law, it seeks to train architects and engineers to serve as second responders in an emergency situation under the management of professional emergency responders, performing services such as providing structural, mechanical, electrical, or other architectural or engineering services to determine the integrity of structures, buildings, piping, or other systems. The law would limit liability while performing voluntary public services during a crisis. The Board has agreed to support this legislation and assist in finding a legislative sponsor for the bill, similar to the one enacted in New Hampshire and many other states.

The Board of Directors is also actively revamping the committee structures to better address the needs and desires of the membership, including merging of COTE awards into annual comprehensive chapter design awards,  creating programs to educate members on emerging materials and technologies, hosting interactive (PechaKucha-style) design sharing opportunities, and most popularly, some no-obligations pure social gatherings. If you have an idea of something that would be useful that can be promoted by AIA Maine, member input is always wanted!

It is not too late to register for the newly renamed, “AIA Convention on Architecture”! From April 27-29, the membership of the AIA convenes in Orlando to celebrate the practice of architecture with “three days of fast-paced, hard-hitting ideas, inspiration, education, networking, and innovation from some of the industry-leading architects, firms, and building product manufacturers”.  The theme is not amusement parks, but “Anticipate”, conveyed by an exciting line-up of keynote speakers (including 2016 Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena, Francis Kéré, Hon. FAIA, Michael Murphy, Michael Bierut, Amy Cuddy, Nóra Demeter, Intl. Assoc. AIA, Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA, and Cheryl McAfee, FAIA, and announced just last week, Michelle Obama!), exploring the vital aspects of the ideas: "Anticipate Need: Design That Cares.", "Anticipate Challenge: Design That Overcomes,", "Anticipate Change: Design That Evolves."

I will be representing AIA Maine as a delegate in the election for AIA National officers. Only one seat, At-Large Director, is running opposed, and one of the candidates is Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA, Senior Associate at Arrowstreet, Inc. in Boston. Emily has held many leadership positions, including having recently chaired the national AIA Commission on Equity in Architecture. I had the opportunity to get to know her at Grassroots and look forward to the possibility of having New England represented in national leadership.

As we welcome spring, embrace the opportunities to engage in, advocate for and anticipate need, challenge and change. Our roles and voices are more important and needed than ever.

Kay Stevens-Rosa, AIA