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AIA – Committed To Social Consciousness

Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA), heads the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Founded in the late 19th century by 13 architects, AIA is an organization of architects and designers.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C. today AIA has more than 90,000 members in 250 chapters located nationally and internationally. The AIA is a values-driven organization whose leadership, led by Robert Ivy, wants the industry to expand its vision to include a commitment to reducing global warming, sustaining the earth’s natural resources, and designing structures that promote public health and safety. Through reimagining the role of architects as part of the global community, Robert Ivy is reframing the role of the AIA and redirecting its resources to supporting research through a competitive grant program and involvement in community planning and other social issues. One area where AIA is making a significant impact in the 21st century is through improving public health.

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According to Ivy, most people do not correlate architecture with public health; however, he contends design has been inextricably linked with public health since the 19th century. To illustrate this point, Ivy points to Central Park in New York, designed and constructed in 1857, or draining land in the nation’s capital, which resembled a swamp after heavy rains, to build the National Mall. Architects design buildings that promote exercise and have access to natural light and fresh air. Moving into the future, architects want to be part of interdisciplinary teams to make places and spaces that promote productivity and well-being.

Two other areas that merge AIA organizational values with social change are the areas of sustainability and global warming. The United Nations issued a forecast that by 2050, 75 percent of the worldwide population would live in urban areas. In 2016, the United Nations convened the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to discuss and develop plans to address urbanization. The Strategic Council of the AIA established an initiative to embrace recommendations proffered by the UN, and Robert Ivy is working to promote this initiative. Global population growth is increasing by 1.5 million people per week, and this growth negatively affects greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas. The architects and designers of AIA are making an impact at reducing the effects of global warming through the design of buildings that limit energy consumption and promote the use of renewable energy that is carbon-free.

Robert Ivy is a visionary architect, and his innovative leadership is guiding AIA toward the merger of architecture and design with social responsibility.

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