Message - Marketing the Profession to the Public

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Posted by  Elizabeth Geary-Archer on September 14, 2003 at 17:59:03:

I'm organizing an event for the American Institute of Architects, New York City Chapter called "Marketing the Profession to the Public". I am very concerned with the lack of understanding the general public has about architecture. (And I think it is mostly in America that we have this problem, since design is given such a priority in other developed countries and such a low one here.) This makes for poor clients who are not educated enough about design and construction to develop a quality "Request for Proposal"(RFP). Nor do most clients value architects for what they are worth in terms of fees. The dim view of architecture that the public has became very clear, here in New York, after 9/11 during the unveiling of the proposed six plans for development, which were shown on TV, in the papers and discussed about at public hearings. People didn't have the vocabulary to even discuss architecuture. They didn't understand why the models were white. They didn't know the difference between design and urban planning. But the cool part was that they were INTERESTED in the design process. Yes, the interesterest was there for very emotional reasons, but I'm just grateful the interest existed at all. How do we transfer that interest to all design projects? How do we educate everyone about architecture. Should architecture 101 be part of a base academic program? (Well, I'm sure we think so, but how do we convince the Board of Education to do so?) I'd appreciate any ideas you all may have regarding this topic. Here's the information about the event:

AIA New York Marketing Committee - Panel Discussion: Marketing the Profession to the Public
Tuesday, 10/21/03 – 8-10am at the Center for Architecture – 538 La Guardia Place (between Bleeker and W. 3rd Streets), New York City
How are architects perceived by the public? A large percentage of people can’t name a single architect. Others only know Frank Gehry and Frank Lloyd Wright. How can the profession best market itself to the public and help people understand the difference between a decorator and a designer. How can we as a profession work together to educate the public on the value of quality architecture (to public, private, and corporate life), the advantages of hiring an experienced professional, and the benefits of good design.

Introductory Remarks:
Rick Bell, FAIA – Executive Director, AIA NY Chapter

John Reddick – President, Cityscape Institute
Mr. Reddick serves as President of Cityscape Institute and has worked to guide the organization in partnership with communities, government and design professionals in creating improved parks and public spaces. A graduate of the Yale School of Architecture, he comes to Cityscape with a long history of experience in architectural design and preservation. He worked with the architecture firm of Venturi Rauch and Scott Brown on early designs for the proposed Westside Highway Park facilities, and with other firms specializing in architectural preservation. His preservation and reconstruction projects at Shepard Hall at City College and in Brooklyn's Prospect Park have received several awards including the Lucy G. Moses Award from the New York Landmark Conservancy. While a consultant with Harlem's Abyssinian Development Corporation, Mr. Reddick spearheaded and wrote the successful ISTEA application for Cityscape's first demonstration project, the Harlem Gateway Corridor (110th Street.) His civic involvement extends to numerous organizations, including the Municipal Art Society, Abyssinian Development Corporation, and he sits on the boards of the Historic Districts Council and Harlem Textile Works. He has taught architecture and architectural history at Yale University and at the City College of New York and brings these skills to Cityscape projects by developing and advancing design consensus through ongoing community, business and user dialogue.

Daniel Levy – People Magazine

Susan Chin, FAIA – Asst. Commissioner for Capital Projects, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
Susan Chin, FAIA, is the assistant commissioner for capital projects at the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs that provides funding and technical assistance to over 600 nonprofit cultural organizations in the City. She serves as the Agency’s principal liaison for the City’s capital program to nearly 130 cultural organizations, other City agencies and Elected Officials. She administers over 380 projects at museums, zoos, botanical gardens, performing arts centers and historic houses. With an emphasis on public/private partnership, her $700 million capital program now leverages over $1.6 billion in private support. She also supervises DCA’s program on Percent for Art, Artist Certification, and Community Arts Development. Her private sector experience includes: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, South Street Seaport, Riverside Park in New York City, and the Federal Triangle in Washington, D.C., as well as energy conservation and facilities management for nonprofit organizations. A few representative projects of Ms. Chin’s include: the American Museum of Natural History Rose Center for Earth and Space, and Hall of Ocean Life, Metropolitan Museum of Art Greek and Roman Wing improvements, Jazz@Lincoln Center at Columbus Circle, Museum of Modern Art Expansion, and the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo Congo Forest Exhibit. She recently completed the Loeb Fellowship program at Harvard University. Her current civic commitments include: active involvement with the AIA NY Chapter, for which she’ll serve as 1st Vice President/President-elect in 2004; serving on the Mayor’s Institute for City Design; and serving on the Capital Aid panel of the NYS Council on the Arts and the NYS Open Space Committee.

Raymond Gastil Honorable AIA – Executive Director Van Alen Institute
Raymond Gastil leads Van Alen Institute, which recently opened the exhibition OPEN: new designs for public space, presenting twenty projects from six continents where a combination of public and private initiatives have led to projects of design excellence. These range from new departures for plazas, roadways, information technology, new “grounds” from brownfields to waterways, to memorials. The Institute’s program underscores the critical role of design in urban regeneration. After 9/11, he helped lead the New York New Visions coalition and the Institute’s simultaneous independent initiative, “Renewing, Rebuilding, Remembering” on the process of cities that have rebuilt after disaster. The Institute directs conferences and competitions for key issues and sites for the future of New York, from ideas competitions for Governors Island and Queens Plaza, to conferences on design and development. As with OPEN, the Institute works to connect the best international practices to New York opportunities, as in the recent publication Beyond the Edge: New York’s New Waterfront, authored by Gastil. The New York Times describes Van Alen as “the nation’s premier showcase for architecture in the public sphere.” Gastil has taught urban design at Pratt Institute and the University of Pennsylvania, and serves on the advisory board of the University of Virginia School of Architecture.

Richard Swett, FAIA –Juror for the WTC Site Design Competition
In 1990, Swett was elected in New Hampshire to the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the only architect to serve in Congress during the 20th century. While a congressman, he served as a member of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation as well as the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He co-authored the Congressional Accountability Act – the landmark legislation that requires Congress to abide by the same laws it passes for the country. He also authored the Transportation for Livable Communities Act and introduced bills to encourage energy conservation and renewable energy. In 1998, Swett was appointed by President Clinton to be U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, a post he held until the summer of 2001. A licensed architect in California and New Hampshire, Swett is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. His experience in the private sector encompasses architectural design, project management, corporate management, project development, and finance. His areas of activity have been predominantly in real estate design and development, alternative energy development, energy conservation, industrial development, and export promotion. Dick Swett recently served as a member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's jury for the international competition to redesign the World Trade Center site. He has an insider's account of the complex design, political, social and economic issues at the heart of the 9/11 aftermath.

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