Last month, our distinguished Regional Director, Jerry Eben, AIA, wrote a wonderful article for our newsletter where he discussed his personal optimism for a new generation of architects, our emerging professionals. I recently had a similar experience. During the week of February 21, 2011, I had the opportunity to spend a few evenings with architecture and design students from NJIT, my alma matter.
On Monday, February 21, 2011, I had the good fortune to say a few brief words at the Daniel Libeskind lecture. AIA NJ, if you are not aware, sponsors the University’s College of Architecture and Design’s spring lecture series. In preparing my remarks, I learned how our predecessors in the New Jersey Society of Architects were instrumental in establishing the State’s only public school for architecture. In addition, the lecture was both interesting and informative as Mr. Libeskind discussed his storied career and recent work. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the speaker was the turnout. Literally hundreds of students attended, it was standing room only. Undoubtedly this is in part due to the influential work of Daniel Libeskind, but I believe there is something more, the next generation of architects whose hunger for knowledge and quest for experience will enable them to lead our profession in the future.
Similarly, I spoke to 80+ architecture and design students later in the week on portfolio design. The event, sponsored jointly between NJIT’s career services department and local chapter of the AIAS, included two speakers, myself and David Martinez, branch manager for Napco Copy Graphics. David discussed the techniques used to create portfolios while I discussed content and the perspective of what potential employers are looking for. It was a wonderful event and we will be following up with the students next month to offer reviews and feedback of their current portfolios.
Now you may be wondering why I mention these events. Architecture school is demanding, with a rigor that formulates the creative problem solvers we, as a profession, are today. I ask each of you to remember the time you spent in College. Remember your drive to succeed? Can you recall the countless hours spent in studio searching for the perfect design? Do you remember the optimism you had? We were going to change the world for the better, right?
While there are signs of hope with the current economy, our legislators are forced to explore any and all ways to cut the costs of government and its programs. Recent reports in various media outlets have the State investigating the use of stock plans or “cookie cutter” design for our children’s schools. AIANJ is also anticipating future discussions on maintaining qualifications based selection for professionals. AIANJ is working hard on your behalf to monitor these and all issues, however, we need your help.
I ask each of you to get involved. AIANJ can use your expertise as we fight the good fight for architects who enjoy living and working here in New Jersey. If you can’t volunteer for our organization, please get involved as a “citizen architect”. Meet and talk with your local officials. Explain to them the power of good design and how architects are uniquely trained to solve today’s complex challenges. At a minimum, attend you local AIANJ section meeting, help us raise the dialogue on the issues we continue to face.
I often wonder what my “College-self” would think of me now. Work, AIA, family, etc. It’s a lot, I know. Most nights, I enjoy a healthy game of chicken with my five-year-old daughter to see who can fall asleep last. Like any good father, I let her win. While it sometimes feels like I had more energy at 21 than I do now, it was invigorating to spend time amongst architecture students. I ask each of you reinvigorate yourselves, stand up and be counted on to lead our profession during these trying times. Thank you in advance for all of your efforts and I look forward to discussing these issues and any issues you would like to bring to our attention.