June Message from the AIA-NJ President

I don’t know about you, but I always find late Spring to be a busy time of year.  For those of us with children, the school year is wrapping up.  Graduations are upon us.  Little League is going full steam ahead towards the playoffs.  Families are planning their summer activities.  Memorial Day has just passed and we pause during this busy time to remember not just our members, but all the brave men and women who served in our armed forces to protect the freedoms we cherish.  I appreciate living in a country where I can live my dream of being an architect, where I was able to marry my best friend and where my children will have the opportunity to freely pursue their own goals and dreams.  AIA New Jersey capitalizes on our freedoms by freely speaking out to support or question our government as we advocate for our members.  However, your AIA New Jersey leadership cannot do this in a vacuum, we need to hear from you…

In my past articles for this newsletter, I have asked you to contact me with issues concerning your practice.  While the response has been modest, I am encouraged by some of the feedback I have received.  Let me share one example- I was approached by a firm that practices in every state of the union and both Mexico and Canada.  It was brought to my attention that New Jersey is one of only a few states that does not have comity (fancy word for reciprocity) with Canada.  If New Jersey firms did not have to partner with our Canadian colleagues, it would increase revenue for firms here in New Jersey and possibly create additional jobs for some of our transitioning members.  Our organization is working to change the legislation to allow comity.  Often, I hear the question, “What does the AIA do for me?”  The five percent of you (a statistic I made up for this article) that read this column already know the benefits of membership.   However, many don’t speak up.  Your leadership has a great grasp on the issues of the day, but we still need to hear from you.  What more can AIA New Jersey do for you?  Please let us know.  The more we can do for you, increases your value in membership.

Another example of “What AIA do for me?” is AIA New Jersey’s Legislative and Government Affairs work.  We monitor over 3oo bills annually on your behalf.   We became of the Governor’s recent announcement of his intention to withdraw New Jersey from RGGI. Climate change is a regional issue which must balance economic vitality with pressing environmental concerns. RGGI participation has generated more than $29 million in funds for clean energy and energy efficiency work in the State while significantly reducing emissions in the last two years. The decision to change direction should not be made without concensus around an updated State Energy Master Plan (EMP). AIA-NJ looks forward to the opportunity to have a meaningful dialog on RGGI and the EMP with the administration and work together to delineate a practical and implementable approach for a sustainable region and State.

On a different note, New Jersey recently sent a delegation to the AIA National Convention in New Orleans.  Personally, I had a fantastic time and I’m sure there are photos and videos finding their way around the internet that prove it.  I left New Orleans with more than just a hangover, there was inspiration to be found!  We were all inspired by the City that continues to rebuild after Katrina.  We were inspired by the promise of AIA’s newly elected leadership and proud of the campaign of our own, David DelVecchio.  We witnessed the induction ceremony for the College of Fellows and we honored Robin Murray, New Jersey’s newest FAIA.  Robin has served the AIA at all levels in a variety of capacities and her service is exemplary and continues to inspire all of us.

Finally, if you are not inspired enough, I recommend all of you watch President Obama’s speech from the Pritzker Prize award ceremony.  In a speech that puts blue or red politics aside, he recognizes the power of architecture and the effortless grace of this year’s recipient, Eduardo Souto de Moura.  I’m sure you can find it on YouTube.  It’s worth the five minute distraction.

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