The second half of the year has just flown by and that’s because there has been a lot of good things going on for AIANJ. In July leaders from the six Sections and AIANJ met to have a mid-term review on our Strategic Goals and to plan for the second half of the year. You may recall that under the leadership of Kimberly Bunn our immediate Past President, over the course of two day long workshops, leaders brainstormed and collaborated on a new Strategic Plan with four main goals involving architects and the profession, the public, and AIANJ membership. These goals incorporate the work of all of our committees as well as collaboration with our six Sections.
Just two weeks ago, leaders met once again for a President’s Roundtable Leadership Conference, which focused on our transition over the next six weeks to our incoming President Ben Lee. The President’s of the six sections gave a State of the Section report and then we began the planning of 2017. I am very happy to say that the plan for 2017 is in keeping with the strategic goals and the collaboration between the Sections is growing.
In September, a small group of us attended the annual Large States Conference in Austin TX hosted by the AIA Texas Society of Architects. “Large States” is made up of eight state components that are single state Chapters, which NJ is the smallest, and these Chapters make up almost 50% of the AIA membership. This is a two-day conference focusing on issues that affect our members as well as AIA leadership and we share best practices in order to improve the level of service. I am very proud to say that AIANJ is right there at the top with the largest of the state components in services and activities. Probably the most important of the roundtable discussions was that regarding “credentialing”. This has been a topic hanging around AIA for more than 30 years and it finally seems that it may have enough traction to move forward. The only example of credentialing thus far in the AIA is the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA). This group was formed out of the original knowledge community on this subject. The recommendation made to AIA leaders was to create additional specializations from other knowledge communities using the ACHA as the model. Standby…
This year at the League of Municipalities, I will be making a presentation to the Department of Community Affairs Fire Safety Commission regarding AIANJ’s position on the use of lightweight construction materials and the recommendations we have made in our whitepaper, which you can download through the AIANJ website. This is an important step for the organization in which AIANJ will be recognized as the expert on this subject. AIANJ will continue to work with our legislators and educate them that legislation is not the right place for changing the building code. I personally have shared the whitepaper with several construction officials who have agreed with our recommendations.
So what I have left in my bucket list are two main items: Large Firm Roundtable and the AIANJ Scholarship Foundation. I am currently working with several principals of NJ large firms (20+ employees) to rejuvenate this adhoc committee in order to bring large firm involvement back into our seven components. I want to thank the ongoing dedication of firms including Gensler, KSS Architects, Kitchen & Associates and NK Architects. The success of AIANJ comes from its diversity in all aspects of life, but also in firm size. Last but not least, discussions have begun with the AIANJ Scholarship Foundation in order to re-energize this very important foundation, which primarily provides scholarships to architecture students on a yearly basis. Many other state components have broadened the mission of their Foundations and my hope is that we will be able to do the same.
Justin A. Mihalik AIA
AIA New Jersey President