What has the AIA done for me lately?

Tomorrow will be the commencement of the 2009 AIA National Convention and will be culminating on Saturday, May 2, 2009. This year's host city is San Francisco.

With 80,000 full AIA members strong, the American Institute of Architects is probably one of the "leading professional membership associations for licensed architects, emerging professionals, as well as other allied professionals." It was established in 1857 in New York City "to promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members" and "elevate the standing of the profession".

Prior to getting my architect's license in the United States, I was already licensed as an architect in the Philippines. However, since I am a permanent resident of the United States, I felt compelled to get that coveted three letters after my name: "AIA".


What's in a name anyway?

Some of my colleagues and I would have constant debates about the significance of having these three magical letters after our names. Why can't we just settle for being called simply an "architect", much like during Frank Lloyd Wright's time when he simply wrote "architect" after his name? Or perhaps approach the term with childlike astonishment the way Ted Mosby (from the tv show "How I Met Your Mother") does whenever he calls himself "architect". I have to explain that some of these colleagues are also part of my Taliesin family and we have learned that Frank Lloyd Wright himself was not a member of the AIA. There was that long struggle of "should I" or "should I not" be part of the organization.

So what has the AIA done for me lately? When I served as Board Director (Associates) for the Central Arizona Chapter of the AIA, I have learned that what you get from it, or any organization for that matter, is directly proportional to what you put in. If you have not invested time or talent in it, then yes, you may come away with less than what you expected for the membership you paid. As an architect, aside from the natural jolt I get whenever I sign my name with "AIA", in retrospect, it did open a lot of doors for me to grow professionally. Aside from the numerous Continuing Education, field trips, sponsored events and competitions, it has helped me foster relationships with other architects in the industry that I never thought possible. For the most part, it has helped me elevate my game up a notch.

There are numerous avenues on how to become a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Membership Categories:

Full Architect Member (AIA)
Individuals licensed to practice architecture in a U.S. state or territory.

Associate Member (Assoc. AIA)
Assoc. AIA is open to individuals who meet one of the following criteria:
*Recent graduate with a degree in architecture
*Currently enrolled in the Intern Development Program (IDP) and working toward licensure
*Currently work under the supervision of an architect or hold a degree in architecture
*Faculty member in a university program in architecture

International Associate Member (Int'l Assoc. AIA)
Individuals who have an architecture license or equivalent from a non-U.S. licensing authority.

Honorary Member (Hon. AIA)
A person of esteemed character who is not eligible for membership in the Institute but who has rendered distinguished service to the profession of architecture or to the arts and sciences allied therewith, may be admitted to Honorary Membership.

College of Fellows (with an "F" added to the acronym)

The College of Fellows, founded in 1952, is composed of members of the Institute who are elected to Fellowship by a jury of their peers.

Allied Individual Member
Individuals who do not hold a degree in architecture but share a special interest in the built environment as a professional colleague or enthusiast.

Cornerstone Partner
A special partnership is available for those companies that are either a building product manufacturer, service provider to architects, or trade association.

For those architects flying in all the way from the Philippines to attend this year's convention, I look forward to bumping into you during the convention.

I will be tweeting my way through the conference and you can follow along if you're a bit curious. My twitter handle (liraluis) is listed in the Official AIA Twitter Roll:

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