In 2008 & 09, I had the great opportunity to develop and run a design competition for AIA Ohio that benefited habitat for humanity affiliates here in Ohio with more energy efficient and healthy homes. The competition was a great effort by individuals throughout the state, as we worked with 3 affiliates which all received new designs as a result of the competition and have constructed them since the competition.
As a part of the competition we were able to pull in some great jury members such as Roger Beck who built the first LEED Platinum home in Ohio with high school students, Mandy Metcalf from Environmental Health Watch, Betsy Pettit from Building Science Corporation, Ed Mazria from Architecture 2030 as well as a few other Ohio architects. What inspired me to organize this competition was some of the experiences that I had working with what was the Cleveland Green Building Coalition and Jim LaRue with my first official introduction into building science. As well as my experience with volunteering my time to produce the construction documents and help build the LEED Platinum home in Columbus, Ohio. I wanted to help provide this opportunity I had to others. Then attending the 2008 AIA National Convention in Boston and listening to Millard Fuller tell us, “To you incredibly intelligent and talented and highly educated men and women, you have a huge responsibility. No city is so well off that it can afford to squander a part of the next generation, and when we don’t provide adequate shelter for families, we are consigning a large number of the next generation to prison, to a life of not living up to their potential.” I knew I was doing the right thing.
So after two years and 3 successful construction projects, the competition resurfaced. The overall competition winner, a co-organizer and one of the lucky habitat affiliates presented the competition at the 2011 USGBC GreenBuild Expo in Toronto. So I would like for you to enjoy the presentation that was given and hear about the competition and the experiences gained by not only the competition winner but the habitat for humanity affiliate.
Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the 2011 AIA Ohio Valley Region Convention in Dayton, Ohio as a panelist for the topic “Alternative Career Paths in Architecture”. I represented myself as part of the home performance industry, performing home energy audits and quality control/quality assurance inspections. As a part of the panel, I feel that I was the furthest outside of the box from being in the traditional architectural field. Other fields or paths related to architecture that were represented were, specifications writing, historic preservation, university planning department, state architects office and web comics. The panel was moderated by Lee W. Waldrep, Ph.D who wrote the book Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design and moderated similar panels at other conventions such as the 2011 AIA National Convention.
The overall convention was invigorating. It not only re-energized my spirits, but helped show me some directions that I can take my career. I also had the opportunity to network and talk with some colleagues that I have not seen in the past year or so, as well as meet a couple of up and coming celebrities, the creators of the popular web comic Architexts. Therefore, until next years convention I am looking forward to getting more involved in the architecture profession again, even if it is just participating in AIA events and meetings.
About this time last year I had the pleasure to introduce founder of Architecture 2030, Ed Mazria as one of the 2009 AIA Ohio Valley Regional Convention keynote speakers and observe him and our other jurors judge the final round of the 2009 AIA Ohio Affordable Green Home Design Competition. I also presented about the competition and handed out the awards at the conventions awards banquet.
Last year the presentation was about the results of almost a year’s worth of planning and preparation with three different Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout Ohio. Giving our attendants the background of the competition as well as a more in depth look into some of our entrant’s submissions with incites from one of the participating habitat affiliates on how the competition would help them to move forward.
Again this year I was asked to present at the AIA Ohio Convention that was held these past couple of days in Toledo to provide a follow up to the results, as the intent was that each of the three category winning designs was to get built, and it is my pleasure to state that all 3 designs are getting built. Two are well under construction, and one is awaiting a permit. This year I was joined by one of our winning teams and habitat for humanity representative to discuss their experiences during and after the competition. Because the intent of the competition was to give younger un-registered architect a chance to take hold of a project and work directly for a client and learn more about energy efficient design. As well as provide habitat for humanity a new set of well designed prototypical homes that is more energy efficient and more aesthetically pleasing. We had a good turn out with some good information being shared by our design team on how it helped them progress and learn as well as how the competition helped one habitat affiliate bring community members together as well as foster discussion with other habitat affiliates throughout the state.
For most of us in the architectural profession, this past year has been painful. Many have lost their jobs, and a good amount of us have had pay cuts, which is equally stressful with the amount of strain it puts on our families. However I have taken the attitude that even though the time is difficult, you just need to push through it. Because even with the few jobs that are out there, the competition is fierce. I interviewed for a new job a couple of weeks ago to try and get my salary back to normal just to be able to provide for my family better, and I was up against 15 other people. That was just how many they interviewed, who knows how many resumes they actually received. Because I think the latest statistic that I heard was that close to 30% of the architectural profession is without a job.
I also believe you need to prepare for the worst. Now for a lot of us, stashing money in a savings account is not an option. But there are other things that can be done. My local AIA chapter (AIA Columbus) recently held a seminar for the recently unemployed on various issues to consider if you decide to work for yourself. Believe it or not, a lot of architectural firms get their start during a recession (article). Attend AIA meetings and other events and start networking with colleagues. Let them know who you are and what you are up to. Even though they may not have work to take you on at that time, keeping an open line of communication with others will put you in the loop when new jobs are available and that personal connection may help you get your foot in the door. Because it truly is not always what you know, but who you know.
I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Edward Mazria from Architecture 2030® last week at the AIA Ohio Valley Regional Convention. Architecture 2030 was a major sponsor of the AIA Ohio Affordable Green Home Design Competition, and Ed Mazria sat in on the Best of Show jury, along with presenting, “Architecture: On the Brink of Greatness” to the convention attendees. Therefore as I start posting season two of the e2 series, I am going to skip to the last episode on Architecture 2030 and hope you get inspired as I did.