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President's Message 2019
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 President’s Message

 April 2020 / Q1

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank you for your continued support of our Chapter. While the first two months of 2020 seem like a distant memory, it is important to recap the success we have had, and to maintain our expectations for the remainder of the year.

We began the year with a sold-out Design Awards Gala, where we gathered to honor design excellence in projects completed by chapter firms and within our boundaries. Through our ongoing programs, the Chapter offered CE credits to attendees on a monthly basis, covering topics such as risk management, contracting of consultants and earthquake resistant technologies. Our social events expanded to include a bi-monthly BARchitecture series. In February, Chapter VP Charles Bryant and I had the opportunity to attend the AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference in New Orleans, an inspiring trip that Charles has reflected on below. Our strong and active Fellowship Committee has been working with a robust list of potential candidates from our chapter, coaching them on the preparation of their respective applications for 2021 Fellowship.

During that same time, COVID-19 has become a household name, not only for the impact it has made on public health, but in many respects, due to the degree of uncertainty it places on our immediate futures. Within a few days, we saw our County and State issue “Safer at Home” orders which have severely limited our physical interactions with one another. By now we are all aware that the A’20 Conference on Architecture, which was scheduled to take place in Los Angeles, was canceled due to health considerations. There is always a level of anxiety about cyclical recessions in our industry, but the extent of the current pandemic is equally as concerning as it is unclear.

While the pandemic has engendered a great deal of uncertainty, it has also underscored our capacity for resilience. Many industries have faced the prospect of immediate shut down, yet rather than disappear completely, we have seen businesses retool their entire operations models. Needless to say, we are fortunate that construction is still considered an essential service in California. In a recent survey of our members, we learned that most of our chapter firms have migrated their operations to remote workflows. This pivot represents a major change in workplace dynamics, and begs us to confront questions such as: How best should we collaborate from home? How do we propagate an engaging “firm culture” without employees sharing physical office space?

Outside of our own practices, clients are certainly beginning to reconsider which programmatic elements are essential to their projects. Far beyond providing form to a client’s program, the value of our work has always included a constant rethinking of the dynamics of human interaction. Especially in times of pandemic, we must not be deterred from our responsibility to imagine ever-better places of habitation. Architects are future-thinkers, and we must reaffirm that fact as we continue to advocate for the highest and best uses of space.

In any time of change, it is the consistency of our communities and institutions that provides us with value and support. In response to the pandemic, our chapter is pivoting toward online- and web-based events and programming, as required to maintain the public health of our community. We have limited our physical presence in the Chapter Office, but will continue to maintain our standard office hours. As always, Stacie and Emily can be reached via email or voicemail (messages are monitored regularly).

Thank you again for your ongoing support of the Chapter. We will continue to serve the needs of our membership and to advocate for architects, especially in this unprecedented environment. We look forward to having you join us at future events and in the meantime, we look forward to hearing from you.

Varoujan S. Movsesian, AIA

AIAPF Chapter President, 2020


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