George H. Miller, FAIA, and Clark D. Manus, FAIA
Ron Solomon Copyright George H. Miller, FAIA, and Clark D. Manus, FAIA

The January issue of ARCHITECT tackles the future of the profession. It’s a bold move. Like Yogi Berra said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Yet, as readers of ARCHITECT have come to know, the editors do not shy away from any issue that might have an impact on architects—hence the name of the magazine—even the difficult ones transforming our profession, our clients, and the public we serve. They’ve been doing it for years. Beginning with this issue of the magazine, the AIA and Hanley Wood will be doing it together.

Every month ARCHITECT will take on a timely topic—healthcare, sustainability, the education of the profession. And every month on these pages readers will find a forum for member voices, news from AIA components around the world, features, and the Institute’s perspective on matters of particular concern to the members—like the future.

What about the future? This much is clear: The issues of the 21st century—transportation, health, safety, land use, energy, affordable housing, and, of course, sustainability—are at their core design matters that require the core competency of architects. This is the good or at least hopeful news about the future. Now comes the hard part: bringing to light the possibilities of what could be a golden age for design thinking. It’s not the work of a single architect or firm, however talented. It’s even beyond our profession and industry.

What’s called for is a carefully thought-out, integrated approach that aggressively pursues strategic alliances, helps shape legislation and regulation that put in place the right framework for a healthy profession, works with the schools to make sure the next generation of architects is prepared for the future, sponsors the research that brings to light knowledge resources that make a difference, and educates the public on the ways in which design and architects elevate and enrich the human experience. These are just the most obvious challenges.

It’s a formidable to-do list. Yet it’s a list we must commit to because government, education, research, and public and client perceptions of the profession are already shaping our future. Do we have our hands on these levers of change, or do we leave our future to others?

The value of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is the collective strength of the members working together on behalf of their individual practices and the collective vitality of our profession. What has maintained the value of AIA membership over the years has been the ability of the Institute to adapt to change, change that has been driven by the members themselves in response to a world that would not be recognizable to the 13 architects who founded the AIA more than 150 years ago.

This commitment to be energized rather than overwhelmed by change is what led the AIA to enter into the partnership with Hanley Wood that begins with this issue of ARCHITECT. The title of what is now the AIA’s official magazine reveals what we believe is a timely refocus on the profession itself—its challenges, its knowledge and commu­nications needs, its vision and service not only in this country, but globally. And let’s not forget to touch on the bigger picture that includes integrated media, other publications, and the national convention—a world of new opportunities for the future.

In this and subsequent issues, these dedicated AIA pages will offer a unique platform for the voices of the members, including the perspective of the Institute’s leadership, which, appropriately, will appear behind the members, not out in front. One thing more: To maintain the credibility of this section, we will not discourage different opinions. The terrain on which modern practice is built is rapidly shifting real estate. We need to hear all points of view. After all, the great strength of this profession is its diversity.

As you—and we—become more used to the opportunities being opened up by this new partnership with Hanley Wood—the different expanding ways to share information, the new audiences of clients and other fellow design professionals—we predict AIA members and architects everywhere will discover an increasingly valuable resource to help us achieve the better future we’re eager for. Of all the predictions we could make for next year, we think this is a sure bet.

Join our conversation at