The Congress of Residential Architecture (CORA) held its annual meeting Dec. 8 at residential architect’s 2010 Reinvention Symposium in New Orleans. After a joint luncheon with the Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), CORA members took up the eight “Call to Action” points of a position paper that four of its members released in February 2010. Highly critical of the AIA’s service to residential practitioners, the document was voted down as a resolution at the AIA national convention in June. But it has continued to circulate in digital form among CORA members, and it served at this meeting as a framework for discussion of challenges facing the profession.
Echoing one of the issues presented in the position paper, CORA members voiced concern that new professional designations, such as LEED AP, would erode the authority of architects and lead to confusion about their role. Jean Rehkamp Larson, AIA, presented the position, stated in the paper, that architecture licensure should incorporate the equivalent of LEED accreditation. “AP” stands for accredited professional, she noted, “but a professional what?”
Jeremiah Eck, FAIA, who was not present at the meeting, submitted a paper urging reform of the AIA’s administration of continuing education for its members. Approved courses provided by manufacturers, he wrote, often are “merely entertainment or blatantly commercial in nature.” Most states require continuing education credits, he noted, but pass on administrative responsibility to the organizations that provide the courses. “The result is often poor quality courses driven by the profit motive.” Other members countered that even manufacturer-provided courses had value, and that improved consumer feedback would weed out substandard offerings.
Duo Dickinson, AIA, submitted a second paper, decrying the hegemony of modernism in architectural education and professional journals and advocating greater stylistic diversity in those venues.
Dickinson, who moderated the meeting, also reported on the AIA’s response to the position paper. Despite CORA’s beefs with the organization’s policies, he said, its leadership had welcomed dialogue. “They didn’t have to put this resolution to a vote,” he said. “They took a chance.” Reflecting the seriousness with which the AIA views the concerns of residential architects, Dickinson noted, a joint AIA/CORA task force is slated to address every item in the paper. Far from reacting defensively, he said, “AIA is happy to have this dumped in their laps.”