2022 AIA Dallas President's Mid-Year Update

I write to you at the halfway point of 2022, feeling as if we just started another eventful year.

Greetings AIA Dallas,

I am fresh off an exciting national convention in Chicago. I met colleagues and experienced the best of our profession in a city with some of the most thrilling architecture to be found anywhere. My experience reflects in many ways what I hoped 2022 would be. Gathering again, celebrating with friends old and new, believing we can stop looking over our shoulders and focus on the future. It was wonderful to lean into anticipation of lessons to be learned, free to rediscover each other and our world.

For me a critical part of that rediscovery is remembering our collective strength. President Obama’s inspiring keynote conversation with AIA President Dan Hart, FAIA, spoke to our ability to provoke change. They challenged us to harness our creativity to combat the design deserts in our communities, where those with fewer resources are most in need of our skills and energy. We were confronted with the truth that many of us decry these deserts while failing to support the broader distribution of affordable housing that might mitigate them, a call to align our actions and values. We also were reminded, via a hilarious food analogy, that the perils of over-consumption can lead us to substitute availability for an economy of means undermining our sustainability goals.

The good news is we have many committed hands and hearts to put to this work. Our chapter exhibits this daily as we go about our mission to advance the transformational power of architecture. We are implementing our strategic planning priorities and continue to build momentum in the four major areas of our plan: advocacy, membership, partnerships, and organizational excellence.

Advocacy is advancing on multiple fronts. We continue to engage local leaders in Coffee and Conversations around critical issues (urban planning, transit, permitting) shaping our city. We are preparing for next year’s legislative session by highlighting topics in a new advocacy newsletter championed by Norman Alston, FAIA. Norm and our new TAC trustees invite anyone interested in shaping our future legislative efforts to participate in our training and mentorship efforts launching this summer. Our first Architecture on Tap on Active Inclusivity will be echoed at our August AoT by an EDI Forum on Leadership moderated by Steven Upchurch, AIA, that I encourage all to attend.

A look at membership is more complicated. We have enjoyed continued economic vitality and robust job board listings convey meeting demand remains a challenge. Our chapter has welcomed many new licensees with little growth in total membership, as many do not renew beyond the free introductory period. The Board has formed a team led by Amanda Adler, AIA, to examine how we communicate the full benefit of belonging to the AIA and bridge this gap. The Board calls on our firms and members to provide broader support for those who wish to engage with the profession via the AIA. We do have wonderful examples of those answering the call to leadership in our four new AIA Fellows:  Paul Dennehy, FAIA, Michael Hellinghausen, FAIA, Stephen Pickard, FAIA and Ron Stelmarski, FAIA. Congrats to you four.

Our pursuit of organizational excellence is personified by our dedicated staff who consistently deliver in many forms to make the Chapter and AD EX a resource for us all. For example, we are beta testing an app created by our own marketing lead Elizabeth Jones, Assoc. AIA, which connects us with events and each other. We will continue to improve our communications, digital and otherwise, so stay tuned in the second half of 2022.

The staff also builds our partnerships with allied members and organizations to bring more energy to our initiatives. Tentpole events including our Golf Tournament and our LiA Sporting Clay Classic underpin our budget and both outstripped projections thanks to their efforts. A reinvigorated Tour of Homes and a bigger, badder Impact Dallas Gala are sure to be spectacular as well. This has all created a steady financial position allowing us to broaden our reach. To build on this momentum, our Treasurer, Charles Brant, AIA, reset our Board’s Finance Committee, tasking them with outlining strategies to guide our fiduciary future and maintain the resiliency needed to achieve our program and scholarship goals. This Committee is looking for additional members so please consider serving.

Whew, that’s a lot for six months with more to come. I personally am energized by the opportunities ahead. We have returned to in person gathering for work and play, made summer plans we actually expect to keep and exhaled a bit despite the extreme Texas heat. Yes, events have conspired to dampen our hope and shake our faith in each other and our shared future, yet there is evidence that yes, we can, transform the world around us. When we meet, strategize, act (and act up) we are stronger together despite our differences. It is fitting that our next convention is in San Francisco, home of the recent NBA champions whose motto I share with you as a reminder that we have, Strength in Numbers.


Ben Crawford, AIA
2022 AIA Dallas President