I recently returned from the AIA National Conference in Chicago, and what a week it was! It was an excellent opportunity to learn, commune with peers, and discuss hot issues facing the architecture community, including climate change, equity/diversity, and sustainability. The expansive exhibit hall was full of what you might expect: product manufacturers with the latest and greatest samples, technical software companies with products like Revit and ArchiCAD, and others who offered project management software and other items to help run a better business. In the evenings, social gatherings offered networking opportunities, sometimes with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop.

Chicago skyline at night from the river
The architecture tour by boat had some spectacular views!
Details in the exhibit hall
Fully insulated CMU cavity wall at the expo hall.

There were several keynote speeches but the two which resonated the most for me were Renee Chang and former President Barack Obama. Chang spoke about compensation surrounding architecture and construction and highlighted the need for architects to match the high level of education and service we bring to our projects. President Obama spoke about his Presidential Library and how he sees its purpose as more than a monument to his presidency. The location was chosen so the building will serve as a community center first and history second. He pointed out the importance of architecture and its influence on any community. In the case of his library, he hopes it will have a positive impact on Chicago.

art at the hotel
A little fun public art at the hotel.

This was my first AIA National Conference and I highly recommend it. It's a busy four days, but a wonderful opportunity to expand your knowledge and interact with colleagues, including other AIA PV members. Next year the conference is in San Francisco and I plan to head back again.

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