Messages from the Executive Director

November 9, 2016: AIA Seattle Members have been heard

Dear AIA Seattle Members,

I wrote you on Friday to share our chapter’s renewed commitment to our core principles of equity, diversity and sustainability, in light of the significant political changes underway in our country.  Since sending that message, I have heard from many of you, expressing the value you place on our community and our core principles, as well as your anxiety about what the future might hold for gender equity, racial equity, LGBT people, vulnerable populations, and the future of our planet.

Many of you also wrote me to share your concern about statements from AIA National issued immediately following the election on behalf of the membership, which constituted a “business-as-usual” approach and overstated and misrepresented member sentiment. Those statements were issued without input from our chapter or members. I contacted AIA CEO Robert Ivy on Saturday to express our concern and request an apology for the post.  This recognition has now occurred and an apology has been issued.

Let me be clear: AIA Seattle will vigorously champion inclusion and stand against bigotry, racism, sexism, and discrimination. Today, our staff discussed concrete steps to ensure that our Center for Architecture & Design is a safe space for all who are interested in design.  We renew our commitment to ongoing efforts of our many member-led initiatives that seek a profession that reflects the demographic diversity of our state.

AIA Seattle will continue to champion climate action.  We will advocate for local and state policies, such as carbon taxation and stricter energy codes, that help make buildings part of the solution. If new federal policies step back from action on the environment, we will lead by example in our city and our state.

AIA Seattle will redouble our commitment to advocacy on issues our members care about, from housing and homelessness to livability and place-making. Finally, AIA Seattle will continue to find new ways for our members to engage directly in our community.

Now is the time for action.  Each year our volunteer leaders set priorities for advocacy, continuing education, and programming. In light of our shifting political landscape, the staff, board, committees and members of our strong, regional chapter will work to be as agile and nimble as we can to respond to threats and opportunities within our spheres of influence. Some of our current efforts are already extremely relevant, and some things we committed to may fall away in the face of more urgent priorities. Over the coming weeks, we invite all AIA Seattle members, committees and volunteers to refocus and align our efforts to respond to our new political landscape.

On the heels of a campaign shaped by divisiveness, we cannot fall into the trap of arguing among ourselves.  Our organization must bring people and communities together, and shape (and defend) the physical and cultural realms we hold dear. Such significant national change opens the door for our generation to lead, and AIA Seattle must step up into that leadership.  If we spend our energy on disagreement within our community, we won’t have the energy left to address the very real challenges we face.

We are in uncharted political territory. Each of us will be called on to stand by our core values, to contribute to solutions, and to lead by example. Your involvement now, as members, is more critical than ever.

We welcome your ideas for how we can accomplish that – together.

Lisa Richmond
Executive Director
AIA Seattle

November 7, 2016: To Our AIA Seattle Community

Dear AIA Seattle Members,

As we all deal with the impacts of this divisive election, we wanted to check in with you, our members. While we may come from a spectrum of political viewpoints, we’ve all survived a wrenching few months. We will face the monumental political changes in our future together.

For 150 years, our AIA family has been a place of collegiality and hope. We will continue to welcome people of all backgrounds and persuasions, and to open our doors to all that are interested in joining with us, regardless of political party, race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We will stand behind AIA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, understanding that it will take the combined wisdom of many different viewpoints to develop solutions to our nation’s pressing problems. Today, our community feels more important than ever.

Working for our shared future, we will continue to empower leadership within our profession and advocate for our community design values. As government policies and funding change, our local leadership is critically important. Seattle’s design community represents the hopeful, creative thinking our country needs to heal, and to progress. The turbulence of these past few weeks must renew and strengthen our commitment to each other, to our community and to our planet. We are stronger together.

Lisa Richmond
Executive Director
AIA Seattle

April 2015: AIA+2030 Success Story

In late March, I was honored to join a group of 20 sustainable design leaders from across the country who convened in Seattle to design the new AIA+2030 Online Series.

The move to online delivery as part of AIAU is just the next step in what has been a powerful expansion of this Seattle program. Started by AIA Seattle with the intention of providing a meaningful national tool, AIA+2030 has now been produced in over 25 cities in the US and Canada, touching almost 30% of AIA’s national membership.

Our Seattle design community rightfully takes pride in our leadership in sustainable design. We can draw on a wealth of expertise and a growing number of case studies in our professional education. AIA+2030 has allowed us to share that rich resource with our colleagues around the country, and in turn to learn from them.

The program has also helped our chapter build lasting relationships with partners like Architecture 2030, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and our many funders and educational partners.

Look for AIA+2030 online by the end of 2015.

– Lisa Richmond, AIA Seattle Executive Director


Your AIA Seattle Board of Directors recently held its annual planning retreat to identify priorities and programs for 2016. We heard from you, our members, about what you like and what you want. Here’s what we heard:

Valuable member feedback.  Thanks to you, our members, who answered surveys, participated in firm visits, or volunteered through an AIA Seattle committee. Your feedback shaped the conversation during the entire retreat, and helped us prioritize our plans for the coming year.

Expanded public programming. You shared the importance of continuing to elevate the value of good design with the public. At our retreat, we talked about opportunities to enhance and expand the Seattle Design Festival and other work of Design in Public (an AIA Seattle strategic initiative), as well as plans for new exhibits and related programming on change and growth in our city, housing and density, and fit design.

More visible advocacy. AIA Seattle’s Public Policy Board is very active on local policy and design issues, but you want to hear more about that work. Our board discussed ways to enhance and communicate our advocacy efforts so that our architect members have a more prominent voice in decisions that matter.

Continued professional education and career support. We heard how much our members value education, networking, and career opportunities. In 2016, we plan to expand that good work through an educational series on sustainable and healthy materials, a conference on mega-projects, and education on innovation and the business of building.

Changes at all levels of the AIA. AIA Seattle has been a vocal champion of Repositioning, and is now hard at work with our partners across the state to restructure the way our association does business. Our board’s goal: greater efficiency and reduced dues.

From all this input and great thinking, we will produce an annual plan, which I look forward to sharing with you this fall.

– Lisa Richmond, AIA Seattle Executive Director

July 2015: Statewide Chapters Seeking Better Efficiency and Service

AIA Chapters in Washington State Discuss Improving Efficiency and Service

As part of AIA repositioning, the chapters in our state have convened a task force to explore ways to improve efficiency and reduce redundancy. Our state is currently home to six local chapters and one state chapter, all operating as independent corporations. The largest local chapter is AIA Seattle, with 1900+ members, and the smallest is Southwest Washington, with 32 members.

Your AIA Seattle representatives are participating in all aspects of this conversation. Our chapter’s goals are to:
• Improve efficiency and eliminate redundancy across chapters
• Serve all members across the state better and more consistently
• Maintain our state chapter’s strong focus on state advocacy
• Reduce AIA Washington Council member dues

By December, our chapters plan to finalize a Memorandum of Understanding that defines new structures and working relationships amongst our components. The task force is considering models that will allow members outside of Washington’s concentrated centers of membership to leverage services available at some of the larger chapters. For example, AIA Vancouver and AIA Southwest Washington are considering a merger that would allow the two chapters to combine administrative functions yet still allow the Vancouver area members to maintain their local events and identity.

The task force is meeting again in July and August, and hopes to draft an MOU in the fall. This MOU would be reviewed by members at the Nov 20 AIA Washington Council Annual Meeting.

– Lisa Richmond, AIA Seattle Executive Director

September 2015: A New Home for Design

A New Home for Design

I hope you’ve heard the exciting news that AIA Seattle, Design in Public, Seattle Architecture Foundation, and AIA Washington Council will be moving into a shared home later this year, the new Center for Architecture & Design. With this move, a world of possibilities opens up for us to connect, inform, and engage both our industry and the public, exploring how design shapes and inspires vibrant communities.

The Center will be a place to connect and learn through exhibits, public programs, and professional education. Thematically organized programming will touch on relevant issues, including design for health and fitness, urban housing and density, preservation and adaptation in a changing city, and many more.

But we also envision it as your place: a home away from home for AIA members and our industry partners, somewhere you can connect and share ideas with colleagues in the design community. As always, AIA Seattle is for and about our members; your interests, knowledge, and volunteer involvement will be a welcome and critical part of the Center’s success. I hope to see you there!

– Lisa Richmond, AIA Seattle Executive Director

White Papers

Getting to Zero with AIA Seattle, by Louisa Gaylord

Our world is changing, and with 82% of the population living in urban areas, how we design and build our cities should be changing too. AIA Seattle recently hosted a four-part series called Getting To Zero which focused on supporting net zero design in the next 15 years. The series gave local architects, engineers and project managers the tools to create more innovative net zero energy buildings in the Pacific Northwest. By focusing on changing the mentality of creating beautiful efficient buildings, AIA Seattle is empowering building professionals to go out and change how the world thinks about design. Read More

Seattle Design Festival

Kalidespace by CallisonRTKL and Bayley Construction at SDF 2021

Seattle Design Festival

Seattle Design Festival connected designers, community members and civic leaders to explore the ways design improves our city and our lives - August 21-22, 2021. Read more


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