Architecture and design touches every corner of the inhabited earth, but leaders in the industry, or anyone seeking to become one, met in one place last week. The annual American Institute of Architects Conference on Architecture was held from June 20-23 at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, NY’s west side.

Products showcased at exhibitor booths ranged from bicycle washing equipment to some of the most advanced cloud-based connectivity services, but all were tied by one theme: Blueprint for a better city.

Everything on display was aimed at making buildings more efficient, sustainable or simply more aesthetically pleasing. Ultimately, the conference encapsulated the ideals of architecture and urban design at its core.

AIA secured 200,000 square-feet of space at the Javits Center and not only took advantage of the rest of Manhattan, but New York City’s neighboring boroughs. Close to 100 city tours took attendees to buildings and homes across the metropolis to get a firsthand look at some of New York’s most impressive projects.

Building a better city takes more than outfitting existing infrastructure with new glass panels and LED boards however. AIA hoped attendees left the big apple with a better understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, materials, energy, carbon, resilience, design and health.

These principles were reinforced by more than 800 exhibitors who put products on display across myriad categories that all impact the industry in ways big and small.

For example, within the same wing of the exhibit hall were Assa Abloy, the world’s largest lock manufacturer and the aptly named Tiny House Northeast, which was displaying one of its sub-1,000 square-foot wheelhouses, which representatives told us they sell around three of each year.

McNear Brick and Block, a family-owned manufacturer was also under the same roof as ACME Brick, the provider to the new Texas Rangers ballpark build, which has an estimated total cost of more than $1 billion.

Making significant strides this year was virtual reality. Now occupying its own row in the exhibit hall, VR and augmented reality companies had lots to show off to prospective architects. 2013 Columbia University graduate Angel Say impressed with his company InsiteVR, a tool that allows architects to see what projects would look like in the planning stages, which would help predict formerly unforeseen issues.

Building a better city means receiving contributions large and small. At AIA, the architecture community showed attendees and colleagues that urban areas may very well be on their way to a more efficient, beautiful, collaborative future.