Monday, October 1 was World Architecture Day. This year, the American Institute for Architects’ (AIA) public awareness campaign is Blueprint for Better, spreading the impact that architects have in their communities.
The idea is that architects should make more of an effort to get their voices heard when civic decisions are made. That means connecting with communities, civic leaders, and elected officials. When these groups are in dialogue with architects and their clients, it is possible to create stronger communities through new buildings.
According to the AIA website, “The campaign’s media and public relations efforts include a partnership with innovative outlets like Wired, a continuous presence at the 2018 Conference on Architecture, sponsorships, and events such as Civic I/O at SXSW.”
The organization also runs the 2018 Film Challenge, through which architects create short documentary films that highlight the fruits of these civic relationships.
The Blueprint for Better website also recognizes many of the projects architects have worked on to improve communities. This year, AIA makes note of innovations in school security, how improved sustainability has created prosperity, and issues of homelessness, inclusiveness, and disaster recovery, among other topics.
Few people realize just how important architecture is for healthy communities. Single-use buildings, for example, can create urban deserts where it is hard to find groceries, restaurants, convenience stores, or any number of other community necessities. Mixed-use—especially at street level—can make a community more vibrant, bringing people onto the streets and improving the health and security of that community.
While a client may not think of mixed use as important for their goals, they may nevertheless be open to street-level mixed use once it is presented to them.
These and other issues are being raised through AIA’s Blueprint for Better campaign. With World Architecture Day just past, it is good to know that architects are thinking of how their works fit into the communities to which their buildings will contribute, and that they are designing with those communities foremost in mind.