American Institute of Architects and their Vision for Social Welfare

Robert Ivy, the CEO and Vice President of AIA (American Institute of Architects), believes that architecture can provide solutions for many of society’s problems like diseases and natural disasters. Even though AIA’s primary focus is construction, design, and building, Ivy inspires architects to think outside of their professions. Recently, AIA’s Monthly Architecture Billings Index was in the news as its survey of the industry of architecture in the country was almost an exact indicator for the economy of the United States. The organization also announced a 10 year commitment to solving issues of sustainability and public health in cities in the Clinton Global Initiative’s meeting. They plan to fund research in universities, work on betterment of community and organize a hackathon to develop a program or app.

When asked about how architecture can help improve public health, Robert Ivy replies that design has always played an important part in public health in the history of the United States. Like when the swamps in Washington, D.C., were drained or the designing of the New York Central Park with the aim of eradicating bad housing projects and normalizing that part of New York. The idea behind Central Park was not recreation, rather the concern of improving the health situation of the public.

In the field of architecture in the past decade, academics focused on formalism, that is, they viewed buildings as objects rather than agents of social change. But that is changing with new architects who are more socially-engaged. These architects are focusing on other important factors like health and diversity of population that will be living in these buildings.

On being pressed for more details on the public health issue, Robert Ivy describes how architecture can help prevent diseases like diabetes. He states that buildings can be designed in such a way that encourages people to walk more and climb stairs instead of using the escalator. The architect, he continues, already keeps in mind various environmental factors like how much sunlight and fresh air is entering the building.

The interviewer then moves onto the topic of software and apps- specifically asking about the hackathon that AIA is organizing. Ivy responds that the spirit of competition is something that every architect knows about, and the hackathon is a way to include engineers and software developers into their field. Ivy believes that apps can be used in the future while constructing and designing buildings. He is also interested in getting the help of people from different professions in finding solutions for society’s problems.

Robert Ivy is a highly successful architect who has received many accolades. As Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Record, he led the journal to a worldwide readership. He was presented with the Crain Award in 2009 and the McGraw-Hill Award in 1998.

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