March 8-10, 2017: BCA Architects’ President and President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Central Valley Chapter, Brian Whitmore, AIA – LEED AP, attended the Annual AIA “Grassroots” Conference hosted at the Grand Hyatt in Washington DC. The Grassroots event serves as the annual leadership retreat comprising of the chapter presidents, executive directors and emerging professional directors of the 234 chapters nationwide.
This year the Grassroots Conference aligned with two priorities which fulfill the mandates of the New Urban Agenda – a press towards investing in our urban cores as the result of a movement back toward improving urban centers. These priorities were to proactively plan for growth on a global scale and, at the same time, eliminate the building sector causes of climate change. Among the elements presented were the value of “walkable” city design; preserving existing structures; and the value that community resources like schools and places of art, culture and learning provide to urban communities. Attendees were given the opportunity to attend workshops, take tours and meet with elected officials on “Capitol Hill” to explore, see and discuss the elements of these priorities. All the while being asked to think globally but act locally.
On Thursday evening, guests were invited to attend an open house of the AIA National Headquarters in downtown Washington DC. The offices include the original “Octagon” building constructed in 1801 for the Tayloe family, and serving as a temporary White House for James Madison during the war of 1812. This structure became the primary offices of the AIA in 1898 and is preserved as a museum and gallery of the AIA to this day.
The history, architecture and leadership of Washington was evident in all aspects of the conference, and was supplemented with good people, food and social activities – the learning of which was brought back and shared with the practice at BCA Architects.