August 10, 2016

Close to 300 architecture students, professors and professionals attended the 2016 AIAS Grassroots Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. From July 7-10, attendees participated in five different tracks: Leadership, Freedom by Design (FBD), Career, Entrepreneurship and Technology.

The Career, Leadership and Entrepreneurship tracks brought in professionals to talk about best practices in their respective areas of expertise. Some sessions worked on branding while others introduced the idea of entrepreneurship and innovation. Various sessions focused on the future of practice, including virtual reality and its real-time use in firms.

Student leaders led all of the sessions in the Leadership and Freedom by Design tracks in which they shared their successes and pain points for the incoming chapter leaders to learn from and improve upon.

Serena Abouchak, FBD Director of the University of Oregon chapter said the best thing about attending Grassroots was “humbling yourself to know your problems are not unique.”

During the opening ceremonies, the 2015-2016 AIAS Board of Directors retired and the2016-2017 Board was sworn into office.

Keynote speakers during the 4-day conference included:

  • Stephen Martin, AIA’s Managing Director for Professional Development and Resources

The students were also addressed by AIA CEO Robert Ivy, NCARB 2017 President Kristine A. Harding and a panel of architects working in the DC region, which included:

Attendees also had the chance to meet with the Architect of the Capitol and tour the Capitol building. Other attendees refined their interviewing skills with mock interviews and portfolio reviews with local architects.

Jacob Resler of Andrews University said his favorite part of Grassroots was “getting to meeting people that share the same goals and interests as me.”

The various Quads also had a chance to meet and discuss issues. They also voted on where the 2017 Spring Quad Conferences will take place:

  • Northeast Quad: Ryerson University – Toronto, Canada
  • South Quad: Florida International University – South Beach, Florida
  • Midwest Quad: Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago, Illinois
  • West Quad: University of Oregon – Portland, Oregon

Dates for each conference have yet to be confirmed.

The final evening of the Grassroots Leadership Conference concluded with local firm receptions at FOX Architects, HKS Inc, Gensler and CallisonRTKL.

The last day concluded with tours of the DC region and the Council of Presidents meeting. Delegates from 61 chapters across North America convened to hear reports from the various committees and task forces and to discuss new business. View the minutes from the AIAS Grassroots Council of Presidents’ Meeting here.

Next year the Grassroots Leadership Conference will take place in Washington, DC on July 6-9, 2017.