Each month, the AIAS highlights the outstanding dedication and accomplishments of one of its members. The Chapter Leader of the Month can be a Chapter President or any member who has shown tremendous leadership.



Rafael Rico is enrolled at the University of Memphis studying architecture + interior design and currently serves as the 2017-2018 AIAS President for the University of Memphis chapter.

This year, Rafael has worked closely with his board to ensure that the 2017-2018 year will be both productive and beneficial for all members in his chapter. He has also worked to coordinate firm visits which has given undergraduates the opportunity to gain an inside perspective on how firms operate day-to-day. These firm visits usually consist of a tour of the office followed up by an actual site visit of a project.

South Quad Director Sarah Curry says “Rafael has been actively connecting with other universities in Tennessee to engage AIAS members across all chapters via firm crawls, site visits, AIA events, and professional and design workshops.”

Rafael’s ability to connect and engage with members is reflective of his natural leadership ability. He also believes that it is important to be inclusive and to engage members across all years. He mentions that “every year we have a kick-off party to engage the upper years with the lower years to welcome them to be part of the family.”

One of the AIAS University of Memphis’s biggest accomplishments is Carpenter Art Garden (CAG) service project. Every summer, for the past 2 years, they’ve conducted an AIAS Design + Build Studio with CAG. Rafael explains “We have built a study pavilion, a stage cover, a vegetable selling cart to sell vegetables grown in the CAG gardens, benches, hammock stations, and painting pavilions.”

Rafael believes that the AIAS is much more than just an organization, but instead a community that fosters professional connections and brings unity to architecture students.