Together, We Rocked 2019!

By Mary-Margaret Zindren, EVP/Executive Director

Writing the final column of the year is always daunting – this year, especially so. As I said to those assembled at the Member Congress in November, we knew going into 2019 that it would be a “live through this” kind of year; we had so many special projects lined up that just getting it all done, much less to the high standards we always strive toward, was going to be a feat. It was a tremendously successful year – we lived to tell the tale, and we can feel really good about the difference we’ve made for this great architecture community and for the broader public.


I’m tempted to call 2019 the “year of the volunteer” because of the many, many ways we asked members of the architecture community to get involved, and the many, many individuals who said “yes.” 2020 also promises to be a year where AIA Minnesota member engagement will make the difference in whether our long list of projects is workable and in the quality of our execution. So, thank you – thank you for stepping up in 2019, and in advance for doing so in 2020.


If I tried to describe and do justice to each and every effort of the past year, and those that are planned for the year ahead, it would be far too long a document – I would lose the vast majority of you who are reading this. Instead, we’ll keep it simple. Know that for every one of the projects, efforts and events listed, there is an amazing staff team and a core group of AIA Minnesota members making it happen. 

Special Projects Implemented in 2019

  • Moved the AIA Minnesota office from IMS to the Crown Roller Mill building
  • Hosted the AIA National Women’s Leadership Summit in Minneapolis – 750+ women in architecture attended
  • AIA Minneapolis co-developed Doors Open Minneapolis, in partnership with the City of Minneapolis – 2019 was the first year and saw 70,000 attendees attend 100+ sites
  • AIA St. Paul hosted the Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture exhibit and related events, with additional help and sponsorship from AIA Minnesota, AIA Minneapolis, MSP AoA NOMA, and the Knight Foundation, and featured architect James Garrett, Jr., AIA, NOMA, and his colleagues at 4RM+ULA
  • AIA Northern began working with Glensheen to develop partnered programming and launched a new curling social event for members
  • The Center for Architecture Task Force made foundational decisions related to structure and programming, and held our first Arts on the River Day Camp half-day session, in partnership with Mill City Museum and the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board
  • The Minnesota Architectural Foundation developed two new fundraising events, new fundraising strategies, and entered into a strategic partnership with Paul Bauknight’s new nonprofit organization, the Center for Transformative Urban Design, and their Design 2040 program, focused on growing the pipeline of design professionals
  • The Culture Change Initiative, involving more than 70 members, began defining the culture we seek to create within the Minnesota architecture community, the current state of the culture, and steps to move from the current to desired culture
  • Began the project to make Architecture MN magazine more public facing, hiring 10,000 Design to assist us with content refocusing, rebranding, and redesign, in tandem with branding of a “center for architecture” and its programming
  • Planned three architect-specific Intercultural Development programs, which are set to launch in 2020, to grow members’ ability to work effectively across differences of race, gender, orientation, and other “differences that make a difference”
  • Grew legislative engagement on issues of housing, energy efficiency, and climate action, and advocate for improvements to the State Designer Selection Board process
  • Implemented 21st Century Development research efforts and events, with volunteer researchers within our professional architecture community and partners like Juxtaposition Arts
  • Planned and implemented the merger of the Minnesota Design Team (MDT) with AIA Minnesota
  • The EDI Committee began holding learning sessions focused on the AIA Guides to Equitable Practice
  • Trained Carpenters Union members and ACEC members on unconscious bias and interrupting bias
  • Enhanced marketing for the 2020 Lake Superior Design Retreat
  • Achieved AIA accreditation for Minnesota’s state and local chapters (the accreditation application process occurs every three years)


Special Projects Planned for 2020

  • Architecture MN magazine – content and design reworking, development of digital content portal, branding, in preparation for a Spring 2021 launch
  • Climate action focus for the 2020 conference – keynote speakers, additional content, and special attention to how the conference is executed
  • Culture Change Initiative – engage AIA Minnesota Committees and Knowledge Communities in development of recommendations and incentives for action
  • Implementation of the three new architect-specific Intercultural Development programs
  • Review of governance approach and structure of state and local chapter boards and MAF (currently 50 board meetings + 5 annual board retreats + 4 annual meetings per year)
  • Continue special emphasis on growing advocacy work on housing, energy efficiency, and climate action, and work to ensure improvements to the State Designer Selection Board process receive legislative support
  • Review and revise awards programs to integrate the AIA National COTE Top Ten criteria and to
    better recognize the work of teams
  • The Center for Architecture Task Force work to establish a name and brand, finalize center governance and structure, set exhibit and event criteria, plan future efforts, plan fundraising with the MAF, continue key influencer outreach, and pursue grant dollars and sponsorships
  • Develop and implement a full-day program for the Arts on the River Day Camp
  • Launch new knowledge communities focused on Historic Preservation and Specialty Practice
  • Refine, promote, and integrate the 21st Century Development model
  • Pursue JUST certification for AIA Minnesota
  • Grow use of video conferencing for AIA MN and local chapter board meetings, and other meetings
  • Implement the MDT merger
  • Engage Greater Minnesota firms in reviewing and potentially revising the Regional Meeting approach implemented over the past few years
  • AIA Northern – Engage with city and civic leaders on prospective development projects, explore a “Doors Open” event in the Duluth region, a Glensheen exhibit on women in architecture, and exploration of partnered MNHS programming at Split Rock Lighthouse
  • AIA St. Paul – Grow past partnerships and develop new ones that focus on growing agency among community members related to creating a better built environment, with special emphasis on climate action, equity, and engagement with the arts community, including exploration of partnered MNHS programming at Historic Forestville (near Rochester)
  • AIA Minneapolis – Minneapolis Foundation-funded programming focused on action to foster high-quality affordable housing, and enhancement of Doors Open Minneapolis based on learnings from last year’s first implementation
  • MAF implementation of new fundraising software, continued experimentation with new fundraising approaches, branding decisions related to the MAF’s name and logo, and continued planning with the Center for Architecture Task Force
  • Preparing for environmental scan and development of a new, multi-year workplan for our Strategic Direction


And don’t forget these important perennial efforts that continue to be priorities for our staff and for our volunteer leaders:

  • AIA National engagement
  • Ongoing aspects of the Annual Conference & Exhibit Hall
  • Architecture in the Schools programs
  • Architecture MN Magazine – 6 issues per year (editorial, advertising, circulation)
  • Awards (e.g., Firm Award/Gold Medal, Honor Awards, 25-year, Louis Lundgren, Young Architects Award, Residential Architect of Distinction, Special Awards, etc.)
  • Collaborative building industry efforts
  • More than 20 Committees and Knowledge Communities
  • Homes by Architects Tour
  • Home of the Month Event
  • Lake Superior Design Retreat
  • Leadership Forum
  • Media relations
  • On-Demand continuing education offerings
  • Regional member outreach events
  • Room & Board events
  • Search for Shelter
  • Sponsor and advertiser cultivation
  • General operations and communications (e.g., Matrix, website, social media)
  • And surely something else, several things else, that I’m not remembering


If you’ve made it to the end of this document, thank you – and please spread the word about all AIA Minnesota is doing to bring value to members and to the people of Minnesota. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2020!

View the full December issue of Matrix.