What’s New and What’s Next

by Mary-Margaret Zindren, EVP/Executive Director

We were thrilled to see so many of you at the 2022 AIA Minnesota Annual Conference & Expo a few weeks ago! The response from attendees has been tremendously positive, with the most common remarks being about the great content of the CE sessions and how wonderful it was to reconnect with other attendees and with the vendors in the Expo Hall, after two years of virtual conferences.

While we had a full house of attendees at the Member Congress event at the conference where volunteer leaders and staff spoke to what’s new and what’s next at AIA Minnesota and the MAF, we want to make sure every member is aware of several key initiatives that will shape our work in 2023 and beyond:


North Star Story Map –
At the conference, we unveiled this new collaboration between AIA Minnesota and Mill City Museum / MNHS. The North Star Story Map showcases the spaces and places that hold meaning for the people of Minnesota by bringing forward their personal stories. The intention is to strengthen the feeling of connection Minnesotans have to their built environment and to recognize a broad array of architecture – from iconic, landmark buildings to neighborhood favorites – as places that shape our everyday experiences and special moments. We encourage ALL members and your friends and family to contribute a story to the North Star Story Map over the next few weeks. Starting in January, we’ll be focusing on establishing partnerships with community groups across the state to further populate the website. MNHS and AIA Minnesota are planning an exhibit down the road that showcases compelling stories and photographs submitted to the site. Check it out and add your story! www.northstarstorymap.com

MAF Water Towers – The Minnesota Architectural Foundation Board of Directors developed a special way to donate to the Clarence Wigington Scholarship Fund, which is focused on growing the number of people of color in the profession. They commissioned a model of the Wigington-designed Highland Water Tower. The model, designed by Robert Feyereisen, beautifully recreates this St. Paul landmark and is both a great way to support scholarships for University of Minnesota and Dunwoody students, and makes a memorable gift! ‘Tis the season. If you’d like to purchase a water tower model, contact the MAF by emailing MAF@MinnesotaArchitecturalFoundation.org. You can also see a photo of the model in the MAF section of this newsletter.


Building Green – By all accounts, the launch of the partnership between Building Green and the local chapters of AIA in Minnesota, led by AIA Minneapolis, has been a great success. The pre-conference workshop, focused on jump-starting adoption of climate-oriented design approaches within small and mid-sized firms, was sold out and received glowing, enthusiastic reviews. We’re now entering the next phase of this partnership: opening up access to the many resources of Building Green to all AIA Minnesota members for the year of 2023 – a $199 value for each subscriber. EVERY AIA Minnesota member is eligible for this benefit. We’ll be conducting firm outreach related to sign-ups in January, but if you want to get a few weeks of bonus access, visit our website for full details.



2022-2026 Joint Strategic Workplan – The 2017-2020 Strategic Workplan of AIA Minnesota was largely accomplished, save for the creation of a physical Center for Architecture. (The North Star Story Map continues the spirit of this effort, and a few years from now we will revisit the prospects.) We paused in the development of a new strategic workplan during the most acute impacts of the pandemic, and in 2022 the state and local chapters of the AIA in Minnesota and the MAF came together to develop and adopt and new, integrated, multi-year strategic workplan. The four strategic priorities (which are aligned with those of AIA national) remain: 1) Build and mentor the profession; 2) Make architecture accessible, understandable, and highly valued; 3) Take bold action to address climate change; and 4) Foster equity in the profession and in the built environment. The workplan objectives constitute an ambitious plan that can best be summed up in four cross-cutting themes:

  • Strengthen the business, working conditions, and culture of architecture;
  • Make design for climate change foundational;
  • Expand the impact of AIA Minnesota members beyond buildings and for greater public benefit; and
  • Expand access to the profession.

And regarding our planned final keynote speaker for the 2022 Annual Conference – Jason Twill, co-founder of the International Living Future Institute who had to bow out due to illness – know that we are working to find a new date for a virtual session. Stay tuned!

This final issue of Matrix for the year always offers the opportunity to pause and reflect. The overwhelming takeaway for me and for the whole of our staff team is gratitude – for your membership, your commitment to bettering the profession, and your daily efforts to create the best of what’s possible in the built environment. We are continually in awe of the work you do and deeply appreciate the opportunity to further the mission of AIA Minnesota: Advancing a vital profession, vibrant communities, and architecture that endures.

All the best to you and your loved ones this holiday season and in the year to come!

View the December 2022 edition of Matrix.