A Connected Profession is a Stronger Profession

by Sam Olbekson, AIA, AICAE, NOMA, AIA Minnesota President

We come together as a community of professionals every fall to share experiences, to be inspired, to learn, and to connect with each other personally and professionally. This year’s AIA Minnesota Conference on architecture wrapped up a few weeks ago in a new venue that provided a change of scenery while offering the same high-quality content and increased opportunities for meaningful interactions. Attendees and vendors overwhelmingly provided feedback that the new location was a great success from many perspectives. We welcome your input and stories from the event as well.

I would like to thank AIA MN staff for their tremendous effort in planning, organizing, and facilitating such a successful event. Transitioning to a new venue was a thoughtful effort in identifying potential options and then choosing a space that would be a great fit for an impactful conference experience. It was a yearlong collective effort that included leadership from staff, volunteers, and most importantly the participation and attendance of membership at the event.

Conference sessions included the impact of artificial intelligence on our profession, leadership in sustainability and regenerative design, the importance of ethics in practice, the importance of prioritizing accessibility in our built environment, and many other relevant and thought-provoking topics. We celebrated not only beauty and quality in design, but also how our efforts have a direct and powerful impact on the quality of life in our communities.

I personally enjoyed my own “aha” moments when I learned something new and surprising or heard a different and unique perspective that challenged my own way of thinking. I was reminded how actively seeking out new perspectives and knowledge fuels my own sense of curiosity and helps me to be a more humble and thoughtful designer. The value of attending the conference is not about credits earned, but about embracing a responsibility we have as shapers of the environment to learn, understand different perspectives, and open ourselves to new possibilities as we serve the changing needs and identities of our communities.

Sharing our collective knowledge and actively discussing the important issues our communities face presents a reminder that our profession has a responsibility to be a continued leader in community-building, equity, social, and environmental justice efforts. Our design community will continually be presented with new and different challenges. When we embrace and honor different perspectives, different ways of learning, different paths to design leadership, and different ways of practicing, our profession will remain relevant and continue to lead in meaningful ways. I am thankful for the hard work, innovative thinking, and variety of perspectives shared by session presenters and speakers at the conference.

How do we extend the spirit and value of this important gathering and create a sustained way to connect and share ideas as a profession as we look forward to next year’s Conference on Architecture? I extend a sincere invitation for you to be involved, to share your voice, and to offer your unique perspectives through continued participation in AIA Minnesota throughout the year. We are a stronger profession when we stay connected and I extend a sincere welcome to all to participate in events, committees, community discussions, and the many other opportunities our organization offers. I have been honored to serve as President of AIA Minnesota this year and am thankful for the support and effort that staff, board of directors, our local chapters, and membership has provided. I am proud to be part of such a thoughtful and impactful design community.

Chi Miigwech!

View the December 2023 edition of Matrix.