A Strong Past and a Bright Future

By Eric West, AIA, AIA Minnesota President

2018 was a very productive year. It was the first year implementing our three-year strategic plan. We are making very good progress on the plan and that is because of the hard work of our AIA Minnesota staff, our member-volunteers and the leadership of our Board. Among many other accomplishments, in 2018 AIA Minnesota forged a new partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society that will allow us to expand our outreach to the public both at the Mill City Museum and across Minnesota with programming potential at many of the 26 locations across the state. Partnering with the historical society will offer AIA Minnesota perspective on where we have come from and also affords us a forum to discuss how things could be and how that will impact design into the future.

2019 looks to be equally productive and very exciting. AIA Minnesota will be in our new home at the Crown Roller Mill building in February. While there are many terrific events planned for 2019, one that warrants special note is the AIA National Women’s Leadership Summit that will be hosted in Minnesota in September of this year.

All these efforts and this progress is built on the efforts of those who came before us. AIA Minnesota has been around for a long time and has accomplished many great things. We are fortunate to be a part of such a strong community of designers, but as we look forward, we need to = expand our influence and increase our value proposition as an organization.


Our strategic priorities moving forward are clear: first, to build and mentor the profession; second, to make architecture accessible, understandable, and highly valued.


To truly build and mentor the profession, our personal efforts matter as much as our organizational efforts. Each of us must engage in more inclusive outreach moving forward. Architects will add more value if we reflect and engage socio-economic diversity and address social and gender inequities. Design benefits from a diversity of thought and life experiences. We design better solutions. We create more beautiful and impactful spaces when our teams include and leverage society’s amazing diversity of thought, experience, and perspective.


Our profession is changing. As we face those changes, we can be proactive, relevant and expansive; or we can be reactive and lose relevance. The choice is clear in my mind, but being proactive will require critical and active engagement from every one of our members.


AIA Minnesota is constantly looking for ways to increase the value proposition for our members. Our committees are actively engaged in issues that impact our community, like government relations, the environment, affordable housing, and…the list goes on. We are expanding the impact of our organization through community-based programming like the efforts of Architecture in the Schools committee, and we are having discussions about how that program could lead to a new, public-facing center for architecture. All of this progress is exciting, and I look forward to making AIA Minnesota an even more effective resource to its members.


View the full January issue of Matrix.