By Eric West, AIA, AIA Minnesota President

The members of AIA Minnesota have clearly articulated a desire for AIA Minnesota to focus on making architecture more highly valued in the public, amongst our industry partners and potential clients. Our members want our organization to be vital, accessible and engaged. We seek to be advocates for a better built environment and we know that design thinking has value in addressing societal issues like climate change, affordable housing, healthy communities, safer schools and myriad other issues.


How are we doing? Where are we succeeding, and where can we improve?


Our successes come from the dedication and talent of our staff along with the passion, expertise and time of our volunteers. Without the engagement of our members there is no organization; there is no success. So, if you believe that our organization needs to be relevant, we need you to engage.


We are fortunate to have an incredible base of active members and we are always seeking to expand that base. We would like to use this message to celebrate some of our recent successes.


On February 8 – 10 a group of AIA members, students and engaged organizations met at the University of Minnesota to conduct a charrette addressing affordable housing and homelessness. Search for Shelter is in its 33rd year, and is an incredible example of putting ideas into action and on to paper. They were joined by State Representative Alice Hausman for the opening program. This program is making us very relevant.


Staff and volunteers continue to push forward efforts around equity, diversity and inclusion. The AIA Minnesota Intercultural Leadership Program’s success is becoming a national model and other components are looking to AIA Minnesota for guidance. In addition to the impact on AIA members, the programming is drawing inquiries and speaking requests from our industry partners.


Our members have also been strong advocates at the Capitol this session. Jesse Turck, AIA, testified before the House Energy Finance & Policy Division. Members of our board of directors and the government affairs committee testified regarding the impact of codes on affordable housing before the House Housing Finance & Policy Division.

Elizabeth Turner, AIA, met with Representative Jean Wagenius to discuss climate change. Anne Voda, AIA, and Bob Schaffer, AIA, had independent meetings with representatives to discuss potential legislation around the State Designer Selection Board and AIA Minnesota’s legislative agenda. Other meetings are also planned.

All of this is happening while we continue our focus on engaging a larger public audience on the value of design through programs like Architecture in the Schools and our efforts toward developing a center for architecture within AIA MN. Thank you to the members who are making these things happen – you must be engaged to be relevant.


Are you passionate about what you do? Do you think we could be more relevant? 


You can make a difference. We have only noted a small portion of what is going on at AIA in this communication. We encourage you to reach out if you want to learn more or if you have ideas about how we can continue to make improvements. This is our organization and only the actions of our members can make it even more relevant.

View the full March issue of Matrix.