Public Engagement at Multiple Scales

By Eric West, AIA, AIA Minnesota President

As part of our 2018-2020 strategic plan we identified two key strategic initiatives:
  • Build and mentor the profession
  • Make architecture accessible, understandable and highly valued 
We have made great progress on both initiatives this year, and public engagement was a very important part of that. 
On the largest scale, our members engaged the public at Doors Open Minneapolis in May, which gave thousands of people free, behind-the-scenes access to buildings in the City of Minneapolis that are architecturally, culturally, or socially significant. 
The end of summer brought STE(A)M Day at the State Fair. We worked with hundreds of visitors, young and old, in building State Fair building models at the AIA booth. Thanks to every volunteer and our incredible staff team for making that happen.
Fall is also when we host the Homes by Architects Tour. This is an opportunity to engage the public and discuss the value of design at a very personal scale. This event occurs on September 21 and 22 and offers an opportunity for our members to inspire the general public to go beyond the typical to truly see the value of an architect’s approach and consideration of every detail. We hope you can volunteer and/or attend the tour.
As the kids go back to school, we also have opportunities to engage young people directly at the classroom level. Our Architecture in The Schools committee has multiple programs that vary in scale and allow our members to mentor the next generation of designers – from grade schoolers to graduate students. 
I know I would not be an architect today if it were not for the mentors and leaders I met along the way. We would really appreciate more volunteers for our next public-facing events, but we hope you consider yourself a mentor and an advocate for the profession at any scale you are able to engage. Your engagement can help these important AIA Minnesota initiatives succeed.

View the full September issue of Matrix.