January 10, 2012

I Just got (AIAS) FORUM'D

This winter break, I decided to head south to the desert. I was in Phoenix, Arizona for the convention of the American Institute of Architecture Students - the 56th annual AIAS FORUM. This was a great time to re-connect with the friends that I have met in the past year at FORUM when my chapter hosted it in Toronto, and going to the AIAS Grassroots Leadership Convention in Washington.

I really encourage alot of you architecture students to take advantage of student organizations like this because they give you the edge to gain more insights to our profession. Travel is very important to experience as an architecture student, and if you cannot get the opportunity to go across the seas, going to a different North American city can expose you to different issues and experiences that will furthermore inform you as a designer.

This year's convention centered around the theme of Solutions. And we see the various ways in how designers look towards realizing and solving the problems our world and profession faces - as exemplified in the nightly keynote address. Jeffrey Inaba showed in his Keynote the importance of graphically representing data in the design process to illustrate the scope and weight of issues, all the more leading to a much more stronger response to a problem. Teddy Cruz was looking at the current socio-economic issues and it's impact on urban form. Cruz's lecture was thought provoking - informing architecture students to really scrutinize the social, political, and economic factors underlining the design problem. A fuller understanding of a design problem can push us to look at new alternatives to the current design solutions we have. David Zach also dropped by to give us a lecture concerning the future of the world and what are the skills and values that designers need to cope with the emerging trends and technologies. Brad Landcaster gave a humourous and inspiring lecture showing how true sustainable design is attainable and why it must be the norm for designers to imbue into their projects. Definitely it has inspired me to really think about sustainable principles in a design.

These conventions also give students a chance to visit some interesting buildings that the city is all the more well known for. I was fortunate enough to check out the Burton Barr Central Library, which I always remember from the lecture of my second year Theory/Studio professor. This tour gets better - we were toured by the architect who was involved in the design, and was able to get the ins and outs of the building. The same went for the new additions to the Phoenix Art Museum by Todd Williams + Billie Tsien, we were given an introduction by the local architect who worked with them in the additions.

There were so many workshops, and I was fortunate to go to two of them, one of them focusing on communication and public speaking - It pointed out some flaws I need to work on to connect with people. The second one was a leadership seminar lead by our newly elected 2012-2013 AIAS President. Both workshops were enlightening and reminded designers the importance of soft skills and leadership.

Also, this is not just a conference for just academic pursuits - there is the fun aspect. AIAS FORUMs connect you to architecture students from all over the world who share a passion for architecture. you get to socialize in meetings/workshops/tours and on the way, while you wait, when you chill in the lobby/bar/restaurant and lounge. There's also opportunities during the social nights and the Beaux Art Ball.

As with all the AIAS conferences, each one I attend, I try and grow more as a person and push myself. I remember my first conference in Minneapolis and how shy and quiet I've been. and then Uly-Spice in Toronto. Now this year - I decided to do my first charette and I've been more social to connect with people, reunite with friends I've made, create new friendships, and move forward. In closing, I'd like to end this entry with what might be my final AIAS roll call - singing in front of 500 or more architecture students (unless I can afford and hopefully go to Grad school in the States with an AIAS chapter...or bring the AIAS to another Canadian University that I choose to go for my M.Arch). Cheers and Happy New Years from Uly-Spice!

To be (an Architect) or not to be, that is the question
Goodbye Undergrad! Thanks AIAS!

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