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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

EQxD Curated Collection for A'17 Orlando - What's in it for me?

By Rosa Sheng, AIA

Why should I attend A'17 AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando?

I have been in many conversations the last few months with Architects, AIA Members, and the AEC community at large on this very question. There have been many critiques about the "EVENT" (formerly known as the "AIA Convention" nearly since it's original inception). The Keynote line up has been inconsistent from year to year and most recently under scrutiny for the sequence and representation of presenters. The continuing education programs are still predominately driven vendor content at the prime hours of the event while member authored seminars are relegated to the earliest and latest slots of the day. The Expo floor itself is an overwhelming scale of products, services, and more programming - at times bordering on information overload. 

At a point where there are many conferences and learning opportunities to attend, what is the value proposition for AIA members and professionals working in the built environment to attend A'17? In short many have asked, What's in it for me?

Equity by Design Convention Programs - Year 3

I have attended a few "AIA Conventions" in my early professional career. They weren't memorable, except for perhaps a few Keynote speakers that I was interested in hearing; or keeping up with my continuing education in a "one stop shop" mode; or perhaps experiencing the architecture/urban design of the host city.

However, in recent years, since the formation of Equity by Design, the AIA annual gathering has transformed into an entirely different opportunity with greater meaning and intent. We realized that in order to get our message out to a greater audience about Equity's importance to the future of Architecture, we needed to be present and engaged with members in a physical setting. We saw the need, so we submitted continuing education workshops and seminars with content of relevance to today's member needs at multiple levels. The AIA National (former Convention) Conference became a unique opportunity to interact with fellow members about the issues that mattered the most - talent retention, engagement vs. burnout, work/life flexibility, transparent promotion/pay equity, and leadership training - discovering new ways to think about the future of practice in Architecture, and develop a supporting "tribe" of like minded champions to support their professional goals while discovering their personal passions.

We are very excited that for the 3rd year in a row, Equity by Design will be hosting programming at the A'17 Conference on Architecture in Orlando. See below for the 3 official program opportunities to join us in conversation about equitable practice.

(WE304) EQxD Hackathon: Architecture and the Era of Connection

4/26/2017   1:00 PM - 5:00 PM   Room W207C  (**Additional fee beyond general registration)

2016 EQxD Hackathon 

2016 EQxD Hackathon 

One of the most unique and talked-about pre-conference workshops, we have developed a reputation within the Conference for developing a game changing learning experience that has yet to be rivaled.  In it's third year, we celebrate the chance to tinker, ideate and hack at the intersection of design, technology, and equitable practice. We have also fine tuned our "UX" aka User Experience by engaging with the teams before during and after the event to make it the best participant engagement event at A'17 - Conference on Architecture. After the event, please join us for the Post-Hack Happy Hour where we will recap the event and announce the winners! Click here for more info

ARCHITECT LIVE - Interview w/ Equity by Design - EXPO HALL

4/27/2017   3:30 PM - 4:00 PM - EXPO HALL - ARCHITECT BOOTH



Special Interview w/ Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning and Matrices Panel - Architect Live (#3863) in the exhibit hall is set up to be provocative, interactive educational programming with the energy and the format of a live talk show studio. The segments are exciting and fast-paced, at a maximum of 30 minutes long. We publish the schedule to all attendees so that they can come view as a live audience. Expo Pass/Registration to attend. In addition, the content is streamed live on and any presentation materials will be published there as well. And after it’s streamlined, the interview will be hosted on the ARCHITECT site in the video gallery.

(FR306) Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning, and Matrices in Action 

4/28/2017   3:30 PM - 4:30 PM    Room W307B

Equity is the ethos of our work. It is the ability to recognize differences and provide fair access to opportunities. At this session, we'll review the results of the most comprehensive research on equity in architecture. You'll leave with strategies that promote equity via professional development and grassroots organizational change. As you'll see, it's in your firm's best interest. 
Equitable practice promotes the recruitment and retention of the most diverse talent while also building stronger, successful, sustainable practices. Using findings from AIA San Francisco's (AIASF's) 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey, you'll develop targeted strategies for promoting equity at various career milestones. 



"There are too many seminars and I can't find the one's that I find meaningful or relevant to my career development."

To help solve this challenge last year, we also encouraged other members in our equity "tribe" to submit programs to address equitable practice. This year, to shorten your search, we went a step further, search through the ENTIRE schedule and expanded the EQxD Curated Collection of programs to those we viewed as having relevance to our larger discussion about equity's impact on design and the built environment. We are please to share our picks for A'17 if you have yet to decide on what you will attend.

(WE110) Creating Impact as a Citizen Architect

4/26/2017   8:00 AM - 12:00 PM (**Additional fee beyond general registration)

The impact architects can have on community leadership is immeasurable, from providing insight into community planning and architectural review to introducing and influencing critical legislation. This skills-based training workshop will help you become a better citizen architect through collaboration, innovation, and shared resources in a highly interactive setting. A powerful keynote on the "Impact of Public Dialogue as Citizen Architects" as well as a panel discussion and peer-to-peer breakout groups will inspire you to head back to your community and make substantial, effective contributions.

(TH107) Design for Well-being: Holistic Approaches to Homelessness

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

As US cities struggle to serve and house homeless individuals and families, San Francisco has led the way in providing innovative solutions. The architect's role is at the core of this effort, demonstrating design's impact in bringing about positive social change. Join us for this seminar to hear from representatives of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, who will discuss progressive public policy strategies. Plus, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and David Baker Architects will share their award-winning design responses. 

(TH109) Shaping Communities Through Design Review Committees

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Whether you take a prominent place at the table or work quietly in the background, your role in shaping communities extends beyond any individual project. In this session, you'll explore the ins and outs of serving on design review committees, commissions, and boards. 

AIA has long supported and celebrated the work of "citizen architects." Such positions, handled well, offer you the chance to connect with the community and promote your knowledge and expertise. 

Join this discussion of best practices and learn how to secure opportunities for a rewarding experience. 

(TH114) Reinventing Public Housing

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

The deplorable living conditions found in 22 San Francisco public housing developments are a consequence of neglected maintenance, a lack of supportive services, and flaws in design. The San Francisco Housing Authority's radical response—selling off its housing stock to private developers and housing providers—offers lessons and opportunities for architects and designers. Under the action taken through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rental Assistance Demonstration program, buyers will maintain the properties as permanent low-income housing. Join us for this seminar to examine the rehabilitation, redesign, and infill of basic community facilities necessary to support healthy community life.

NEW! (TH201) Pro Series: Solutions by Design: Architecture as a Catalyst for Social Change

4/27/2017   2:30 PM - 4:00 PM      Room W304B

How does architecture impact the social fabric of our communities?  How can architecture be a catalyst for solving community challenges, driving social change, or creating engagement and progress?  How does equity in design impact communities?  A high-powered panel of architects who are pushing the boundaries in these and other areas of social and cultural concern discuss how architecture and architects can affect the social structure of communities across the globe and have measurable and practical effects on the way we live and interact with society. Join Rosa Sheng, AIA who will moderate a Keynoter speakers and practitioners who are making positive change in their projects and practice.


(TH202) Blind Spots: Multisensory Placemaking for the Blind and Visually Impaired

4/27/2017   2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

How can we design delightful architecture that doesn't presume or privilege sight? What are best practices for design that appropriately address the visual and nonvisual needs of the blind and visually impaired? Explore how you can go beyond mere compliance with ADA codes to address the opportunities—not just the challenges—of the visually impaired. Using the new 40,000 GSF LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco as an example, this session will address issues related to acoustics, lighting, and technology. You'll also explore general strategies for visual and non-visual design. While complying with ADA codes is necessary, you have the opportunity to produce designs that are not overtly adaptive or condescending. By attending this session, you'll discover how to give all users of your spaces—particularly the blind and visually impaired—a sense of delight. 

(TH213) Architecture for a More Sustainable Africa

4/27/2017   2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

The human population explosion: crisis or opportunity? The numbers are stark, with two billion additional urban inhabitants expected by 2030. The fast-growing cities of Africa, Asia, and Latin America will feel the greatest impact. In this session, you'll see how architecture can improve the social, environmental, and economic well-being of these cities. You'll examine projects including Niger's Dandaji Library, a building with an adaptive reuse design featured in AIA's 2016 Emerging Professionals Exhibit. You'll also see architecture acting as a vehicle for sustainable development and prosperity when it emphasizes affordability, local materials, good governance, and community engagement. Join your colleagues for an inspiring discussion of architecture at its best, as we strive to build a better world for future generations.

(TH312) Women in Green and Why Diversity for Design Matters

4/27/2017   4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

This spring marks the 10-year anniversary of a pivotal publication: Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design. What did it tell us—and what have we learned in the years since? A decade ago, the study's authors explored how and why women were leading in sustainable design more than in the field generally. Now, we'll examine the status of diversity in design, the role of sustainability, and firms' efforts to build more-diverse practices that are relevant to the work of the future. Hear from one of the authors, other leaders in the field, and your own peers and colleagues as we discuss a topic that remains timely and relevant to all of our work.

(FR106) Engaging a Diverse Workforce: Supporting Employees Living with Disability

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Our profession is at its best when it reflects society's full diversity. People with disabilities make up a significant percentage of our population and contribute to our field's innovation and success. Are firms taking the right steps to support these employees? In this seminar, you'll join a discussion about effective ways firms can promote inclusion and support differently-abled professionals . You'll hear from a panel of differently-abled colleagues, and learn how simple strategies like flexible schedules and attention to mobility issues can make a tremendous difference to your peers'—and your practice's—success. 

(FR109) Designing Environments for Low Vision: Tools & Techniques 

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Low vision is becoming an increasingly prominent design concern in America—one that presents architects with opportunities and responsibilities. In this interactive session, you'll examine best practices and big failures, and even participate in some problem-solving, as you learn the latest tools and strategies. An architect, lighting engineer, and optometrist from the NIBS Low Vision Design Committee will share state-of-the-art techniques you can apply in your work. With low vision already affecting 17 million people in this country's aging population, your practice is sure to benefit from their insights.

(FR110) The Art of Community Engagement: Lessons from the Frontlines

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Contentious public projects exist everywhere. The disgruntled citizen or outspoken neighborhood group can strike fear in the heart of clients that aren't prepared to confront conflict. As a design professional, you're charged with finding consensus among increasingly diverse user groups. What fundamental strategies can you employ to overcome stakeholder resistance and foster a deeper sense of trust and community cohesion? Join us for this panel discussion to learn about researching your community audience, finding the community champions, leveraging media, and other valuable tricks of the trade.

(FR112) What Architects Need to Know About Disasters and Risk Reduction

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Why do buildings fail during natural disasters and what will the future of architecture look like in the face of increasing risk? After 10 years of disaster response and recovery nationwide, the AIA Disaster Assistance Program is sharing emerging research and personal lessons from the third edition of the AIA Handbook for Disaster Assistance. Join us for this seminar to hear from those who've seen first-hand why buildings fail, how risk is increasing, the impacts of land use and building codes, and more. Stories from the field will convey a changing landscape for the practice—the impact of natural hazards and the pitfalls and opportunities in practice and community engagement.

(FR319) Relieving the Stress of Pediatric Emergency Care

4/28/2017   3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

A trip to the emergency room is stressful for anyone, particularly children. How can architects help ease a child's mind by making the experience less tense and chaotic? One firm found a way, partnering with a health care institution and its Family Advisory Council for an innovative pro bono project. The result? An interactive multimedia tool that helps familiarize kids with the hospital environment. Join us to hear how the participants stretched their skills to enhance and promote well-being among our community's most vulnerable members—and consider how you might do the same.

(FR406) Improving the City: Designing an Active Streetscape in Affordable Housing

4/28/2017   5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

What's one of the more significant opportunities overlooked in the design of high-density, affordable housing? It's staring us in the face—right there on the ground floor. The commercial ground floor can make a big difference in creating vibrant neighborhoods that serve residents, businesses, and cities. In this seminar, a cross-disciplinary team of architects and engineers will present key findings of their work with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development along with the Design Trust for Public Spaces. With this conversation, you'll hear directly from the team and client behind the newly published "Design Guidelines for Ground Floor Retail." Take a front-row seat and learn to put their tools to work for you

(SA106) Engage, Train, and Retain: Cultivating Leaders

4/29/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Nurturing new talent is crucial to a firm's long-term success. How do you retain that talent and develop emerging professionals into AEC industry leaders? In this session, you'll hear from colleagues with a proven record of success. Join us to analyze how three programs—representing architecture, engineering, and construction firms—elevate emerging professionals and collaborate across the AEC industry. Through case studies and candid conversations, you'll learn very specific strategies for building a leadership culture that meets the changing needs of new talent in your firm's specific setting.