by Chris McEntee, AIA Executive Vice President/CEO
Anytime you make a bold new move, there are those fleeting thoughts in the back of your head: Will it work? What might be the repercussions?
It always helps to have strong allies, and such was the case with the launching of the celebration of the first 150 years of your AIA, which is also a reinvigoration of the Institute as the voice of the architecture profession and the resource for its members in service to society.
What better way to start the celebration than with a vital connection with the public through their favorite works of architecture? And that is what spawned the idea of America’s Favorite Architecture. AIA members participated last year to identify 248 outstanding works of architecture in the U.S. With the independent assistance of Harris Interactive, which polled a random sample of Americans (and received 1,800 responses), we identified 150 of the most popular built works in the country.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon helped pique public curiosity by sponsoring a press conference on Capitol Hill to announce the results of this effort. Concurrently, AIA national component staff e-mailed releases to media outlets across the country. The response was overwhelming. Within days, local television, radio stations, and newspapers throughout the nation had carried stories. The Wall Street Journal broke the news on the front page of its February 7 Marketplace section. USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and San Francisco Chronical ran stories, as did the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. Time and other on-line blogs started discussions. In fact, the AIA.org blog is still rippling with comments, laudings, and laments as members and the public alike discuss design excellence and architectural contributions.
With such success sometimes comes complications. The site generated so much traffic that the AIA Information Technology Team had to jump in midstream and double the AIA.org server capacity. The site is running fine now, though. So if you haven’t already had the chance to take a look, please do. And tell us:
What do you think?