Finegold Alexander Architects Reflects on AIA 2021 Conference on Architecture

We chatted with Principal Regan Shields Ives, AIA, LEED AP to hear some takeaways from Day 2 of the four-day conference.

July 26, 2021
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On June 17 and July 8, AIA held the first half of the AIA Conference on Architecture 2021, with the remaining two days to take place July 29 and August 19. The conference consists of the four days with each dedicated to its own topic, in consecutive order: Firm Resilience (6/17), Sustainable Practice (7/8), Community Engagement (7/29) and Building Efficiencies (8/19).

Finegold Alexander’s Regan Shields Ives, AIA, LEED AP attended the conference’s second day and shared with us some takeaways and insight into her experience of the event so far.

Q: What are three trends you learned about?

1. Passive House

2. “Selling” clients on sustainability

3. Environmental justice

Q: What are the top three things you learned?

1. Many clients hear the word sustainability and shut down. When talking to a client about sustainability, don’t use the word “sustainability”. Look for other terms that speak directly to their needs (i.e. healthy work environments, healthy learning environments, long term cost savings) and build the conversation around that.  

2. Practice the art of “shutting up” – ask a few pointed questions to your client, then spend the time to really listen to their answers.

3. Many, but not enough, architecture programs are incorporating community engagement into their curriculum.

4. (Bonus answer) Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE’s) matter!

Q: Could you share a favorite session so far?

“Architect of the Ozarks: Marlon Blackwell’s Universal Localism (conversation with Julie Snow)”

“It was really inspiring to see and hear Marlon Blackwell speak about the projects that are important to him. From a simple shed converted to a church to a large design center addition at the University of Arkansas. He is honest, humble, and approaches every project – big or small –with the same care and attention.”  

Marlon Blackwell (L) designs innovative and modern architecture, including the Coop Ramen (R). His website highlights more of his renowned developments.

More information on the session and Marlon Blackwell:

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, esteemed American architect and Principal at Marlon Blackwell Architects, shared his approach to architecture, principles of place and the future of sustainability in a discussion format with Julie Snow, FAIA, Founding Principal and CEO at Snow Kreilich Architects. Marlon’s session offered a range of valuable knowledge in an array of topics for session participants including: his own personal background and career path, identifying the essential principles of design, construction and community-formation, his personal approach to encouraging sustainability in building materials as well as a discussion around the future of architecture and the needed adaptations in the industry to encourage a healthier relationship between the natural and built environments.

Many in the architecture world are familiar with Marlon Blackwell’s reputation and distinguished accomplishments, including his achievement receiving the AIA Gold Medal 2020, an honor reserved for recognizing those “whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.”

As the conference continues over the next few weeks, stay tuned for some more coverage of Finegold Alexander team members’ experiences!