On June 17, July 8 and July 29, AIA held the first three days of the AIA Conference on Architecture 2021, with the remaining day to take place on 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 Clair Colburn, AIA, LEED AP attended the conference and shared some takeaways and insight into her experience of day three.
Q: Could you share a favorite session so far?
C: I have two favorite sessions: Shelley Halstead Keynote Event: “Breaking Barriers & Building Community in West Baltimore” and Gabriella Gomez-Mont Keynote Event: “Complex Problems, Creative Solutions.”
Q: What was the most impactful thing you learned?
“Catalysts for change comes in all sizes. Shelley Halstead rebuilds Baltimore, MD communities house by house with their future owners while Gabriella Gomez-Mont employs Mexico City commuters through a crowdsource app to collect data and implement change.”
Q: Share a reaction to a speaker.
“Both Shelley Halstead and Gabriella Gomez-Mont are so inspiring; they both take on projects without necessarily knowing the solutions ahead of time. What they know is that action needs to be taken and they take it.”
More information on the sessions and speakers:
Shelley Halstead is founder of Black Women Build – Baltimore, an “organization dedicated to providing training to Black women in home improvement skills like carpentry, plumbing, and electrical. The goal is to promote economic freedom and intergenerational wealth through home ownership initiatives.” Shelley and her program work to restore vacant and damaged houses in the West Baltimore area. The program offers participants an opportunity to purchase the home they work on, requiring a multistep application process and Monday-Friday commitment for a period of 16-weeks. Candidates are required to attend classes ranging from financial literacy training and debt repair as well as trade-related workshops, in order to qualify as a potential buyer. In her session at the AIA conference, Shelley discussed the intersectional framework of the program and the training that participants will do, and how it all comes together to generate the kind of support and intergenerational wealth for women and their communities.
Gabriella Gomez-Mont is a journalist, artist, documentary film director, creative advisor, and director and founder of Laboratorio Parala Ciudad, an experimental organization working alongside Mexico City government and Mayor. “The Lab” focuses on all aspects of the city and explores urban futures and opportunities including “urban creativity, mobility, governance, civic tech, and public space.” As a link between civil society and government, the Lab interacts with both political and public stakeholders to build consensus on needs and opportunities. Gabriella’s event at the AIA conference covered the responsibility of architects to understand their community’s patterns in labor, construction and technology and have an ability to approach complex issues with creative solutions.