Beyond the Boardroom: Looking Ahead in 2014

Texas Architects board members and leadership are staying up-to-date on developments with AIA, especially those related to changes in board restructuring. While it’s not a hot topic for most AIA members, how and by whom the Institute is to be governed into the future is an issue that will determine how effective the Institute becomes, and how effectively it represents its membership. TxA leaders have strong concerns about how local, state, and regional chapters will interact with the reorganized AIA board being proposed.

Change continues to be order of the day on many levels. The task of the Society is to continually strive to be a better voice for Texas architecture; that means we have to find a way for all this change to be positive!

Beth Brant, AIA, a member of our Sustainable Environment Committee, recently shared a video of a lecture by Architecture 2030 Founder and CEO Ed Mazria, in which he quantifies the positive change in our world being made by architects. I suspect that many of you will find his message of interest.

Architecture 2030’s Ed Mazria delivers a talk at Greenbuild 2013 on how architects are bringing about quantifiable change – photo via

The positive change we’re working for through our legislative efforts is to reduce the “threshold” under which architects work in Texas. Right now, private buildings only require an architect if they are 20,000 sf or larger, or more than two stories tall. While some cities have adopted a 5,000-sf threshold (Amarillo, Beaumont, Bryan/College Station, El Paso, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls) and other cities have this topic under consideration, the Society – working through our Government Affairs Steering Committee and our dedicated team of lobbyists – will work towards a reduction of the state threshold.

The turnover of members in both the State House and Senate presents a challenge to achieving this goal. At least 60% of the members of the next legislature will have less than two sessions of experience! The task is to make personal connections with them well before the legislative session begins. Do you have such a connection? 

Making personal connections with senators and representatives before the 2015 Legislative Session begins will be key. Here is a photo of some of our members doing exactly that during our 2013 Advocates for Architecture Day in Austin – photo by Holly Reed

The next major event on our calendar is AIA Grassroots in Washington, D.C. Many of our chapter leaders will be attending and scheduling meetings with their congressmen to lobby on AIA issues. TxA leaders have requested meetings with our senators, John Coryn and Ted Cruz. We’ll update you after those meetings. 

Also, the 2014 Publications Committee retreat will take place in San Antonio the weekend immediately following AIA Grassroots. Look for blog posts and photos of both events — as well as about the TxA committees and the issues they are tackling.

Attendees of our 2013 PubCom Retreat stand on the elliptical deck at the back of a Bruce Goff home in Tyler. – photo by Filo Castore, AIA

On a final note, April will bring the start of chapter visits by TxA President-elect Michael Malone, AIA, and me — and I’m looking forward to seeing and meeting many of you at those events. 

— James T. Perry