President's Column: Grand Opening!

We have all been there: the celebratory ribbon cutting of one of our architectural endeavors; watching the exhilaration of the new home owner, once the construction debris has been abated, crossing the threshold for the first time; the students filing into class on the late August day in awe of their new surroundings; or the board or council congratulating one another with their acclamations having brought a new amenity to their constituents.

A project you have laboriously spent endless candle-lit hours on, a few boxes of Pentels, three rolls of yellow trace designing; reviewing shop drawings; overseeing construction headaches and finally, able to enjoy the appreciation by all those who enter and  those that may never enter but recognize the positive social and aesthetic impact on the now enlivened neighboring streets, the see and be seen interaction within the adjoining outdoor spaces, the new carefully contemplated commercial enterprises. A special project you know that has not simply achieved the programmatic and budgetary objectives of the client, but will accomplish an ongoing subliminal inspiration and influential catalyst for decades to come.

This year the Texas Society of Architects leadership and committees have focused our voice, energy, and outreach, through print and electronic media, on how architecture has the opportunity and responsibility to positively influence the livability and health of our communities.  And from our effort we have learned not only the challenge of communicating that message but also understanding that while many in the general public may be inspired by a well-designed project or feel somehow better by experiencing a well-designed building interior, esplanade, or plaza, few, if an,y understand why. Perhaps we as architects need to learn better how to articulate the message and therefore our value. At the 2012 Texas Society of Architects Convention you will have the opportunity to experience sessions and tours that will offer rationale and explanations.  So if you are venturing to Austin, consider a few ‘Grand Opening’ offerings. 

The first opening begins with our 73rd annual convention, a convention purposefully designed to INFLUENCE all demographics of our society.  As our industry evolves, so must our profession and the society. The 2012 Convention will be another step of our transformation; to pursue and engage a collaborative, diverse membership. A second opening to purview, if you have not previously visited your society’s command center, would be to come cross the threshold at 500 Chicon that we called home early last year.  Find a moment to visit and see the headquarters in our restored piece of Austin heritage where hundreds of your peers have discussed, debated, strategized, and planned the direction and goals of our professional society’s efforts for 2012 and into the future. 

And lastly, our convention committee has scheduled 50% more tours than any recent convention and a few prior to the respective project’s Grand Opening.  And although more tours are planned in order to offer more insights into what is happening in Austin, we are nearing a sellout of these opportunities. Each tour carries a story of the impact the project has had on the surrounding community.  Each has created a positive, influential impression on the individuals that reside, work, play, learn, or worship within as well as those that experience it by living or being employed nearby.  Each is recognized and cherished as a design of value, a design that influences. 

I led into the convention program guide with the statement, “Architects have understood, believed, and promoted the premise that architecture influences.” But how does architecture influence the wellbeing of individuals and communities? Come for the openings, and learn how these Austin projects have instilled a recognized value for their design, the critical importance of the architect’s abilities to capture the client’s aspirations and the appreciation of the community for thoughtful, impactful design.  And come to learn in the years ahead how your society will be laying more ground work for the importance of ‘The Voice of Texas Architecture’ to be heard (and understood)  in more venues,  by more students,  by more architects, and in all locales.  Stay tuned, become engaged, be influential.

See you in Austin!

Craig S. Reynolds, FAIA
Texas Society of Architects

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