Our Top 5 Moments from the AIA Conference on Architecture

Didn't make it to #A18Con this year? Metropolis has you covered with these highlights from the Javits Center and beyond.

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2018 AIA Conference Architecture highlights

Sheela Søgaard delivering her Friday keynote address. Courtesy Todd Winters Photography


This year’s AIA Conference on Architecture offered an insightful glimpse into the state of the profession.

Going into the conference, Metropolis was looking for the keynotes and panel discussions to address two major challenges that architects all across the country face. First and foremost was diversity and equity: the architectural profession is still predominately white and male, a problem that resonated all the more given this gathering would be the 50th anniversary of activist Whitney M. Young Jr.’s fiery address to the AIA national convention in Portland, Oregon, where he excoriated the profession for standing on the sidelines of the fight for civil rights. The recent allegations against Richard Meier cast an even harsher light on the profession’s male-dominated workplaces.

The second challenge facing architects—how to tackle increasingly urgent sustainability and resiliency challenges—was more explicit in the conference’s over-arching theme of “Blueprint for Better Cities.” 2018 AIA president Carl Elefante told Metropolis that this conference was “essentially proclaiming the dawning of the urban era and a relevance revolution in architecture.” Metropolis hoped that the gathering would take a fresh look at how architects could prepare cities for the increasingly-urban 21st Century, one where buildings need to impact the environment as little as possible even as cities prepare for increasingly extreme weather events.

Ultimately, instead of sustainability and resiliency, the common thread in most cities-focused panels was the newfound promise of public health as a tool to promote the importance of architecture (and, by extension, the importance of architects themselves). Equity and diversity did emerge as a major theme, but most discussions and protests alluded to the immense work required to make major change a reality. In addition to these recaps on public health and equity, Metropolis has collected some of the conference’s top moments below.

You may also enjoy “In the Wake of #MeToo, Equity Is Put Front and Center at AIA Conference.”

Categories: Architecture

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