By Timarie Trarbach, Associate AIA
On October 15th and 16th, design professionals from across Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Oklahoma convened in Des Moines, Iowa, for the AIA Central States Regional Conference. The keynotes and workshops were phenomenal and specifically geared toward different phases of one’s career—from the emerging professional to the experienced architect.
Design professionals shared their successes and failures of a single project or a valuable piece of advice that they had learned thus far in their career. Unexpected collisions of conversation provided an excellent platform for education and mentoring. Conversations varied among architects and associate members concerning topics ranging from IDP, the ARE, licensure, advocacy, diversity, and membership. These conversations were quite broad, but essentially it all comes down to the future of the architectural profession and the AIA through mentoring and leadership.
I concentrated my attendance at this year’s CSR Conference around three main areas that are important to me. First, connect and reconnect with friends, peers, and colleagues. Second, attend workshops focused on emerging professionals and leadership. Third, eat tasty food, learn about great design, and then go experience it! I am happy to report that I successfully accomplished all of these goals and more! Although I learned many things, I will touch on three of the most memorable: networking is really just talking to get to know someone in person; an “Initial Decision Maker” is sometimes necessary (really, it is); and failing at something is learning how to succeed.
This year I have had the privilege of serving as the associate Kansas representative on the AIA Central States Emerging Professional Committee, and we have focused on several big initiatives, two of which were celebrated at the CSR Conference. Primarily, as a committee, we recognize the value and opportunity to support and encourage emerging professionals in our region. The committee organized the CSR Emerging Professional Friendly Firm Award, and several firms from across the central states region were recognized at the Central States Conference for this great achievement. Secondly, members organized a student design competition. It was a12-hour charrette! Universities from the region worked, produced, and came up with a creative design solution to connect the skywalks, streets, and transportation in downtown Des Moines for pedestrian use. Universities competed for first, second, and third place, with impressive and admirable results. Check out the CSR EP Committee website and Facebook page for more information! www.aiacsrep.org
The future of the architectural profession is here, and it is ever-changing. It is important to mentor each other at all levels. Take a moment to talk with someone new—you never know who you may meet. If you are an experienced architect, reach out to an emerging professional. Take a chance, and do not be afraid to try something just because you are unsure of the outcome. Also, if you have never experienced Des Moines, get in the car and go! It is a great city with opportunities, not to mention that they have a David Chipperfield building there!