AIA President Jeff Potter welcomed everyone this morning by restating his promise that the 2012 convention would inspire all who attend. With a consistent theme focusing on the architects commitment to service, President Potter welcomed Shaun Donovan – the 15th United States Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – as today’s keynote speaker. However, before Secretary Donovan took the stage, the 2012 AIA Vice President and 2013 President-elect Mickey Jacob invited the crowd to come, stay and explore the mile-high city of Denver for the 2013 National Convention.
Immediately following, President Potter awarded Mortimer Marshall, Jr., FAIA with the 2012 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award and the collaborative practice VJAA with the 2012 AIA Architecture Firm Award, as both recipients have had a profound impact on the profession. Soon after, twenty-four former AIA presidents stormed the stage to honor this year’s Gold Medal to the legendary Steven Holl, FAIA.
The Gold Medalist expressed his belief that “today, more than ever, the language of architecture is open”, encouraging practitioners to define their own path and partake in “architecture’s unspoken power to transform the quality of our day-to-day lives.”
Holl’s brisk, yet inspiring lecture was then followed an optimistic presentation by AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker on the past, present and future of the American economy. Although extreme business cycles are the norm in our profession, the audience cringed when Baker reported that 60,000 architectural jobs have been lost since the recession began. However, as ABI continues to improve, commercial and industrial activity is picking up momentum and architects across the country are gaining hope. President Potter transition the conversation back to the keynote speaker and the fundamental idea of how to transcend the role of the architect and encourage the architectural community in the wake of the recession. Since 2009, Secretary Donovan has made it his mission to ensure access to safe, decent and affordable housing to all and has continued that effort in the Obama Administration. He believes that America’s homes are the foundation for family, safe neighborhoods, good schools and job creation. Sworn in at a time when American families were devastated by the foreclosure crises, Secretary Donovan has worked tirelessly to help stabilize the housing market and keep responsible families in their homes. His work is is passion, and it shows. Throughout the speech, Secretary Donovan reaffirmed HUD’s commitment to build strong, sustainable, inclusive neighborhoods that are connected to education and jobs, thus offering a fair shot to all Americans. However, in order for everyone to have a fair shot, everyone must also give their fair share. The question is, how will you give your fair share?