AIA 2013: Conscious Capitalism and the Future of Business

AIA president Mickey Jacobs © ArchDaily

Thousands have flocked to the Mile High City in Colorado to attend the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2013 National Convention. The three-day event was enthusiastically kickstarted this morning by AIA president Mickey Jacobs who honored Architects with the 2013 Architecture Firm Award; highlighted this year’s theme of leadership; and featured words of advice from founder and chief shoe giver, Blake Mycoskie.

Learn TOMS Founder Mycoskie’s top advice for architects after the break. 

2013 Architecture Firm Award: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects © ArchDaily

Before Mycoskie took the stage, Jacobs honored the recipients of the 2013 Architecture Firm Award: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. With a practice focused on craft and rooted in collaboration, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have managed to build an internationally renowned practice made up of twenty-seven dedicated individuals who all share a common goal to make a “better world through architecture.”

As described by architect Toshiko Mori in a recommendation letter to the AIA, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s work “brings forth the ideals of Modernism, yet is moderated with a contemporary sensibility and intelligence which makes their work rich, tactile, and useful.” This is evident in many of their most notable works, including the recently completed Logan Center for the Arts in Chicago and the Tata Consultancy Services Banyan Park in Mumbai.

Upon receiving the award, Billie Tsien stated: “What unites us as a firm and what unites us as a profession is the belief that to be an architect is to be at service. And if that service is done with love, then architecture has the potential to be nobel.”

TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie © ArchDaily

Following Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s acceptance, Blake Mycoskie took the stage to share the profound story of TOMS and to offer his vision of humanitarian-based entrepreneurial leadership. Spurring from an idea that came to him while on a month-long vacation in Argentina, Mycoskie has created a charity-based empire that has provided more than 10 million impoverished men, women and children with shoes.

Reflecting on his experiences, Mycoskie has gathered one, profound piece of advice for architects: Incorporate giving in everything you do. Not only does giving “feel good”, but it is also a proven business strategy, contrary to popular belief. As Mycoskie stated, when you incorporate giving into your life and business, your “customers will become your greatest marketers” and, even more, “you will attract and retain some of the most amazing talent in the world.” This will allow you to establish a long meaningful relationship with all of those you work with and allow your company to thrive.

The rising trend of architects focusing or incorporating public interest design into their practice serves as a prime example of how this industry shift is already happening and how the future of business is starting to take a more socially conscious stance in serving the public good.

In other news, the AIA has announced a revision in the Gold Medal Award criteria that will allow for partners to be recognized, rather than just an individual. More on this news here

Wasn’t able to make it to Denver? You can become a part of the experience and acquire continuing education or IDP points via live webcasts here

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "AIA 2013: Conscious Capitalism and the Future of Business" 20 Jun 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 01 Nov 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=391860>