A’19 in Review
There are two things I try to do every year as an architect, professional, and firm owner: 1) speak at an architecture conference; and 2) attend the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) annual conference.
Since 2010, I’ve been a session presenter at conferences in the Midwest, South, and along the East Coast. And since starting my career, I have attended numerous incarnations of the AIA’s Conference on Architecture. Unfortunately, I did not make the 2018 event in New York, which some helpful wag managed to schedule the same week as the Pride celebration in Manhattan.
However, in the last nine years, speaking and attending have occurred exclusive of one another. Until this year.
For the A’19 Conference on Architecture, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on LGBTQ+ presence in architecture titled The Silent Minority: LGBTQ+ Voices in Architecture.
And like every session before this one, I had the usual moments of panic and doubt:
Will I be able to remember what I’m talking about?
Will anyone attend? (I’ve had attendance as low as 10 people. Surprisingly, that turned out to be on of the better sessions.)
Who will attend? Particularly for this session. Would people be willing to attend and potentially out themselves to their colleagues?
Will the audience participate in the discussion?
And like every session before, the presentation went well.
We had a larger than expected turnout and a more diverse group than anticipated. We made the straight architects stand up and be recognized, and a surprising number did so.
The panelists were well-spoken and engaging as was the audience. I’ve sat in numerous panel discussions where the panelists talked – and no one else got a word in. However, we were able to engage the audience members and take in their perspective on the subject.
And we even received a nice write-up on the AIA’s website: https://www.aia.org/articles/6161023-raising-lgbtq-voices-in-architecture?tools=true
Perhaps this year being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the conference occurring at the start of Pride had some influence on attendance and even acceptance of the program by AIA’s review committee. That’s hard to say. However, no matter the reason, we were able to present the session and have a positive experience.
Would I do it again? Yes. Will I continue to speak if given the opportunity? Yes. Will I continue to attend the national conference? Of course.
And hopefully moving forward, those won’t continue to be separate experiences.