The Rich History Of The American Institute Of Architects

The American Institute of Architects is commonly referred to as AIA. This organization encompasses professional architects located in the United States, and the headquarters of the AIA is in Washington, D.C.

The organization provides community redevelopment, education, public outreach, and government advocacy. They try to improve public image of the profession of architecture. The current CEO of the AIA is Robert Ivy, and Thomas V. Vonier fills the role of President. The AIA owns the Octagon house, which was built in Washington D.C. in 1800.

The AIA was founded in 1857, in New York City by thirteen architects. Their goals were to elevate the professions standing, and promote the practical, and scientific perfection of the members. The group included Richard Morris Hunt, Leopold Eidlitz, Charles Babcock, John Welch, Henry Dudley, Jacob Wrey Mould, Fred A. Petersen, Henry W. Cleaveland, Joseph C. Wells, Richard M. Upjohn, Edward Gardiner, and Richard Upjohn, who was the first President of the AIA. The first meeting was on February 23rd of 1857, and an invitation was issued to sixteen additional architects to join the group. This included Calvert Vaux, Thomas U. Walter, and Alexander Jackson Davis.

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Before the AIA was established, there were no licensing laws regarding architecture within the United States, or schools of architecture. This allowed anyone to claim to be an architect. Bylaws, and a constitution were drafted on March 10th of 1857. The original name was the New York Society of Architects. The name was changed on April 15th of 1857 to the American Institute of Architects after a suggestion from Thomas U. Walter. A certificate of incorporation was filed two days prior to the name change. The next year, an amendment was made to the constitution to promote the practical, scientific, and artistic profession of the members, to combine the efforts of the members to advance the art of architecture, and to elevate the professions standing.

By the 1860’s invitations were issued to architects in other cities to join the AIA, and by the 1880’s there were chapters in San Francisco, Chicago, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Indianapolis, Boston, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Albany. By 2008, there were over 300 AIA chapters. In 2007, the 150th anniversary of the AIA was celebrated, and the building was rechristened as the American Center for Architecture. The building houses the National Architectural Accrediting Board, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the American Institute of Architecture Students. There are currently 90,000 ZAIA members including associated professionals, and licensed architects. The organization has a code of professional conduct, and ethics stressing a dedication to high professional standards.

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