Outgoing President's Message from Marilys Nepomechie
At the close of an exceptional International Conference in Santiago, on a year that indelibly links Chile to architectural accolades and biennales, it is a special privilege to reflect not only on ACSA’s biennial international meeting, but also on the past year.
Our presence in Santiago was a first for ACSA. The occasion also marked our first return to South America in nearly two decades, and only the second time in the history of the organization that the international conference was held south of the Equator. Nearly two years in the making, Cross-Americas: Probing Dis-Global Networks benefitted from tremendous generosity on the part of many. We were honored to work with exceptional partners in our host school, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile [PUC], and with extraordinary colleagues among our team of academic program co-chairs: Macarena Cortés and Umberto Bonomo, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Chile; Alfredo Andia, Florida International University, USA; Dana Cupkova, Carnegie Mellon University, USA; and Vera Parlac, University of Calgary, Canada. Together, they prepared an outstanding agenda of peer-reviewed papers, projects, keynote presentations, discussions, tours and events.
In yet another first for ACSA, and in an effort to build bridges, not only among academic faculty but also among architecture program leaders and professional practitioners, we inaugurated an Administrators’ / Leadership Track within the academic conference. For their joint efforts in its organization, we are indebted to Roger Schluntz, Dean Emeritus, University of New Mexico, USA and Emilio de la Cerda, Architecture Program Director, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Chile. Product of ACSA’s yearlong multi-collateral International Task Force, the leadership track invited lively exchange. From across national borders and program profiles, participants shared best practices and unique approaches to our parallel academic and professional endeavors.
Panels in the international leadership track incorporated valuable contributions from academic administrators in North and South America, as well as from experts and leaders of our collateral organizations in the United States. We are delighted that Thomas Vonier, FAIA, President–Elect of the American Institute of Architects and Secretary General of the International Union of Architects; Kristine Harding, AIA, President of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards; Tamara Redburn, AIA, Director of the National Architectural Accrediting Board and Sharon Matthews, AIA, architectural education and accreditation consultant, all joined our discussions.
Over the course of four days, Cross-Americas drew an international assemblage of architectural scholars, designers, educators and practitioners into rich conversations around themes of our valued commonalities --and of the increasing importance of our articulated differences. PUC, our host school, nurtures particularly robust ties between its academic programs and the design professions. Members of its faculty lead some of the most highly regarded creative practices working anywhere in the world today; several joined us for Cross-Americas: Faculty member Alejandro Aravena, 2016 Pritzker Laureate and curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale, focused the opening keynote on the nature and value of architectural education, and on the role of our discipline in advancing social equity. Subsequent keynote speakers, also affiliated with the PUC, showcased the work of significant Chilean design practices, including Pezo von Ellrichhausen, Mirene Elton, Teresa Moller [Landscape Architecture] and Cazú Zegers.
Captured in the titles of its conferences, the past year has been one for high aspirations [Uncharted Territories], sometimes buttressed by invented words: [New Knowledges, Dis-global Networks]. The titles reflect a year of launching new initiatives from a platform of organizational strengths. Working in multiple modes, ACSA has focused both internally and externally, expanding possibilities for our members in ways that place the organization at the center of opportunity and intelligence in architectural education and practice.
Leveraging and expanding its powerful capacities, ACSA, in its role as facilitator, has engaged in the development of an increasingly robust infrastructure for networked academic and institutional research –one structured to support the work of faculty scholars and leaders at our member schools. In that context, it has worked to strengthen connections to practice, to the profession, to our collateral partners, and to architecture programs worldwide.
In its role as convener, ACSA has expanded the scope and purview of its international conference to include sessions focused on program and professional leadership. It has expanded the content of our annual and fall meetings by partnering with the profession and collateral organizations on research areas of mutual interest, including housing, resilience, and health. We are pleased that the multi-collateral Education Coordinating Council, outgrowth of the Path Forward Task Force, has begun its joint work.
Finally, in its role as disseminator of faculty scholarship and creative production, ACSA has expanded venues for peer-reviewed publication by supporting the development of TAD, a new ACSA journal focused on research in the building sciences; and by creating a traveling exhibition of peer-reviewed faculty work.
Our new strategic plan, the first revision of a key governance document in over a decade, was introduced in Seattle, and is now complete. The 2016-17 Board of Directors will commence its inaugural implementation this summer. Similarly, the first and second parts of our new board governance structure have been adopted. The year ahead will be the first with newly constituted executive and program committee structures.
This marks the final edition of my post-conference letters to our membership. It is a special pleasure to welcome Bruce Lindsey to the presidency of ACSA this month, and to begin exciting new initiatives under his leadership. I am deeply grateful to the exceptional colleagues whose work, through our Board of Directors, has advanced the endeavors of the past year. Each has made the product of our collective efforts more robust and more compelling. I close by expressing my gratitude to Executive Director Michael Monti and to the professional staff at ACSA. Without their support, creativity, and ingenuity ACSA’s work would be impossible. It has been an enormous privilege and honor to serve as President of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. I thank you.
-- Marilys Nepomechie