Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2021 | Virtual Conference

2021 AIA/ACSA Intersections Research Conference: COMMUNITIES

Fall Conference

May 19, 2021

Abstract Deadline

July 2021

Abstract Notification

Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2021

Virtual Conference


Call for Abstracts


Rico Quirindongo, City of Seattle, Office of Planning and Community Development
Georgeen Theodore, New Jersey Institute of Technology

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) are pleased to announce the second annual joint AIA/ACSA INTERSECTIONS Research Conference dedicated to the INTERSECTION of Education, Research and Practice. This 2.5-day virtual conference will include dynamic presentations of current research and keynotes and sessions offering new ideas, models for practice, and challenging our profession in addressing the critical issue of climate and community. The conference builds on the eight-year partnership between AIA and ACSA toward these objectives. The focus of the INTERSECTIONS programs is intended to strengthen the INTERSECTION between academia and design practice, especially when it comes to research and innovation, focused on community strategies.

Attendees will hear about new discoveries and innovations at all scales and gain an increased awareness of research happening in both academia and practice, which will inform their work and teaching. The conference will foster opportunities for new partnerships, explore interdisciplinary opportunities, find sources of funding and collaborations. It will be a chance for both established researchers as well as those looking to enhance their research capabilities, or update their knowledge, with keynotes, sessions, breakouts, workshops and networking events.


Call for Abstracts

As we find ourselves a year (+) into a world pandemic, what has changed? What issues and silver linings have emerged to change how we learn, work, live and play? What can we as architects, academics, researchers & design leaders do to improve our world, environment, our cities, our buildings & our communities? How can we take a cue from the call for social justice which has been elevated during a time of COVID to address our communities of need, our communities of color, and a legacy of redlining and environmental racism? How can we use and share this knowledge to impact the critical issue of Climate change?

Architects are called on to see the bigger picture beyond singular buildings, to ensure the buildings and developments they design have a long-lasting beneficial impact on our cities, regions, towns, and environment. The shifting economic, political, and climatic landscape has left many communities and neighborhoods challenged and changed. How do architects process these varied and interdependent impacts and revise their approaches to building and urban/rural design? Successful community projects can rally communities to improve, rebuild, and restore their cities and towns. How can design affect social change? What role can architects and designers play in addressing community needs; such as:

  • affordable housing demand
  • public space, open space, community investment
  • institutional buildings (health, education, government, etc.)
  • projects that spur local economic development and the associated impacts,
  • buildings and urban interventions that mitigate exposure to adverse conditions (pollution, heat, noise, flooding, etc.)

Where can research fill gaps in applied design work and spur innovation? How can architects enrich academic and community endeavors? And how can academia and practice collaborate to build stronger, more resilient and equitable communities?

At this conference, we look to share the latest research and innovations, and examine the role research plays in advancing architectural practice and education within our communities. Speakers and presenters will share how their research is generated in practice, at universities and in partnerships with business, industry, and government.

Research Abstract Submission Deadline: May 19, 2021

For this conference, there will be five tracks focused on resilient communities. Respondents should identify one of these five tracks, that most relates to their research, while completing their abstract submission. Across all five tracks, we invite all submissions to address one or more of the principles from the AIA Framework for Design Excellence.

  • Equitable Communities
    Design solutions affect more than the client and current occupants. Good design includes considerations of community history, context, culture and more to positively impact present and future occupants and the larger community. How might the ‘Social Determinants of Health’ (Kaiser Family Foundation) and similar frameworks set the stage for how we approach equity in built environment considerations?
  • Healthy Communities
    Good design supports health and well-being for all people, considering COVID, physical, mental, and emotional effects on building occupants and the resilience of the surrounding community.
  • Zero-Carbon Communities
    Given our current and future climate challenges highly energy-efficient community-based projects are needed to create carbon free & renewable energy powered resilient places.
  • Community Localism
    Showcasing resilient community-based design responses to one’s own area or region, such as grassroots efforts, community design centers and local ventures. Localism also takes into consideration material supply chains, local trades education, the impacts of community culture and engagement and other aspects of small-scale community reality.
  • Post-Pandemic Communities
    As we wrestle with the impacts of the pandemic and pressing calls to address systemic racism and inequities, we need our communities to thrive and bounce back in climate-responsive and resilient way. How can we take a critical look at the disproportionately negative impact of COVID to our communities of color and provide a pathway for a better future? What are the lessons learned and silver linings that can inform our future for the better?

Melanie De Cola
AIA, Manager, Architectural Research

Eric Wayne Ellis
ACSA, Senior Director of Operations and Programs