Letter from AIAVT Board President

Dear AIA Vermont members and friends,
I wanted to thank everyone who attended this year’s Awards Banquet in White River Junction, Vermont.  The Engine Room proved to be a fun venue for the event. The music, food and good cheer were a fitting complement to the great designs presented and awards earned. The architectural work created in this state is truly top notch and something to be proud of. Congratulations to all.
It is hard to believe that we are already into the third month of 2019. It seems like each year our schedules get fuller and the time goes by quicker. As an organization, AIAVT understands the daily challenges and we continue to do our best to improve what we do so we can be a valuable resource for our members.
Within the past year we have transitioned to a new Executive Director, Sarah O Donnell, and introduced a newly updated website. We can’t express enough how pleased we are to have Sarah as part of our team. Her positive attitude and willingness to jump in have made the transition smooth and we look forward to working with her for many years to come. Please reach out and welcome her.
As an organization AIAVT is maturing. We are realizing that in addition to our role as a resource for the architectural community of Vermont, we are also in a position to better promote the role of architecture in the community at large. We as an organization are becoming a more active participant in the processes and decisions that impact the growth and vision of Vermont. We appreciate that this is not an overnight change and are in the process of setting the foundation for the future. This year’s primary focus is to improve and strengthen the connections we have with the community and to develop new connections where possible. If we can have a seat at the table, we can be a part of the conversation.
AIA Nationals Blueprint for Better initiative intends to “bring to life the role of architects as thought and action leaders in improving our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.” We are on board with this thinking, and are actively connected to conversations and initiatives with state and local leaders, DFS, BGS, AIA National, and AIA New England. AIAVT has submitted two issue briefs, one on residential building energy compliance, and the other on residential building contractor registration. Both are now in front of the state legislature.
We are living in interesting times. Within the next 10 to 15 years, there will be an interesting culmination of events, including:
  • Aging Architects. Now, more than 50% of the architects in the state of Vermont are over 50 years of age. In ten years, most will be retired. Who will replace them and what will the profession look like?

  • Affordability crisis. Home ownership is on a decline and there is not enough housing available to meet the current need.

  • Aging Population. The population of Vermont is aging. What is the process for adapting to an aging population?

  • Building Energy Use. The existing building stock uses around 40% of our energy resources. As we attempt to reduce our impact on the planet, what is the strategy for improving the efficiency of these buildings?

  • Rural urban divide. Outside of Chittenden County, there is vast difference in wealth and opportunities. How does this divide impact resource allocation and develop long-term growth strategies?

  • Crumbling Infrastructure. How do we transition from an oil-based economy to a reduced carbon economy? Do we keep doing what we have been doing or is another vision for the future required?

  • Quality of Life. Climate change is and will be the most significant determinant of the quality of life for the foreseeable future. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), indicates that we have less than twelve years to reduce global warming to a level where extreme climate change may be manageable. As architects what roles can we play?

These issues do not exist in isolation, yet addressing them all at one time would be impossible. What gives me courage and strength is the Vermont architectural community that I am part of. We as a profession are articulate, creative leaders who can play an important role in facing the challenges ahead. We thrive on a challenge and are undaunted by hard work. As individuals we cannot do it alone but as a group and a part of the larger community around us we can make a difference.
AIAVT wants to be the resource that builds the bridge to the larger community. We will continue to promote architecture and assist architects so that they can use their leadership skills, creative thinking and problem solving abilities to develop a vision for a sustainable and healthy future. We are reaching out and expanding our platform as an organization. To do that we need your input, thoughts, and ideas. Please feel free to contact any board member or myself directly.  Let us know how we can better serve you. AIA Vermont is strongest when we all work together. There is no plan(et) B.
Joel Page, AIA2019 President, AIA Vermont