A 1976 graduate of Tulane University where he earned a degree in architecture Robert Ivy is the current CEO of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) a professional organization with 90,000 plus members. One of the AIA’s missions is to cultivate a favorable image of the architectural profession through public outreach. Toward that end, the AIA works to influence legislation and governmental regulations that affect architecture. This is done in part with a view towards improving public welfare through building design.
In a 2012 interview on aias.org, Robert Ivy explained the role that architecture can play in healthier living. He cited the draining of swamps around Washington DC in the eighteenth century as the first such effort in architectural history. Ivy recommended designing buildings and communities so people will have to walk more. Such designs would give architects and active role in combatting heart disease and diabetes.
As Robert Ivy sees it, that effort begins with encouraging Architects to make “well being” which means concentrating on both physical and mental needs a design priority. This would involve factoring clean water, sunlight, and fresh air into their designs. Ivy also encouraged the use of healthier building materials.
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Ivy announced that his organization would be launching a ten-year initiative to further its goal of using architecture to foster better health, shorten the recovery time after disasters, and promote sustainability.
There was a time when it required neither training nor licensing to call oneself an architect. The mountebanks who exploited this situation fostered a negative image of the architectural profession. In 1857 the American Institute of Architects was founded in New York City to improve the profession’s image and create higher quality architects. Within three years, there were AIA chapters in Washington DC and ten major cities throughout the North East and Mid West.
Today, the American Institute of Architects is based at 1735 New York Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C. and boasts over 300 chapters in the US and has spread beyond American borders to include chapters in Europe and Asia. As part of its advocacy work, the AIA works through government agencies to secure the infrastructure, improve the quality of public areas, and ensure every citizen it the US has access to affordable housing.
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