Robert Ivy, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has penned a letter to AIA members offering advice and resources for how firms and individuals can navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Ivy’s message, which touches on what firms can do, plans for rescheduling the recently cancelled AIA Conference, and other topics, is published in full below.
Dear AIA community,
We are living in a challenging time. As we awaken each new day of this unfolding public health emergency, our perspective changes, sometimes radically. Despite all of our professional knowledge and technical mastery, the COVID-19 crisis demands that we remember the fragility of the human condition. As architects, we know that there is no higher responsibility – personally or professionally – than protecting the health, safety and welfare of each other and the communities we serve. The reality we are confronting highlights the vulnerabilities of our modern and extremely interconnected global society.
While the future appears uncertain, we still have agency. COVID-19 requires all of us to make difficult decisions and to reevaluate our priorities. Like you I may be worried or uncertain at times, but having been through other large-scale societal challenges, including the September 11 attacks, floods, hurricanes, and deep economic swings, I am also optimistic and confident. The architectural community has consistently come together to do what we do best: protecting society’s well-being while planning for a better future.
As we make our own plans, AIA is making decisions that we’d like to share with you:
After careful review, AIA has decided not to hold A’20 on May 14-16 in Los Angeles. This was a difficult but necessary decision. As you can imagine, the conference is complex, but with the safety of our participants top of mind, this is the right move. We are looking into rescheduling and other options and will notify everyone as soon as possible. I ask for your continued patience and understanding.
Smaller meetings and discretionary travel
We cancelled discretionary travel, and most committee and task force meeting for the next several weeks. In the interim, we are planning for virtual meetings and events or postponement. We’ll be sharing information with specific audiences such as committees and task forces.
Depend on the power of the AIA network for support, information, best practices and community. I encourage you to engage virtually with AIA’s online communities, including one or more of AIA’s 21 Knowledge Communities via KnowledgeNet, an affinity group such as the Small Firm Exchange or Large Firm Roundtable, College of Fellows, and the Disaster Assistance Program. Here are a few AIA resources that might be useful to you, including an article from AIA Trust, Straightforward Advice on Preserving Cash Flow. Useful information from the last economic downturn, which is applicable today. AIA’s Foresight Report 2017. More recently, three firm leaders offer advice on surviving an economic downturn. And AIA’s Disaster resilience team has collected business continuity and preparedness information from public health officials and others to help you plan your way forward.
For our own employees in Washington, AIA is responding to help ensure the safety of everyone while maintaining effective operations and critical quality services, including Contract Documents, Continuing Education, and our Membership Call Center.
Safety is the only answer
Consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, AIA is evaluating the timing of its own internal meetings as well as expanding telework options in support of social distancing. I encourage all of us to reevaluate our operations to safeguard our colleagues while maintaining effective operations.
Follow self-isolation protocols
AIA has 100 percent telework practices with the objective of achieving the mutually essential goals of ensuring continuous and effective business operations for the association and to help ensure the safety of AIA employees and their communities.
Like you, AIA is taking this issue very seriously, and we are actively monitoring unfolding events while continuing to follow guidance from CDC, the World Health Organization, and local, state, and federal officials. As we take the next steps, we will share them with you.
AIA is more than a dynamic professional network—we are a community. And like in our own families, we are doing our best to make the right decisions for you and AIA during an unsettled and difficult time. We may not be in the building when you call, but we’re all online and on the phone, there for you each day. Reach out to us and to each other.
Thank you again for your patience while we grapple with this unprecedented public health emergency. Please take good care of yourselves in the days ahead.
Robert Ivy, FAIA