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-------------------------------------------Establishment of the ARA (American Residential Architects) organization
I think the handwriting's been on the wall for this probably for as long as there has been the AIA.
All those who believe that the AIA is adequately marketing the interests of American licensed residential architects, please raise their hands and shout: "Yes!"............................................................................................................................... ...................................................................... ...................................................................... ............................
Okay. I didn't hear anything or see any hands.
The next question is, what can we do about it? "We" = American licensed residential architects.
There is a reason that there are 2 main building codes: Commercial and Residential. They are very different from each other. How many school architects would you trust to know the intricacies of the IRC (International Residential Code)? No more than a residential architect would be familiar with the radioactive shielding requirements involved with a nuclear power generation facility. Architects who think designing a home is easy soon start discovering all of the detail involved and quickly come to understand what the AIA has long said about it: Home design is one of the most detailed and complex activities in which an architect can engage
. We home architects are involved in a highly specialized practice. No wonder the AIA hasn't done much for our interests. Most of the AIA is involved with commercial architecture. Okay; I guess we have to understand that is how it has always been and likely will remain. The AIA as a whole hasn't seemed to do very much about promoting the specific interests of home architects.
At least, I haven't seen it. Perhaps a yearly awards program and some homes some us have designed in an architecture magazine for architects. That's not going to impress the home-buying public.
I see the AIA spending our yearly dues on owning and renovating buildings for their administrative use, including the expensive new NC HQ over in Raleigh. Good for those people who have jobs in those buildings in those specific cities. But what does that do for us schmucks elsewhere throughout the USA trying to earn a living designing homes?
Perhaps there might be a generic credit to the AIA for funding some program somewhere once in a while on TV or in magazines. Generic architects
. In other words, people are Not thinking of us residential architects. This is Not acceptable.
We spend about $617 a year for our AIA dues. There are about 80,000 AIA members these days. That = $617 x 80,000 = $49,360,000. THAT'S ALMOST $50 MILLION A YEAR IN AIA DUES
THAT WE PAY!!!!!! Can you really believe that out of that incredible revenue, to which we residential architects contribute a decent chunk, that there aren't any TV commercials representing our interests or other meaningful programs to raise the public's awareness of what we do?
I checked out TV ad rates. For a 30 second ad on NBC, during primetime on a perhaps a Wednesday evening = about $64k. This can be cheaper and it can be double or more, depending on the show, its ratings and the day and time of the aired ad. If this is the average, however (and it may not be), what if we aired 100 ads a year? Once every 3 or 4 days? 100 x $64k = $6.4M. Okay; that would be about 13% of the gross AIA dues we pay. What if we ran an ad every day on a major network and what if the cost was $64k average cost? 365 x $64k =$23.36M, or about 47% of the gross AIA dues.
Is that expensive? Absolutely! But what is the price of not getting our message through to the public? How about zero to almost no business designing homes? Are you busier than you want to be? If so, good for you; you might be about 1% of our membership. The rest of us are praying for the wondrous heydays of 2005-6-7-8. And the above ad rates may end up being considerably less, if we were to arrange for a package deal with some particular station that wasn't necessarily NBC, like HGTV. We can investigate that. And some of you have suggested getting a reality TV show going, featuring homes architects and what they do for their clients. The ads for such a series would hopefully pay for its production costs.
The point is: what good is the $617 we all pay yearly to the AIA if those funds are not being used to promote what we do in an effective manner?
I have done something rather brash this morning. I went online and created a new domain:www.AmericanResidentialArchitects.com
. There is no website yet. Just the domain.
Perhaps the time has come for those of us who are almost exclusively residential architects to think about creating our own organization
Perhaps funding, at least in the beginning, won't allow for TV ads, at least not on a daily basis, however, we can start to create an organization entirely focused on our mission
, which, I would think, might have these points as a basis of beginning:
1. To promote a public awareness of the positive aspects of American licensed residential architects.
2. To constructively evolve the practice of residential architecture.
3. To improve residential architecture in terms of design & technical aspects.
4. To help American licensed residential architects have thriving practices.
5., 6., 7., 8., 9., 10. (YOU fill in the others)...
I do not know if there will be enough interest to help this get off the ground.
Apathy will kill it, because I can't do it alone. If, however, enough of us are interested in doing something about our situation, instead of waiting for our present generic organization to help us
, it might get some air under its wings.
I do not know how many of the present 80,000+/- AIA members are mainly residential architects. If perhaps that was 20,000, that would be a hefty piece. If our dues became perhaps $250 per year (significantly less than the present $617 the AIA charges us for combined Local, State + National), that would generate around $5M per year for our new organization, focused on just the interests of residential architects.
If we used perhaps $3M a year for a TV ad program, and if those ads did cost us $64k each, that would be 46 ads aired a year on Major TV channels, for the home-shopping, home-designing, home-building public to see. There are other things we could do with our new member's dues, for instance: create a website, focused entirely on our interests and in educating the public about what we, as residential architects do and how we can be of value to them. We can produce frequent YouTube spots and air them for only the cost of producing the videos: essentially have our own YouTube Channel. And there are more things we can do. This could be the beginning of something long overdue and in our professional best interests and in the public's best interests as well.
(I am reminded of Bluto's charge in Animal House when he was rushing toward danger and yelled: "Who's with me? Yaaaaayyyyyyy!!!!... and as he dashed toward his doom, noticed no one had joined him.)
I am at: Rand@HomeArchitects.com
, 828-269-9046. If any of you is interested in helping me get this started. This might be the start of a new, improved chapter in our practice as American licensed residential architects. We would be known as the ARA (American Residential Architects)
. We could establish some affiliation with the AIA (but would not be sharing our dues with them). We would request that they, however, share a portion of their funding with us, as we would be representing a significant portion of their membership.
Step one would be to create an LLC or whatever entity made sense. We would also establish a fictitious name and bank account to get things going. If any of you are interested in contributing to this, let's start out our membership at $250/year. All checks made out to: ARA
. Send it to: P.O. Box 907, Cashiers, NC 28717. I'll start this out by myself to get it going, but we are going to need to create an ARA board of directors, from American licensed architects from all over the USA.
Rand Soellner AIA
Rand Soellner Architect