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Best in American Living Awards: Home Design’s Top Honor

There's only a few weeks left until the Best in American Living Awards' entry deadline!

 

A lot has changed over the 30 years since the Best in American Living Awards began redefining design excellence for the entire residential building industry. But one thing has remained the same—the program is the nation's most prestigious housing honor, celebrating innovative, creative and cutting-edge design in building, remodeling, single—and multifamily and even specialty projects.

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Writing in from the International Union of Architects Congress in Durban, South Africa:   The first part of this week’s events is educational with keynotes, academic sessions, workshops, and lots of meet and greet with architects from around the world. It’s been a tremendous opportunity to gain a new perspective on the world and the role of the architect from the southern hemisphere – maybe it’s something about the sun rising in the east and then heading north? Very bizarre.  Anyway, we’ve been hearing a lot of numbers over the past few days, like: 

5% of buildings in the world are designed by architects, 95% are not
1.6 billion people live in slums, or “informal settlements”,  with a predicted 3 billion people in slums by 2030
80 billion square meters of new/renovated buildings by 2050  
1 toilet for every 440 people living in informal settlements in Mumbai 

I’ve

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I did not expect to be able to see the sun rise over the ocean this summer, especially the Indian Ocean.  As newly elected AIA President-elect-elect, I am attending the International Union of Architects (UIA) Congress and Assembly in Durban, South Africa.  In the short five weeks since the Chicago convention and election a number of new calendar entries have popped up for me, but this is a big one that quickly replaced my summer vacation.


Similar to our own convention, but in reverse, there is a three day conference followed by a business meeting.  The range and volume of programs is staggering like our own convention but the diversity of the attendees is a true eye-opener.  The variety of dress and the range of languages remind you each moment that this is a truly international gathering of Architects.

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It is quite astonishing to be here at the UIA 2014 world Conference in
Durban, South Africa.

What a privilege to be in the midst of a 4,222 architects from all 
over the world! Coming from the somewhat monochromatic community of Western Massachusetts, it is
truly a delight to see/hear/chat with colleagues from everywhere.

The theme of the conference is “Otherwhere”—where we haven't been, where we want to go. For Durban & South Africa, it has to do with celebrating 20 years since apartheid was overturned. It is important to Africans to talk about how far they have come, and how far they still need to go. To heal the social wounds and build an environment that is just, economically viable, and culturally lively.

And it is such a valid topic for the rest of world as well. After all, there is growing disparity between the rich and poor, diminishing resources and growing climate unrest. Democracies are not flourishing, and architects find the profession ever more complex and difficult.
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Styles and building materials -- whether brownstone from Portland or brick from Windsor -- tell only part of the story of Connecticut's architectural heritage, which stretches back even before the country was born. The structures erected, those torn down and replaced and those still standing reflect the evolving social and economic fabric of the state, from buildings clustered around a town green in Colonial times to bringing back pedestrian-friendly downtowns in the 21st century.

http://www.historicphoenix.com/architectural-styles/images/architecture.jpg

From dozens of the suggestions, structures in this gallery were selected, with the help of an architect Michael J. Crosbie, a professor of architecture at the University of Hartford who occasionally writes about architecture and design
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“Conservation” is a term most often associated with saving species, forests, reefs, old media and art, and old buildings. However this amazing term applies to economics, fuel sourced energy, and many other resources. As we discuss “high performance” as a response to sustainability and resilience we need to rediscover the essential role conservation plays in our future. Currently many publicized “sustainable” projects tend to cost a great deal more to design, to build, and to operate than baseline buildings of our day. This is unfortunate for everyone because sustainability is founded on conservation of our resources meaning fuel based energy, materials, and capital. The Brundtland Commission definition of sustainability, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, describes conservation in all but name. Our work as architects should be founded on the ideals of conservation to meet any reasonable measure of sustainability. If our designs do not save land, fuel based energy, embodied energy, and embodied capital we are not preparing for the future. Architects are by our very nature futurists, everything we do is about the future and most of our decisions will outlive us all. As a class, we owe it to those we serve and care for to take our role seriously as the ability to overcome what faces our civilization will be directly proportional to the seeds we sow today. Happily conservation as a concept is embraced by people of most political persuasions so the wind is in our sails whether we know it or not.
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That sounds pretty important doesn’t it? At the very least it sounds comprehensive … it suggests an extensive and exhaustive collection of the best architecturally themed websites in the world. I’m not sure if that is this list but it is my go-to list of websites. Compiling a list of the top architectural websites is far more difficult than it sounds, particularly if there isn’t any particular manner of evaluation employed other than these are the sites that I go to the most often.some of these which caught my eye include professional resources and conversation starters, plus a few more typical examples that broadcast news in a lively or visually elegant manner.

So let’s get to it – in no particular order, Life of an Architect’s Favorite Websites:

A Daily Dose of Architecture

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The first-ever Global Inclusion Reception (EV321) of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) was held during its national convention in Chicago on June 27, 2014 at the Hafele Chicago Showroom. Here are my three takeaways from the event:
  1. It is possible for a diverse group of creative organizations to come together in fellowship.
  2. Humanitarian issues, like the most recent need for rebuilding after category 5 typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), are global operations that require a spirit of communal unity, because no one is exempt from experiencing natural disasters.
  3. "No matter who you are, what you look like, where you're from, or who you love," architecture and design can be a profession where you are part of the 'IN' crowd.
Members of the US Whitehouse delivered enlightening and inspiring messages about diversity and inclusion, from Billy Dec who's a Presidential-Appointee to the Whitehouse Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), to US Ambassador John Maisto...  
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I wanted to make you all aware of Fast Company's coverage of the Small Project Practitioners Farmers Market Pop-Up Project Design Competition.  Jean Dufresne served as a great spokesperson for the program: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3032462/4-designs-that-reimagine-the-farmers-market

Best,

 

Matt Tinder
Media Relations
The American Institute of Architects
1735 New York Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20006
202.626.7462
mtinder@aia.org
Follow us on twitter @AIA_Media

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