It’s just been a few weeks since we returned from the 2022 Small Firm Exchange (SFx) Annual Board Meeting held in San Diego, California and I couldn’t be more excited about the future and the work of the SFx board for this year. During our meetings, the members of the American Institute of Architects SFx Board met to discuss the needs and issues that affect small architectural firms. In some ways, we left with more questions than answers, but in many ways the trajectory of the AIA Small Firm Exchange is exploding for the new year. As we move forward, our focus is on the mission of the SFx to Advocate, Inform and Share for the growth and benefit of all small firms.
A New Organization
Central to the discussions held at Newschool of Architecture and Design was the shift in organizational structure that changed at the beginning of this year. With the elimination of the regional structure within the AIA, our leadership framework also changed. The representation of small firms throughout the country is now coordinated through a network of state representatives who we hope will become the key contact for small firms to turn to when they have questions or have needs they are looking to fulfill. Our goal is to have every state represented, and for our first year we have 26 amazing architects to help connect small firms with the resources and information available to them through the AIA. For those states without representation, members of the SFx board have been assigned as an interim representative to those states. To find out who your state representative is, please visit aia.org/sfx. If you don’t have one, please reach out to a board member and we will be happy to help you.
SFx Board Work Groups and Special Projects
Much of what the SFx board has responsibility for is to advocate for the value of small firms, inform small firms of the resources available for them as they run their firms, and share with the AIA the current issues facing small firms. To accomplish this, the board has organized work groups in three basic areas - outreach, conference and special projects. Plans for the efforts of these work groups over the coming year were discussed with goals for increasing the impact of the SFx to benefit small firms throughout the country and beyond. Outreach works to promote information and the work of small firms through our social media channels and through the use of the Small Firm Exchange Magazine on Flipboard (search for @aia_sfx on flipboard.com). The Conference work group submits programs to the AIA Conference on Architecture that are created to help meet the needs of small firms. They also review the sessions at Conference to curate a list of programs that would be of interest to small firms. Look for this list in the SFx Newsletter. Finally, the special projects group tackle topics that are not available as a current resource or are focused on the unique needs of small firms. Topics this year include the use of technology in our practices for managing our practices, finalizing a toolkit for local components to use when establishing a local/state/regional SFx Group, and the creation of a resource for freelance architects to help firms connect to one another when one firm may be slow and another has need for experienced architects to help them with their work. We are excited for what these resources may mean to help small firms accomplish their work.
Our time in San Diego was magnificent. Not only was it a great way to get out of the winter weather of our homes, it was a place where the SFx board met, developed connections with one another and began a process of collaboration that will serve us well throughout the year.
2022 Overall Focus
During the year, our desire is to focus on the underlying mission of the Small Firm Exchange (see SFx website: aia.org/sfx). Like a design concept from architecture school, we are asking ourselves if the tasks we are undertaking as a board and as state representatives falls within the mission to Advocate, Share + Inform for small firms everywhere. We want to hear from you! How can the AIA support your small firm? What are the needs you have as a small firm that you are looking for? We have found that there are many resources available for small firms within the AIA that just need to be shared. Please contact me (bfallon at wpa-architecture.com), a member of the board or your state representative, to discuss your thoughts and what we can do to help. We wish you a fantastic 2022 and look forward to interacting with you all this year!