Small Firm Exchange (SFx)

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Who We Are

The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms. The objectives of the AIA SFx are three-fold:

1. Advocate the value of small firms, the national SFx, and local SFx groups, both within the AIA and to the public.

2. Curate and disseminate the most pertinent resources and information, from the AIA & elsewhere, that benefit small firms.

3. Inform the AIA of current issues facing small firms and areas in which current resources/information are lacking.

Approximately 75% of all firms within the AIA are small firms (less than 10 employees), which equates to 14,459 small firms within the organization.

~26.8% = sole practitioners = 5,173

~33.5% = 1-5 employees = 6,459

~14.7% = 5-10 employees = 2,827

We need to find ways to leverage that size for collaboration and influence, just like the individual large firms do.



The small firm guide to A'23

By Jeremiah S. Russell AIA posted 04-13-2023 12:57 PM


5 Reasons to attend AIA ’23 for Small Firm Architects:

This year we all meet up in San Francisco for the 2023 American Institute of Architect’s National Convention. And just like last year we have come up with the 5 best reasons for you, a small firm architect, to join a few thousand other colleagues on the convention floor.

5. It’s San Francisco - #sunnyand75yearround #reallybigbridge #charlesmansonhouse

4. Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion - #weallneedthis #becauseitmatters

3. Small Firms Matter - #wearethemajority #theaianeedsus

2. Professional Enrichment and Development - #alltheceus #wellallneedceus #getalltheceus

And finally the number one reason to attend AIA ’23 in San Francisco for Small Firm Architects….

1. Social interaction, engagement, and networking - #beer #itsallaboutthebeer #openbar #whatanarchitectdoes #whatanarchitectdrinks

Here is the event list and why you should attend!

Wednesday, June 7

9:00 AM- 11:30 AM. WE 106. Strategies for a Successful Residential Design Process. 

Learn a design methodology that will enhance the chances for successful and responsible residential projects.

10am-11:30. WE204. Digital/Hybrid Practice: a new paradigm for owner, architect and contractor.

10am-11:30. WE209. Progressive design-build: delivering peak performance.

1:00 PM – 3:30 PM. WE 305. Sustainability & Small/Medium Firm: High-Impact Strategies for Success.

The session explores the unique role of small-and medium-sized firms in introducing sustainable design concepts to less-motivated clients and public by using tech that does not explicitly invoke sustainability or climate change.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM. WE 401. Seize the Opportunity of Historic Passive House Retrofits.

Gain insight into seeking local opportunities for energy-efficient retrofits of historic masonry buildings.

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM. WE 520. Preserving American Midcentury Modern Houses.

Use multiple methods to preserve midcentury modern houses through preservation, marketing, occupancy, and sustainable development strategies.

6:30 PM – 9:00 PM. EV 107. $50. Opening Night Celebration.


Thursday, June 8

8:30 AM – 9:45 AM. GS 100. $50. Day 1 Keynote. 

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. EV 201. $5. Small Firm Meetup: Collective Resources.

11:00 AM – 12:00PM. Free Firm Performance Audit.

11:30-1:00.  EV 205. Parsing out the 2030 Commitment: open forum

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. LL 402a. Neighborhood Approaches to Mitigate Urban Heat.

The session outlines the various solutions to help mitigate urban heat, explains the impact of reflective roofing, including rooftop solar.

1:30 – 2:30. EX 503. Cohousing Communities: Designing for high functioning neighborhoods.

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM. TH 114. Planning with Compassion: Emergency Homeless Housing in California.

Tiny Homes Village development. Learn the guiding zoning and land use requirements necessary to process those projects.

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM. TH 219. ADU’s in California: A Sustainable Solution to the Housing Crisis.

Use tips and tricks for design. Take information back to your local and state jurisdictions to help implement similar program.

5:00 PM – 6:30 PM. EV 208 A’23 Block Party.


Friday, June 9

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM. GS 200. $50.  Day 2 Keynote.

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM. EV 310. AIA Small Project Design Forum.

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM. FR 104. Achieving the American Dream: Stories from an Immigrant Firm Owner.

All small firm owners will be sharing the stories about discovering business opportunities available to architectural firms owned by minority architects.

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM. FR 205.  Exploring Employee-Ownership: Cooperative Models in Practice.

Summarize the benefits of the work-owned cooperative model for small firm owners, hopping to retired, or emerging professional trying to achieve work/life balance.

6:00 PM – 8:30 PM. EV 501-509. Open Studios.


Saturday, June 10

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM. EV 402. AIA Small Firm Exchange Forum.

Ready? Search the full agenda and register.