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The Public Architects (PA) Committee promotes excellence in public architecture and enhances the role of the public architect as an essential element in the planning, design, construction, and management of public facilities. Join us!


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The Public Architect as City Builder Workshop

By Lee A. Solomon posted 11-23-2016 10:25 AM

Construction2.jpgFlickr/Eric Haglund

By Lee Solomon, AIA

April 26, 2017 | AIA Convention, Orlando Florida

Every year the AIA Public Architects Advisory Group sponsors a full day Workshop on the day prior to the start of the Annual AIA National Convention.  This year the theme is “The Public Architect as City Builder” and this full day event will be conducted on Wednesday April 26, 2017 in Orlando Florida at the Convention Center.  At this time, we are planning a three speaker presentation in the morning, as well as another three speaker presentation in the afternoon session.  Throughout the presentations, we will utilize live polling to question the audience and instantly post their responses.  We currently plan a full day program of 6 sessions with the following subjects/speakers:

  • “Water” with Paul Smith, from NYC DEP
  • “Transportation” with Michael Kaleda, PE, LEED AP, MTA
  • “Public Housing” with Michael Kelly, AIA, LEED Green Associate, NYCHA
  • “Public Housing” with Deborah Goddard, JD, NYCHA
  • “Military Installations” with Ed Gauvreau, AIA, APA, SAME, HQ USACE
  • “ Infrastructure & Institutions” with Margaret O’Donoghue Castillo, FAIA, LEED AP, NYC DDC

The Public Architect serves as a visionary for planning and delivering critical infrastructure to cities. In this workshop, presenters will highlight leadership and technical skills which guide Infrastructure Development in service to cities.  The core competencies include the following:

  • Leading a diverse and dynamic set of team members on an interagency and corporate level
  • Cultivating innovation and ownership, enforcing accountability and maintaining high standards for staff and contractors
  • Planning and implementing projects to address significant infrastructure needs within serious financial constraints
  • Delivery of high level strategies and technical project details, with the ability to project how future trends and consequences should drive present decisions.


Our speakers are Architects and Engineers working in the Public Sector and Public Infrastructure domain, who will present approaches to design, construction, sustainability and resiliency in accommodating rapidly changing technological advances in service to cities. Presenters and participants together will identify challenges and define success, creating guidelines for collaboration related to buildings, structures, utilities, resources, public agency, financing goals and critical design issues.

The aging City Infrastructure has created a need to better position Public Architects and Designers, to play a key leadership role as City Builders. Public Architects and Engineers are developing new ways to design and (re) build critical infrastructure and to shape this new process. The Workshop will provide professional development in areas of financial, regulatory, political and design issues for the Public Architect and Designer. The sessions will profile Infrastructure systems (for example water, transportation, housing, military installations and institutional networks), as well as, different public entities (for example military, federal, state, municipal).   Attendees will participate in discussions helping to identify lessons learned and recommending alternative processes and prioritizing key components for these initiatives.

Audience participation in the discussion will be a critical component in identifying and establishing "guidelines" for success in delivering essential infrastructure to cities. The broad overview, history and diverse case studies will provide opportunities for attendees to extend their understanding of the range of Architecture Services including the challenges in execution. The audience will be engaged both a technical level and on a policy level to define how Public Works serve in negotiating amidst competing demands. We will utilize live polling and facilitated discussions with panelists to engage and support learner outcomes.

Attendees will have analytic and conceptual tools to evaluate and deploy the design and construction of infrastructure strategies. With these tools, Public Architects, Engineers and Designers of Infrastructure will become key decision makers in complex funding environments, leveraging knowledge and understanding gained in this workshop in support of this very necessary subject matter expertise:

  1. Upon completion, participants will be able to identify main types of public and private issues and will be able to access tools and resources to evaluate and navigate through authorities having jurisdiction and stakeholders.
  2. Upon completion, participants will be able to describe the competing demands for infrastructure development and will have made connections to other design professional experiences from whom they can learn.
  3. At the end of this workshop, participants will have helped to establish criteria to evaluate the viability of infrastructure project strategies, and hence for defining the role of design professionals.
  4. Upon completion, participants will have information necessary to shape decision-making to serve in creating the highest quality and best value public realm.


Lee Solomon, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, AVS,  is the Chair of the Public Architects Workshop at the 2017 AIA Convention, and former Cornerstone Editor through Spring 2016.  She has been a public service architect for over 25 years and currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Capital Planning Technical Group for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).  She guides the capital planning process for the agency’s five and ten year plans.  She previously held positions in the City of New York Office of the Mayor, Office of Management and Budget providing value management workshops for public projects totaling over $3.9 billion and worked at the Dormitory Authority for New York as well as the New York City School Construction Authority.  Lee has 12 years of experience in the private sector heading up her own firm and managing projects for other architectural firms.

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