A letter from 2021 IPCAG Chair Andrew Caruso, AIA & 2022 Global Practice Committee Chair Mark Careaga, AIA
From global pandemics to climate change, 2021 underscored the importance of remaining committed to – or better, accelerating – AIA’s leadership and engagement in a global context. This is particularly true given rapid growth in AIA’s global membership and the expanding prominence of cross-border practice. For over 100 years, AIA’s Global Practice Committee (in various iterations) has helped shape and support AIA’s global engagement, and the committee reflects on further successes this year.
Despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic -- and the cancellation of an in-person A’21, related bi-lateral events, and the annual in-person committee meeting – GPC committee members continued to grow member value in 2021. We remain grateful for their service, flexibility, and commitment to the AIA and its members, particularly in these challenging times.
Following the outcomes of the three-year strategic plan and Global Strategic Task Force recommendations, the GPC used 2021 to explore a range of new ideas, products and initiatives that align and advance the five pillars of its charge. In merely 10 hours of Zoom calls (plus some individual homework on the side), the group has set out an ambitious portfolio of projects for continued development in the years ahead. We report on these further below.
As 2021 draws to a close, we extend our gratitude to those who are concluding their current roles with the GPC:
To Elizabeth Chiu Richter, FAIA for her sage input and continued engagement as Past Chair;
To Mark Careaga, AIA, for his contributions throughout the 2019-2021 term, and for agreeing to lead us forward as the 2022 Chair;
To Milton Garavito, AIA, for consistently delivering inspiring ideas and persistent commitment to their ongoing development;
To Greg Yager, FAIA, for his invaluable institutional knowledge and connection to the Strategic Council;
To Thierry Paret, FAIA, for championing the voice of AIA’s international members;
And to our continuing committee members and staff liaisons, Derek Washam and Paula Seidel, who continue to tirelessly advance AIA’s global membership and engagement.
Reframing the IPCAG as the Global Practice Committee (GPC)
Reflecting AIA’s evolving role within the context of global practice, the committee worked with AIA leadership to retire the International Practice Committee Advisory Group (IPCAG) name, instead using Global Practice Committee (GPC) going forward. This change aligns with a more inclusive and contemporary vocabulary, reflects the positive global growth of the AIA and its membership community, and compliments AIA resources and policy documents on global issues. It represents an important maturation of the committee’s 100+ years of service to the AIA.
Committee Growth and Diversity
Aligned with the growth and importance of AIA’s international membership, and seeking to contribute to AIA’s diversity initiatives, GPC broadened our membership in 2021 with an additional committee appointment. The group continues to recruit globally-practicing members with an eye toward balancing points of view across the following dimensions:
- Race & Gender
- Practice size and type
- AIA Membership Level
Despite having only 11 committee members, we are privileged to draw upon the perspectives of many traditionally underrepresented communities in our profession, including black, latinX, female, and LGBTQIA+ colleagues. Our members’ geographies stretch from Shanghai to London; their AIA involvement from the Associate level to Fellowship; and practice profiles from sole practitioners to multi-national corporations. We revel in the GPC being a torchbearer for AIA’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging efforts, reflecting the breadth of an ever growing multi-cultural membership.
For 2022 and beyond, GPC is particularly focused on expanding our gender diversity and we are continuing targeted recruitment efforts in this regard.
Bringing Global Practice Knowledge to Members
GPC member Jason Holland had his proposal for a session at A’22 on “Building A Design Business Abroad” accepted and will draw upon GPC resources and content to shape the session. This session joins a long history of GPC-created Conference on Architecture content focused on Global Practice.
Regional Strategy Framework Development
With thanks to Milton Garavito, Assoc. AIA for his leadership
In 2021, the GPC developed a draft regional strategy framework with the following goals:
- Track and coordinate regional activities, needs and opportunities
- Strategically prioritize resources across the global portfolio
- Deepen AIA institutional knowledge on its historic and future global engagement activities
- Brief rising volunteer leadership on global legacy and future strategy.
The committee successfully developed a template for the regional strategy framework, as well as completed economic and membership-based analysis to identify four “priority/pilot-project” regions.
Next Steps: GPC members will begin populating the framework for four pilot regions.
Component Committee Communication (C3) Strategy
With thanks to Mark Careaga, AIA and Pat Bosch, Assoc. AIA for their leadership
The GPC has begun a targeted outreach program to USA-based AIA components that maintain a standing global practice sub-committee. GPC envisions using this network to enhance member value by sharing AIA global practice tools and resources, recruiting volunteers to collaborate on GPC initiatives, and to diversify the pipeline of committee nominations, among other goals.
We have enjoyed strong, positive response so far from the components we reached out to, with the Boston Society of Architects’ Global Practice Network and AIA Seattle’s Seattle International Architecture Forum expressing definite interest. Targeted relationship building is underway with AIA San Francisco, AIA Chicago, and AIA New York. The GPC enthusiastically welcomes components with a global practice working group (or related interest) to reach out for further details.
Next steps: establish regular dialog between components and the GPC; invite component volunteers to collaborate on GPC initiatives, working groups, global practice seminars, etc.
Developing the Next Generation of Global Practitioners
With thanks to Jason Holland, AIA for his leadership
The committee has been developing opportunities to mentor and support emerging architects who come from (and/or are interested in) careers in global practice. In 2021, the first “Global Practice Conversation” podcast was recorded and is currently in production for release. This resource will test a model for connecting early architects and designers with the insights of some of AIA’s most experienced global practitioners. AIA Shanghai’s mentoring program and the AIA Fellows mentoring program are among the complimentary initiatives that have been involved in the development of this new GPC project.
Next steps: Ambition to debut initial podcast in 2022 Q1 and collect feedback. 5-6 next episodes are in conceptual development. Use the podcast to capture and promote voices of our bi-lateral partners, AIA Fellows, etc.
International Project Partner Network
With thanks to James Wright, FAIA for his leadership
The committee has been exploring the development of an online resource to assist firms in connecting with project partners across national boundaries (local architects-of-record, in the first instance; broader multi-disciplinary project partners in the longer-term). An initial prospectus has been drafted and discussed with a web consultant.
Next Steps: Explore various funding strategies to further develop, test, and refine concept/beta version.
Global Practice Primer 2.0 – Online Multi-national Learning Program
With thanks to Milton Garavito, Assoc. AIA for his leadership
Building on the success of the AIA Global Practice Primer (launched in 2017-2018 to help US architects understand how to practice abroad), the committee will use 2022 to explore supplementing this online resource with a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) focused on helping international project partners understand how to team effectively with US-based architects in their local context.
In addition, the committee is interested in bringing new content to the GPP focused on cross-cultural literacy in an increasingly global/multi-cultural practice context.
Next Steps: An initial outline for the course has been drafted and will undergo further refinement and alignment with existing content of the AIA Global Practice Primer. The committee has confirmed GPC alumni involved in developing the original GPP will contribute toward this effort through a FY22 working group.
Important Guideposts for the Future
- The GPC’s primary focus for 2021 was to kick-start the implementation of previous strategic plan ambitions through the key initiatives described above. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions, cancelled events/travel, and the turnover of federal government disrupted some of the more traditional national and international dialogues and partnerships the GPC typically stewards. Nevertheless, the committee reaffirms the importance of and commitment to the following initiatives in the year(s) ahead: Stronger collaboration and engagement on substantive global practice policy issues, including AIA’s involvement with Climate Change/COP, and bi-lateral mutual recognition advocacy
- Enhance our relationship building with external organizations, perhaps leveraging GPC alumni to liaise with major institutions (WTO, UN, World Bank, etc.)
- Perform a comprehensive review of international partners
- Stronger collaboration with Government Advocacy team
In addition, the group’s ideas and enthusiasm exceeded current volunteer capacity (a good problem to have!). We identify the following future projects as worth of exploration in coming years:
- Business Case for international continuing education programs, including multi-lingual offerings and delivery models
- Ambassador program at Conference on Architecture to mobilize GPC “alumni” as one-to-one ambassadors for international delegates attending conference for the first time.
A View Toward 2022
In the coming year, we will build on the successes of 2021, organized around the theme of “Connections.” The Global Practice Committee has much to offer AIA members and the broader global design community, and further development and roll-out of our current initiatives will help communicate the value we bring. Similarly, there are significant discussions about global practice happening within AIA chapters and components. By establishing a robust national network of global practitioners, GPC can tap into a deep well of talent and thought leadership, both increasing awareness of our work as well as strengthening the pipeline for our committee’s membership. GPC will thus serve as a conduit between the AIA and its components in a way that is both productive and mutually beneficial.
Another opportunity for communicating the Global Practice Committee’s value is improved online visibility, and the various avenues for content development and delivery initiated in 2021 will provide the basis for a more clearly navigable presence on AIA.org. A new landing page for GPC would be the place to find the Global Practice Primer, the Global Practice Conversations podcast series, the International Project Partner Network, and other resources.
Last but not least, we should continue to communicate the importance of global architectural practice, not only in terms of the value that US practitioners can bring to overseas clients and projects in terms of expertise – whether design, technical, or programmatic – but also in terms of how global practice can strengthen and enhance the work we do here in the US. Successful global practitioners are curious, inquisitive, and culturally literate – qualities and skills honed by practicing in unfamiliar settings and finding that “tried and true” is sometimes neither. Members of the GPC are uniquely qualified to craft and hone a message about the value and relevance of global practice to AIA members, and we will make space for that effort in 2022.
2021 International Practice Committee Advisory Group Members:
Andrew Caruso, AIA, 2021 Chair
Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, Past Chair
Mark Careaga, AIA, 2022 Chair
Milton Garavito, Assoc. AIA
Jason Holland, AIA
Chris Musangi, AIA
Pat Bosch, Assoc. AIA
Sam Oboh, FAIA, FRAIC
James Wright, FAIA, Co-Director, UIA Professional Practice Commission
Greg Yager, FAIA, International Representative to AIA Strategic Council
Thierry Paret, FAIA, Past President, International Region
Paula Douglas Seidel, Sr. Director, Industry & International Relations
Derek Washam, Director, International Relations