By Melody Harclerode
Since its creation by 13 New York City architects in 1857, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has expanded to become an association with over 73,000 architects, emerging professionals and allied partners.
The local chapter of AIA, or AIA Atlanta, represents approximately 2,000 members and can provide invaluable services for the architecture community.
Continuing education classes, such as  “Moisture Penetration in Masonry Construction,” may not warm the hearts of the public, yet these courses help architects to maintain their license and stay knowledgeable about the products, technology and regulations affecting the public.
The chapter also sponsors the lively Wednesday Night Drafting Club and netWorking Women get-togethers monthly for design professionals to connect with others in the highly competitive architecture field.
At the same time, leaders in AIA Atlanta recognize that the organization can’t concentrate on the development of architects to remain a vital and relevant profession for the public. Led by President Robert Farrow, a Principal at HKS, Inc., and Executive Director Susan Ellis Proper, volunteers organize interesting seminars, educational programs, lectures, exhibits, building tours, and competitions as far north as
Gwinnett County to as far south as the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport for members and the public.
February marks a flurry of activity for the chapter. The AIA+2030
Professional Series helps professionals to design super-efficient buildings that meet the 2030 Challenge of 50 percent reduction in fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Many scientists associate fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions with the rise of global temperatures and subsequent damage to the environment. Open to the public, these seminars raise awareness of this provocative issue.
The 6th Annual AIA Atlanta High School Student Design Competition builds with excitement during this month as aspiring architects from high schools around Georgia create designs for an emergency relief shelter. Another student programs shifts into high gear as the Discover ARCHITECTURE architecture-based after school program resumes at Atlanta elementary schools.
By spring, AIA Atlanta Public Tours starts its annual nine-month run. As many as 100 people attend these monthly tours of newly constructed and renovated buildings hosted by the project architect or designer. Several of the tours featuring environmentally friendly buildings are organized through an alliance with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
AIA Atlanta works with other design-oriented organizations including the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) and the High Museum to develop programs. These partnerships increase the number of volunteers and participants and increase the profile of fundraisers like CANstruction and Red and Green Scene.
The inaugural AIA Atlanta Architecture Week starts in April 2011. Coinciding with this celebration, the chapter will offer an array of building tours, seminars and exhibits.
With the involvement of the AIA Atlanta committee called Young Architects Forum as event planners, expect the AIA Atlanta Architecture Week programs to be fun and inventive.
Over this year, the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Architects plans dozens of events for members and the public. If you enjoy architecture and design, AIA
Atlanta has an abundance of innovative activities to stir your creativity and satisfy your interest.
For more information visit AIAAtlanta.org.

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