By Melody Harclerode
The acronym can mystify a person with its odd spelling, but its meaning can bring a smile. SORTAA stands for the Slate of Ready To Assist Architects. This committee with the Atlanta Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Atlanta) was started in 1989 by architects Rocky Rothschild and Cecil Alexander, along with Sally Price.
Rothschild and Alexander led the firm called FABRAP, which designed the iconic AT&T Headquarters in Midtown, the demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and the Coca-Cola Headquarters off North Avenue. Price served as the Executive Director of AIA Atlanta. These professionals could have spent their retirement time solely focusing on traveling and relaxing after their years of hard work, but they were drawn to another endeavor.
The trio organized SORTAA to create fellowship and networking opportunities for elder architects. Although Rothschild, Alexander and Price died years ago, SORTAA moves forward with current leaders such as John Busby and Stanley Daniels. Busby, Daniels and the late Henri Jova founded the Atlanta-based architectural firm Jova Daniels Busby in 1966. Their firm designed such landmarks as Colony Square and the round, futuristic bank building on Monroe Drive at Piedmont Road (it’s since been a number of restaurants). The founders of the firm personified leadership with their design accomplishments and positions as Past AIA Atlanta Presidents. Busby even served as AIA National President in 1986.
Established in 1857, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) faces a wonderful opportunity as it seeks to broaden its appeal to younger members. With the average age of an AIA member at age 52 in 2012, the national organization thirst for more young people to join its membership and become more involved in committees. Young professional members can provide new ideas and creativity to energize an organization. They also give the organization more assurance of its long-term stability. However, retired professionals like the ones in SORTAA can also help the professional associations through their expertise and experience.
Knowing the tendency of people to segregate by age, professional organizations around the country should work to bring together its young and elder members for more initiatives that benefit both groups. Through initiatives such as panel discussions, mentoring programs and scholarships to foster collaboration between different age groups, the slate of architects like Busby and Daniels can actually assist a new generation of leaders.