A History of the AIA New York State, Inc.
An Organization of The American Institute of Architects
Legislative Issues and Governmental Affairs… A Reason For Coming Together.
The AIA New York State, Inc., an organization of The American Institute of Architects, came into being of necessity. In the early 1900’s, it became essential that the Architects of this State have some organization that spoke for and represented the profession as a whole. Its objective was unification of the profession in dealing with so many of the problems facing the architect in his or her practice. Thus, the primary reason for the organization of the AIA New York State (AIANYS) was to influence state legislation in connection with the practice of Architecture, and this remains the primary reason for its existence today.
Legislative issues were the pivotal force behind the formation of a single statewide, cohesive architectural organization. In 1915, the State Legislature enacted the Architects Licensing Law; and although the architectural profession was fragmented, with architectural societies existing in some areas of the State and local chapters of The American Institute of Architects existing in other areas, it was apparent that the profession did act cohesively in the enactment of this licensing law.
Then in 1928 and 1929, the importance of having a unified, cohesive New York State Association of Architects speaking in a single voice on professional and legislative affairs in the State of New York manifested itself again when housing legislation was introduced in Albany. Up to that time, all the architectural organizations in New York State operated without coordination and, in legislative matters, appeared before the legislative bodies as individual groups with their own representatives and agendas, usually with conflicting views, with the result that their arguments carried very little weight in Albany, causing the housing program to break down during these two years.
1939 Council of Registered Architects sets its course
Thus, in 1931, The Council of Registered Architects—State of New York was officially organized and incorporated, with a view to coordinating the legislative activities of the various chapters and societies in the State; and thereafter the Council appeared as a representative of the entire profession in New York State. The object of this Council as stated by the original Constitution was: “To unite the Registered Architects and Architectural Associations in the State of New York, for the purpose of maintaining a compact, representative and centralized agency to consider, agree and act, in unison, upon all matters affecting the practice of the profession of architecture.”
Affiliation with The American Institute of Architects
A number of name changes have occurred since the inception in 1931 of the Council of Registered Architects—State of New York. In 1937, the name was changed to New York State Association of Architects, Inc. In 1947 the state association became an affiliate of The American Institute of Architects, increasing the scope and influence of the organization; and in 1949, the New York State Association of Architects received its charter from The American Institute of Architects at the Rochester Convention that year. In 1992, the state association filed with the Secretary of State to do business as (dba) AIA New York State, providing an even closer identity with the AIA; and in 2001, the state association filed again with the Secretary of State to legally change the name to AIA New York State, Inc.
From its inception, legislative and regulatory affairs were of vital importance to the architects and their practice, and year after year the state association’s legislative program increased in volume and importance, and leadership found themselves required to make regular appearances before the legislative bodies in Albany on matters of legislation and regulation affecting architects and their practice. This became especially important when the New York State Association of Architects became a chartered organization of The American Institute of Architects in 1941, increasing the scope and influence of the state association considerably among the member chapters and the state Legislature. Our government affairs program continues to the present and has been cited year after year and planning retreat after planning retreat as the major cornerstone of the state association’s mission and purpose.
Another important milestone in the evolution of the state association was on June 15, 1961 when the AIA granted the charter of the New York Regional Council, AIA, which represents the interests of members in New York State on the Board of Directors of The American Institute of Architects.
Growth of the Association
Within a decade of its founding, the need of an executive director and a headquarters for the state association became most apparent to the leadership of the New York State Association of Architects. Discussions began as early as 1943. However, it was not until 1957 that the state association engaged its first executive director and established its first executive office at 441 Lexington Avenue, New York City. This long-awaited decision was heralded as one that would insure complete unification of the profession within the State, greater usefulness of the Association to the architects and increase the importance of our profession on the national, state and local levels. In 1975, following the trend of many statewide associations originally organized and headquartered in New York City, the State Association relocated its headquarters to Albany, to strengthen its liaison with the State Legislature and with State Agencies.
Another important step in establishing the credibility and enhancing the influence of the AIA New York State as a player in the political process was the formation in 1981 of NYSAPAC, the New York State Architects Political Action Committee. That Board felt that this was one of the most significant steps taken by the state association to insure that the primary goal of AIANYS – to effectively voice the concerns of the architectural profession to the elected leadership of New York State – will continue at the highest level.
AIANYS Expands Services to Members
Although government affairs has been and continues to be a primary focus of the AIA New York State, it is by no means the only program or activity. Another focus of the state organization is to provide services and benefits to chapters and members that have a statewide focus; and one noteworthy effort began within four years of the founding of the state association. In May 1941, the first issue of Empire State Architect, the official magazine of the 10-year old New York State Association of Architects, was published and continued to be published through 1974. The magazine was the communication tool of the organization and communications has evolved from one magazine to a plethora of communication tools to disseminate information on the many programs and activities the professional organization provides to architects and their chapters around the state: a digital monthly e-News, Architecture New York State three times a year, continuing education programs, conventions, web based resources, etc.
Other ongoing programs and activities of the state association include public relations on our efforts in Albany; improved inter- and intra-communications throughout the years and, adding to the publications mentioned above: the annual Board Orientation Manual, the bi-annual Schools of Architecture in New York State, and the annual Architects Desk Reference. Other programs provided annually include the state convention, design and honor awards programs, and continuing education. Liaisons with professional, regulatory and industry organizations like the Preservation League of New York State, the New York State Business Council, the Construction Industry Council of New York State, the Office of the Professions and the State Board for Architecture, the Coalition of Design Professions, which AIANYS was instrumental in organizing, contractor and industry-related groups, and other organizations that affect or have an impact on the practice of architecture are very important liaisons to positioning the AIA New York State as a major force in the design and construction industry.
Since 1937, conventions have been an important part of the professional, educational, business and social fabric of AIA New York State. Through these annual conventions, architects from the various parts of the state
have become better acquainted with each other, professional and leadership development mentored and fostered, disagreements mitigated, and some very sincere friendships developed among architects residing and doing business throughout the State.
Leadership development is also crucial to the success of any organization, and AIA New York State committed itself in 1994 to holding leadership planning retreats bi-annually. Retreats reinforce the need to work together to carry out the mission of the state organization; to maintain a positive culture and institutional memory; and to continue moving the association forward positively, with integrity and credibility before its members, peers, colleagues, and legislative and regulatory bodies.
Much progress has been made on behalf of the architects and profession in New York State since the inception of the AIA New York State, Inc. in 1931. Members are very proud of the many successes the state organization has achieved on their behalf and on behalf of the architectural profession over the years. With the progress already made between 1931 and 2006, with the membership and leadership ever alert for future possibilities, the influence and importance of AIA New York State, Inc. will continue to reflect and advance its 78 year tradition of service and excellence to architects, to the profession, and to society.
The American Institute of Architects, founded in New York City in 1857
AIA New York State, Inc., founded in 1931
The 13 chapters of the AIA New York State collectively represent 6,500 members:
AIA Bronx, founded 1945
AIA Brooklyn, founded 1894
AIA Buffalo-Western New York, founded 1890
AIA Central New York, founded 1887
AIA Eastern New York, founded 1930
AIA Long Island, founded 1945
AIA New York, founded 1867
AIA Peconic, founded 2005
AIA Queens, founded 1945
AIA Rochester, founded 1919
AIA Southern New York, founded 1979
AIA Staten Island, founded 1945
AIA Westchester/Mid-Hudson, founded 1936