From the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs

November 3, 2020.

On this day in 1903, the photographer Walker Evans was born.  It’s also election day.  I’ve been waiting for this day for what seems like centuries.  The fact that nearly 100 million people have already voted comforts me greatly.  If, we the people, elect a functional federal government, then the year ahead could see some smart infrastructure policies advanced, which will promote much-needed investment in our built environment, and set us on a clear path forward for inclusive and equitable economic recovery.  Or, if we the people have our votes suppressed, disenfranchised, or disingenuously litigated, then I predict that the disfunction in government will continue to distract us from taking the lead on effective climate action and healthy, humane environmental and social polices.  And the images of the deep personal struggles that Walker Evans emblazoned into our hearts and souls will unfortunately become all too familiar again.

Let’s hope our democracy prevails.

From our friends at AIA Seattle

The AIA Seattle Post-Election Contingency Plan includes several practical steps that you can take to make the most of your election day and to stay safe and productive in the days and weeks that follow.

AIA LA Legislative Day at City Hall

Our annual Legislative Day at City Hall is scheduled for Thursday, December 3rd and will be transformed into a virtual event this year.  If you’d like to get more involved in helping to shape our biggest advocacy event of the year, then please reach out to me at

Issue #1: Zero Code for Los Angeles, California

To advocate our support, along with AIA CA’s endorsement, of the 2022 Zero Code for California and to request that the City of LA adopt it as a reach code in 2021. This will align us with AIA CA advocacy and demonstrate LA architects’ desire to be leaders on climate action.

Issue #2: A True Streamline To Faster Housing Production

Part One: To advocate that LA City Council invest in software modernization for LADBS to facilitate 100% digital plan-check in the spirit of resilience, efficiency, cost-and-time savings, and greater compatibility with the tools and resources utilized by the private sector (architect, contractor, LADBS: all talking on the same interface).

Part Two: To advocate for very specific improvements to simplify and streamline LA City Planning’s entitlement and permitting process, especially for affordable housing.

  • Establish a Dedicated Unit of Affordable Housing Case Managers
  • Simplify the Process, eliminate antiquated or redundant requirements, raise the site plan threshold to 100 units, an allow for electronic versions of signatures and approval stamps in order to facilitate the Ready to Issue process
  • Allow for Alternative Compliance Approvals at the Staff Level

Click here for more details.

America votes, AIA builds
By AIA Staff, November 3, 2020

Building a healthy America
AIA’s commitment to helping our members advance their fundamental oath to protect the health, safety, and welfare of everyone, everywhere is a matter of principle.

Even as we wait for the results of this election, we want to ensure that AIA’s priorities are clear as we come together and turn our thoughts to the future. AIA is focused on advancing the profession’s leadership role in climate action, advocating in support of a future economy that leads to a more prosperous future for our nation, and meaningfully addressing systemic racial injustice in the profession and in society. Our focus is unwavering in the pursuit of these values.

Architects work with clients and allied design professionals and construction partners to improve the built environment in a $1 trillion sector that accounts for almost 6% of the economy. Construction alone accounts for 13% of the world’s GDP.

AIA is taking action to ensure that buildings consume less energy, use only renewable energy sources, and contribute power back to the energy grid. AIA’s goal is to eliminate all building carbon emissions by 2040 and create a future built environment that improves equitable development and prepares communities to thrive in the face of massive changes.

In addition, AIA is working to ensure that the built world is instrumental in achieving equity and justice for people of color, women, and the economically disadvantaged.

Our priorities are based on policy objectives, not partisanship, to encourage lawmakers to join hands and work together for the good of the American people.

Lastly, to our members: civic leaders need to hear your voice. You are part of the largest, most influential design organization in the world. We are 95,000 members strong, and together, we must share our expertise with community leaders to reach our shared goals of a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient nation.

The values of AIA
Even in times of change, our values remain constant. We work to advance our nation’s quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety and welfare.

Where architects stand: A statement of our values

Policy Platform 2020

AIA makes strategic move to invest in Contract Documents program

Late 2019 predictions were that investment in AEC technology would eclipse all previous years. Whether that plays out to be true amidst a highly unpredictable 2020, there is no question that investment opportunities abound, and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and True Wind Capital (TWC) have seized the moment.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership to invest in AIA’s successful Contract Document (ACD) program, to drive innovation in the platform and better serve customers and members over the long-term.

Click here to read more.

Reopening America: Strategies for safer buildings

The COVID-19 pandemic has risked the public’s health and safety in buildings across the US and beyond. As states began reopening communities, AIA embarked on an initiative to explore how design strategies, backed by science, can be a public health solution. “Reopening America: Strategies for Safer Buildings,” is intended to provide design professionals, employers, building owners, and public officials with tools and resources for reducing risk when re-occupying buildings during the pandemic.

As part of the initiative, the AIA convened a team of architects, public health experts, engineers, and facility managers who conducted virtual design charrettes to develop strategies for:

+ reducing the spread of pathogens in buildings,
+ accommodating physical distancing practices,
+ promoting mental well-being, and
+ fulfilling alternative operational and functional expectations.

The team developed strategies based on emerging science, infectious disease transmission data, epidemiological models, and research.

Outcomes from the charettes were used to develop new and enhanced tools that provide processes and strategies for protecting the health and safety of the public while resuming services. It is important to note that the reports below are intended to be be cross referenced.

AIA California

White Paper: The Business Case for Climate Action
By: Henry Siegel, FAIA

Most architects understand the enormous impact our work has on the environment: more than 25 percent of carbon emissions in California[1] (closer to 40 percent nationally) come from the construction and operation of buildings, and the resulting environmental impacts are enormous. Our clients and the agencies who review our projects may not be aware of these impacts and the importance and urgency of decarbonizing the building sector. This article is designed to show how architectural practice is changing to meet this demand and to make the case that zero carbon design is not just an environmental imperative, it is also good for business.

From where are our clients starting? How important are the environmental impacts of their projects to them? How do we make the case for building decarbonization — not just the environmental case but the business case? Let’s start with the big picture.

Click here to read more.

Practice Advisory: Lender Assignments or Lender Certifications

Architects are often asked to sign Lender Assignments or Lender Certifications as a condition of a Loan Agreement for the borrower, the project owner. These documents, usually presented after the contract that defines the scope and duties of the architect is signed, can create significant risk and liability exposure for the architect. These documents can improperly increase the standard of care for the architect, and often include warranties, guarantees, and/or certifications attempting to shift responsibility for others on the construction team to the architect. When these documents are signed, they create terms and conditions which are often inconsistent with the agreed contractual scope and can create uninsurable risk for the architect.

AIA California has asked the law firm of Collins Collins Muir + Stewart LLP to prepare model Assignment language to help architects negotiate fair and reasonable language that remains consistent with the professional standard of care under state law and not run afoul of the architect’s professional liability insurance.

Click here to access the “Model Lender Assignment”.