In 1857, The American Institute of Architects was founded in New York City by 13 architects who sought “to promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members” and “elevate the standing of the profession”. Preceding the formation of the AIA, there were no schools of architecture in the United States. There were no architectural licensing laws. Anyone could claim to be an architect. The prestige and certification associated with the trade was an unprotected one, until the AIA came along.
Over the following decades, the AIA continued to grow and continued working towards securing a theme of professionalism within the realm of American architecture. By the 1860s, prominent architects from other cities had come to join forces with the founding New York City members, expanding the Institute’s reach to include Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, San Francisco, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Albany, and Washington D.C., where the new headquarters can be located today.
Now, more than a 100 years later, the AIA remains a prominent face of architectural leadership with over 300 chapters chapters worldwide totaling more than 90,000 members strong. Its service to the community, both domestically and internationally, is unquestionably one that has not been discounted or overlooked. The AIA monitors legislative and regulatory actions to help influence decision making on the federal, state, and local levels in order to better cater to their dedication of providing affordable housing, elevating public spaces, and protecting and developing better infrastructure. The AIA is devoted to creating architectural awareness and providing the opportunities which will quite literally work to shape and transform the world around us. By working within the community to provide resources both educationally and professionally, the Institute has become an integral aspect of advancing innovation, and aims to honor and recognize other individuals and organizations who have striven to do the same.
Through core values of sustainability and diversity, the AIA strives to promote the value of architecture and actuate positive change via the power of design. As the American Institute of Architects continues elevating the standard of perfection, they prove that time and time again: the strongest foundation we can build is the one where we work together.