POV: Point of View

AIA 2016 in Philadelphia

June 2016

I had the opportunity this year to attend the 2016 AIA convention in Philadelphia. I hadn’t been to Philly since I was six years old and was looking forward to experiencing the city as an adult who has spent his life studying cities and buildings as an architect.

After disembarking the red-eye from Los Angeles, I spent the first day getting my bearings in the city. I walked to the Franklin Institute and up the Ben Franklin Parkway axis to the Barnes Foundation, the Museum of Art, and eventually to a cheesesteak place in Francisville that came highly recommended. After lunch I turned back towards downtown and made my way to city hall, stopping to register at the convention center, and then to the Reading Terminal Market for yet another highly recommended cheesesteak. Fueled up, I walked on Market Street through Chinatown all the way almost to the Delaware River where my alma mater, SCI-Arc, was hosting an alumni dinner. There I met up with a several new FAIA members (congratulations!), and had a few glasses of wine while discussing the past, present, and future of our school. It was interesting to talk with alumni from every decade of SCI-Arc’s existence as well as our current graduate program director, Ming Fung.

I spent the next day at the convention being amazed by new technologies and compiling information on things that might be useful in our projects. The expo floor was definitely a highlight of the convention as there are not many opportunities as an architect to see so many different products all within an few hours. Being my first time at the AIA convention, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleased to see not only a lot of people mostly lost like myself, but also thousands of veterans, all eager to talk about the state of architecture and construction in our area. I met architects from Santa Monica to Baltimore, all of them with the same passion for our field. To be surrounded by so many enthusiastic architects is something I hadn’t experienced since school.

I can’t forget to mention the great city of Philadelphia, either. Philly is a very walkable city with not just a history, but the history of America. To see where the Declaration of Independence was conceived and signed or where Ben Franklin lived is intimidating for someone from Los Angeles where we consider the 1960’s to be ancient history. Philadelphia is a wonderful city and an architecturally significant one. I feel lucky to have spent four days there and hope I can return.

I hope to see some of you in Orlando next year for AIA 2017!

Billy Guisto, AIA
Project Manager