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History of AIA

The American Institute of Architects was created in 1857 by a group of architects in New York City. The goal of the first members was to have a place where members could meet for lectures, conventions, and meetings. The original 13 have grown to nearly 300 local chapters representing 95,000 licensed architects and associated professionals. AIA members adhere to a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct that assures clients, the public, and colleagues of their dedication to high standards in professional practice.


Where architects stand: A statement of our values

Now more than ever, the collective voice of architects is essential for designing a better future for our country and planet. Even in times of change, AIA’s values remain constant. We are at the table with policymakers who are committed to a better built environment and a prosperous architecture profession. But we will not hesitate to call out those whose values we oppose.


Today our nation faces unprecedented challenges: the impacts of a changing climate on our communities and critical infrastructure that is deteriorating from neglect. We need policymakers to put politics aside and get to work. No more delay—it is time to act.


The American Institute of Architects (AIA) works to advance our nation’s quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare, as it has done for 160 years.


Each day AIA members across the country and throughout the world create the places where people live and learn, work, and play. We design hospitals that heal us and houses of worship that sustain us. We create next-generation energy-saving buildings to make our communities healthier and safer. All the while, architects work with clients allied design professionals, and construction partners to improve the built environment in a $1 trillion sector that accounts for almost 6 percent of the economy.


As part of the repositioning effort in 2012-2014, a member survey revealed that a vast majority of members wanted the AIA to lead a public awareness campaign to educate and inform the public about the role of architects and architecture.


The AIA conducted extensive research about the general public’s perception of architects and architecture. Results showed that members of the public thought very highly of architects but did not quite understand what the profession entailed. As a result of this survey and research, the public awareness campaign was launched in 2014 with three goals: 1) change behaviors and perceptions, 2) increase support for architecture, and 3) create a deeper understanding of architecture and appreciation for the value of architects.


Launched in 2020, Blueprint for Better brings to life the role of architects as leaders in the fight against climate change. Buildings are responsible for 40% of carbon emissions. The harm that results affects us all but doesn’t impact us all equally. As building designers, architects are key to addressing and mitigating the damage.


This campaign is a call to action. AIA, the largest design organization in the world, is asking architects, design professionals, civic leaders, and the public in every community to join our efforts and transform the day-to-day practice of architecture to achieve a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment.

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