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Architecture Practice
The International Living Building Institute Announces the Spanish Translation of the Living Building Challenge (Desafio del Edificio Vivo) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 10:40
The International Living Building Institute’s partners at Mexico’s Universidad Iberoamericana S.C. have set the foundation for Living Buildings, Sites and Communities in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries with a Spanish translation of the Living Building Challenge.

The International Living Building Institute ( today released the first translation of the Living Building ChallengeSM thanks to the work of faculty in the Universidad Iberoamericana, S.C.’s Department of Architecture ( and their industry partners in Mexico City. This Spanish language version is freely available online ( and will help support the development of Living Buildings in Spanish-speaking regions.

In October 2009, the International Living Building Institute began talks with building industry leaders in Mexico City who wished to create a formal presence for the Living Building Challenge throughout the country. Since that time, momentum has grown to support the formation of the Living Building Institute of Mexico.

“With its extensive multidisciplinary experience, the Department of Architecture at Universidad Iberoamericana put together a core team with faculty members to carry out an unprecedented, transparent facilitated charrette to discuss how to form a Mexican Living Building Institute,” comments Department Director, Carolyn Aguilar Dubose, who was instrumental in the translation work and is a key leader in the efforts to formalize the Living Building Institute of Mexico. She noted that the Living Building Institute of Mexico will “support the evaluation of designs, construction and the life-long maintenance of Living Building Challenge projects… The charrette revealed that NGOs, government officials, educators and a diverse array of professionals believe in the Living Building Challenge’s capacity to become local and are committed to its emphasis not only on efficiency, but also on health and beauty.”

Since its launch in 2006, the Living Building Challenge has gained momentum around the world and achieved recognition as the world’s most rigorous green building performance standard. More than 70 projects are currently registered in France, Canada, Australia and the United States. International organizational partnerships are active in Ireland and Canada, with discussions also underway in Australia and a few other countries. In addition, volunteer Ambassadors are working in at least fourteen countries to motivate a global audience to implement restorative principles in design, construction and building operation, and to create local networks focused on regionally appropriate solutions.

“This standard is designed to be adapted to regional contexts and is a unifying tool, bringing people from many disciplines and cultures together for the first time under one green building standard. Around the globe, architects and developers are working with urban planners and landscape architects, environmentalists and social activists, as well as affordable housing advocates and preservationists to form a visionary pathway to a restorative future,” says Jason F. McLennan, CEO of the International Living Building Institute.

As a 2010 Clinton Global Initiative Commitment Maker, the International Living Building Institute is endeavoring to translate the Living Building Challenge into ten languages. These translations will provide the starting point for Living Building Challenge uptake in additional countries and cultures. The International Living Building Institute will collaborate with in-country experts to ensure that translated versions of the Challenge are culturally appropriate and regionally applicable.

About the International Living Building Institute
Founded in 2009 by the Cascadia Green Building Council, the International Living Building Institute is a non- governmental organization dedicated to the creation of Living Buildings, Sites and Communities in countries around the world. The Living Building Challenge is a philosophy, advocacy tool and certification program that addresses development at all scales and has quickly become the planet’s most advanced green building rating system.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 January 2011 10:46
The AIA Issues Agenda Focusing on Creating Jobs in Design & Construction Print E-mail
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 09:04
The American Institute of Architects today unveiled its top four legislative priorities with the 112th Congress that convenes tomorrow. Each initiative focuses on creating jobs in a design and construction industry that accounts for one in nine dollars of Gross Domestic Product.

“When architects work, the nation builds,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA. “By following these four core principles, Congress has a chance to enact policies that unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America’s design professionals, create economic growth and rebuild our struggling communities and aging infrastructure.”

The AIA’s top legislative priorities are:

·         Unfreeze Credit, Create Jobs: Thousands of needed construction projects that would employ millions of Americans are on hold because credit is frozen. Banks received billions in federal taxpayer bailouts; now it’s time to ensure those banks lend. Congress should support efforts to reign in regulatory overkill in the wake of the banking crisis by passing legislation such as the Equal Treatment of Covered Bonds Act,, which would create a market for the kind of bond that has been used in Europe for capital projects and is generally more secure than other securitized bonds, like mortgage-backed securities. Advocates say it could unleash a market for sounder, more straightforward financing. The AIA also supports the Capital Access for Main Street Act, which would help prevent large numbers of commercial foreclosures and free up credit to help small business get back to work.

·         Remove Regulatory Burdens That Hold Small Business Back: Small architecture firms and sole practitioners know all too well the burdens of high tax rates and burdensome paperwork.  In 2010, the AIA helped defeat a plan to increase payroll taxes on thousands of small architecture firms that organize as S corporations. Now Congress needs to passthe Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act, which would repeal the expensive and unneeded new Form 1099 paperwork requirement slipped into the health care reform bill.

·         Jumpstart the Market for Building Retrofits as an Engine of Economic Growth: Across the country, building owners, state and local governments and school districts want to lower energy bills by retrofitting their buildings, but lack the financing to do it. By increasing incentives for efficient building designs and renovations that show real results, Congress can create jobs while securing our energy independence. Congress should increase the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction from the current $1.80sf to $3.00sf.

·         Pass a Transportation Bill to Get our Communities Moving Again: Our current transportation system is broken. Crumbling infrastructure and rising congestion have crippled our nation’s competitiveness, reduced safety, and increased greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, outdated transportation laws and tax policy have slowed projects down, deprived the public of a voice in the planning process, and forced Americans into longer and longer commutes. The current tax incentives for building/real estate activities do not adequately take into account locating developments near transit systems, for example.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 January 2011 10:37
AIA: Continued Preference for Housing Options Closer to Transportation and Commercial Opportunities Print E-mail
Tuesday, 07 December 2010 14:21
Slow housing market and emphasis on access to job opportunities changing location preferences

Over the last several years there has been increasing demand for housing options within close proximity to public transit, employment centers, retail and entertainment options, and access to open space for recreation. Houses with porches that allow for more neighborhood connection, durable and low-maintenance products for home exteriors, sustainable features and solar reflective roofs also remain popular.

The housing and economic downturn, along with the growing number of immigrant households, has led to a rise demand for multi-generational housing. 

Residential architecture firms continue to report weak business conditions, but with remodeling activity showing a sharp increase over the same period a year ago. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2010 that focused on community and neighborhood design.

“There are a number of factors at play that have encouraged a shift towards smaller infill projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “There has been a resurgence in urban living in general, but economic realities like high foreclosure rates, increased commuting time and costs, and a renewed interest in affordability are key drivers in altering the residential real estate landscape.”

Baker added, “Recently, numerous organizations have issued reports linking the health benefits of living in transit-oriented communities. There is a strong correlation between a design strategy tailored towards access to public transportation and job centers that can reduce sprawl, dependence on automobiles and foreign oil, encourages physical activity and leads to an overall more vibrant and healthy community.”

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

Community design elements
Infill development
Access to public transportation
Mixed-use facility
Dedicated open space
Multigenerational housing
Popular Home Exteriors Features

Durable exterior materials
Sustainable roofing
Solar reflective roofs
Tubular skylights

(% respond. report. popularity of feature “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q3)

Housing market business conditions

The residential market continues to struggle. The national billings index was 42 for the third quarter of 2010 (any score below 50 indicates a decline in activity), up slightly from the previous quarter’s mark of 41. Inquiries for new projects were 49, showing minimal improvement compared to the score of 47 in the second quarter of the year.

Specific construction segments
Kitchen and bath remodeling
Additions / alterations
First-time buyer / affordable home market
Move-up home market
Townhouse / condo market
Custom / luxury home market
Second / vacation home

(% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q3)

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of over 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace. Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will focus on kitchen and bath trends (February 2011), overall home layout and use (June 2011), and specialty rooms and systems (September 2011).
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 December 2010 15:42
AIA: Architecture Billings Index Reverts Back into Negative Territory Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 13:54
AIAInquiries for new projects remain extremely high

Following the first positive reading since January 2008, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dropped nearly two points in October.

As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the October ABI score was 48.7, down from a reading of 50.4 the previous month. This score reflects a decrease in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 61.7, down slightly from a nearly three-year high mark of 62.3 in September.

“This is disappointing news, but not altogether that surprising,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “We were anticipating a slow recovery period and it is likely that there will be some fits and starts before conditions show consistent improvement. Right now, reluctance from lending institutions to provide credit for construction projects and a sluggish economy are the main impediments to a revival of the design and construction industry.”

Key October ABI highlights:

Regional averages: Northeast (54.5), Midwest (51.8), South (48.6), West (44.3)
Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (54.5), institutional (50.8), multi-family residential (49.1), mixed practice (43.2)
Project inquiries index: 61.7

About the AIA Architecture Billings Index
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI), produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group, is a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction spending activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly “Work-on-the-Boards” survey that is sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared to the prior month, and the results are then compiled into the ABI.  These monthly results are also seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison to prior months. The monthly ABI index scores are centered around 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings, and scores below 50 indicating a decline. The regional and sector data are formulated using a three-month moving average. More information on the ABI and the analysis of its relationship to construction activity can be found in the White PaperArchitecture Billings as a Leading Indicator of Construction: Analysis of the Relationship Between a Billings Index and Construction Spending on theAIA web site.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 November 2010 14:04
AIA Urges 112th Congress To Set a Pro-Growth, Sustainable Economic Agenda Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 09:47
Congratulates Members on Election/Re-Election and Urges Bipartisanship

On behalf of its 80,000 members nationwide, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) today began sending letters to each member of the new 112th Congress, congratulating them on their election and promising to work with both political parties to foster policies that encourage job creation in the hard-hit design and construction industry.

“As community leaders, architects have seen first-hand the challenges that our nation faces,” wrote AIA President George H. Miller, FAIA. “Since more than 90 percent of AIA architects work for small businesses, they know all too well how the economic crisis has affected Main Street. In fact, the Department of Labor reports that the architecture profession alone has lost a fifth of its workforce since 2008; in some regions, the number is far higher.”

In the letter, Miller ticked off the priorities for the AIA in the new Congress, which include:
Restoring Small Business as the Engine of our Nation’s Economy. Every million dollars invested in design and construction yields 28.5 full-time jobs. And yet the credit crunch has left blueprints on the shelf because building owners and developers cannot get the financing they need. The AIA has worked to enact polices that make financing more available for design and construction projects that will put people back to work rebuilding their communities, and tax and regulatory systems that cut red tape and help small entrepreneurs get ahead. But Congress can and must do more to help the private sector create jobs.

Returning Economic Vitality to Our Communities. Architects know all too well that a 21st century economy cannot thrive with a 19th century infrastructure. Yet in too many of our communities, aging buildings, roads and bridges have left Americans less safe and America lagging behind the infrastructure of its global competitors such as China. Studies have shown that our economy loses $80 billion per year in lost productivity due to congestion on our roadways. Worse, the foreclosure crisis has riddled neighborhoods in urban, suburban and rural areas with abandoned properties and rising crime. The AIA urges Congress to pass legislation that empowers communities to plan more vibrant and sustainable futures that give people real choices about where they live and how they travel.

Improving America’s Energy Independence. Buildings account for 70 percent of electricity use in the United States and nearly half of greenhouse gas emissions. Rising energy prices mean higher bills for homeowners, small businesspeople and taxpayers - who foot the bill for energy costs in government buildings. Architects have solutions that make buildings use significantly less energy. The AIA believes that the next Congress will have an important opportunity to pass legislation to promote energy efficient buildings that cost less to run and are better for the environment.

“America’s architects are Republicans, Democrats and Independents, working in major metropolises and small towns alike,” Miller said. “They are problem solvers who offer common-sense solutions to the challenges our communities and country face. When the 112th Congress convenes in January, we look forward to working with you to address these issues.”
Architecture Billings Index is Positive for First Time in over Two Years Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 14:16
Inquiries for new projects reached highest mark since 2007
The AIA had good news for us today. For the first time since January 2008, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) indicated a growth in design activity in September, increasing for the fourth straight month. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the September ABI score was 50.4, up from a reading of 48.2 the previous month. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was also up sharply, moving from 54.6 to 62.3 – the highest mark since July 2007.

AIA Applauds Congressional Passage of Small Business Legislation Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 September 2010 14:48
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) lauded passage by the House of Representatives today of the Senate’s legislation that creates a $30 billion fund administered by the Small Business Administration and $12 billion in small business tax relief that is designed to aid small businesses hurt by the recession.

“As many of our members are two and three-person shops, this legislation will provide some much-needed relief to architects struggling as the economy continues to struggle,” said Paul Mendelsohn, Vice President, AIA Government & Community Relations. “This bill may be the last thing Congresses passes before the election, so we’re gratified to see it pass before Congress’s adjourns to campaign.”
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