December 10, 2006 - RK Stewart, FAIA, principal at Gensler, a leading global architecture, design and strategic planning firm, was inaugurated as the 2007 President of the National American Institute of Architects on December 8th, 2006, at a ceremony in Washington, DC. Stewart, who succeeds Katherine Lee Schwennsen, FAIA, served this past year as first vice president/president elect.
As 83rd AIA president, Stewart plans to move the organization's ongoing focus on sustainability, diversity, and the development of emerging design professionals from a strategic to tactical plane, emphasizing action and measurable results on grassroots to government levels.
"I consider it a great privilege to serve as leader of the AIA community, particularly during this exciting 150th anniversary year, and to have an opportunity to highlight what architects can do to create vibrant and sustainable communities that improve people's lives," Stewart said. He will lead some 80,000 members of the AIA during his tenure.
"Over the past few years, the AIA has developed a robust strategic planning process to allow main initiatives to be defined and tracked," Stewart explained, speaking from his office in San Francisco. "Building on that foundation, we have added for the coming year a more meaningful set of metrics to track our progress in our key strategic areas."
Key initiatives and metrics that Stewart will focus the AIA membership on this year include:
o Partnering with the US Council of Mayors to help them collaborate with constituents and broad industry leaders to effect a 50-percent reduction in buildings' fossil fuel energy consumption by 2010 through the AIA's 50-50 Tool Kit, which offers 50 strategies to reduce energy consumption;
o Increasing diversity within the profession so that buildings and communities reflect the needs of underserved populations;
o Mentoring emerging professionals and insure that education, licensure, and internship opportunities are meaningful for the future of the built and natural environment, with an associated 10-percent increase in AIA membership and a 50-percent increase in the distribution of eKnowledge content issued online by the AIA's Knowledge Communities;
o Increasing advocacy of government legislation, with a goal of introducing 2 new legislative measures to Congress this year.
Addressing the AIA's sustainability initiatives, Stewart said, "If we really want to be serious about how to turn things around environmentally, we must acknowledge that buildings are responsible for 76-percent of electrical energy consumption and 48-percent of energy consumption overall, and are therefore at the frontier of what must change." He added, "That's where the AIA can have a major impact."
RK Stewart will play a key role in this year's landmark 150th anniversary AIA convention, themed "Going Beyond Green," to underscore the AIA's focus on broad sustainability issues. Former Vice President Al Gore, the author of Earth in the Balance and the force behind the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," will be the keynote speaker.
Reflecting on his coming year as AIA president, Stewart noted, "I have the rare chance to help our profession change the way we inhabit the planet, respond to the critical need to reduce energy consumption and gas emissions, and literally define our future through the build environment."
RK Stewart was inducted into the American Institute of Architects' College of Fellows in 2001. Recognition for his contributions to the profession include the Octavius Morgan Distinguished Service Award, the Preservation Design Award, the U.S. Institute of Theater Technology Award, and First Place in the 18th Interiors Magazine Awards for Public Spaces & Entertainment.
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