AIA Endorses Growing “Resiliency” Movement

Resilience Is the New Green

The AIA has decidedly found its latest buzzword: Resiliency.

At the recent 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, former-president Bill Clinton announced the American Institute of Architects’ participation in the 100 Resilient Cities Commitment: an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation to provide 100 cities with “chief resilience offers,” responsible for developing and financing new, resilient urban infrastructures. So far, over 500 cities have requested to participate; on December 3rd, the Rockefeller Foundation will announce the winning cities.

Along with Architecture for Humanity, the AIA reports that it will then train those cities’ resilience officers, “architects in their communities,” by creating “five Regional Resilient Design Studios that build on our profession’s collective expertise in helping communities recover in the wake of major disasters.”

But the “resilience” doesn’t stop there.

A new report published by the AIA, entitled “Cites as a Lab: Designing the Innovation Economy,” although focused on the design behind the innovation hubs spurting up across the US, makes a surprising statement: a city can only truly consider itself innovative, if it is innovating in the field of resiliency.

As the trade association’s former president Clark Manus, FAIA, notes in their press release: “As innovative as a cities may profess to be, resilience is a critical linchpin that any 21st century city must fully address. Resilience is the new Green. […] Not surprisingly, the local level is where much of the innovative thinking is taking place not just about disaster recovery, but in how we can lessen the impact from natural disasters by designing more resilient communities.”

Even the AIA’s initiative from last year, “Design as Long-Term, Preventative Medicine,” which sees the organization pairing up with the MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) to reposition “the architectural profession as a primary catalyst for making America’s cities healthier places,” focuses on “design and technology solutions for cities that address public health, sustainability, and resiliency challenges.”

No doubt this “higher calling” towards resiliency was partly the motivation behind the AIA’s recent restructuring, which hopes to streamline the leadership in the organization in order to better tackle these global challenges. As their alignment statement proclaims: ”Never before have we needed this level of bold, visionary leadership to inspire architects to work together and build a better world for all people—through architecture.” And, so it seems, resilient architecture at that.

A version of this article originally appeared on ArchDaily.

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