Department of Architecture Welcomes 2019 AIA President

The Department of Architecture welcomed William J. Bates, FAIA, NOMA, the 2019 president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) yesterday. Bates shared with our students and faculty his valuable perspective on being an accomplished architect. Bates is only the second African American to head the AIA since it was established in 1857.

Architecture students listened as Bates shared details of his eminent career in the field. His professional work began with a small five-person firm but since then has mainly served positions with large corporations such as Vice President for Strategic Facilities Planning for PNC Manager of Design for Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Bates piqued the students’ interest as he relayed the experience of designing the interiors of a Gulfstream jet, an ultimate dream design project.

Bates spoke of the varied roles available to architecture graduates. He also emphasized the importance of becoming a registered architect and how that can enable one to become a visionary and influencer in their city of practice. He encouraged us not to forget that architecture is about helping people to live a better life – the invisible clients who will be occupying the buildings that we design and build are just as important.

When asked about the AIA’s recent focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion, he stated that, “architects historically have been homogeneous” and “that still only 2 percent of licensed architects are African American”. He also mentioned that the AIA has a K-12 program that exposes grade school students to the profession, but that he is counting on Howard students to change the profession, as a more diverse group of architects will be better equipped to help people live and work in urban settings. Howard University is an integral part of the diversification of the field.

(Pictured: Bates reviews Senior Jalen Wilson's thesis on the outside of the fifth year design studio)

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