The American Institute of Architecture: Effectively Advancing the Standing of Architecture for the Last 160 Years

The one thing that all clients require of their service providers is professionalism. If a service provider does not act professionally, he/she is not likely to be engaged again by the same client. This challenge has over the years led to the emergence of organizations that create uniform professional standards for their members to adhere to. For American Architects, that organization is the American Institute of Architects (AIA).


The AIA was founded in 1857 by an initial group of 13 architects. Its purpose at the time of formation was to advance the standing of the architecture profession. Initially incorporated as the New York Society of Architects, it was in 1858 renamed to the American Institute of Architects. Since then it has grown to comprise of more than 300 chapters and over 90,000 members.


The leadership team at the AIA includes the Board of Directors, the Strategic Council, and Staff Leadership. The board maintains the overall authority over the organization and is led by its president, Thomas Vonier. The Strategic Council is tasked with advising the board on the direction of the architecture profession. The council was responsible for the creation of the AIA 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. Finally, the staff leadership is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organization and is led by the Chief Executive Officer, Robert Ivy.

Professional Standards

Throughout its extensive history, the AIA has required its members to uphold certain ethical standards. It requires that members do not break any antitrust laws and even goes to provide general guidance on matters related to antitrust regulations. Members are also required to provide adequate accreditation on collaborative efforts. The organization maintains that architectural designs are intellectual property and failure to provide recognition is, therefore, tantamount to stealing. Additionally, the organization also avails a Code of Ethics that all members are required to strictly adhere to. The code includes broad canons, ethical standards and specific rules of conduct.

Social Responsibility

In addition to advancing the welfare of its members, the AIA also endeavors to improve the welfare of the general public. The organization has shown its commitment towards making positive changes in society by making strong stances on climate change, immigration, infrastructural development, sustainability, and diversity. For example, on climate change, the AIA has committed to help prepare the architecture profession towards the sole development of carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. Further, on the issue of immigration, the organization has called for immigration regulations that treat all people humanely, are clear and devoid of arbitrary implementation.