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    In the Spotlight

    PMA Principals Attend the 2022 AIA Conference in Chicago

    PMA Architecture Principals, Jeff and Katie Stodghill, visited Chicago in June to attend the 155th annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2022 Conference on Architecture. This year’s convention welcomed over 10,000 attendees, since it was the first conference event in two years, due to COVID-19.

    “I was impressed with how green Chicago was. The trees, the parks, and plantings everywhere,” said Katie. “There were so many people outside in the city,” said Katie. “It reminded me of New York City and the transformation to a vibrant world-class culture that occurred there.”

    During their visit to the AIA Conference, Katie met Marlon Blackwell, an American architect. “It was a real honor to meet him,” she said. “He’s one of my heroes in modern vernacular architecture.”

    Signed copy of Marlon Blackwell's book, Radical Practice: The Work of Marlon Blackwell Architects. Photo credit: Sara Garvin

    One of the major themes discussed throughout this year’s conference focused on sustainability and emphasized the implementation of energy efficient design concepts.

    “It brought home the urgency to make better decisions about buildings and the need to pursue dramatic reductions in the carbon footprint of our buildings,” said Jeff. He strives to implement environmental changes in PMA’s approach to projects, and the 2022 AIA Conference drove that point home further for Jeff. “While all clients are different, if you can cut your power bill in half, that will grab their attention.” He recommends simple environmental switches like using LED lighting and geothermal heating and cooling systems to save money on electricity bills. This year we visited a K-8 school project that was designed to generate its own power from the sun and raise the food that would be served to the students. “In fact, they are planning on raising chickens on the school site to be part of their food source for the school”.

    Other environmental issues, such as sea level rise, received a lot of attention in the conference. Jeff remarked that “These sessions on sea level rise brought into clear focus that architects are in the best position to guide their clients and projects toward curtailing greenhouse emissions”

    Additionally, there was an emphasis on urban revitalization in South Chicago neighborhoods. Jeff discussed various tours he attended during the conference and said, “the tours I went on revealed that a lot of these places are struggling with issues of poverty, neighborhood decline, and the question of how to build these areas back up.” Cities such as New York City have made efforts to revitalize existing neighborhoods and foster a strong connection with existing outdoor spaces.

    Overall, the AIA conference offered an “opportunity to plug into a nationwide conversation about what’s going on in our profession,” said Jeff. He and Katie plan to go back next year to continue learning and maintaining their architectural credits.

    “Attending this year’s conference was a great opportunity to see what’s new and to stay on the cutting edge of the field.”

    Frederick C. Robie House. Photo credit: Katie Stodghill

    Willis Tower. Photo credit: Katie Stodghill

    Chicago Riverfront. Photo credit: Katie Stodghill

    Gordon Parks Arts Hall. Photo credit: Katie Stodghill