A Message from 2020 AIA New York President Kim Yao, AIA:

At AIA New York—the oldest and largest chapter of the AIA—we begin each year with new leadership and vision. This changing of the guard belies our organizational reality, where intelligence, institutional memory and strategic thinking create a robust context of continuity. Each year builds on the lessons and achievements of the years prior and helps set a refined path forward. Recently our leadership has stressed civic engagement, advocacy, and community, priorities that will continue during my presidency.

AIA New York’s presidential theme for next year is Charting NYC 2020. This shared moment, closing the second decade of the 21st century, provides an opportunity to pause, look back and reflect. We are entering a decade defined by extremes, with accelerating ecological, economic, and political crises. We must face these crises on terms that we, as architects, can influence and chart a path forward for the city. Together we will map the past in order to present a new course for the future. This means engaging pressing issues such as housing, climate change and resiliency, homelessness, infrastructure, and economic disparity through the lens of our built environment.

We will achieve this through diverse programming over the course of the year, including a major fall exhibition, developed in partnership with MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab. We have envisioned a process that will kick off in early 2020 to gather input and ideas for our research directly from members. We want to hear from you about the topics that you believe are most pressing for the future of New York City. We will use your input to identify a handful of issues to explore over the course of the year, issues that directly impact our built environment and the policies that define it, in order to spur public debate and discourse about the future of the city.

Why this, and why now?

Charting NYC 2020 intends to channel this research into a clear policy platform that we will use in communication with future public officials. The 2020 presidential election will be followed closely by historic local elections in 2021—for mayor, comptroller, all five borough presidents and 35 City Council seats. In conjunction with our newly formed Political Action Fund, and rooted in our ongoing advocacy work, we will push for an agenda that brings our expertise as architects directly to the urban realm.