President's Message Winter 2007

As we enter the 150th anniversary of AIA, I look forward to acting as your guide, providing you with direction and leadership to implement our “AIA 150 Blueprint: Sustainable Future for Cities”, focusing on revitalizing the Reading Penn Street Corridor.  As architects, we carry a special responsibility to act as good stewards of the earth and our built environment.  Most of us entered this profession because we shared in the vision that we could change our world for the better.

As architects, we must ask, how does our world fare today versus 150 years ago, when the American Institute of Architects was founded?  Our world is a rapidly changing place.  Humans have seen more technological change, innovation, and development in the last 150 years than they have seen in the history of mankind: radio, television, telephone, automobiles, modern transportation, computer technology and the internet have connected the world in more ways than imaginable.  Paradoxically, although this interconnectedness enables sharing of local cultures across the world, it also results in universalization of culture into one worldwide culture of modern convenience – and thus the loss of local culture.  Furthermore, the automobile has produced detrimental suburban sprawl and commercial strip development.

As architects, we must share our vision of sustainable growth and “New Urbanism” consisting of mixed use communities containing residential, retail, service, office, and industrial uses together, within walking and bicycling distance.  Existing cities and downtown centers contain all of these elements.  Existing downtown areas foster a quality of life which is enriched by local urban culture, theater, and art, where life is not dictated by the automobile.

Please become active in the AIA Eastern PA Chapter’s “AIA 150 Blueprint: Sustainable Future for Cities”, focusing this year on revitalizing the Reading Penn Street Corridor, and help share this sustainable urban vision with the general public.  The general public needs architects’ guidance and education to enable them to see the benefits and desirability of urban living and the reduction in reliance on the automobile.

Finally, to all of the Past Presidents, future presidents, members of the executive board, committee members, state directors, and volunteers, I thank you for your efforts.  All of you have enriched our lives through the experiences, education, and camaraderie, which the AIA provides to its members through its programs and personal contacts.  I look forward to guiding the entire AIA Eastern PA Chapter through the 150th year anniversary.

Gene Berg, AIA
2007 Chapter President