02 November 2012 Austin, Texas
2012 has been an eventful year for the Architectural Research Centers Consortium, one that can be truly categorized as a year of transition. With our elections of last year, the ARCC Board has attempted to navigate life without longtime champions Michel Mounyar, Brooke Harrington and Steve Weeks. Thankfully, each has been available for essential assistance as needed over the course of this past year. Mike Kroelinger transitioned from President to Past-President leaving big shoes to fill. But his ever present wisdom and institutional memory has been essential to the continuity of the organization.
We have had numerous achievements this year including a new website, which is certainly our most visible achievement. This website, along with an integrated newsletter system and developing new e-journal site, has been the thrust of this past year in terms of enhancing ARCC’s communications with its various constituents. Many thanks to Board members Aron Temkin and Philip Plowright for their persistence with this most necessary advancement. In the same spirit, our newsletter has become much more robust over the past year or so, again thanks to the yeoman efforts of Philip Plowright.
We again held a joint international conference with EAAE, this year in Milan. This conference was extremely well attended, demonstrating the need for such venues to share research and network. This also allowed for a reinforcing of the working relationship with EAAE and a mutual recognition of the role each organization plays in the life of the other. Our European friends are almost as excited as we are that our next ARCC/EAAE International Conference will be held in Hawaii in February 2014. Many thanks to Hazem Rashed Ali for serving so successfully as a liaison with EAAE.
Hazem also assisted the development of two upcoming conferences. The 2013 ARCC Conference in March is being hosted by UNC-Charlotte and led by ARCC Board Member Chris Jarrett. This conference received 254 abstracts, well up from the 140 from the 2011 conference and this perhaps also suggests the increasing need for these venues for dissemination. The previously mentioned 2014 Hawaii Conference is being led by Magi Sarvimaki from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
I am very pleased to report that ARCC continues to be recognized as an important voice by associated organizations. We continue to play a role as a founding organization of the National Academy of Environmental Design to which Michel Mounyar has so ably represented us, reflecting his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. The American Institute of Architects rekindled their Research Summit series after a five year hiatus and I felt fortunate to represent ARCC in this important strategic event for the AIA. One of the important values I tried to reflect was the inclusivity necessary when one discusses architectural research. We are certainly always aiming for rigor and relevance, but those terms may have different criteria within different perspectives. This is something we recognize as an organization and may, at times, be overlooked by those that are more novices in the realm of research.
ARCC also had a diversity breakthrough this year by awarding our James Haecker Award for Distinguished Leadership in Architectural Research to our first female winner and our first winner from practice, Lisa Heschong of Heschong Mahone Group. Many of us have read her inspirational and groundbreaking book, Thermal Delight in Architecture and her recent work on daylighting in schools has had a significant impact on improving the design of educational facilities over the past decade. We look forward to hear her keynote address at our Charlotte conference in March 2013.
Last November in Hollywood, the ARCC Board began a strategic conversation about where the organization ought to head after 35 years. The discussion highlighted the critical role ARCC plays in a discipline and amongst related disciplines that desperately need the development of a stronger culture of research. Communication emerged as a critical concern and has been a focus of attention over the past year. While we have had much advancement, communication remains at the forefront of the challenges facing ARCC. We need to enhance our abilities to serve as a meaningful place for dissemination and networking through our various communication vehicles: conferences, publications, website, newsletter, e-Journal and the like. Additionally, we began a conversation about extending ARCC membership beyond academic institutions and to have ARCC serve professional and internationally-based constituencies as well. While our dues structure now allows for that, further discussion needs to drive the outline of an action plan in regard to this initiative. Finally, many of our member schools are increasingly being pushed to identify measurable performance metrics for scholarly productivity. While schools of design will often rely on the argument that what we do is immeasurable, sadly, someone finds a way to measure it. ARCC will launch a beginning conversation on this issue so as to position our discipline and related disciplines in a proactive posture regarding this emerging trend for accountability.
I would argue that for the last few years ARCC as an organization has focused on maintenance, and given our budget situation, this has been understandable. Yet at the same time, such continued constraint can build a culture of “making do” rather than “making progress.” It is imperative for us to be willing to invest in areas of greatest return – for our members, our constituents and our organization. A more inspired business model is required for the organization to best achieve its essential mission for the architecture community. As we have these strategic discussions, I would encourage all of us to keep in mind that the world is changing, and ARCC needs to change with it. But given the creative minds on the board, I have every confidence that ARCC is ready to take increasingly bold action steps, building upon the direction set by the successes of this past year.
Keith Diaz Moore, ARCC President
University of Kansas