Architects, designers, and artists often experience a period of profound development during the early years of their careers. It’s during this time that many students transition from the halls of academia to the professional field to develop their practical skills; it’s also when fellowship and community become particularly important as emerging professionals look to colleagues and leading practitioners for support, guidance, and inspiration. This is why over the past year, the ICAA has embarked on an important initiative — spearheaded by a new Young Members Task Force — to understand how the organization can become an even more valuable resource for young and emerging classicists.
The Young Members Task Force performs a pivotal role in the ICAA’s effort to engage the next generation. Comprised of young and emerging architects, designers, and enthusiasts from across the country, this volunteer group offers valuable input and perspectives. Whether the Task Force is offering input on the direction of the organization’s new website (launching later this year), or providing insight on our programming, the group is a strong and valued voice in the ICAA community.
Last year, the Task Force helped facilitate a survey of over 150 members and friends within the ICAA community. This research supported a number of new programs, including the ICAA’s brand-new “On the Boards” series. “On the Boards” gives members of all ages and career backgrounds an opportunity to socialize with their peers, interact with leaders in the field, and enjoy a behind-the-scenes perspective on some of today’s most renowned firms.
Our first “sold out” event in this new series was hosted by ICAA Board Member Alexa Hampton at the iconic firm, Mark Hampton LLC, and we look forward to our next event in the series on April 27 at the offices of the 2017 Arthur Ross Award winning firm, Peter Pennoyer Architects.
The Young Members Task Force also championed the concept of a mentorship program, which we look forward to piloting this summer; it will help create a direct link between a student or early professional and an experienced professional member of the ICAA. Our goal for this program is to guide emerging architects and designers in their studies and professional training by creating a connection with an established professional in their field of interest.
Recently, I spoke with the Chair of the ICAA’s Young Members Task Force, Rodrigo Bollat Montenegro, who said, “The ICAA will always be in need of feedback from the next generation, and the Young Members Task Force is a key platform for this group to have a voice in the organization.” Rodrigo, who works at Ferguson & Shamamian Architects, also shared the value of the ICAA in the development of his own career, explaining that the organization has given him the opportunity to learn “from highly talented architects and artists,” and that “their careers serve as an example” for him.
Rodrigo, who grew up in Guatemala, first developed an interest in classicism through his family, as they imparted to him “the importance of tradition and the role it plays in shaping, preserving, and advancing our society.” He also explained that the ICAA has allowed him “to be able to share classical architecture and traditional urbanism with others.” Rodrigo’s words reinforced the significance of the ICAA’s offerings in fostering the inspiration and education of our members. His passion for the classical tradition and the ICAA’s part in nurturing this enthusiasm speaks to the impact of our engagement with emerging classicists.
Another participant of the Young Members Task Force, Marie Acalin, shared with me her enthusiasm for the initiative, saying, “I am passionate about the work of the Young Members Task Force because of the vital role young professionals have to play as liaisons from the academic world as students to the professional world practicing in the field.”
Marie, who is currently a Master of Architecture candidate at the University of Notre Dame, also told me: “As a member of this diverse group of young professionals I am able to play a role in voicing the wants and needs of those entering the field in order to benefit an organization that has played such an important role in my professional development. It has been, and continues to be, a joy to work with the Institute to help better reach and serve young professionals and students at the national and chapter levels.”
Fortunately, there are already numerous ways for members who are in the early stages of their careers to get involved in the ICAA. For example, emerging professionals groups of the Texas, Northern California, Southern California, Southeast, and Washington Mid Atlantic Chapters, as well as the New York region, plan events regularly and are always looking for more participants.
The ICAA offers a number of scholarship opportunities, awards, and prizes that are open to emerging practitioners. Scholarships for programs such as the Summer Studio in Classical Architecture, the Professional Intensive, and the Christopher H. Browne Drawing Tours make it possible for anyone, regardless of background, to participate. With most architectural and design schools today offering little to no instruction in classicism, the ICAA’s educational programs are especially crucial.
On April 30th the ICAA will also present the Award for Emerging Excellence in the Classical Tradition in collaboration with the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community (PFBC) and the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism (INTBAU) to a young professional in the field of classical and traditional architecture, landscape, interior design, building, urban design and planning, or the arts. The launch of this Award, along with the continuation of our other efforts, is truly exciting, and is yet another step in the ICAA’s efforts to acknowledge, honor, and uplift individuals in the early stages of their professional development with the belief that each one will have the experience and guidance to become one of tomorrow’s great architects, designers, or artists.
Certainly, the ICAA’s mission applies to all of our members and friends – from experienced professionals to students and enthusiasts – regardless of age. However, I am particularly energized by the ways the ICAA is continuing to build relevance and create opportunities for the next generation.
What inspires me most is the leadership, passion, and resolve that members of our community have demonstrated. Thanks to all those who work tirelessly to make the ICAA a more vibrant and fulfilling organization for all. And a special thanks to our Young Members Task Force participants, including: Marie Acalin, Emily Bedard, Collier Calandruccio, Henry Crosby, Kellen Krause, Meredith Lenzini, Rodrigo Bollat Montenegro, Ryan Kucsera, Hannah Weber, Austin Wilson, Valerie Wood, and Sebastian von Marschall.