A Brief Look at the History of the American Institute of Architects

Thomas Vonier is the president of America Institute of Architects (AIA). He is committed to motivating public demand for architecture. Tom puts the interests of members first before anything else and leads efforts that enhance public spaces and buildings as essential elements of the infrastructure in the country. The president has a track record of engaging the globe on the climatic challenges and urbanization, which advances values and programs at AIA in international settings. Tom’s practice is based in Washington, D.C., and Paris. It aims at serving private and public clients with industrial operations all over the world. Tom also works with municipalities to enhance security in the urban centers. He is also a board-certified security expert and has led research for US consulates and embassies. The study resulted in a new generation of design criteria and landmark solutions and recommendations to the Secretary of State. Tom received a presidential Design Award as a result of the Federal Triangle planning project that he undertook as an international advisor.

The American Institute of Architects was established in 1857 by a group of architects in New York. It aims at elevating professionalism and promoting scientific and practical perfection of architects. The initial members included Jacob Wrey Mould, Leopold Eidlitz, John Welch, and Richard Upjohn. However, they decided to invite 16 more prominent architects on February 23, 1857, who included Calvert Vaux, Thomas U. Walter, and Alexander Jackson Davis. Before the establishment of AIA, anyone in the United States could claim to be an architect as there were no architectural licensing laws. Its constitution and bylaws were drafted on March 10, 1857. It initially operated under the name New York Society of Architects before rebranding to American Institute of Architects.

Currently, AIA has over 900,000 licensed architects and associated professionals. All its members adhere to the professional conduct and code of ethics intended to ensure that architects are dedicated to the highest standards of professionalism. Even though AIA has no membership category for students, they are at liberty to join the American Institute of Architecture Students. The most prestigious honor of AIA is the designation as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA). The honor goes to architects whose contributions are of national significance to professionalism. The AIA has elevated more than 2% of its members to the AIA College of Fellows. The AIA may also elect foreign architects as Honorary Fellows.