Regional Director’s Message: Governance, Nature and Mother

May 19, 2014

cozzarelliBy Robert Cozzarelli, AIA

2014-2016 Regional Director, New Jersey


The 2014 AIA National Convention will be held this the first week of Summer in Chicago.  It seems that this AIA Convention more than any other, in recent memory, is approaching with great anticipation, as the AIA Delegates prepare to vote on the governance of “Repositioning” of the Institute.  Clearly, whatever the outcome is there will be one thing that is for certain; decisions in Chicago will be made on the basis of careful, thorough and objective consideration of the issues by responsible AIA Delegates.  Hopefully, the AIA Delegates will elect Jerome L. Eben, AIA as Secretary of the American Institute of Architects and AIA New Jersey will be celebrating Jerry’s victory at the convention.

Should Repositioning be ratified at the AIA Convention it will allow the Institute to react in a quicker and responsive manner to issues and challenges that are occurring more frequently in this cyber world that we experience every day.  Further, a smaller Board of Directors will have the ability to be more interactive with the AIA membership and there will be a clearer understanding of the responsibilities of the Board and of the new Strategic Council.  The Strategic Council will be able to represent members of varying backgrounds, requirements and interest, while seeking and exploring pro-active positions for the Institute to forge.  By moving forward with this Repositioning new governance structure the AIA will be in the forefront of many national and worldwide discussions addressing issues, spearheading intellectual forums on architectural design and advancing the value of the architectural profession.

Repositioning will be a tremendous change to the Institute and it will come with a purpose and hopefully it will be recognized as a model for leadership of the Institute now and years to come setting an example of what is best for the greater good of the AIA Members and the Institute.  Honestly, it may ultimately answer, what is the value of being an AIA member.  Only time will tell as these efforts to implement these governance changes are being implemented for the betterment of the Institute and its membership now and for years to come.

With respect to Change it has always evoked emotions.  Change denotes a making or becoming distinctly different.  Some people readily accept change and others don’t.  I personally enjoy the change of seasons and I look forward to each and every one.  I particularly love Spring because I live near Branch Brook Park, which is recognized as the first County Park in the United States.  The park is situated both in Newark and Belleville.  The local residences of each community typically identify the boundaries of Branch Brook Park with the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which was designed by Newark architect, Jeremiah O’Rourke, FAIA (circa 1850-1880) at one end and at the north end with the banquet facility Nanina’s-In-The Park.  As the architect of record for Nanina’s it is a privilege that my architecture is also identified as part of Branch Brook Park.  The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and it is accented with a variety of Cherry Blossom trees that bloom only for a short period, from mid April through May.  But it is with great anticipation each year that I and the community look forward to nature’s gift of beauty when the Cherry Blossom Trees are in full bloom and the sun is shining and the weather perfect.  Yes, change is good and we have a lot to be thankful for, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Mother’s Day this time of the year and personally how thankful I am for my mother and how she encouraged me to be an architect because her father was a mason and he had extreme respect for the architect whenever they visited the construction site.

Mother’s Day is a day to appreciate both what you have and what you have been given.  Mothers, grandparents, aunts, and guardians all play a special role in the lives of their loves ones.  They help shape our character and form us into the people we become.  They may have played an important role in you deciding to become an architect, such is my case.  They serve as role models, shoulders to cry on, navigators through hard times, and a source of dependency.  For those who have lost their mothers, they will always be remembered and cherished in our thoughts and prayers.  The memories of those we have lost continue to shape our lives and choices we make that change our lives.  I hope each of you took time to reach out to those who have served as a maternal role in your life, to remember those we have lost and miss dearly, and to celebrate your own motherhood.

If you are asking why I have discussed these three different topics, AIA Repositioning, Cherry Blossom Trees, and Mother all in the same article it’s because they all represent some form of change and how it affects our life.  These are examples of change that stand to symbolize individual growth and nurturing of personal goals, hard work that inspires us to forge new paths in our personal life as well as professional life, and the gift of caring for each other as we enjoy the natural beauty of the world where we live, work and play in.  Simply, Architects create change and they influence lives and serve society by their designs.  Design is the value of what we do as architects!

Enjoy Spring because Summer is around the corner!

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