Regional Directors Message: An AIA Architect Can

February 18, 2014

An AIA Architect Can

Make An Impact On Other Lives

By Robert Cozzarelli, AIA
2014-2016 Regional Director, New Jersey


This past summer, I had the opportunity to witness Mariano Rivera’s last two games at Yankee Stadium.  As a lifelong Yankee Fan, it was an experience that I could never believe would happen during my lifetime and a moment that was bigger than the game of baseball.  Needless to say, both games at Yankee Stadium were overwhelming with cheering fans that had tears in there eyes, clapping endlessly, while watching Mariano pitch his last games.  But the most memorable moment came during his final game without notice.  The moment that will be part of Yankee history, and ours, involved Derek Jeter, along with Andy Pettitte, walking out from the Yankee dugout to the pitchers mound to escort Mariano off the field, in his honor.  The fans erupted with endless cheering.  It was at that incredible moment that I realized, Mariano Rivera, simply did his job, with class, distinction and greatness.  He did his job for 17 seasons, in the most professional manner, and his career culminated to be recognized as the greatest relief pitcher in Major League history.  While doing this, Mariano not only managed to touch the hearts of Yankee Fans, but all Major League Baseball teams and their fans.

In 1997 Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson’s number 42 jersey, but also allowed any player at that time with number 42 to continue wearing it until their retirement.  Ironically, this happed to be the same year Mariano Rivera became a Yankee and his number was 42 on his rookie jersey.  On the day of Mariano’s last home game, he retired and this would be the first time that the Yankees organization retired a player’s number on the same day of his retirement.  Furthermore, it was the last day that a Major League Baseball player would wear number 42.

There was a ceremony that same day, prior to the game, to retire Mariano’s number 42 jersey.  Presently, at Yankee Stadium, in Monument Park there are two plaques with number 42; one is for Mariano Rivera and the other for Jackie Robinson.

Now what I found that was most moving during this ceremony was that Mariano took the time to acknowledge Jackie Robinsons plaque and to read the quote on his plaque, to himself, which reads as follows:

“A Life Is Not Important Except In The Impact It Has On Other Lives”

 I wanted to share my experience from that day and the impression it had on me.  We have the legacy left by Jackie Robinson and the impact he had on other lives.  Then 17 years later along comes Mariano Rivera, who touched everybody’s heart with his extraordinary career and his simple his gesture to acknowledge Jackie Robinson’s plague during his retirement ceremony.  This gesture by Mariano linked the past with the present, whereby making an impact on other lives, not only this day of the ceremony, but throughout his career.

As your Regional Director I ask that you take a moment and to think about how these two individuals touched lives through what they loved doing, playing baseball.  As architects we have the opportunity to do the same through our profession.  You may ask how an architect can have an impact on other lives.

Architects can make an impact on other lives through what they do best, the Practice of Architecture.  This is the value of what we do as architects and it is part of our daily professional life.  It is the influence we collectively have as architects, serving society by designing functional, efficient, attractive, and safe environments that creates livable communities.

Furthermore, as Regional Director, I encourage my fellow AIA Members to challenge yourselves and to make an impact in your world.  It is through your designs that you can touch a heart, trigger emotions and lay the foundation for life long memories.  Additionally, you can promote the profession we love, and advocate that excellence in design is essential to everyone’s quality of life.  As a profession, we can elevate the value of the Architect by demonstrating a unified voice while making this effort to impact other lives, through our designs and the profession of architecture.

Prior to deciding to run for Regional Director I did a lot of soul searching, asking the following questions; will I have the time, will I make a difference, will I be able to live up to my predecessors, and do I want to do this for my profession.  I honestly can say “yes” to all those questions and I can assure my fellow AIA Members that I am your Regional Director because I love the practice of architecture and “yes,” I wanted to make an impact on other lives.

Almost 50 years ago The New Jersey Society of Architects was represented by our first Regional Director, Jules Gregory, FAIA (1966-1968).  As your new AIA Regional Director I will have the distinction of also being your last, to hold that prestigious and honorable title, because The AIA National Board recently voted to “reposition the Institute,” thus creating a new chapter in the illustrious history of The American Institute of Architects.

At Grassroots, this year, this new streamlined governance framework will be presented in greater detail.  This type of governance will allow the AIA Board of Directors to be more effective in addressing important issues that are affecting the AIA members and the profession in a quicker manner.

The AIA is setting a new strategy, so that the AIA will be pro-active and ahead of trends.  It will address new issues and new technologies, and it will embrace a more valued, relevant organization.  The AIA will accomplish this by focusing on public awareness, advocating for the profession and sharing knowledge, as well as, expertise to ensure a more prosperous future for AIA Members.  The AIA will be an organization that the members will continue to be proud of, continue to serve and continue to be part of the community that you live, work and play in.

It will be at this year’s convention, in Chicago, that the membership will be able to vote on this historic change and how fast it will be enacted, but more importantly in what capacity.  When it is finally approved, I will no longer be referred to as a Regional Director, but I will advance to the Strategy Council as a Member-at-Large or a Council Member.  I will continue to represent the members of AIA New Jersey with the same respect and dignity, as I always have done, but under a new title.

Additionally, at the Chicago Convention, Jerry Eben, AIA will be running for AIA National Secretary.  Therefore, Jerry needs our support, so that AIA New Jersey will continue to be represented in the highest manner.

But, for now, as your Regional Director, I must say, it is a distinct honor to be the individual following Jerry Eben and on behalf on the membership I want to thank Jerry for his incredible service that he unselfishly and continually gives to the Institute.

The significance of number 42 with Mariano Rivera and Jackie Robinson is evident.  Coincidently, the number 42 is significant with our very own Jerry Eben, AIA.  It represents the number of years that Jerry has been an AIA Member.  Although there is not an AIA jersey with number 42 for Jerry to wear, he has worn his dedication, loyalty and faithfulness on his sleeve for AIA for 42 years, while making an impact on our lives.

Simply, every AIA New Jersey Member knows the difference that Jerry has made for our profession.  It is from my position of vantage that I have marveled at Jerry’s steadfast passion and dedication for the AIA Members, and the profession.  AIA New Jersey has been extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated member.  Yes, Jerry has made an impact on many lives, especially his fellow AIA Architect colleagues and those outside of the profession of architecture.  Kudos Jerry, Kudos, Well Done!!!

In closing, to serve as your Regional Director is an opportunity of a life time and to be able to represent my fellow AIA New Jersey Members at the national level is an honor.  Further, this is an exciting time to be part of the American Institute of Architects, as it “repositions” itself to be a more inclusive, informative and a pro-active organization.  It is a time that the Institute will advance the AIA by changing the way we think and behave, so that we can become a more valued and relevant profession.  The AIA will set a course of priorities that will focus on elevating public awareness, advocating for the profession and expanding knowledge and actively sharing that knowledge.  These ideals and principals can only be accomplished through your active membership and leadership by ensuring a prosperous future, whereby making an impact on other lives—through what we know best, the Practice of Architecture.

“A Life Is Not Important Except In The Impact It Has On Other Lives”

Jackie Robinson


Robert Cozzarelli, AIA

By | Posted in AIA-NJ News, NJ Architect Newsletter | Tagged: , , , | Comments (0)



Architects are skilled professionals who listen to you, interpret your wishes, help realize your building dreams, and add value at every stage of a project.

414 Riverview Plaza, Trenton, NJ 08611
(609) 393-5690