AIA New Jersey’s Flat Architect is a success!

June 29, 2022

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AIA NJ President John Cwikla, AIA, with his #FLATArchitect Pals at A’22

AIA New Jersey’s Flat Architect is a success!
Thank you to Andrew Thompson, AIA; Ruchi Dhar, AIA; and Brian Penschow, AIA for volunteering to be #FLATArchitect for the conference.

by William J. Martin, AIA

What began as an idea for AIA Grassroots in New Orleans in 2020, unfolded across Chicago two years later at the recent A’22 AIA Conference on Architecture 2022.

Early in 2020, Marissa Iamello, Brian Penschow and I were discussing the upcoming AIA Grassroots event approaching in February. I was very disappointed that I was unable to attend because of professional commitments. During our conversation, we discussed creating a flat photo version of myself that could attend grassroots and participate in all of the important work as well as the social events. Our thinking was this could make an interesting and fun social media campaign for the public awareness committee to post and promote the value of membership and the hard work our members put in at the Grassroots event.


William J. Martin, AIA, the ORIGINAL #FLATArchitect at #AIAGrassroots 2020


So #FlatArchitect was born. Brian and Marissa carried #FlatArchitect all around New Orleans participating in the Grassroots programs as well as enjoying the French Quarter. Photos were sent back and posted to the AIA NJ Public Awareness committee and social media platforms to bring attention to the great work being done at Grassroots 2020. That social media program was so successful, the AIA NJ Public Awareness Committee began to discuss how to expand the idea into other events.

Then the Covid 19 pandemic lockdowns began in March 2020. Everything went to virtual formats and we all became Flat Architects on our ZOOM computer screens.

In Early 2022, AIA National announced the Conference on Architecture 2022 would return as an in-person event in Chicago. The AIA NJ Public Awareness Committee woke up our sleeping flatty and began to figure out how to expand #FlatArchitect to be more representative of our diverse membership.

We asked some of our members to volunteer to attend the conference flat. In fact, one of our members attended in 3D AND flat, at the same time.


AIA Architects League of Northern NJ President Ryan Moran, AIA, and AIA Newark and Suburban Past President Andrew Thompson, AIA, with #FlatArchitect s Ruchi Dhar, AIA, and Andrew Thompson, AIA


When we arrived in Chicago, we found that our #FlatArchitects were very well received by our colleagues. Architects from across the country and out on the EXPO floor wanted their picture with our #FlatArchitects for social media. As I asked people to pose, they were excited to be a part of our efforts. #FLATarchitect s were photographed with architects all over the place.

Please follow @FlatArchitect on Instagram and repost our other flat architect photos to all your social media to get the message out that, in many ways, we are all Flat. AIA NJ Public Awareness will be posting and reposting to the various social media platforms over the coming weeks.

Does this Conference make me look FLAT? You bet it does! As we attend future conferences, we will be asking other AIA NJ members to volunteer for FLAT DUTY, especially those who can’t attend in person.

A special thank you to Andrew Thompson, AIA; Ruchi Dhar, AIA; and Brian Penschow, AIA for volunteering to be FLAT for the A’22 conference.



We value the diversity of our AIA NJ members and Flat Architect demonstrates that anyone can be an architect and anyone can be flat. The value of AIA Membership remains strong!

Thanks for participating!

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