Information, advocacy and new architects

7 March 2015

ACA – WA welcomed new members at a lunch event that saw Steve Kennedy reflect on the role of the ACA in addressing issues facing the profession through information and advocacy.

ACA – WA’s recent Members’ Luncheon was an opportunity for the association to celebrate the success of the state’s newly registered architects – and one third of the attendees were new architects from member practices.

National President, Steve Kennedy, joined WA members at the event to reflect on the issues facing the profession and to outline the role the ACA is playing in addressing these. We present an edited excerpt of his talk.

Our profession is in a permanent process of change and renewal, which is as it should be. While this raises lots of issues, one that remains constant is that if you are at all interested in owning, running or managing an architectural practice then you need to engage with that process and understand it.

One of the reasons I like coming to WA is because of the sense of collectivity and camaraderie I have witnessed and experienced here. It’s not that it doesn’t exist elsewhere – it does – but it seems to be particularly strong and – if I could put it this way – entrenched here.

That is important. The most effective things we can do as an industry to ensure our future are to have a strong, healthy, active and supportive network based on open dialogue, to conduct strong research and to create outstanding architecture.

Without these we are on a descending path to irrelevancy. (Only yesterday I had a client ask me why architects had given up so much ground to planners.  I replied it was nothing like the ground we have given up to project managers, construction managers and even real estate agents.)

But we are not here to discuss past failings, architectural merit or what other professions are doing. Rather we must focus on how we – the people who own or manage architectural businesses (or are thinking about owning or managing a business) – can work together to address current and futures issues in the ever changing landscape of our industry.

For me it comes down to two core things – information and advocacy.

Knowledge is power. It enables you to inform yourself about what you need to know and equips you to inform others. And that is what the ACA is about – learning, knowing and sharing.

Our aim is to identify issues, do appropriate research on them, decide what is needed to address them, lead the discussion on them and advocate for the necessary changes to implement those changes.

We believe that our responsibility is to assist and inform our members, our clients, the public and the government about what is not only important to enable the effective operation of the architectural industry in this country but also, what is in the best interests of the nation. Always within the framework of The Business of Architecture. That is, we are talking about, employment, procurement, industrial relations, management, conditions of contract, fees, salaries, and so on. And identifying and addressing how we could be doing it better in the future. Both internally and externally within our industry.

The good news is that, not only that we are punching well above our weight, but that in doing that we are gaining a stronger and stronger capacity to influence opinion and advocate for our industry.

It’s a bit of a snowball effect. The more you achieve, the more you are noticed and the more influence you have, which then allows you to achieve even more.

Our membership is also growing well but, frankly, until every person running an architectural business in Australia recognises that membership of the ACA is a non-negotiable core business choice, we have not done well enough. And the broader and more diverse the spectrum of people involved the richer and more relevant we become.

 So, please, if you are a member stay involved and if you are not a member do your business a favour and become one. You won’t regret it.