Past President Profile: Afsaneh Ardehali

Afsaneh Ardehali, UNM

Looking back at your time leading AIA Cincinnati, what are you most proud of accomplishing? 

Generally speaking, I believe my accomplishments for the year 2000 would include: increasing membership and sponsorship, as well as expanding continuing education luncheon series. However, what I am most proud of would be Urban Poetry 1, the first AIA Cincinnati national design competition held in collaboration with the City of Cincinnati. This event challenged architects and designers from various design disciplines across the nation to “transform an ordinary parking lot in Downtown Cincinnati into an extraordinary urban moment.” The 45 ingenious submissions we received were exhibited in Downtown Cincinnati Public Library to educate the public and inspire their imagination.

In your career, what is the biggest change you’ve seen in the field of architecture? 

On one hand, in recent years, greater environmental consciousness, energy efficiency, and more concerted move toward sustainable designs have been important areas of change in architecture. On the other, although the number of women students in schools of architecture are nearly equal to the number of men these days, the promotion of women as well as minorities in higher levels of architecture practice are far behind. 

Looking ahead, what is the biggest challenge facing architects working today?

Regardless of the concerted efforts of AIA in national, regional, and local levels, we still have a long way to go till the general public develops full understanding and appreciation of the value of what it is that we bring to the table. I firmly believe our greatest challenge still remains to be in redefining our role and regaining our power in forming the physical, social, cultural, and environmental consciousness. 

How has AIA membership benefited you?

Like most architects, I always enjoyed designing until I experienced the joy of teaching architecture. It was being in AIA and my contacts through AIA that I found my calling in academia.

What advice would you give to a recent architecture graduate? 

Find your passion in a particular aspect of the field and develop your expertise. However, be flexible in your attitude, versatile in your collaborations, and most importantly be the expert in marketing your work.

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