Past President Profile: Bob Dorsey

Robert W. Dorsey, FAIA, Professor Emeritus of Construction Science, University of Cincinnati

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

I was AIA Cincinnati President 1981 and co-chaired the AIA National Convention in Cincinnati in 1980. Hosting that convention is one of the things I’m proudest of—it was very successful. Cincinnati had last hosted the AIA convention in 1889 when the AIA and Western Association of Architects merged.

David Richards was the AIA Cincinnati President in 1980. He, four other AIA Cincinnati presidents – Jerry Kelch, Kenneth Wright, Gordon Garn, and Jack Gartner – and I all graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1956. That must be a record!

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

The computer has to be the biggest change to the practice of architecture. I am probably one of the last to have done all the drawing by hand.

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

The overall economy is the biggest challenge right now. A number of firms are furloughing people. The coronavirus hanging around has already affected the international economy and will obviously affect the built environment.

How has AIA membership benefited you?

Being involved with AIA was very important. We had monthly meetings that were well attended and brought in speakers. When Randy Vosbeck, FAIA was the AIA National president in 1981, he came to talk about a plan to encourage energy efficient architecture. 

Going to meetings, meeting other architects, getting involved with the national convention—those activities were very important to me. I got to know people at the national office and architects from across the country.

What advice would you give to a recent architecture graduate?

Become involved in AIA and in your community. Serve on the zoning board or planning commission, and maybe even run for office. There are not enough architects involved in government. Get licensed. Once we got out of school and started working, getting licensed was THE objective. Then continue to get as much education as you can through continuing education and even advanced degrees.

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