04 Jan Past President Profile: Eric Todd Inglert, AIA
Eric Todd Inglert, AIA
Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head, Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Cincinnati
Looking back at your time leading AIA Cincinnati, what are you most proud of accomplishing?
I was so happy to be a part of a team of diverse voices and big ideas. Our 2002 board had some great thinkers and future leaders in our profession. Each year, your AIA board embarks on an ambitious schedule of programs that takes an enormous amount of time to deliver to members. From the retreat we had at Grailville one cold late autumn Saturday in 2001, to the Cincinnati Design Awards one year later, it was a great ride! What I found most surprising about the position was the amount of resources needed. I was a small firm owner and adjunct professor at the time, and a chapter president sometimes seemed a full-time job by itself. I appreciate those who came before me and after me, because it is a very cool gig!
In your career, what is the biggest change you’ve seen in the field of architecture?
Before we started our firm Inglert & Kolber, we were members of a generation (Xgen) of architects who on any given day shared the experiences of drafting in ink on linen(!) and lettered at times with a Leroy set, and who also were learning the new technologies of CAD. Indeed, a primary business model of Inglert & Kolber was to leverage our knowledge of CAD and make our tiny firm appear much larger. The defining change in culture for the profession of architecture must at least acknowledge the great equalizer…the personal computer.
Looking ahead, what is the biggest challenge facing architects working today?
Our biggest challenge is thinking too small…of having a lack of imagination in the face of all that currently besets our nation. In the US, policy makers have woefully ignored a duty of service toward our infrastructure: bridges, roads, telecommunication, and in particular our aging housing for the disenfranchised. We have been trained to envision a better future like no other profession I know, and our greatest challenge (opportunity?) will be in our willingness to shepherd the inevitable transition from an oil-based economy to an economy based on renewables and on an equitable distribution of quality-of-life assets. While at once acknowledging our allegiance to the owners for whom we traditionally provide contracted services, it has been equally helpful for me as an architect to remember an overabiding ethic of service in the duty granted by the architecture license: to protect the health, safety and welfare of users who inhabit our body of work. If we as a profession do not pick up the staff, then who else has the vision to see the job through as we can.
How has AIA membership benefited you?
I am able to draw a path between the folks I have met in the AIA and all the highlights of my career that have resulted in me being in front of students and teaching architectural engineering today. Without the generous support of architects I have met and without their leadership by example, then I would certainly be a less fulfilled architect. Many of us like to espouse a myth of self reliance, and it is certainly true that some personal grit is required to endure the rigors or our shared profession. Yet, an attitude of gratitude toward my AIA colleagues evolved over more than two decades as a member. Thank you to all of you who challenged me to be a better professional.
What advice would you give to a recent architecture graduate?
Allow time in your day for continuous improvement. Schedule it if you have to. There is no greater duty that you have to our profession and to our society than to prepare yourself for the inevitable change that is coming. As an X-gen architect, I certainly could not have imagined how fundamentally our instruments of service would change and how rapidly some of my colleagues were eased out of a profession too early due to an inability to adapt. Learn a new 3D modeling package, learn Python, read actual books, develop hobbies, play a musical instrument, serve on a local pool board committee or school planning board; and, for the sake of your precious time to be creative, limit your exposure to social media: it’s a trap!