Past President Profile: Vince Terry, AIA, NCARB, NOMA

Vince Terry, AIA, NCARB, NOMA, Regional Director of Business Development, Moody Nolan

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

When looking back on 2017, I think about how the nation had just experienced eight years of Barack Obama, our first African American President in history. The economy was stimulated, we had recently elected a new president, and many were gainfully employed. After working on the AIA board for five years in various capacities, I was excited to explore new ways to expand programming for our members and rebuild our identity as 2017 Chapter President; we were ready to rebrand ourselves as Cincinnati’s finest AIA chapter ever and reestablish a home office.

Due to the recession of 2008, our chapter was homeless as far as having a physical address. Many of the chapter leaders talked about finding a new home for our office and we targeted OTR as the best environment, Renaissance, Diversity and Central. We believed that this selection was appropriate for economic and architectural revival in Cincinnati. My role during the 2017 presidency was to guide our board through due diligence review and 5-year strategic plan in order to finalize an almost unanimous decision to reopen our new AIA chapter office. This included the associate design entities within what is now called the CCAD (Cincinnati Center for Architecture + Design). The CCAD is a collaboration of the annual Cincinnati Design Awards organizations, ASID, ASLA, IIDA, SEGD, and AIA, demonstrating successful solutions within the tri-state design community.

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

In my career, the biggest change I have seen, is our ability to work with many different client types outside of the actual owner. Our contract alliance seems to continually grow from developer, non-profit, contractor/CMs, third party agencies, and property managers. It amazes me to see how many times the client would like one manager to oversee all the moving parts of a new development and where our value lies in that process.

With design/build, design assist, and IPD strategic approaches, our work continues to be divided and distributed to vendors and installers. We must continue to manage our client’s expectations and play a larger facilitation role in our industry. Projects are becoming more sophisticated with innovation and scale; the budget does not always align with the client’s wishes. Lastly, the new virtual world of Revit, Enscape, VIR, Rhino, as well as the BIM 360 Model tool of producing design and working documents to describe design intent of the architect, has drastically changed the field of architecture. These tools are providing a new resource for visualizing the result and our ideas for the completed project. Design/Build procurement is also diversifying our field and how we deliver good architecture. This could be a good thing if we manage our new clients and their expectations correctly.

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

Our challenge is two-fold, the racial disharmony in our culture has exploded in 2020 along with the Covid-19 virus. Both public health emergencies will cause a great shifting in the workplace that we must respond to.

Covid-19 has morphed our lifestyles drastically and we now have both work and play all within the confines of our homes. How we plan for flexibility in this new reality will be interpreted differently and best practices will need to be endorsed by our clients. Creating safe workplace environments that still cultivate collaboration and improve productivity is essential.

Diversity and inclusion will also be an ongoing challenge with 13% of our country’s population representing Black Americans, while only 2% of Black America are represented in the architectural community. It saddens me to know that our country has shown and demonstrated its concern and love for other national crises over the years but could not lean-in to rectify this cultural crisis.

Love and hate are very strong terms to use, but what else motivates one to make such sacrifice and show great determination to suppress and dominate a people or an industry? Over the last 12 years, I have seen much love given and delivered as “bailout funds” authorized and distributed to the auto industry, banking/investment industry, housing mortgage industry, and now we are experiencing the payroll PPP bailout followed by federal aviation funding. However, the Black American that has been suppressed and damaged for more than 100 years after slavery. There has not been a “bail out” but instead, they have been left behind to fend for themselves. Some made it, but most did not. But laws and zoning and banking practices have been written to suppress and publicly pin down instead of free up and respect Black Americans. It is not the fruit of love to treat another with suspicion and distrust. So, I am challenged with what motivates the political law maker, banker, and policy makers that strategize toward controlling the outcome and success of the Black American.

My hope is that in response to the 2020 crisis, many will begin to pivot and reframe their focus to be more relevant to today’s needs. If we do not get involved now advocating to fix climate health and structural racism, it will never be done. We must understand the buildings that frame the most disenfranchised neighborhoods have been robbing those people of their mental and physical health. This leaves them vulnerable to unpredictability in this uncertain climate. Knowing this, we should continue to strive to create spaces that are healthy, safe, and equitable.

How has AIA membership benefited you? 

Community: The AIA community is wonderful and provides a great space to build your brand and reputation throughout the region. I’m excited to be in the organization and have grown because of the interactions and friendship that I have been able to form. It is amazing that there will always be strength in numbers and power with unity. The AIA provides a place that we can speak with one voice. As the unity of our voice grows in volume, the AIA can advocate for change where it needs to be. We can speak truth to our government leaders and their old policies. I have personally benefited from AIA by increasing my exposure to governance and transparent leadership on the board. Holding several offices throughout my six years on the board allowed me to build authentic relationships that resulted in teaming opportunities for new work. This continues to benefit me and my practice here at Moody Nolan’s OTR Office.

What advice would you give to a recent architecture graduate? 

The only advice I could offer a recently registered architect is to seek and provide leadership on your projects; do this with an open mind and always listen to your client’s goals and needs. Architects are always being challenged by our neighboring support industry of construction management and unfortunately, which has been taking our market share and leadership roles. The architect must command the trust and understanding of many more components of the development process. Yes, beyond just good design. Our work is so much more than just a complete and functioning space. We must strive to inspire our clients to enhance relationships, promote unity, and assure equity in addition to practical items of reducing carbon footprint, waste, and initial costs while promoting inclusivity and storytelling within their newly crafted space.

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