Progressive AE

Introducing the 2012 AIA GV President

Posted by: 
Nate Golin, AIA
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Well, the baton has been passed and I'm officially in the driver's seat... Some of you may not know me yet as I'm fairly new to the community (I moved backed to GR in 2009 - see my bio below).  I hope to change that soon.  

The first thing I should do is thank last year's president Dave Maxam, AIA for a great 2011! To get an overview of the things we were able to accomplish last year, see our 2011 Wrap Up.

My Initiatives for 2012:
Though some of us are finally starting to sense a turnaround in the industry, as a's still a tough time to be an Architect.  Unemployment is high amongst practitioners, our students are the least employed in the country (Washington Post Article), and those of us that are working are cutting each others throats to score the next job.  The AIA had it's problems before, and the current downturn has only exacerbated them.  Currently, less than half of the eligible architects in the State of Michigan are members of the AIA.  Many current members are finding it more difficult to justify the high cost of membership based on the perceived value of services provided.  To put it bluntly, our profession is suffering and the AIA is at risk of becoming irrelevant.

I definitely don't mean to be a downer here at the beginning of the year, and I actually think it's really important that we stay optimistic.   As a profession we've been in a state of collective depression about who we are and what we do for far too long.  We need to be honest about the serious challenges that our profession is facing, but we also need break the gloom cycle and start moving forward.  I don't have answers to all our problems, but it's my strong belief that in order to face these challenges and restore pride in our profession, it's critical that we as Architects have a vibrant common forum and a strong public voice.  Regardless of it's past failures, the AIA is still the best venue we have to accomplish this.  Luckily, we here at AIA Grand Valley have had a string of leaders and an involved board that has been dedicated to changing the way the AIA operates and having our local organization adapt to current times.   I intend to continue this trend and hope to convince more of you to be involved and help us bring back the joy of being an architect.  With that said, here are some of my goals for the year: 

  1. Better Member Communication
    Poor communication has always been one of the banes of the AIA.  We’re hoping to improve this locally by:

    • Continuing to change and improve our website: The structure of our new website provides us a lot of opportunities to stay better connected with our membership.  In its current form, we’re able to disseminate information about our programs and events in a more accessible way.  Soon, we hope to open this up to our membership and allow open discussions and commentary.
    • Firm Meet & Greets: We’re all busy with our careers and our personal lives.  We understand how difficult it can be to stay involved and up to date with what the chapter’s doing.  To help facilitate a better back and forth dialogue with our membership, we’re going to try and come to you instead of expecting you to come to us.  Starting early this year, we’re going to try and set up a program of Lunch & Learns where we visit local firms to give them an update of what we’re up to. 
    • Cutting the email clutter: We’re hoping that the accessibility of our new website will also let us reduce the amount of emails you’re getting from us in your inbox.  Ideally, you’ll only be getting one email a month from us telling you what we’re up to in the next month.
  2. Focus efforts on services and programs that provide value:
    Our Lunch & Learn Program, our Awards Ceremony, and our Golf Outing continue to be popular events.  We’re working to make them better.  If we get little feedback and/or poor participation with other programs, we’re going to try something different to see what finally sticks. 
  3. Have more fun and be more interesting:
    There’s nothing that irks us more here at AIA Grand Valley than the way the AIA has failed to shake the stuffy old men’s club image.  We’re a young creative group and we’re too busy to have patience for anything boring.  We’re continuously working to spice up our programs, enliven our venues, and make our topics more relevant.

We always welcome comments and suggestions about how we can serve you our membership better.  We'd love to have you get involved in what we're up to.  Feel free to contact me at any time at:

A little more about me:

I'm a native of Grand Rapids (Go Grandville Bulldogs!) and attended Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI where I received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus in Fine Arts and Mathematics.  I went on to pursue a Master's degree in Architecture from the University of Minnesota and worked and taught in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for 5 years after graduating.  When my daughter was born in 2009, my wife and I decided to move back to GR to be closer to family.  We knew we were going to miss the thriving metropolis that is the Twin Cities, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a much more vibrant Grand Rapids than what we left in the late 90's.  Currently, I'm working as a Design/Project Architect at C2AE.

Other Board News:
Having passed his ARE's, Brian Swem, AIA has relinquished his role as Associate's Director and we're happy to have him as our new Vice President.   This also means Brian will be our 2013 Chapter President.  Brian has been an outspoken voice for change in our local organization as well as at the state level.  We're all excited about his passion and the new ideas he's bringing to the table.  Taking over the role of Associates Director is new AIAGV board member Megan Wall, Associate AIA.  Megan is in the process of taking her ARE's and is a Project Coordinator at AMDG.

For a complete list of our current board, see our Board of Directors page.