Chapter News | June 2018
Last month, we had two lectures by interesting architects working in our community and announced the call for entries for our first Awards program. We also spoke with Greg Yager, AIA, to learn a little about the history of AIA Shanghai.
A Conversation with Greg Yager
Greg Yager is a Senior Vice President at CallisonRTKL as well as a former President, a Board member, an Executive Committee member, and one of the founding members of AIA Shanghai. This month I spoke with Greg to learn about him and the history of our Chapter.
In 1997, Greg was working in Hong Kong and witnessed the formation of AIA Hong Kong, the first AIA chapter in Asia. An important part of AIA Hong Kong’s mission has been to cultivate membership in China and the Asia Pacific Region. Consequently, they provided some activities in the mainland, but there was never enough of critical mass to really form a chapter.
In November of 2003 Greg returned to Asia to open an office in Shanghai. At that time there were only a handful of American firms with offices or representation in Mainland China. Throughout the 2000’s more and more American firms and architects came to Shanghai, and by 2010, there was a clear need for AIA services and representation. For instance, it was very difficult to find activities that provided professional interaction and continuing-education credits. This and similar needs prompted the founding members to get together and start discussing the chapter formation.
In the same time period, the AIA International Region was taking shape. A growing number of international chapters were forming and trying to win the support of AIA National to form their own region. At the 2012 AIA Convention in Washington D.C., Greg and Christine Bruckner, FAIA (a multi-term president of AIA Hong Kong) gave a presentation about the structure of international chapters which became a basis for the formation of the IR. This new region gave American architects working internationally both representation and a voice at the national level.
Back in shanghai, the chapter was starting to take shape. The original group started holding events, but they still didn’t have the full support of AIA. Before starting the Shanghai chapter, the founding members needed to prove that they were able to sustain membership, raise money and, most importantly, gain permission to operate legally in China. “There was always the concern that we were independant,” says Greg. “We had to prove that, number one that we were legitimate, number two that we were going to do it properly, and number three, that we had the financial backing to make this happen.”
To hear Greg tell it, raising money was the easiest step. We wrote letters to the managing directors of all the international offices, asking for commitments and contributions. Through the generosity of these founding firm leaders, the group was able to secure enough capital to start the chapter.
Next, they needed to lay the legal groundwork. AIA hired a consultant to study and formulate a WFOE. Over the next year and a half they were able to put the structure together to make the chapter a legal, and AIA Shanghai receive its charter in 2012.
The WFOE status means that AIA Shanghai is not just a chapter: it’s a legal entity. The license could allow us to do many things, and AIA Shanghai as we know it is merely one of them. ”If the WFOE is the hub of the wheel, AIA Shanghai is one of the spokes,” says Greg, “and I’d like to see a lot of spokes.” Greg’s vision for the future of AIA Shanghai is to expand the design community in China. We can potentially add more programs, more events, and more activities that link together the design community, including foreign and local architects and their colleagues in allied fields.
I’m grateful to Greg for sharing his time and story with me. Obviously, getting AIA Shanghai started has required tremendous work, effort, and commitment from a lot of people. If you would like to get involved and help us keep AIA Shanghai operating, growing, and serving the design community, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AIA is a worldwide organization which connects our local chapters to architects working in every kind of practice in the United States and abroad. We strongly encourage members to take advantage of the annual conferences to keep engaged with current developments in our profession and meet other members from around the world. Please see the information below on this year's major conferences.
AIA International Region's conference, Convergence: Crossroads in Singapore, will be held in Singapore November 2nd though 4th. It will be an excellent chane to meet leadership form our chapter and firms. There will also be many opportunities to earn continuing education credits. Members and friends of the AIA International Region - including AIA Shanghai - are invited to attend this year's international conference.
Learn more and register here
AIA Conference on Architecture 2018
New York City, USA | June 21 - 23, 2018
This year's annual conference will take place in one of the world's greatest cities to experience the history and future of architecture: New York. Hundreds of events including lectures, building tours, and seminars are offered - over 20,000 architects and industry professionals are expected to attend.
Learn more and register here. Spaces will sell out soon - register quickly for the best access to events.
AIA Design Awards 2018 Now Open for Submissions
Lecture | Liu Yuyang
May 8, 2018
Yuyang Liu, founder and principal of Atelier Liu Yuyang, presented, ‘Of Land and People – A Decade in China.’ Yuyang took the audience through his architectural journey in China from his early day projects to his latest works, notably Yunlu Resort (广西阳朔喜岳云卢酒店), Shanghai Waterfront Aite Park (上海滨江爱特公园)，Shanghai East Bund Riverfront Open Space Design (上海浦东新区民生码头段贯通设计). Yuyang also worked alongside Rem Koolhaus while he was attending Harvard Graduate School of Design, and co-authored the publication ‘Great Leap Forward’ on the research of urbanization of China’s Pearl Delta. This also marks the first lecture featuring the up and coming generations of China-based architects, and attracted more than 50 attendees on a Tuesday evening.
Lecture | Alvin Huang
May 25, 2018
A crowd of nearly 50 people came out to the Haworth Showroom to see Alvin Huang present his work on generative design and digital fabrication. Alvin showcased a variety of work, including a 3D printed chair, a portable car charging canopy with a CNC-bent pipe frame that collapses to travel with the vehicle, and a complex in Bangkok which used innovative techniques to optimize the ratio between rentable and atrium spaces to meet the clients needs.