News & Press: CHAPTER NEWS

AIA Silicon Valley? Maybe a time for a change.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Burnham

AIA Silicon Valley - A Name Change Proposal

Michelle Ney, AIA
AIASCV President


What do you think of when you hear the name Santa Clara Valley?

I was born here in Santa Clara Valley. For me, it conjures images of blossoming orchards, blue skies, white puffy clouds, and a kite barely visible at the end of my string. Fresh fruit and vegetable stands, country drives, bike rides, backyard BBQ's, homemade ice cream and a weekend at the local flea market with my grandparents.


Today when I think about Santa Clara Valley I think of change. I see change every day, with the expansion of Bart near my office in Milpitas to driverless cars. I've seen the shuttering of the fruit stand in favor of growth and densification, the development of the North First Street corridor, light rail, infill projects, and our airport become international. I see housing prices skyrocket, and traffic come to a crawl. I see people opening up to mass transit, new urbanism, and a return to the nostalgic authenticity of locally grown, farm to table, keeping it real, all while we are glued to our electronic devices staying ever more interconnected through digital means.


I've witnessed the growth of Santa Clara Valley into Silicon Valley, from analog to digital.


I’ve seen maylines, mechanical pencils and electric erasers replaced by networked computer systems with a screen (or two) on every desk, wearable computers, and projects presented in 3D and virtual reality. I’ve seen my clients transition from a simple proforma statement driving development to a mindful and altruistic interest in providing the best possible human experience in the built environment. Not that the bottom line doesn’t still drive development, yet now there is more that goes into the equation: sustainability, employee retention, and how the design of our environment impacts human potential.


It’s a great time to be an Architect, people, a great time. And technology is cool. Super cool.


What do you think of when you hear the name Silicon Valley?


Silicon Valley is the economic driver of the Bay Area, and continues to lead our planet out of one of the worst global recessions in history. Silicon Valley is internationally recognized as the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and technological advancement. We are the hotbed of forward thinking futurists, dreamers and doers, start-ups and angel investors, students and teachers, immigrants and locals, venture capitalists and unicorns, all coming together for the possibility and promise of making a difference; and perhaps, just maybe, a shot at the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. Silicon Valley is enriched with the cultural diversity that comes from attracting people worldwide, all with the lure of what life could be…and with our influence and a tiny sprinkle of magic dust, what life will be.


AIA Santa Clara Valley, it’s time for change!


As President of AIASCV, I’ve traveled quite a bit to AIA events and have met a lot of amazing people from all over the world. I have found myself constantly adding “aka Silicon Valley” in pre-emptive answer to the inevitable question: Where is Santa Clara Valley? When I mention Silicon Valley, there is always instant recognition, admiration and respect, and sometimes even a flurry of appropriate discussion about the future of technology, how it’s impacted our profession, and where we’re going from here. Silicon Valley is the promise of tomorrow, the excitement of today, the face of diversity, and the place that we work and/or live. It’s time that our Chapter name reflect who we are and who we represent. The proposed name change is a matter of immediate recognition and connection with others in a way that truly describes who we are.


We are Silicon Valley. Agents of change. Creators of a better tomorrow. Architects of the future. Our membership will discuss the proposed name change at our September 27th Annual Business Meeting and a vote will be taken at our October 18th chapter meeting. Let’s represent who we are. Let’s make the change!