News & Press: CHAPTER NEWS

President's Letter | Chapter Update 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019   (0 Comments)

Greetings to AIA Silicon Valley Members and Friends


As I prepare for my trip to A’19 – AIA’s Conference on Architecture in Las Vegas, I want to check-in with an update on some of the significant activities and achievements of the chapter for the first half of 2019.


A’19 – AIA’s National Conference on Architecture, June 5-8

AIA Silicon Valley Chapter (AIASVC*) Vice-President, Keith Blaine, and I will be representing the chapter at the AIA’s annual business meeting at A’19 and casting AIASVC’s votes in the national election. The candidates and initiatives being voted on can be found here. Should you have thoughts or input on any of the items, please let Keith and me know. Note that one of our own, Britt Lindberg – 2014 AIASVC President and 2018 AIA California President, is running for a Director-at-Large seat on the national board. In addition, Evelyn Lee of AIA San Francisco is running for Treasurer. Both are excellent candidates and have our full support.


For those of you planning to attend A’19, I invite you to join me for the 2019 College of Fellows Investiture Ceremony on Friday, June 7th at 2.30-4.30 pm, at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts to help celebrate our chapter’s latest fellow, Lee Salin, FAIA – 2004 AIASVC President and 2015 AIACA President. Lee has made important contributions to the profession and our chapter for many years and the honor is very well deserved.


Lee Salin, FAIA receiving his Fellowship pin


In addition, Board Member Jennifer Kretschmer will be presenting the following session at A’19 on Thursday, June 6th at 8am: TH104 - CRAN®: The Virtual Office for the Small Practice/Custom Residential Architect.


Advocacy + Initiatives

In March, hundreds of AIA leaders from around the country converged on Washington DC to attend AIA’s Grassroots 2019 and participate in Capitol Hill Day, during which delegates were armed with talking points, teamed with other delegates from their region, and sent off to meet with their Representatives to promote AIA’s positions on School Safety and Climate Change. It was a powerful experience in participatory democracy for those who attended and one of the highlights of my year.


A request to endorse a letter to Governor Gavin Newson from Ed Mazria, FAIA – Founder of the 2030 Challenge – concerning California’s important and influential role in taking action to counter climate change was presented to AIA California (AIACA), chapters, some firms, and a handful of concerned entities in the state. AIACA and AIASVC, along with many others, endorsed the letter.


As always, AIACA’s Board of Directors – with expert guidance from Mark Christian, Hon. AIACA, Director of Government Relations and input from the AIACA’s Advocacy, Housing, and COTE committees – has been tracking State legislation effecting our profession, evaluating the implications of the bills, recommending positions, and taking action. In addition, there are plans to invite AIA CA leadership and California-based representatives of AIA’s national Strategic Planning Committee to speak at a chapter meeting later in the year.


Jeff Oberdorfer, FAIA, LEED Fellow represented AIA Silicon Valley at AIACA’s Housing Forum in March, where Liz Gibbons also participated as a moderator and panelist in the program. The summit was convened to explore the challenges and opportunities related to housing in California.


Additional opportunities for AIASVC members to make a difference statewide, regionally, and locally include:

  • Support AB 626: Legislation important to many architectural firms will be heard by the California State Assembly very soon, and you can help secure the votes for it to pass. AB 626 changes California’s conflict of interest laws to clearly state that a firm can provide pre-design services to a public entity and still be eligible to compete for design services. A recent court ruling created a “conflict of interest” that can prohibit a firm that provided pre-design services (e.g. feasibility study, master plan) from being eligible to compete to design any project that results from the pre-design contract. AB 626 fixes this problem. It removes that “conflict of interest” and gives public entities and design professionals greater flexibility when it comes to the offering of design professional services. You can use this easy link to contact your Representative in the California State Assembly to urge support of AB 626.
  •  San Jose Reach Code initiative to accelerate the climate mitigation aspects of the building code for projects in San Jose. Community Stakeholder meetings will be held May 29th and June 4th. Similar events are taking place in other local communities as well.
  • Community College to Career (CC2C) is an initiative led by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and supported by AIASVC that is focused on supporting the local workforce pipeline, via direct support of local community colleges. Learn more about it at the May 23rd chapter meeting.

Chapter Events

AIA Silicon Valley’s second Architectural Intelligence conference, AI.19, took place at San Jose Convention Center on March 1st and was once again a great success. Keynote speakers Julie Eisenberg, FAIA, RAIA and Antwi Akom, PhD stirred things up, while local and national experts in Sustainability, Equity & Leadership, and Innovation provided high caliber learning opportunities throughout the day. Dozens of vendors added to the lively conference atmosphere. Many thanks to AIASVC staff and the Co-Chairs – Annalee Groner, Donna Musselman, and Karissa Patel, as well as the many volunteers for all of their efforts to support the event.


Architectural Intelligence Conference 2019


The 5th Annual Home Tours was an amazing success thanks to the efforts of a terrific committee – Yingxi Chen, Noel Cross, David Edwards, and Miray Oktem – led by Chair and Board Member, Caroline Kwak, and supported by a team of volunteer docents. Nearly 400 people – architects and community members – took part in the tour of four remarkable houses from Los Altos to Palo Alto. This event was featured in Punch Magazine and is always a great way to connect with the broader community and get people talking about what architects bring to the table.


2019 Home Tours


In May, I enjoyed taking part in a joint Emerging Professionals Committee meeting with AIA San Mateo at Field Architecture focused on matching mentors and mentees. Dozens of people participated in the speed-dating style event, organizers sorted out the results, and I’m pleased to find myself with a team of mentees – Fanny Wu, Allen He, and Ashokan Pillai – with whom I look forward to getting together!


There are some great programs coming up too. We hope to see you at some or all of them:

  • Chapter Meeting: Transforming Education - May 23rd, Mission College: Register here
  • AIA Silicon Valley 2019 Scholarship Awards
  • Remarks on advancing education on the new campus from Daniel Peck, President, Mission College
  • Luisa Caldas, Professor of Architecture and Director of the Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory at UC Berkeley.                                   
  • Chapter Meeting: Public Realm + Urban Design – June 19th, Stanford University: Register here. Richard Kennedy, RLA, ASLA and Senior Principal with Field Operations will share his insights into some of the firm’s most well-known work, such as the High Line in New York and Chicago’s Navy Pier, along with updates on their current New Presidio Parklands Project in San Francisco. This is a joint meeting with AIA San Mateo. 
  • Annual Golf Tournament – July 22nd, Almaden Golf & Country Club: Register here. Enjoy the fun with friends and colleagues at this beautiful course. Golfing skills optional!


Members of AIASVC’s Women In Architecture committee have been instrumental in the success of the chapter’s AI conferences, which they have supported in part to gain the experience needed to become serious contenders for hosting the national Women’s Leadership Summit in 2021. A letter, endorsed by AIACA, a number of past AIASVC presidents, and many of the Chapter’s Fellows has been sent to national to make the case. Fingers crossed, that their bid will be successful.



Leah Alissa Bayer – Board Member, AI.18 Co-Chair, and founder of her own firm, EVIA – submitted an entry to a prestigious, national Architecture Business Plan Competition, was selected as a finalist, and won! We know her as a smart, can-do leader – now the word is out. Congratulations to Leah on this amazing award!



Thanks to everyone who makes this organization the community that it is, including: Amy Ress, Executive Director, Chris Burnham, Executive Assistant, the Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, Committee Members, Volunteers, and Sponsors.


I encourage you all to enjoy the opportunity to be an active member in the chapter by attending events, networking, and joining a committee. As is the case with organizations like this, you are bound to get more out of it than you put in or ever expected.


See you at the next chapter meeting!


Sharon Refvem, FAIA, LEED Fellow

Hawley Peterson Snyder

AIA Silicon Valley, 2019 President


* We have come to realize certain advantages of the Chapter’s name change from AIA Santa Clara Valley to AIA Silicon Valley. The added name recognition helped us recruit national speakers to the AI conferences and made us stand out just a bit more on Capitol Hill Day in Washington DC. Unfortunately, the natural acronym for our new name AIASV is already taken by AIA Sierra Valley. Therefore, while we continue to prefer the full name, AIA Silicon Valley, when needed, the Board has decided to use AIASVC (aka AIA Silicon Valley chapter) as the acronym. 


Photo Credits: Arnold Breit and Angshupriya Pathak