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Jun 28, 2017

Happy birthday BSA

Stevenson header

Image: BSA 150 Birthday Bash. Credit: Paige McWhorter.

Being asked to reflect on my time as president halfway through my term won’t have the “wistfully looking back” tone of the other remembrances, but I think it is a good thing to do.

This is a milestone year for the organization, with so many anniversaries, including the BSA’s 150th, and its associated events, awards, and activities. The staff is engaged and committed, facilitating our agendas and helping us make the most effective use of our time. BSA Space is always busy with an involved membership, reflected by scores of committees and others who participate in events almost every night.

My primary agenda is for the BSA to push design as a value to Boston. I embrace the mayor’s statement that we are a cutting-edge city in so many fields, and our architecture should reflect that. Consequently, we should advocate for the Boston Planning & Development Authority (BPDA) to encourage better architecture on our skyline, urge our multiple architect selection panels to emphasize design excellence as an important selection criterion, value diversity in their selection of architects, and encourage them to select new firms for public work. We also need to urge our membership to participate in the vast amount of boards, panels, and review committees that have vacancies for important voices: those of architects.

A unique aspect of the Boston architecture community is its six architecture schools. The relationship between degree-awarding institutions and our profession is getting more critical as the number of students enrolling in architecture programs is dropping. This is the second item on my agenda. The relationship now is better than I have seen while I have been involved in the BSA, but we should continue working to enrich it.

Finally, more than ever, there is a great interest in our advocacy both here and nationally. We have pushed our social goals with the AIA and, unusually, have been getting some response. As builders of the future, we have values and ethics and should not hesitate to advocate for them.

With all these goals, one year is a short time, but I am encouraged by our progress where progress can be made and by the possibilities of success. This is simply because of the commitment, involvement, and interest of our peers. I am confident these goals will continue to be assessed and pushed.

Josiah Stevenson FAIA, 2017 BSA president