Page N2.1 . 17 May 2000                     
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    AIA Convention Probes Livability

    The "City of Brotherly Love," home of the Liberty Bell, was the setting earlier this month for the annual convention of the American Institute of Architects. With its rich cultural and architectural history and its share of urban problems, Philadelphia was an appropriate setting for the AIA's theme of "New Century, New Vision: Livable Communities for America's Future." Architects from all over the U.S. gathered to hear experts promote their ideas for improving livability from political, social, and educational, as well as architectural points of view.

    For instance, delivering one of the keynote addresses was Andrew Young, former Ambassador to the United Nations, Mayor of Atlanta, U.S. Congressman, and aide to Martin Luther King. In his 40 years of extraordinary public service, Young has witnessed and contributed to radical social change. When the Olympic Games came to Atlanta, he also observed the sociopolitical effect of architectural development. He challenged his audience to help defeat poverty, which is the underlying cause of the terrible problems of crime and racism.

    Young argued that investing in inner city housing, giving neighbors an ownership stake in new developments, and making schools smaller and more humane are ways architects can contribute. "Martin Luther King could not have imagined where we'd be by 2000," Young concluded. "And today we should accept this challenge to overcome poverty even though we can't imagine what the future will be like."

    The imagination was also the poetic theme of Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, this year's recipient of the AIA's 2000 Gold Medal. His buildings are simple, colorful, and full of mystery. You turn a corner and are surprised by patterns of light, an unexpected view through a window, or the play of water. Legorreta exhorted his architectural audience to embrace collaboration and avoid mere fashion. "You'll do your best if you consider that architecture is for people, not for other architects," he advised.

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    ArchWeek Photo

    Mexican architect and AIA's 2000 Gold Medalist Ricardo Legorreta charmed audiences with his bold design and humanistic approach to practice.
    Photo: American Institute of Architects

    ArchWeek Photo

    At the 2000 AIA Convention, Ambassador Andrew Young challenged architects to do their part to overcome poverty in the 21st century.
    Photo: American Institute of Architects

     
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