Monday, November 8, 2010

An Open Letter to the 112th Congress from America's Architects

George H. Miller, FAIA
President, American Institute of Architects
Washington, D.C.
November 8, 2010

On behalf of the nearly 80,000 members of the American Institute of Architects, we would like to congratulate you on your election and re-election to Congress. This has been a hard-fought election season; you should feel a sense of pride that the American people have entrusted you to serve as their representatives.

You face big challenges when you are sworn in on Jan. 3. But those challenges pale when compared to those faced by your constituents. As community leaders, architects have seen first-hand the challenges that our nation faces. Since more than 90 percent of AIA architects work for small businesses, they know all too well how the economic crisis has affected Main Street. In fact, the Department of Labor reports that the architecture profession has lost a fifth of its workforce since 2007; in some regions, the number is far higher.

America’s architects are Republicans, Democrats and Independents, working in major metropolises and small towns alike. They are problem solvers who offer common-sense solutions to the challenges our communities and country face.

When it convenes in January, the 112th Congress has a chance to make real strides on moving the country forward – if it adheres to these three priorities:

Restoring Small Business as the Engine of our Nation’s Economy. Congress must do more to help the private sector create jobs. Every million dollars invested in design and construction yields 28.5 full-time jobs. And yet the credit crunch has left blueprints on the shelf because building owners and developers cannot get the financing they need. The AIA supports polices that make financing available for design and construction projects that put people back to work and tax and regulatory reforms to cut red tape and help small entrepreneurs get ahead.

- Returning Economic Vitality to Our Communities. Architects know all too well that a 21st century economy cannot thrive with a 19th century infrastructure. Yet in too many of our communities, aging buildings, roads and bridges have left Americans less safe and our nation lagging behind the infrastructure of its global competitors such as China. Studies have shown that our economy loses $80 billion per year in lost productivity due to congestion on our roadways. Worse, the foreclosure crisis has riddled neighborhoods in urban, suburban and rural areas with abandoned properties and rising crime. The AIA urges Congress to pass legislation that empowers communities to plan more vibrant and sustainable futures that give people real choices about where they live and how they travel.

- Improving America’s Energy Independence. Buildings account for 70 percent of electricity use in the United States and nearly half of greenhouse gas emissions. Rising energy prices mean higher bills for homeowners, small businesspeople and taxpayers - who foot the bill for energy costs in government buildings. Architects have solutions that make buildings use significantly less energy. The AIA believes that the next Congress will have an important opportunity to pass legislation to promote energy efficient buildings that cost less to run and are better for the environment.

In summary, my organization, the American Institute of Architects, has long worked with policy makers from both sides of the political aisle to advance policies that foster prosperous, safe and sustainable communities. The time for campaigning is over, and the time for working together in a bipartisan fashion to get things done has come.

We stand ready and willing to work with you and your colleagues in the next Congress to rebuild and renew our nation.

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