Brett Petry, AIA
President, New Orleans Architecture Foundation
Nicole Dufour, CPSM
Executive Director, AIA New Orleans
(August 25, 2014 - New Orleans, LA) - Architectural professionals, associates and students in metro New Orleans now have a permanent "home," thanks to the recent purchase of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New Orleans Center for Design. Located at 1000 St. Charles Avenue, the 2,200 square foot space has been leased by the AIA since 2010. It was purchased August 1, 2014 by the New Orleans Architecture Foundation (NOAF). The sale was made possible from funds donated during a year-long capital campaign launched by the Chapter's Past Presidents Committee. The purchase will enable NOAF to expand offerings and resources to the community at-large. AIA New Orleans will continue in its role to provide services to professional members.
"This is not merely a real estate deal. It is a tremendous boon for AIA members and firms who want to learn more and receive more from their membership. It also creates an invaluable center of opportunity, knowledge and design information for students and the community," says NOAF Board President Brett Petry, AIA. "Thanks to the hard work of our Past-Presidents Committee and major contributions by some of our members, including Mr. Tim Favrot, FAIA, we've raised more than $100,000 in less than a year. We still need to meet our fundraising goal of $530,000. But, as our members and the community recognize what this purchase means to our community, we are confident that we will reach the goal before long."
Since AIA New Orleans was first established in 1910, the Chapter operated out of view of the community and in different downtown office locations. In an effort to establish a more visible presence in the community, the Chapter leased the first floor space at Lee Circle in 2010. It was a $335,000 investment in improvements, with all but $35,000 of the work coming through in-kind contributions from contractors and manufacturers. The remaining costs were covered by AIA member donations.
The Center for Design has proven to be invaluable. It created a permanent location for the 600 plus member Chapter, providing a place where architectural professionals could receive continuing education and training and non-licensed associates could study for their licensing exams. The Center for Design also became the focal point for architectural "Lunch & Learn" sessions, design seminars, and technical seminars for members and allied professionals.
"Before we had the Center for Design, AIA New Orleans was hosting about 30 events a year, which usually took place at rented spaces, hotels and restaurants," explains AIA New Orleans President Ron Martinez. He adds that membership meetings were scheduled in venues around the city, while continuing education seminars were often held in hotel meeting rooms. "After moving into the Center for Design, we are now hosting nearly 200 events a year. The space is flexible enough for receptions, meetings and seminars-even Mardi Gras reviewing stands. It's also become a destination for tourists who want to take one of our architectural tours of the city."
A non-profit organization whose mission is exclusively for charitable, scientific and educational purposes, NOAF or "the Foundation" was created to advance public interest and education in architecture and related design. The Foundation is working to accomplish this by developing a comprehensive program of architecture tours, exhibitions, public lectures, and education programs by providing a venue for such activities through its purchase of the AIA New Orleans Center for Design.
The benefits of the Center for Design purchase are many: It will allow the Chapter to continue to increase events and offerings to members and the community; it will continue as a Center for Learning created to help Architects, Interns, and allied professionals; and, it will enable the Chapter to increase membership. Prior to moving to the Center for Design, AIA New Orleans membership was about 250. Membership has now grown to more than 600 professionals and associates; much of the credit is due to the creation of the Center for Design and its highly-visible location on historic Lee Circle. The Center also is convenient to a large number of architectural firms with offices in the area.
For more information about The New Orleans Architecture Foundation, AIA New Orleans and the Center for Design, contact Brett Petry, AIA, President, New Orleans Architecture Foundation, at 985-969-3177 or Nicole Dufour, Executive Director of AIA New Orleans, at 504-525-8320. www.aianeworleans.org