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    - photo by Elizabeth Hackler

As a part of the 88th Legislative Session, 90 architects representing 14 chapters from across the state gathered at the Capitol to advocate to the state legislature for policy that supports not only the best interests of the architectural profession but of the public. In total, these members held 87 meetings with House Representatives and 28 meetings with Senators, focused on topics outlined in the Texas Society of Architects’ board-approved legislative agenda.

Architects have a compelling story to share with lawmakers. Responsible for ensuring the constructability and safety of buildings designed for human use and occupancy, architects must take our role as stewards of the built environment seriously. Architects are community builders, helping to shape the buildings and infrastructure of our cities that frame our everyday human experiences. Says TxA President Nicki Marrone, AIA: “Engagement in the legislative process is fundamental to protecting and advocating for the profession of architecture. It allows us to participate in the conversations that impact our daily practice, our liability, and our prosperity. It may change the way you think about our profession and how it is represented alongside the plethora of issues under consideration by our elected officials at the state level.”

As a part of this year’s Architects Day, Texas architects supported the promotion of policies that create a business that is competitive, innovative, and fair, allowing for greater focus on designing better communities, schools, and public buildings. Unique positions and topics included professional licensing, procurement and project delivery, assignments of liability and risk, building code standards, energy efficiency goals, school safety improvements, preservation and redevelopment, and infrastructure improvements.

Advocacy priorities are identified through the Government Affairs Steering Committee with input from members. While the priorities may vary depending on timing and legislative priorities, the utmost concerns of the AIA are protecting the practice of architecture, serving the needs of its members, and working to achieve our shared missions. High priority items for this session included resilient design as well as designing better schools, better public buildings, better communities, and a better future for all Texans.

The profession must embody the spirit of an emerging generation of architects who recognize their role as trusted advisors, community activists, and subject matter experts involved within the legislative process. Now more than ever, harnessing the collective voice of architects is essential for designing a better future for our communities and the profession. Architects and designers have a responsibility to be at the table with policymakers, together crafting public policy solutions that address the most critical issues facing states and cities. Increased engagement with state and local elected officials will result in a greater and more positive impact on issues facing the profession, the business of architecture, and our communities.

Gabriella Bermea, AIA, NOMA, is an associate and design architect with VLK Architects; chair of the TxA Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee; and communications director for the Young Architects Forum.


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I love hearing the affirmation “High priority items for this session included…better communities and a better future for all Texans.” How unfortunate that our elected leaders do not seem to feel the same about “…all Texans”, underscoring the significance of this article and AIA’s involvement in the legislative processes around accessible design. Some in public office are doing their utmost to de-legitimize persons with disabilities through the elimination and degradation of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusiveness commissions, policies, laws, and culture. Fortunately, TxA is standing firm in doing what is right. The 2021 American Community Survey (ACS) reports more than 3.5 million Texans have at least one disability. For perspective, that represents more than the population of Houston and Dallas combined. Who we vote for and elect speaks volumes about us as a society. These 3.5 million Texans with disabilities are our friends, co-workers, children, parents, and grandparents. And because we are all just temporarily able-bodied, this can be you too. I urge designers to get involved and let our elected leaders hear that their current chuckle-headed notions about ‘…all Texans” should mean just that. Let our democratic processes around EDI seek their own level. Leave EDI aspects of architecture and facility design to people who actually understand the implications, not to those wearing the blinders of culture wars for political gain.


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