Last week, the American Institute of Architects welcomed thousands of architects and design and building industry professionals to Washington, DC, for the AIA Conference on Architecture & Design (AIA24). Tours, workshops, panel discussions, exhibits, and events showcased the many ways that AIA members are designing a better world together.

With support from Material Bank, the Architects Foundation (AF) was able to host four Diversity Advancement Scholars throughout the week at AIA24. Rachel Wiggins, Taylor Pinkney, Samuel Leong, and Fionn Hui explored the city on architect-led tours, learned from vendors and exhibitors on the Expo floor, attended symposia and lectures, and enjoyed the lineup of stellar networking and social events. Staff and attendees were lucky to spend time with this talented group of emerging professionals. You can help us continue to provide wrap-around support and career opportunities to our scholars by supporting the Architects Foundation here.


On Wednesday morning, Communities by Design led a tour of Washington, DC’s U Street neighborhood that focused on the development conflict in that area and the role of the architect in finding solutions. The tour highlighted the work of Architects Foundation board member Michael Marshall, FAIA, whose firm is tackling the redevelopment of the Reeves Center, DC’s largest municipal services center, which occupies the geographically, historically, and culturally significant 14th Street and U Street intersection. In DC and beyond, Communities by Design helps architects, community leaders, and citizens address critical challenges like development conflict, climate resilience, housing equity, and revitalization. You can support their transformative work here.

The same day, the Architects Foundation began welcoming guests to The Octagon as part of a series of tours of the AIA Global Campus for Architecture and Design that continued all week. Wednesday morning’s tour participants were the first to see four all-new exhibits on display at The Octagon, including Design for Living, a collaboration with Heller Furniture and the Museum of Design Atlanta. Contemporary, architect-designed furniture by Heller created an exciting juxtaposition with the historic building’s elegant interiors and allowed visitors to experience The Octagon in a whole new way. In our upstairs galleries, exhibits offered insight into the AIA headquarters renovation, ongoing sustainable historic preservation work at The Octagon, and case studies highlighting the innovative methods of Communities by Design.

On Thursday, our Scholars had the chance to walk the Expo floor and engage with hundreds of vendors. Conversations sparked their curiosity about emerging trends in design, building science, and construction, and revealed the myriad career possibilities that are open to architecture school graduates. Scholars, staff, and AF board members also had the chance to offer thanks to sponsors and donors who have provided support to our scholarship programs and AIA24 events, including Sherwin Williams, GAF, Material Bank, Benjamin Moore, and more! If you’re interested in supporting an AF scholarship, learn more here.

Thursday evening, AF gathered conference attendees and guests at the DC History Center to network and learn from a panel of diverse industry leaders and our Scholars. Caroline Van Acker, AIA, senior associate at Beyer Blinder Belle, moderated a conversation with panelists Eleanor Choi, AIA, project manager at SmithGroup; Yiselle Santos Rivera, AIA, principal and global director of justice, equity, diversity & inclusion at HKS Architects; Avi Rajagopal, editor in chief of Metropolis Magazine; LaToya Thomas, principal and founder of Brick & Story; and Milan Jordan, director of HOPE Crew at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Guests mingled in the DC History Center’s beautiful space within the historic Carnegie Library building, the renovation of which was completed by Beyer Blinder Belle in 2019, before settling in the Center’s library for a wide-ranging discussion. Panelists urged the Scholars to cultivate creativity and pursue inspiration outside of architecture, and to remain open to unexpected experiences and opportunities within the design field. AF is grateful to Beyer Blinder Belle, Material Bank, HKS, SmithGroup, Hartman-Cox Architects, and The Beck Group for making this event possible.

The Communities by Design team hosted a series of events on Friday that delved deeper into the process of navigating community change. A workshop gathered conference attendees to share ideas about how to address development conflict at a community scale, and later in the afternoon, a panel discussion moderated by AF board president Bill Roschen, FAIA, brought together Rico Quirindongo, director of Seattle’s Office of Planning & Community Development, and Anita Cozart, director of DC’s Office of Planning, to discuss the role of public leaders. Elsewhere on the Expo floor, Scholars had the chance to network with dozens of other emerging professionals at the NextGen Lounge mixer. That event also celebrated the recipients of the inaugural Emerging Professionals Grant, a joint grant program from AF and AIA that allowed ten early-career architects to attend AIA24 for free.

On Saturday, Communities by Design led a final tour, exploring development conflicts in and around Alexandria and Arlington, VA. Later that day, the Communities by Design team joined the rest of the AF staff, Scholars, and guests at The Octagon to celebrate the conclusion of conference. With support from Benjamin Moore and Tylin | Silman Structural Solutions, the Architects Foundation was able to welcome hundreds of AIA24 attendees and community design partners from DC NOMA and AIADC to enjoy refreshments, explore the exhibition galleries, and experience The Octagon’s new installation of Heller Furniture. A courtyard bar also gave attendees a vantage point into the AIA headquarters building construction site—a party backdrop that delighted this crowd of architects and building industry professionals.

After the departure of the last guests on Saturday evening, the Architects Foundation bid farewell to our Scholars and to a successful AIA24 Conference on Architecture and Design.

We look forward to seeing you next year in Boston!


Special thanks to our AIA24 Event Partners:


And Event Sponsors:

The Beck Group
Benjamin Moore
DC Brau
Hartman-Cox Architects
Total Wine & More
Tylin | Silman Structural Solutions