The Search For Excellence

First Baptist Church in Columbus, Indiana designed by Harry Weese, 1965.

By Sheena V. Enriquez,
COD Spring Conference Knowledge Scholar

This April, I spent four days in Columbus, Indiana for the 2012 Spring AIA Committee on Design Conference. This was my first AIA Conference and the second time I have travelled to see the built works in Columbus. The conference’s theme was “Defining Architectural Design Excellence.” From the various informal and formal discussions that occurred during the conference, at least one definition of architectural design excellence stood out to me:

“Architectural design excellence is the constant search for excellence.”

Always strive for something better. Stay curious. Keep trying to find the joy in work. Throughout the conference, I was surrounded by professionals who had accomplished many great things in their long careers. Yet, they were just as awestruck as I when first entering the chapel inside of Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church, just as eager to crowd around Gunnar Birkerts and Ben and Cynthia Weese at the Hotel Indigo to hear them chat, and more than willing to run across a busy street just to look at Fire Station No. 4 up close!

I have been out of architecture school for one year now, and there were some things that I thought I would have to leave to behind when I graduated. My experience during those four days in Columbus taught me that the journey ahead can still be full of rich and fulfilling experiences – just as long as you are constantly searching for excellence.

Participating in the Committee on Design Spring Conference was deeply enriching, and I hope to share more memorable lessons learned in the blog posts to come. I also hope to encourage those of us newer to the profession to see the value in participating in events organized by the AIA Committee on Design. Nowhere else have I encountered such a large, enthusiastic group of people who are eager to support the next generation of architects.


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