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Bespoke Careers

09 June 2019

09 June 2019

Bespoke head to Las Vegas to learn whats new and now in architecture & design

AIA Conference Las Vegas 2019
Every year the Conference on Architecture travels to an iconic city for three immersive days of what’s new and now in architecture and design. This year, it was held in Las Vegas, a captivating city that has millions of visitors each year and is home to some of the most exciting and imaginative architecture and experiences in the world.

On Wednesday 6th June, the pre-conference day, they were still adding last minute touches and additions to the exhibitions and booths. The AIA Annual General Meeting was being held in the large conference hall and was hosted by AIA President Bill Bates who has served as a member of the Board of Directors since 2011 along with stints as a vice president and the chair of the Board Community Committee from 2015-2016.

“As a profession, we solve our clients problems by listening and synthesizing solutions” Bates says, “These are the skills that we need to apply internally to make our profession more prosperous and inclusive for the next generation”.


Thursday started with an engaging talk on ‘How Artificial Intelligence Can Enhance Life & Safety’ hosted by Meghana Joshi, Assoc. AIA, an entrepreneur based in Orange County, CA. Meghana has worked on diverse commercial, light industrial and residential projects throughout California and Nevada. The talk she gave on Artificial Intelligence within life & safety offered insight into advances in technology that can assist in egress during a fire or even a terrorist shooting in a school. Interesting stuff, particularly in light of recent school shootings in the USA.

The afternoon followed with a panel discussion about practice succession within the architectural industry, ‘Ownership Transition: Developing Future Firm Leadership; The panel included Edward Hard, Senior Principle at Hard Coplan Macht, George Christodoulo, Senior Law Partner at Lawson and Weitzen, a law firm specializing in the architecture sector, Kevin Collins, Senior Vice President at Victor Schinnere & Company and Travis Kreidler, Partner at Desmone Architects in Pittsburgh. This was a fascinating panel discussion looking at the pitfalls and surprises in succession planning, mergers and acquisitions. 

One of the main takeaways for me was that the whole process needs to be planned years in advance and takes many years to mature before desired results and outcomes are achieved and also, how important it is to bring young leaders through the business sooner rather than later.


Friday was definitely a highlight of the conference as we visited Frank Gehry’s Lou Ruvo Brain Institute. Frank Gehry being one of my personal favorite architects. Commanding the edge of the 61-acre Symphony Park in Downtown Las Vegas, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Venter for Brain Health is a distinctly Frank Ghery Design.

Our guide was one of the architects who actually worked on the project, Brian Zamora. Brian was an integral member of the design team and spoke passionately and knowledgably as only someone who has worked on the project could. When asked what his biggest lesson on the project was, he replied ‘Never have expansion joints greater than 120 feet apart!’ – I think there must have been some unwanted cracking in the walls, not that any were noticeable.

The building, draped and wrapped with a mountainous metal-clad skin, faced in shingled panels, and punctuated with a grid of windows, the voluminous structure serves as an event center and a space for programs related to the clinic. Here, Gehry separates the building wrapper from the understructure to create a free standing structure that envelops a vaulting, cathedral-like space with swooping lines and deeply coffered windows.

The building was inspired by Lou Ruvo after his father suffered from Alzheimers and passed away. Interestingly the health center is financed partly through the main event space of the building through philanthropic means – this is a typical mechanism in the USA whereby healthcare is funded through philanthropic means.


The conference ended for me at the LGBTQI night of connection, camaraderie, advocacy and ideas at the House of Blues on the Las Vegas strip. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, widely considered one of the most important events leading to the modern fight for LGBTQI+ rights in the USA. Tactics for increasing visibility in firms and in communities were discussed at the event, Ryan Gann, Assoc.AIA, who identifies as a gay cisgender male, represents the AIA Associate membership on the Board of Directors.

‘There is an interest in bringing this conversation more to the forefront,’ he says. ‘This is a moral imperative that we have as an organization, to support the community we’re trying to serve.’ In his remarks, Gann highlighted the AIA Guides for Equitable Practice, a resource individuals and firms can use to employ best practices of equity, diversity, and inclusion. ‘It’s the beginning of a very important and monumental step for our organization and profession’, he says.

It was a great way to end the conference and I’m looking forward to the AIA Conference 2020 in Los Angeles. Hope to see you all there!


Author: Scott MacTavish, Business Development Director, Bespoke Careers

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