Citizen Architect Profile: Mike Thompson, AIA

Neighbors for Mike

Citizen Architect, Mike Thompson, AIA rang in 2018 with an oath of office at the Abington Township Municipal Building on January 2nd. This past fall, Mike received 515 votes to claim victory over a sitting commissioner in the three-person race for Abington Township’s Ward 6 Commissioner.

In his new role as Commissioner, Mike’s dedication to upholding and improving the quality of life in his local North Hills and Ardsley communities is greatly supplemented by his professional background. As an architect, Mike has spent the past 10 years working on education projects in the public sector, namely state funded projects. Mike has become well versed in the state mandated procurement process, and has developed a solid understanding of the risks involved with that process, risks that he would be looking to mitigate on the Board. Additionally, Mike’s experience as a planner will provide the Board with valuable insight into the direction of the Township over the next decade or two, as it relates to economic and population growth, and planning measures that would need to be implemented to accommodate those growths.

Mike earned a professional degree at Temple University in 2002, and currently practices architecture in Philadelphia. As an Associate at Stantec Architecture and Engineering, LLC,  he specializes in higher education facilities but has also worked on projects in healthcare, K-12 schools, commercial, and single family residential.

Mike and his wife, Denise, also an architect, have been residents of Abington Township since 2004, where they currently live with their son and daughter. His family motivates him daily to want to keep Ward 6 a great place to live while helping its great sense of community thrive.

Q&A with Mike

How does the skillset that you possess as an architect make you uniquely qualified for success in the role as commissioner?

Architects are problem solvers- we’ve been uniquely trained to observe, identify, and resolve unique challenges that manifest themselves in whatever topic we address, whether it be in the designing a building, or running a community. As far as goals- addressing traffic concerns and any other health/ safety/ welfare issue are at the top of the list. Additionally, my short tenure so far has shown me that building codes and code enforcement will be a significant part of my life for the next four years.

What motivated you to run for commissioner? 

My children. There were significant neighborhood concerns regarding traffic safety that seemed like they could benefit from the touch of a planning professional.

What advice or first steps could you offer other architects that aspire to get more involved in their communities or hold local office?

First steps- get out and know the local community. Hiding behind social media will never be enough. Knock on your neighbors’ doors, talk to them and understand what their concerns are. Develop a plan of how you would address those concerns, and campaign on that. Architects will find that a lot of the discussions will align with what we see on a regular basis- planning, code, and environmental issues.

What was the most difficult and/or rewarding part of running your campaign?

Sometimes, talking to relative strangers leads down some odd paths, particularly in the current political climate. However, I’ve made some great new friends and met some fantastic people along the way, so it was well worth the effort.

Learn more about Mike and follow him on Facebook.

Lead. Educate. Serve. 

The American Insitute of Architects defines a “Citizen Architect” as an architect that uses his/her insights, talents, training, and experience to contribute meaningfully, beyond self, to the improvement of the community and human condition. The Citizen Architect stays informed on local, state, and federal issues, and makes time for service to the community. The Citizen Architect advocates for higher living standards, the creation of a sustainable environment, quality of life, and the greater good.

Join the AIA Advocacy Center and receive in-depth, up to date information on key federal issues.

Be a part of the PLAN! Think global, act local

Many of the policies that shape our workplaces and the built environment, from paid leave policies to zoning ordinances that provide equitable access to housing and public spaces to regulations governing environmental stewardship, are legislated at the local or state level. By getting involved in local organizations and state politics, we can leverage our expertise and creative problem-solving skillset to advocate for a better future for our communities and the environments that they inhabit.

AIA Pennsylvania NEEDS YOU to build legislative relationships and spread grassroots messages at the local level to affect change across the state. No matter the kind of work you perform and where you perform it, the decisions being made affect you. Lend your voice to the profession by signing up for the Pennsylvania Legislative Action Network (PLAN).

Are you a Citizen Architect? 

  • Elected: I am an AIA PA member that is serving a term in public office as an elected official at the local, state, or national level.
  • Appointed: I am an AIA PA member in an appointed position within a local, state, or national board, commission, or committee that supports initiatives that enhance the quality of life and future of the communities they serve.
  • Volunteer: I am an AIA PA member that volunteers their time to enhance the built environment through civic and community engagement

Reach out and drop us a line or give us a call if you are a Citizen Architect in the Commonwealth. AIA Pennsylvania would like to get to know you and highlight your story!