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Architects Take Action to Champion a Blueprint for a Better Pennsylvania 

April 23, 2024
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AIA Pennsylvania leaders meet with Speaker Joanna McClinton (center). Left to right: Amal Mahrouki, Olivia Perry, Jeremiah Woodring, Cassandra Marks, Michael Metzger

On Tuesday, April 9th, AIA Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania chapter of The American Institute of Architects, held its Architects Action Day. The annual lobby day brings chapter leadership to the State Capitol to meet with lawmakers to share architects’ expertise, offer AIA Pennsylvania as a resource, and advocate for the chapters’ policy positions.

This year, the meeting schedule and format marked a strategic shift to accommodate the hurried and unpredictable nature of a session day in Harrisburg. AIA Pennsylvania Board Members and Government Affairs leaders met with Senate and House leadership and legislators heading up committees responsible for active legislation impacting architects’ practice and the built environment. This change facilitated more meaningful conversations with key decision-makers. 

Policy discussion included:

  • Limiting Pennsylvania’s statute of repose for construction projects to a reasonable term reducing the likelihood of claims arising from causes beyond the scope of the architect’s design.
  • Strategically investing in our school infrastructure with the modernized Planning and Construction Workbook Program (PlanCon 2.0).
  • The importance of mandatory continuing education in keeping up with design and construction techniques, materials, products, and systems for public health, safety, and welfare.

While advocating for the chapter’s policy positions was key, it came second to fostering greater awareness of what architects do and the areas where the profession can serve as a resource to lawmakers and their constituents. Building codes, housing, preservation, reuse, and planning to inform zoning and development were brought up in several meetings.

“Building relationships with policymakers – relaying the breadth of your work as architects, the impact you have in our communities and with clients, the challenges you navigate, and the solutions you create – that’s what sets us up to advance our positions and initiatives,” says AIA Pennsylvania Executive Director, Stephen Swarney.

To further engage with the General Assembly, all 253 legislators, key staff, and construction industry connections were invited to a legislative reception and a luncheon hosted by AIA Pennsylvania. These well-attended “meet-and-greet” events allowed chapter leadership to connect in more relaxed settings. 

Special guest Senator Tim Kearney, AIA, emphasized the need for architects to steal away from their professional demands to have a voice in designing policy to yield better outcomes for our built spaces and the communities they call home. Michael Metzger, 2024 AIA Pennsylvania President, echoes Tim’s message with a call to advocacy, “Our elected officials need and want to hear from their constituents and our profession. Take an hour in August to meet with your elected officials for District Days – it’s more critical to our profession than one day spent in Harrisburg.”

Architects Action Day Meetings

The AIA Pennsylvania Board Members and Government Affairs leaders listed met with the following legislators and/or their staff. 

  • Eric Booth, AIA | Treasurer and Legal Reform Task Force Vice Chair
  • Al Comly, AIA | Building Codes Task Force Vice Chair
  • Ken Doyno, AIA | Government Affairs Committee Chair
  • Daryn Edwards, AIA | Housing and Community Development Task Force Co-Chair
  • Stephen Heinz, AIA | Director
  • Michael Kelly, AIA | School Construction Task Force Co-Chair
  • Quintin Kittle, AIA | Director
  • Steve Krug, AIA | Committee on the Environment
  • David Macharola, AIA | Director
  • Cassandra Marks, Assoc. AIA | State Associative Representative (STAR)
  • Mary McClenaghan, AIA | Legal Reform Task Force Chair
  • Michael Metzger, AIA | President
  • Elysia Mikkelsen, AIA | Director
  • Melanie Ngami, AIA | Young Architects Representative (YAR)
  • Joshua Silbaugh, AIA | Architect Licensing Advisor (ALA)
  • Roger Williams, AIA | Immediate Past President
  • Jeremiah Woodring, AIA | Government Affairs Committee Vice Chair

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Written by Olivia Perry