What is the American Institute of Architects?

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  • Written By: James Withers
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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The American Institute of Architects, or the AIA, is an organization that promotes scientific and practical growth within the architectural community. The AIA boasts more than 83,000 members. It is based in Washington, D.C. and offers 300 components, located both in European and Asiatic nations. The AIA seeks to elevate architecture as a profession by allowing members to consolidate ideas regarding community service, professionalism, and public education.

Although it was founded in New York in 1857, the American Institute of Architects is presently located in Washington D.C. Much like a hotel convention center, the Institute is able to host events for up to 400 guests. Additionally, this venue is technologically equipped with audio/visual presentation technology. It is located close to popular landmarks such as the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument.

Originally founded by Richard Upjohn and 13 other architects, the American Institute of Architects strove to establish standards for the profession of architecture. Upjohn served as its first president from 1857 to 1876, and the Institute has held annual conventions for over 150 years.


To become a member of the AIA, one must either be a professional architect, practicing in a field related to architecture, or a student or faculty member from a university's Department of Architecture. Membership fees follow a three-tiered structure, operating on local, state, and national levels. Fees at one level can vary more than a hundred dollars from fees at another level. Membership applications for the AIA are available online.

Members of the American Institute of Architects are able to network with other professionals at AIA-sponsored events. They are also eligible for discounts on purchases through Fortune 500 companies such as Dell, UPS, and Bank of America. The Institute itself serves the community by working in cooperation with local governments to improve the infrastructure of cities. The AIA also influences political behavior at local, state, and national levels to achieve goals, such as providing affordable housing to people in need.

The American Institute of Architects is overseen by a Board of Directors, and employs a staff of nearly 200 employees. Members of the organization belong to one of five membership categories: Architect Members, who are professional architects, Associate Members, who are involved in university work of architectural import, International Associate Members, who are architects who have practiced abroad, Emeritus Members, who are retired from the architectural profession, and Allied Members, who practice in a field related to the architectural profession.


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