September 2018 Newsletter

Hi Beautiful Architects,
I was in Chicago a couple of weeks ago for an AIA Executive Director conference. 225+ executives who all manage AIA chapters across the United States sharing what is an issue or concern for the architectural profession and for their communities. Every state had the same issues; food desserts, education, crime, school safety, jobs, skilled labor and homelessness.

The above picture is on the bridge I crossed every day. The homeless were on each bridge, they had their “real estate”. One man had his dog and cat with him. He said, “that cat stays by my side like a dog does. They go everywhere with me.” Another man needed medical attention. He was an average size man sitting with his head down over his knees, still holding his “please help me sign” written on a piece of cardboard. His legs from his knees down were swollen twice the size of his thighs. On his right leg, he had an open wound the size of a cantaloupe and at least an inch and half deep. I stopped, put money in his cup, he never looked up. I asked if I could help him to a hospital or call an ambulance. He shook his head no and never looked up. Later that evening, we had an opening reception at the office of Perkins & Wills on the top floor of the Wrigley Building. I had to cross the same bridge, the homeless man was still sitting in the same place. I asked the security guard in the Wrigley Building, “How can this man who desperately needs medical attention sit there each day with an open wound and no one help him?” His answer made me sadder. If the homeless man goes to the hospital, they will take everything he has and trash it because of the germs and filth leaving the man with nothing. The same applies if he is taken to a shelter. He said one time a nurse who was visiting bought medical supplies and dressed his wound for him. I wondered how many people walked by this homeless man each day and did not see him, looked thru him because if we do not SEE him, the problem does not exist. You would think by now, we would have found a way to solve these problems.
Let’s hope the next generation can figure out a way to solve these issues, which is a nice segue into our event. The AIA Gulf States Emerging Professionals Symposium is hosting an Intentional Design- A look at Two Birmingham’s, October 5th 1:00 – 4:00 at LIVE in Ensley. It is open to the AIA membership. Please read more about it in the newsletter.
Thanx for making a difference, keep trying to solve our affordable housing and keep designing ADA. God knows if you don’t do it, no one else will.

Peace & AIA Love,
Rhea Williams, Executive Director AIA Birmingham &
Alabama Center for Architecture

We would like to give a warm welcome to
Jessica Ly,
new to Karma Management, Inc.!

Jessica grew up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and recently earned her Bachelors in International Studies from UAB. She is interested in sustainability and the built environment, which is what lead her to Karma Management. She has worked at Urban Standard for the last four years where she has been the Front of House Manager. Jessica is a volunteer Stage Manager for the US National Coffee Championships (yes, that’s a real thing), certified barista, and houseplant obsessive.

Send her an email at today to welcome her to the AIA Birmingham family!

Thank you to our 2018 AIA Birmingham Chapter Sponsors!

A full list of sponsors is listed on the right column of this page. Check out the 2018 sponsorship brochure here.

September Chapter Meeting: The Rosenbaum Restoration

Join us on September 18th for an intriguing and educational lunch & lecture about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum house with Don Lambert, AIA & Libby Jordan, Rosenbaum House Director!

September 18th, 2018
11:30 – 1:00 pm
109 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd South
$15 members // $25 non-members

RSVP to by September 16th

The IMPACT of Women in Architecture Exhibit

The Alabama Center for Architecture will host the AIA Houston traveling exhibit, “THE IMPACT OF WOMEN in ARCHITECTURE,” opening on October 5, 2018 and will coincide with the Gulf States Young Professionals Symposium (AIA Birmingham is hosting). The exhibit will highlight local and national leaders, women who have a particular focus in the built environment and provide a snapshot of the changing roles of women in the architectural profession.  The timeline for the exhibit begins in 1850, yes, women were making an impact in 1850!

Opening Reception:
October 5th, 2018
109 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd South
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Click here for more information. 


On October 5th, AIA Birmingham will host Intentional Design: Creating with the Community in Mind, featuring conversations about redlining, revitalization efforts, and a community engagement panel.

Click here to learn more about the conversations to come.

October 5th
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Live: 1816 Ave E
Ensley, AL

$5 // Free for Emerging Professionals
RSVP to by October 2nd

Purchase your ticket online at

Women in Architecture Recap
“Powerful Tools for Staying Calm when the Pressure is On” 

Thanks to all who attended our WIA Birmingham August Lecture & Workshop. We hope everyone enjoyed April Benetollo and her five proven strategies for doing your best work, even in the most demanding situations.

Please see below for recommended resources from April:

Now Discover Your Strengths 
Success Under Stress (Dr. Melnick is one of our Momentum facilitators and some parts of my session were inspired by her work)
Eisenhower’s Priority Matrix
Video demonstration to reinforce the importance of prioritizing important/not urgent things in life and why it matters (10 minutes) 
Momentum Mentoring Program (open enrollment and free!)
Momentum Executive Program (applications in April 2019)
Momentum Upward Early Career Program (applications due August 31!)

August Chapter Meeting: Designing for the Lifespan Recap

On August 21st, we hosted, “Designing for the Lifespan,” an ADA workshop and expo where we discussed the crucial need for universal design and visitability in Alabama.

We would like to thank our wonderful speakers, State Director Candi Williams with AARP Alabama, Vice President of Ability360 Center, Policy and Public Affairs Coordinator Karin Korb with Lakeshore Foundation, and Jim Terry of Evan Terry Associates, LLC for helping this dream meeting a reality. Another thank you to our exhibitors for providing knowledgeable information about ADA and universally design products: Building Specialities, Disability Rights and Resources, BirminghamASSA ABLOY Entrance Systems US, Health at Home, Mobility Central Inc.,  Residential Elevators, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. 

And a BIG thank you to all our architects who attended! You have a talent/gift/job/career that creates places where everyone can experience the building as it was intended to be used. Your design solutions help make each day less challenging for people who wake up every day with a disability.

We hope to see you on September 18th for our Rosenbaum Restoration Chapter Meeting!

Government Affairs

AIA Birmingham has been reaching out to our local representatives to discuss the National AIA Issue Briefs. We have met with staffers in Congressman Terri Sewell, Senator Shelby and we met with Congressman Palmer and his staffers in August. See the links below for the issue briefs we discussed.  We did mention school safety design in our meeting with Congressman Palmer. National AIA had just released their petition for AIA members to sign.

View the most current issue briefs here:

Disaster Recovery Reform Act
Middle Income Housing Tax Credit
Strengthening Career & Technical Education

Emerging Professionals

Creature Site Visit

Join us on September 13th for a look inside Creature: the office, the process, & the culture.

Creature is the coming together of two radical-thinking companies into a single entity that is aggressively eliminating waste and inefficiency in the construction industry.  For more than 20 years, Golden Construction built a reputation on high-quality construction at any scale, mixed with a dynamic process that literally manufactures efficiency. Conversely, Appleseed is a young, energetic company that fast-tracked their perception as a visionary, creative leader in adaptive reuse. After completing just one project together, the two companies saw the tremendous potential of their combined expertise and strengths: a world-class creative and architectural engine matched with a waste-averse method that could adapt to any scale. The result is a single company where architecture, manufacturing, and construction are seamlessly integrated – dramatically reducing costs and timing throughout the project life-cycle while simultaneously improving quality. Golden and Appleseed have joined forces to become creature. Their mission: revolutionize the industry.

September 13th
4:30-5:30 p.m.
2212 1st Ave S
RSVP to by September 12th

2018 AIA Gulf States Emerging Professionals Symposium

Please join us for the 2018 AIA Gulf States Emerging Professionals Symposium on October 5th and 6th in the heart of the Magic City!

Emerging Gulf States 2018 will bring a diverse group of speakers together to discuss design and career development in the architectural industry. We are BUILDING a BLUEPRINT for BETTER LEADERSHIP through town hall discussions, lectures & tours. Emerging Professionals are reaching beyond the traditional modes to successfully collaborate with allied professionals and their communities to make meaningful change through design.

An Evening with Sara Garden Armstrong & Brad Morton Recap

On August 30th, the AIA Birmingham Emerging Professionals welcomed Auburn Urban Studio Students to the Magic City with a intriguing and unique exploration into the studios and minds of local, celebrated artists Sara Garden Armstrong & Brad Morton. We would like to thank Brad and Sara for welcoming us into their amazing lofts & studios and we hope the Urban Studio students have a great start to their school year!

Sara Garden Armstrong:
Brad Morton:

Click here to see photos from the event.

Denham Building Site Visit

On August 16th, the Emerging Professionals toured Creature’s recent project, the Denham Building. Located at 1143 First Avenue S., the mixed-use development will include 81,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space, along with 59 urban-loft units. The building is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019.

Click here to see photos from the event.

Career Center

Jobseekers – we have LOTS of jobs listed on the website! Don’t miss AIA Birmingham’s Career Page for the latest local opportunities.

Check out the AIA Career Center for all the hottest jobs and access to the Career Learning Center, which encourages an integrative career and professional development process that enhances your skill set.

Employers – post your jobs on the AIA Birmingham website! FREE for local member firms. Email for more details.

Veteran’s Therapeutic Art Exhibit Recap

On August 23rd, we hosted the Veteran’s Therapeutic Art Exhibit at the Alabama Center for Architecture. A part of our ADA Month, the exhibit presented the work of veterans suffering from PTSD, created through, “Healing Through Art,” a therapeutic art program provided by the Hoover Art Alliance and the Birmingham Vet Center.

We would like to give a special thanks to all our remarkable sponsors who made this exhibit possible:

Cahaba Brewery
Christopher Architecture & Interiors
Karma Management, Inc.
Mike Jackson (usa ret.) / Risk Strategies
Nequette Architecture & Design
Tazikis Mediterranean Café

The exhibit will be on display until September 19th, open Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Click here to see the photos from the event! 

ACE Mentorship

Call for Mentors!

The ACE Mentor Program is looking for mentors for the 2018-2019 school year.   ACE is a biweekly after-school program for high school students designed to educate them about the fields of Architecture, Construction and Engineering, with the hopes that they will pursue one of these fields in college and beyond.  Mentors are typically young professionals in related fields who help guide the students through various projects, activities, and site visits.  There are about 16 meetings each year at various offices and construction sites, plus a final recognition banquet for students, mentors and families.

For more information about the local Birmingham affiliate, visit

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact for more details.

October 18, 2018
RTJ Oxmoor Valley
100 Sunbelt Pkwy

All proceeds benefit the ACFA’s educational programs & student scholarships.

Sponsorships available
Hole, Meal, Drink Cart, and more!

View the sponsorship and registration brochure here!

Purchase registration & sponsorships here!

We hope to see you there!

RSVP to by October 11th