Since 2013, IIDA New England has gathered a select group of young design professionals to participate in a yearlong program focused on mentoring and professional development. I was lucky enough to be a part of the Emerging Leaders Class of 2020. The program is comprised of an 11-month curriculum consisting of a variety of monthly workshops, such as Business Development, Business Ethics, a 90 Minute MBA, Financial Wellness and more. Since COVID forced these workshops be held virtually, the IIDA Emerging Leader co-chairs introduced the Emerging Leaders Experience Series, ensuring the Class of 2020 benefited as much as possible from the program.
For this series, we were divided into smaller groups of 5-6 people working together to create content for the IIDA New England Community. The goal was to create content that interested us as a group and that would be compelling to the community at large.
My group focused on licensure, titling our presentation “What Do All Those Letters Mean?” The letters after a name spark many emotions in our industry – NCIDQ, IIDA, AIA, NCARB, LEED, WELL, Fitwel – the list is long and often confusing. In our presentation, we broke down why people pursue these various accreditations, the requirements and costs over time and the perceptions within the industry as well as the impact on self-esteem. We created a brief survey and invited professionals within the Architecture and Design community to help us better understand perceptions on licensures and certifications. It was extremely interesting to see the survey results from people of all ages and professional experience and their perceptions.
The Emerging Leaders Experience Series consisted of three other groups who researched and presented on a variety of topics:
“Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X Walk Into A Bar”
Gen Z’s tech-savvy, ethical, and fresh perspective has restaurateurs rethinking their business and design strategies to build loyal relationships with this up-and-coming generation. This presentation explored who Gen Z is and why their values are different from previous generations. Presenters discussed how restaurant brands can create unique dining experiences that engage and connect with this fast-growing generation.
“Inclusive Restrooms: Designing for Equity”
This group focused on the history of the modern North American restroom and what it has yet to become. The oldest most archaic institution, the act of going to the bathroom, needs to catch up with the ever-evolving requirements of new cultural and societal needs. By reflecting on how we made the bathroom what it is today, we can look to understand its deficiencies and how it can become truly equitable.
“Curating Experiences for Children”
Learning spaces have fallen stagnant and regimented, shadowed with standardized testing and adult imposed stresses. Corporate spaces have evolved from structured cubicles to open office concepts with break out spaces. Society has progressed to recognize the different ways adults work, but why have we yet to implement a setting for children that promotes inclusive opportunities to progress both mentally and socially?