How The American Institute Of Architects Professionalized Architecture

     In the first half of the 18th century, architects, like many other professionals, were not regulated and had no standards imposed on them. There were no universally recognized best practices or means by which someone who had proven unscrupulous in their dealings or negligent in their work could have their ability to continue playing their trade stripped. In short, the days of the frontier in American were also the Wild West period of American architecture.

But despite the fact that the country had produced some stunning and timeless contributions to architecture already, in 1857, a few of the country’s foremost architects got together to form the American Institute of Architects. The organization was to be the first professional organization of its kind for the architecture profession or the building trades. It was to serve a similar purpose as the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association, a way by which members could gain the respect of their fellows as well as a means by which community standards could be bound to its members.

Immediately, the professionalization that this caused in the field began showing. After the invention of the elevator, America quickly took the lead in innovations to the build environment. With the construction of the Home Insurance Building, designed by William LeBaron Jenney and widely regarded as the first true skyscraper, the steel frame concept was proven. This led the way to the Chicago School of architecture and the mass implementation of skyscrapers in such cities as Chicago, New York and Detroit.

The buildings quickly began reaching for the sky. By 1908, the Singer Building in New York had pushed the threshold for the title of tallest building in the world up to 47 stories. And this was at a time when the majority of traffic in the city was horse-driven.

The professionalization of the architectural trades led to the rapid development of the modern megalopolis. The population of New York city exploded throughout the first half of the 20th century, reaching nearly 8 million people by 1960. The same growth was experienced in Chicago. This was almost all due to the advent of the skyscraper as a place in which to both live and work. And it was all made possible by the American Institute of Architects, which has counted among its membership every major architect of note over the last 150 years.

Today, the organization continues looking towards the future, keeping America as the beacon of the world of architecture.

For more, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Ivy.

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