The American Institute of Architects is an organization that supports the profession and the professionals of architecture. Their acronym is AIA. An assembly of thirteen architects established the group back during the year 1857 in New York City. Their goal and mission was based on the need to protect their profession and raise its standing.
Before their formation, any person could allege that they were an architect. This was not uncommon being that there were not any specific schools of architecture at that time. There were not even any architectural laws governing licensing of architects in any part of the United States.
A few of the first members of the American Institute of Architects were Richard M. Upjohn, John Welch, Edward Gardiner, Henry W. Cleaveland, Charles Babcock, Henry Dudley, Jacob Wrey Mould, Fred A. Petersen, Leopold Eidlitz, Richard Morris Hunt, and Joseph C. Wells. Richard M. Upjohn was the first president of the organization. After an initial meeting on February 23, 1857, a decision was made that sixteen additional prominent architects would be invited to join their organization. Some of the new invitees included Thomas U. Walter, Calvert Vaux, and Alexander Jackson Davis.
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By March 10, 1857, using the name New York Society of Architects, they were able to draft a constitution and a set of bylaws. Later Thomas U. Walter, of Philadelphia, recommended that they change their name to American Institute of Architects. A certificate of incorporation had already been filed. Still, the members agreed and signed a new constitution April 15, 1857.
By the 1860s, architects in additional cities were applying to join the professional organization. The American Institute of Architects headquarters is at 1735 New York Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C.. New chapters were subsequently formed by the 1880s in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Boston, Albany, Chicago, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Rhode Island, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. By 2008, the AIA had over 300 chapters.
There has been much growth throughout the years. The AIA headquarters is now also the home of the National Architectural Accrediting Board, the American Institute of Architecture Students, and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.
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