AIA Inaugurates Kimberly Dowdell as 100th President

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2023


On Monday (Dec. 18), the American Institute of Architects revealed the inauguration of Kimberly Dowdell as its 100th president. According to the institute’s release, Dowdell is the first Black woman to hold the position, as well as the first millennial.

Dowdell’s career spans architecture, government, teaching and real estate development. The institute explains that she brings a portfolio of leadership roles, dedicated to promoting diversity and sustainability in architecture and urban development, including her tenure as national president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) 2019-2020.  

“Being elected as the 100th president of AIA is both an honor and responsibility that I embrace wholeheartedly,” said Dowdell. 

“My journey in architecture, from my roots in Detroit, to this influential role, has deepened my conviction that design has the power to transform communities and elevate the human experience.”

Dowdell reportedly joins AIA CEO and EVP Lakisha Ann Woods, CAE, and AIA 2024 President-elect Evelyn Lee, FAIA, NOMA to mark the second consecutive year that AIA has all female leaders at the helm.

“This opportunity to serve my profession beautifully aligns with my overarching mission to improve people's lives through design, fostering a shared vision of a future built environment that nurtures progress, equity, and sustainability for all,” Dowdell added.  

Dowdell holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. She is also currently a principal at global design firm HOK's Chicago studio.

Dowdell has reportedly been a LEED-accredited professional since 2007 and co-founded the SEED Network in 2005. She was elected to the Cornell University Board of Trustees in 2022. 

Recent Architectural Billings Index

Towards the end of November, the latest AIA and Deltek Architectural Billings Index reportedly found that billings are seeing a decline for the third consecutive month.

According to the institute, the score of 44.3 for October dipped slightly below the score of 44.8 in September. Billings were reportedly soft across the entire country in October, with firms located in the West and Northeast continuing to report the softest conditions overall for the second month in a row. Additional findings from the report include:

  • Regional averages: Northeast (42.1); South (48.5); Midwest (48.9); West (40.0);
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (43.7); institutional (49.1); mixed practice (firms that do not have at least half of their billings in any one other category) (44.0); multifamily residential (40.1);
  • Project inquiries index: 48.8; and
  • Design contracts index: 46.5.

The regional and sector categories are calculated as three-month moving averages and may not always average out to the national score.

The AIA also notes that, as part of the survey, the architecture services industry continued to lose jobs in September, and that firm leaders largely expect net revenue to be flat this year.

Overall, responding firm leaders reportedly indicated that they expect net revenue to be essentially flat at their firm, with only slightly more firms projecting an increase in their revenue from 2022 (44%) than projecting a decrease (37%).

Larger firms are somewhat more likely than small firms to expect an increase in net revenue this year (48% of large firms with annual revenue of $5 million or more, versus 43% of small firms with annual revenue of $250,000 or less), for an average projected increase of 1.6%, versus a projected decline of 3% for small firms.

Firms with an institutional specialization are also much more likely to project revenue growth this year, with 50% projecting an increase for average growth of 3.4%.

The AIA adds that this stands in contrast to firms with a multifamily residential specialization, where net revenue is expected to decline by 3.3% this year, and firms with a commercial/industrial specialization, where net revenue is expected to be unchanged from 2022.

Compared the beginning of the year, slightly more than one third of responding firm leaders (35%) indicated that their current estimates are in line with their expectations, while 41% indicated that their current estimates are less than expectations (including 16% who reported that their current estimates are significantly less than their expectations), and 24% indicated that their current estimates are in excess of expectations.

Additionally, when asked about changes in major firm expenses over the coming year, the majority of responding firm leaders indicated that they expect expenses to increase. 

   

Tagged categories: American Institute of Architects (AIA); Architects; Architectural history; Architecture; Business management; Business matters; Business operations; Commercial / Architectural; Good Technical Practice; NA; North America; Personnel; Personnel changes; Program/Project Management

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