At the American Institute of Architects, an organization that you might think would stump hard for mandatory in-office work, the vision for the future is a headquarters made up of workspaces that are healthy and sustainable and that encourage collaboration—when people come to them.
“The building has not been renovated since 1973,” said Lakisha Woods, CAE, who took the helm as AIA’s CEO in January 2022. The renovation “is something we must do, but also we’re in a changing work environment. In this design process, we are thinking about the future of work and how we could revolutionize our workspace. We are looking at several elements, especially climate, equity, and collaboration.”
The plan for AIA’s reimagined headquarters has been several years in the making, with input from members, staff, students, and the board. The new space will be designed with those principles in mind, but Woods said the goal is also to create a place where employees want to come.
“There will be people who don’t want to come back to the office, and if those positions don’t require that, why would we force people back in?” she said. “It’s a new world that we’re living in. People have different ways to work. People have different hours where they work best. If you seek to be an employer of choice, you try to adjust your environment to allow for people to work when they are at their best in the places and spaces that make them most successful.”
Woods intends that AIA headquarters will be that kind of place.