Architects and other construction industry professionals developed their blueprints for thought leadership in a Nov. 16 panel discussion presented at Lehigh University by the American Institute of Architects Eastern Pennsylvania chapter.
“We try to see things in a different way, asking [of a project] what can it do?” said panelist Christa Duelberg-Kraftician, architect and director at Spillman Farmer Architects in Bethlehem.
Brian Pedersen, staff reporter for Lehigh Valley Business moderated the panel.
“If you take the approach that it’s all figured out, you miss an opportunity,” said Silvia Hoffman, founding partner at MKSD Architects of South Whitehall Township.
“Leadership [may be] more of an organic process, rather than coming in with a manifesto,” added panelist and event co-organizer Nik Nikolov, architect and associate professor at Lehigh University.
Others spoke about how architects can be thought leaders by virtue of their profession.
“The owner expresses a need and I see the architect develop a thought and make that a reality, educating the owner as to what it will be and how it will work,” said Lee A. Butz, chairman of the board at Alvin H. Butz, Inc.
The problem is that design professionals aren’t always included in the conversation, said Becky Bradley, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.
Panelists seized on the theme. Darlene Heller, zoning and planning director for the city of Bethlehem, pointed out that projects are coming along every day that change and define the future.
“Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s challenging,” Heller said. “We have to navigate through that.”
Someone needs to be able to identify “that’s a great idea, let’s get it done; it’s good for the environment, community or society in general,” said panelist John Ernst, who is both an architect and assistant manager for Lansdale Borough.
Constance Lezenby, principal at Constance Lezenby Architects LLC of Lansdale, pointed out how organized efforts move the profession and the standards for the built environment forward, with the U.S. Green Building Council being a prime example of such leadership.