May 17, 2021

20 in Their Twenties: Monique Becker, 27, Elyse Wolf, 27

Co-founders, Mona Lisa Development

By Kirk Pinho | Crain’s Detroit Business

They grew up together and went to college together. Now they live together and have a development, general contracting and consulting firm together.

Not much can separate Monique Becker and Elyse Wolf, who have been best friends since they were 4 years old. Even the name of their company, Detroit-based Mona Lisa Development, is a combination of their first names, a testament to their lifelong bond. (more…)

April 14, 2021

Call for Teams: Designing for The Veterans Project at Sugar Hill

AIA Detroit, in collaboration local chapters of the Interior Designers Coalition for Change (IDCFC), the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and in partnership with Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), Develop Detroit, and Volunteers of America (VOA), is calling for teams that will employ trauma-informed design to finish 14 apartments for veterans in the nearly-completed Sugar Hill project in Midtown Detroit.


Each team will consist of 5-8 individuals from across Michigan, and is to have at least:

• 1 Architect
• 1 Emerging Professional (recently graduated, unlicensed)
• 1 Interior Designer
• 2 Students (not required, but strongly encouraged)

This cross-discipline approach to the team will ensure a variety of perspectives are represented throughout the process. You do NOT need an entire team to sign up, professionals and students are welcome to sign up individually. Final teams will be organized and assembled after registration closes; registration here does NOT guarantee selection for the final 14 teams.

Download the Team Informational Packet Here


MAY 17 Prospective Team Member Info Session: a virtual event to answer questions before team registrations are due – click the link to view the recording!
MAY 24, 12:00pm – Team & Individual Registrations are Due
MAY 24-28 – Final teams are assembled & contacted
JUNE 1 – Team Orientation: a mandatory virtual session for team members to learn more about project details and receive trauma-informed design training
JUNE 13 – IDCFC Cornhole Tournament: some light-hearted competition with the other teams + a major project fundraiser, sign up to play or sponsor!
JUNE-JULY 30 – Team fundraising, design work & order placements
AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 15 – Apartments are furnished & decorated by teams
LATE SEPTEMBER – Public-facing event to discuss teams’ processes & trauma-informed design

If you are interested in sponsoring this Project, please visit the IDCFC Cornhole Tournament page & select your preferred sponsorship!

If you are a vendor and have other services/products you can offer the Veterans Project at Sugar Hill, please fill out the Vendor Survey on IDCFC’s website.

Trauma is pervasive among American adults and can lead to lifelong physical and mental health consequences. It not only can have a lasting impact on the body and brain, but also, if left unaddressed, can negatively impact resident and community success. (more…)

April 21, 2021

A follow up to the BCRC’s discussion on “Shaping & Adopting Form-Based Codes: Why Architects Should Engage”

As a follow up to our “Shaping & Adopting Form-Based Codes: Why Architects Should Engage” session on December 17th, 2020, below are the links to the information packet and the video recording of City of East Lansing Planning Commission.

April 14, 2021 Planning Commission Information Packet:
Shaping the Avenue Work Session – Review of Public Comments and Action Items (
February 10, 2021 Planning Commission Video Recording (On-demand)

Our Committee would like to gauge interest in forming a sub-committee on this topic. Please email your interest in joining this committee or if you want to send in any other examples of Form-Based Codes in Michigan to BC&RC at this email:

March 5, 2021

Why it’s so Important for YOU to be a Part of AIA MI’s Legislative Day

The annual Legislative Day event serves to establish AIA as an active participant in Michigan government affairs. 

We are in the first quarter of a new legislative session, the ideal time to get involved. REGISTER BY MARCH 12th HERE!

Advocacy requires (among other things) relationship building, visibility, awareness, and vigilance. The political environment is constantly evolving, so displaying a consistent presence by AIA is vital. Our professional lobbyist provides an important measure of stability, but Legislators must be convinced that AIA Michigan represents a significant, active constituency that is engaged in the public forum and will continue to be so engaged. 

AESLC (Architects-Engineers-Surveyors Legislative Committee) represents a cooperative effort between ACEC Michigan, AIA Michigan, MSPE, and MSPS and was formed to address political issues affecting professional engineers, architects, and surveyors.

AESLC meets at least quarterly and coordinates legislative activities for the four organizations. AESLC retains and provides direction to a multi-client lobbyist, Kelley Cawthorne.

Why Attend?

  • Advocacy –Legislative Day is AIA Michigan’s largest advocacy event of the year, organized specifically for AESLC. It is the one day of the year where architects, engineers, and surveyors from all over the state come together (virtually in 2021) to show strength in numbers and share their concerns and experience with legislators.
  • Knowledge –You’ll learn about the issues, how the legislative process works, and how the potential outcomes can affect our profession.
  • Educate –Lawmakers need you to educate them on the role professional architects and engineers play in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.   We are here as a resource for them.
  • Impact– Lawmakers need to hear from YOU, their constituents before they make decisions on legislative proposals that could significantly impact the architecture profession, construction industry, and our communities. By attending Legislative Day, you’re building relationships, helping to influence change, and make a difference.

The Issues we will be discussing:

  • Support the funding of infrastructure including clean water, public buildings, roads, bridges, dams, and energy systems.
  • Support legislation requiring a Qualification-Based Selection Process for design professionals on State of Michigan projects.
  • Support legislation updating Public Act 132  (important to the work of surveyors).

“What if I haven’t done this before?” Relax—you will be prepared!

Agenda & Expectations:

  • Register for the event.
  • Note that a donation to APAC (of any amount) is requested, but not required.
  • 17 March: You will receive your meeting times, issues, talking points, instructions, and a list of others who will be in the meetings with you.  Note that the earlier you register, the best chance of meeting with a legislator rather than staff!
  • 18 March, 8:00am-9:30am: Attend the preparatory webinar to go over the issues, understand the talking points and how to plan your 30-minute meeting.  Contact your groups outside of the webinar to plan who is going to open the meeting and who will discuss which talking points.  There may be some different people attending your meetings.  All first-timers? If your group needs an experienced member to attend your meeting—just ask!
  • 19 March, 8:00am-5:00pm:  Keep the event day flexible on your calendar for legislative meetings. You will be scheduled to virtually meet for one to four 30-minute meetings with your state senator(s) and/or representative(s) from your home and/or work districts). Sometimes you will meet with their staff if a legislator is not available.
  • Legislators receive a packet of our issues and talking points ahead of the legislative day. They also receive a list of those who will be meeting with them.
  • Take notes of any questions you can’t answer or follow up that you or AESLC should make.  Complete an online survey about your experience.

Follow up:

AESLC will deliver a thank you and information from all of our organizations to each legislator after the event.

Categories: AIA Detroit News   Membership  
February 25, 2021

AIA commends Biden Administration for reversing Trump federal design mandate

WASHINGTON – Feb. 25, 2021 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) commends the Biden Administration’s decision to overturn the Executive Order, “Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture.”

“By overturning this order, the Biden Administration has restored communities with the freedom of design choice that is essential to designing federal buildings that best serve the public,” said AIA 2021 President Peter Exley, FAIA. “This is fundamental to an architect’s process and to achieving the highest quality buildings possible. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration towards developing policies that create healthy, just and equitable communities.”

Under former President Trump’s Executive Order, government agencies could mandate an architectural style preference for federal courthouses and other federal buildings. It also promoted “classical” and “traditional” architecture above other designs and required extensive justification to use other styles. Additionally, the order conveyed misinformation about the General Service Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence Program, which the AIA strongly supports. Overall, the mandate inappropriately elevated the design tastes of a few federal appointees over the communities in which the buildings would be placed.

The AIA and its members have been working to stop the order for more than a year. (more…)

Categories: AIA Detroit News   Membership  
February 24, 2021

Architectural billings continue to contract in 2021

WASHINGTON – Feb. 24, 2021 – A slight improvement in business conditions has led to fewer architecture firms reporting declining billings, according to a new report today from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for January was 44.9* compared to 42.3 in December (any score below 50 indicates a decline in firm billings). Last month’s score indicates overall revenue at U.S architecture firms continued to decline from December to January, however, the pace of decline slowed. Inquiries into new projects during January grew for the second month in a row, with a score of 56.8 compared to 51.7 in December. The value of new design contracts also reflected an easing in the pace of decline, rising to a score of 48.8 in January from 47.0 the previous month.

“The broader economy entered a soft spot during the fourth quarter of last year, and business conditions at design firms have reflected this general slowdown,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “While federal stimulus and the increasing pace of vaccinations may begin to accelerate progress in the coming months, the year has gotten off to a slow start, with architecture firms in all regions of the country and in all specializations reporting continued declines in project billings.” (more…)

Categories: AIA Detroit News   Membership  
February 3, 2021

Have YOUR Webinar Featured with AIAD

Still unable to host lunch & learns? AIA Detroit is currently offering companies the opportunity to present a Continuing Education-certified webinar to our membership virtually through our Sponsored Webinar package. AIA Detroit has over 900 members and an enthusiastic design community. (more…)

January 20, 2021

UDM’s School of Architecture & NOMA Detroit Join Forces

From Dan Pitera, FAIA | Dean, Detroit Mercy School of Architecture:

NOMA Detroit and the Detroit Mercy School of Architecture have worked together to sponsor a studio that focuses on the annual NOMA National competition that will be judged at NOMA’s annual convention in October 2021. This year marks the 50th anniversary of NOMA, which makes this studio even more interesting because the site and the convention are in Detroit. The NOMA Studio is more than a class. It is in its second year and becoming a tradition at the School of Architecture. In many ways, it intentionally broadens the faculty that have a commitment and passion to the education of our students. We are truly excited to have Imani Day and Pierre Roberson teach the studio. They bring a wonderful energy and insight to the course content and the School at large. Thank you to NOMA’s leadership for having the vision to collaborate to make this studio come to life.

“Truly looking forward to engaging UDM students in the development of the 2021 NOMA Student Competition submission. I feel that it is important for underrepresented students to encounter significant and meaningful contact with professors of the same background throughout their education.  It is my goal to help to jumpstart some careers and spark some long-term mentorship relationships, and also help to give these students early access into their professional network.”

~ Pierre Roberson

Categories: AIA Detroit News  

Number of licensed Black female architects increases to 500

By Katherine Guimapang | Archinect Dec 21, 2020

The push for increasing the number of Black licensed architects has been an ongoing effort. Organizations like NOMA and individuals like Norma Merrick SklarekPaul WilliamsZena HowardPhillip FreelonGabrielle BullockCurtis Moody, and many others have paved the way for a new generation of Black architects and architects of color to continue to make a difference within the industry.

However, when it comes to licensed female architects, specifically Black female architects, the disparity in numbers is quite evident. Katherine Williams and the Black Women in Architecture Network and individuals such as the late Barbara Laurie, Tiffany BrownKimberly DowdellPascale Sablan, and young emerging designers like Morgan Medley of blackgirlsDraw has made it their mission to increase the number of Black female architects. They continue to raise the awareness of diversity and representation within the profession and make conscious efforts to connect other Black women and young girls as they dive into architecture.

During an interview in February 2019, Tiffany Brown of 400 Forward spoke to Essence Magazine. Together they discussed that Brown was “on track to becoming one of 452 licensed Black women architects in the United States.” A little over a year later during the 2020 NOMA conference in October, it was announced that the number of licensed Black female architects (currently living) reaching its 500th mark.

Thanks to NOMA’s collaborative efforts and the Directory of African American Architects, their mission has been to be a “public service to promote an awareness of who African American architects are and where they are located. The sole qualification for listing is licensure in one of the fifty US jurisdictions and their territories.”

“Reaching this milestone is one of the most significant in the history of American architecture,” said Kathryn T. Prigmore, FAIA, NOMAC, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C, CDT, founding collaborator of Riding the Vortex: African American Women in Architecture and Related Professions. “African American architects practice in all aspects of the profession, including at the pinnacle of some of the world’s most well-known and respected firms.”

While the story and contributions of Black female architects continue to grow and be celebrated, the industry’s future will continue to improve as long as there dedicated individuals willing to persevere and push through the adversity to create an opportunity for all. 

To read the full article click here.

Categories: AIA Detroit News  
January 11, 2021

DABUG Call For Panelists

The Detroit Area BIM User Group is hosting a panel discussion on working remotely in a design firm. Collectively we are nearly a year into the COVID pandemic and many office-dwellers are still working remotely. We were all forced to adapt quickly, but who has re-evaluated their solutions since the pandemic’s early days of March 2020? The stop-gap measures that your company put in place – are they appropriate, workable, long-term solutions? Now is the time to discuss strategic use of technology to empower a location agnostic workforce. We are seeking panelists from companies of all sizes, and from all backgrounds (IT, architect, business leader). 

Think you’d be a good fit? Email us at

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