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I just got back last night from the National AIA (American Institute of Architects) convention in Miami. I attended a number of very useful seminars and sessions including one about starting a practice. I was only there for 2 1/2 days so I had to plan out my time very well. I looked for sessions related to where I am right now and where I would like to be in my career. Naturally, any session about starting a practice and marketing was of interest. Given that I am working on a passive solar straw bale house, sustainablity/green building seminars were also high on my priority list. Teaching has put me in a mentorial role, but I still feel like I am in need of a mentor (or mentors) myself, and the ‘network of mentors’ session was a very good starting point. In addition to the daytime seminars and forums, I was able to attend some fun events in the evenings including the Columbia GSAPP Alumni reception at the Raleigh Penthouse and an RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) AGM followed by a reception hosted by the UK consulate at The Wolfsonian. My last night in Miami ended with a RIBA Haiti benefit dinner where we had the pleasure of the company of the RIBA president. We got to the Haitian restaurant ‘Tap Tap’ in a rather curious vehicle (pictured here). The last event I attended was the Keynote Presentation during which Peter Bohlin was presented the AIA Gold Medal. I was pleasantly surprised to see that, like his buildings, he himself seemed to be sensitive and humble.

The Versace Mansion

I did manage to schedule in some free time during which I made use of the pools at my hotel (The Shore Club) and took a dip in the sea (warm, calm water, in case you were wondering and haven’t been there yet). And just before I got into a taxi to go to the airport, I had one of the most delicious desserts ever at Nobu (coffee cream, tres leches ice cream, macadamia nuts and hot chocolate foam). I definitely wish I had had more time there. I got the sense that something is about to happen in Miami, something transformative, something exciting, something that will involve a lot of architects, designers etc. The colors, the weather, the culture of the city are all so unlike New York. The Latin influence is ever-present in the food and the fabric of the city. The taxi drivers and others are grateful for your business in these hard, economic times. It has been hit hard, but something’s brewing; I don’t know what yet.

The Shore Club

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