The AIA Is Urging Congress to Safeguard the Future of Architecture—and America

The AIA Is Urging Congress to Safeguard the Future of Architecture—and America

By Duncan Nielsen
As U.S. lawmakers finalize a bill to restart the economy, the 95,000-member-strong American Institute of Architecture proposes a plan for the greater good.

At present, the coronavirus has shaken the U.S. economy and workforce, and many businesses are grinding to a halt. Architecture offices are no exception—and the AIA is taking action.

A new statement from the institute asks Congress for resources to ensure not just the survival of the industry, but also the well-being of the nation after the COVID-19 crisis. It reads: "AIA’s members are calling on policymakers to include significant investments in 21st-century infrastructure and temporary relief measures for business owners. Both will provide much-needed relief in the short-term, reassurance to global markets, and will help prepare this country for the challenges ahead."

Temporary relief measures could help architecture firms avoid layoffs that would add to the economic downturn. The institute is asking for support in the form of small business loans, increased access to unsecured credit for employers to cover costs likes payroll and rent, a suspension of limitations surrounding deductions for firms, and a suspension of taxation to help maximize liquidity—all lifelines for small businesses.

Building on those safeguards for the architecture industry, the AIA is urging Congress to look around the bend of the crisis and consider means of stimulating the economy that put architects and related industries back to work on nationwide infrastructure projects.

The initiative hedges bets against the probability of a recession, and it looks a lot like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1935 effort to lift the U.S. out of the Great Depression. At that time, the Works Progress Administration gave many jobless citizens a new source of income, America’s roadways and bridges got a makeover, and the economy got a big boost.

The AIA is asking Congress for $300 billion spread out over five years to implement "resilient vertical infrastructure." The investment would advance green building practices and make the built environment better equipped for disasters.

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