President’s Message

June 13, 2013

The following is the message that was delivered by AIBC President David Yustin Architect AIBC at the June 2013 AIBC Annual Meeting, prior to the election results for the 2013/2014 AIBC Council.

Some of you may recognize portions of my President’s Report having been sent to you last week as a teaser in my last President’s Message. What I am about to say today is the full extent of my report, including a more detailed account of the last year.

“It is much easier to be a critic than a creator.”  – Eli Mina, Parliamentarian.

This one sentence sums up a lesson I learned in my two years on council. As a previous critic of the institute, two years ago I felt the need to get involved in order to change what I did not like or, more honestly, did not understand.

To be more specific: What does it mean to be a council member? After being elected, AIBC Council members must agree to adhere to policies respecting council’s responsibilities. In compliance with legislation, AIBC bylaws, codes and policies, the council is responsible for leading and guiding the organization toward achieving a vision as well as organizational outcomes that fulfill the mission of the organization.

Accordingly, council’s specific job functions are to:

  • Establish and maintain effective links with the stakeholders;
  • Develop, monitor and review policies which lead and guide the organization;
  • Assure high standards of organizational performance;
  • In conjunction with the Executive Director, review all policies annually and where warranted by compliance monitoring or the review, policies will be modified, deleted or revised;
  • Ensure that it is governing effectively and in the best interests of the public and the profession;
  • Create and regularly review and renew the vision and outcomes to be achieved by the institute;
  • Plan for the succession and diversity of the council;
  • Set and follow an annual council work agenda; and
  • Provide strategic direction to the institute.

Aside from the major functions of council, it is also important to never forget that B.C. architects have the privilege of self-regulation, as granted by the provincial government, to protect the public interest. Public interest, however, is a moving target that needs to be looked at as each issue arises. There is no one correct way to skin the proverbial cat. There can be more than one proposal to the resolution of an issue, and each may be seen as protecting the public interest. It is rarely as simple as, “This is right and that is wrong.”

Now on to some specifics about the past council year.

Every council has its difficulties, strengths and weaknesses. Within what seemed like mere moments of being elected president in May 2012, I received the resignations of Messrs. Owen Pawson, Richard Peddie, and Tim Spiegel. Three of the four Lieutenant Governor Appointees to AIBC Council felt they could not continue and resigned.

It must be understood that the provincial government appoints Lieutenant Governor representatives. As such, these resignations were appropriately submitted to the Minister of Advanced Education, whose ministry is responsible for the Architects Act.  However, the minister did not initially accept these resignations and the three stayed on until September, when they again resigned. This time the Minister accepted.

It is certainly significant that three of four sitting LG Appointees would choose to resign at the same time. Their coordinated action undoubtedly sent a message of concern about both the current issues facing council and the climate at the council table.

In the recent years prior to my becoming president, the tone and temperature of council deliberations had become heated and polarizing. It was a great cause for concern, not only for me but also our government minister. Hence, one of my first decisions as president was to involve a facilitator for an extended annual planning process and, at the minister’s recommendation, to invite an independent monitor to observe some council meetings in order to guide us in finding a more collegial and productive way of working together.

In doing so, I said to myself that “attacking issues instead of people is what the profession expects”. I was committed to re-establishing a climate of civil discourse and mutual respect at the council table. In that, I believe that council has made great progress. Is the situation perfect? No, but it was comforting to hear the independent monitor say that he felt there was no longer a need to attend our meetings, and that this council is no different than any other.

It is actually good governance and the duty of council members to speak up when they do not agree. However, tolerance is required when fundamental ideologies clash. Quite often an opposing opinion will either strengthen an argument or poke enough holes that the weaknesses can no longer be ignored.

That’s a little back history; now let’s look forward.

As architects, we are trained to think differently. We view the world fully formed, before even one brick has been laid. We have an amazing ability to transport others and ourselves into a world that only we can see until we begin to articulate those ideas. It is sometimes years of pen to paper, meetings, collaborations, even disagreements and arguments, but there comes a time when working together finally produces results.

The workload of council this year has been enormous. At its 2012 retreat, council had identified many areas requiring immediate attention. I am please to report that items that have plagued this institute for many years have benefited from a year of consultation, scrutiny and debate.

Council was surprised to hear that the last strategic plan created for the AIBC was conducted in 1995. It became very apparent that a new, progressive and forward-looking strategic plan was needed before the year ended. With both staff and council coming together with eager involvement, we have a new strategic plan (to be presented later this afternoon for your comments and questions) that focuses the efforts of AIBC Council and staff, aligning them on one unified path.

Perhaps overshadowing everything else this year was the “associate’s issue”. For nearly a decade now, various councils have wrestled with the question of whether there is a place within the institute for non-architects from the architectural technology, building design and interior design worlds. That issue was part of an initiative – now dormant – to dramatically amend or replace the Architects Act with modern legislation.

I am pleased to announce that this year’s council has passed, with a resounding majority, a recommended resolution to this associates issue. However, this is only the first of many steps. Ultimately, next year’s council will have to deal with implementation. Resolution can only take place within a framework of open consultation with members.

Council is eager to present the results of its work to the members on these two topics, and receive constructive and informed feedback.

With unanimous support of council, one of my first tasks on the national scene was to fly across the country and negotiate entry into the national Examination for Architecture in Canadasystem (ExAC). I am proud to say that as of January 1, 2013, the AIBC has become a part of ExACand is an active participant on the ExAC Committee. This is seen as a positive step in unifying the national internship program, and gives B.C. intern architects a choice between writing National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ Architectural Registration Examination or ExAC. The choice is now theirs to make.

In addition, council continues to remain dedicated to help streamline the Internship in Architecture Program, and to review real or perceived roadblocks preventing IAs from becoming registered. I heard a statistic at a presentation in St. Johns, Newfoundland, suggesting the average age of an IA in B.C. is 38 years old. That means for every 25 year-old IA, there is a 51 year-old IA. This is not only a problem in B.C., but nationally as well.

The program is meant to be a two-to-five-year transition stage for young, burgeoning architects, but some are parking themselves in this associate class, not seeing the value in registering as a full member. Something must be done to help our young become professionals or the profession will die of atrophy.

Other initiatives of this year’s council included:

  • Setting up a working group to look at the fee structure for the organization. The questions asked were, “Can changes be made that make fiduciary sense, and be beneficial to the membership? Are fees a barrier in some way?” Theoretical models have been analyzed, and I hope this work will continue under the next council so that recommendations can be brought to council for a vote and implementation.
  • Establishing an Operational Constraints Committee to carry out the annual performance review and compensation of the Executive Director as well as considering human resources issues pertaining to AIBC Council or ED-to-council issues.
  • Creating the Council Rules Working Group whose task it was to come up with streamlined rules for the council table. Robert’s Rules of Order will govern any issues arising that are not covered by these new council rules.

Some have criticized this council for spending too much time navel-gazing. To that, I say this introspective work had to be done in order for our house to be built on solid ground. The work of council is rarely easy and never done. It is forever changing with the times. The 2012/2013 AIBC Council did not dismiss the good work done by previous councils, but rather used it as a foundation upon which to build. Further, it was encouraged in knowing that all opinions at the table were heard with equal value, debated and then compiled into motions that council was able to thoroughly review, digest, discuss and then vote on. I am proud to say that no voice was discouraged from speaking.

A few other initiatives, not strictly related to AIBC Council but happening around the AIBC, included:

  • The creation of a new Lifetime Achievement Award for an individual architect. The first call for nominations will be coming this month – please check the AIBC web site for details.
  • Speaking of web sites, if all goes well, the new AIBC web site will be launched sometime in June. The user-friendly overhaul of the existing web site has been focused on accessibility so that users can navigate more intuitively. We are all excited about the unveiling.
  • Last but not least, coming sometime in June, will be the start of registration for this fall’s annual conference. I hope to see all of you there.

I would very much like to thank this year’s council members; Vice President Paula Grossman; Executive Director Mike Ernest; senior and supporting staff; and the various boards and committees for all of their hard work in helping to maneuver through a challenging and exciting year. I will look on this journey as a great learning experience. If asked what I am most proud of, it is the coming together and focusing of the talents of our volunteers and staff in resolving some of the issues from the past, with a strong view to the future.


David Yustin Architect AIBC
AIBC President


David Yustin  Architect AIBC
AIBC Council President

AIBC Response to Proposed VBBL Changes, Round 4

In anticipation of a 2013 re-issue,  the City of Vancouver invited industry stakeholders and the public to comment on proposed changes to the Vancouver Building Bylaw (VBBL). Most of the suggested revisions pertain to improvements in the areas of accessibility, safety and sustainability. A formal, detailed AIBC response, reflecting staff expertise as well as input from volunteer committee members, was crafted and has now been forwarded to the city. The AIBC submission expresses support for the city’s overall direction of promoting increased accessibility, adaptability, safety and public protection.However, it also identified concerns for proposed measures that are likely to have minimal impact while increasing housing costs. The institute also spoke out in support of greater choice rather than mandatory requirements. The AIBC’s cover letter for its submission, with overview, can be found here. To access the detailed AIBC comments, click here. If adopted by Vancouver City Council, it is expected the new bylaw will be enacted later this year.

Why Does Seattle Fear Urban Planning?

Good architectural ideas get hatched, then ditched in Seattle. Among those to blame? Oddly, Jane Jacobs.
By David Brewster, Crosscut
June 10, 2013

Why is urban planning so feeble in Seattle? Why no major open space downtown? Why do opportunities, such as Seattle Commons or retooling Seattle Center, become battlegrounds? Why so little beloved and bold architecture? I got thinking about this a few weeks back when I was asked to be on a panel called “Activism: Better City” at the U.W. College of the Built Environment, convened by Marga Rose Hancock. The panel was looking back at some ambitious planning initiatives 30-40 years ago. The hope was to stir similar efforts today, but when I went back to examine how well these earlier ideas had worked out, I got discouraged, not mobilized. More …

Upcoming CCA Grant Deadlines

The Canada Council for the Arts reminds you of approaching deadlines for the following architecture-related grant programs:

  • September 1, 2013; November 1, 2013: Travel Grants – financial assistance to professional visual and fine craft artists, independent critics and curators, and architecture professionals. Grants are for travel to attend or participate in activities related to their practice, both in Canada or abroad. Independent critics and curators, and architecture professionals may apply for either “Travel for Presentation” or “Travel for Research”.
  • October 1, 2013: Assistance for the Promotion of Architecture – grants to Canadian organizations for the public presentation of works in architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. These grants of up to $50,000 support special projects that promote contemporary, Canadian works of architecture to a broad and diverse public. Selected projects must lead to the production of books, films and videos, television programs, radio programs, multimedia programs, exhibitions, architectural competitions, series of articles or lectures, or other public events. A minimum 50 percent of content must be  contemporary Canadian works of architecture.
  • October 1, 2013: Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture for Emerging Practitioners – awarded to a recent graduate of a Canadian school of architecture who demonstrates exceptional potential in contemporary architectural design. The recipient will have the opportunity to broaden his or her knowledge of contemporary architecture culture by visiting a selection of works of architecture. The recipient will also be able to expand her or his professional skills through an internship at an internationally acclaimed architectural firm, anywhere in the world. Applicants must define a program of work and related travels .The project can involve multiple trips to a number of destinations spread over a one-year period. Upon returning to Canada, the recipient must share his or her experience through public conferences, publications and (or) exhibitions.

For detailed information including eligibility and other criteria and, visit the CCA Grants and Prizes web page. For further information, contact Program Officer Brigitte Desrochers at

Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association

CEDIA is an international trade association of companies that specialize in planning and installing home electronic systems. These systems include networking, automation, communication, media rooms, entertainment systems, and integrated whole-house subsystems providing lighting control, security and HVAC. CEDIA develops and encourages high standards of service and conduct through educational conferences, professional training and certification. Click here to learn more about all Registered Educational Providers.

Second Act For Biosphere 2

By Michael Winerip, New York Times
June 10, 2013

In the fall of 1991, eight men and women marched into a glass and steel complex that covered three acres in the Arizona desert and was known as Biosphere 2. Their mission: to test whether they could be self-sustaining in this sealed-off environment, with hope that the model would someday be replicated to colonize outer space. They wore “Star Trek”-style jump suits, which, depending on your view of the grand experiment, either made them look very scientific or like inmates at the county jail. More …

Ron Thom Exhibition

West Coast Points East: Ron Thom and the Allied Arts, a traveling exhibition showcasing the work of one of British Columbia’s most widely recognized architects, will run from July 5 to September 21. 2013at the West Vancouver Museum. A recipient of the Order of Canada and numerous Massey Awards for architecture, Thom is regarded as one of Canada’s most innovative and influential architects. This exhibition, curated by Adele Weder with exhibition design by Public: Architecture + Communication, highlights Thom’s training at the Vancouver School of Art, his award-winning west coast residential architecture, and his noted work at Massey College and Trent University. Drawing on the private holdings of family members and former colleagues as well as the Canadian Architectural Archives and Massey College Library, it explores the sources and output of Thom’s creative process. Many of the featured drawings, documents and artifacts are on public display for the first time. The West Vancouver show marks the first leg of a cross-Canada itinerary. You are invited to attend an opening reception on Thursday, July 4, 7:00 p.m. at the West Vancouver Museum, 680 17th Street, West Vancouver.

AIBC Council Meeting Minutes – May 14, 2013

The adopted minutes from the May 2013 meeting of AIBC Council can be found here: 2013 05 May 14 Council Minutes adopted.