As the editor in chief of Architectural Record since 1996, Robert Ivy’s career has been long intertwined with architecture publishing of the highest caliber/pedigree. Ivy’s especially nuanced—once might even call it “Southern”—skill at the diplomatic showcasing of architectural talent of every stripe and generation has earned him numerous accolades, including the 2009 Crane Award for lifetime contributions to business media, the title of Commissioner of the American Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2006, and a Master Architect title from the national architecture fraternity, Alpha Rho Chi.
And now Ivy, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects since 1993, is heading for an even wider platform as the AIA’s new executive vice president and chief executive officer, effective February 1.
Shortly after the announcement, we caught up with Ivy and asked him a few questions:
You told me you went through three interviews, first with the headhunters Association Strategies, and then with the AIA Search Committee. There were hundreds of applicants. What did you say that won over the committee?
I don’t think it was anything in particular that I said. I think the committee saw someone who is an architect, who is a leader, someone who has practiced and has been a partner in a successful firm [Ivy Architects, 1993 to 1996; managing partner with Dean/Dale, Dean and Ivy, 1981 to 1992, both in Jackson, Mississippi]. I have sat up with school boards, faced the same challenges, put buildings together, and I am intimately familiar with the act of architecture. And I know there is no place in architecture for arrogance.
It was nothing I said, it was what I’ve done and my attitude: I am unfailingly enthusiastic, not a booster, but a lover of architecture.
You’ll have 206 employees and a $56 million budget. What changes are highest on your list/most in need at the AIA?
I’ll be spending part of the first year assessing the state of the institution and the state of architecture at this challenging time. I know the difficulty that architects are having finding employment. I believe we have to prove the value of the membership to the individual architect at a time when dues-paying is hard. We have to find what value architects want from the AIA, whether it’s more information, more education, or the chance to network. There are 300 AIA , ranging in membership from 300 to 17,000. I am going to go to individual chapters—from the biggest in California to the smallest in South Dakota—to really find out where they are and what they need.
Will you be keeping an eye on Architect magazine?
Absolutely! It’s ironic and perfectly natural, too. The publishing world is very small, and we have all known each other and even worked with each other for years. I was a contributing editor to Architect for 15 years. I bring knowledge and care into the new job, and I am going to promote the relationship with Architect and the value it brings. Not that I’ll be a hands-on editor; I will allow other people to be actively involved, but that doesn’t preclude my writing a column or blog.
Who should replace you at Architectural Record?
Good question! It’s a new world that’s a lot more global and collaborative, and whoever it is will need to have a refreshed perspective.