Robert Ivy Retiring as AIA CEO
4. May 2021
Robert Ivy, FAIA (Photo via AIA/Twitter)
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced that Robert Ivy will retire by the end of the year as the Institute's Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, leadership roles he has held since 2011.
"Successfully" is the word the AIA uses in yesterday's announcement to describe Ivy's decade-long tenure at the helm of the Institute. Peter Exley, AIA 2021 President, says in the announcement, "Robert’s leadership and vision have been instrumental in successfully moving the organization forward through challenging times," referring particularly to "climate action and racial and ethnic equity." Aligned with these areas, the AIA in recent years has adopted a resolution on "Equity in Architecture" and promoted a Climate Action Plan.
But Ivy's legacy at the AIA may be defined by the unfortunate "tone-deaf" statement the AIA issued after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States in November 2016. Ivy wrote in a statement that the AIA and its members were "committed to working with President-elect Trump to address the issues our country faces, particularly strengthening the nation’s aging infrastructure." Backlash that the AIA was aligning itself with someone whose idea of infrastructure was a wall at the US/Mexico border quickly followed, leading Ivy to issue a video apology.
Screenshot from the "post-election message" from AIA CEO Robert Ivy (left) and 2016 AIA President Russell Davidson
Not surprisingly, the May 3, 2021, statement on Ivy's retirement omits the 2016 debacle. Instead it mentions that Ivy’s charge "included leading the AIA through recent, turbulent years in the larger society, a period during which the AIA took strong stands on urgent matters facing contemporary culture, including climate action and racial equity. Ivy was instrumental in the AIA’s championing the positive and necessary role architects can play in issues such as sustainability, resilience, school safety, immigration, infrastructure, and shoring up the pipeline for present and future architects by addressing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession and society."
With seven months until the end of 2021, Ivy's replacement now takes center stage over considerations of his legacy. Very likely climate action and racial equity, alongside post-pandemic recovery, will be some of the main issues in the AIA's search for its next EVP/CEO. According to yesterday's announcement, more information on the search is forthcoming, but for now Exley and AIA Board of Directors have "retained the executive search firm Spencer Stuart with the goal of naming a new EVP/Chief Executive Officer prior to the end of the year," with an internal search committee also taking part.