AIA Homes Tour - Gateway to Involvement

Last week, our office had a staff meeting where we discussed the importance of involvement with the AIA as an important ingredient to personal and professional development and growth. That discussion has had me reflecting on the curious parallels between my involvement with the annual AIA Austin Homes Tour and the arc of my own professional career.

My personal involvement with AIA Austin began with the homes tour, originally as just a curious on-looker interested in seeing what other architects were up to, and getting to explore people's beautiful homes. That was well over a decade ago, long before I knew all of the other aspects of the profession and the community that AIA Austin impacted.

One of the first Homes Tours I really remember was in 1998, and it is significant for me because it was the first time I saw a project designed by Gary Furman. As I know now, that house put Gary's firm "on the map"; he was able to launch a successful career from showing that project on the tour. For me, seeing that house solidified my interest in designing residential architecture.

The following year, I volunteered as a docent at Gary's 1999 tour home, and it was my first chance to really meet and get to know the man that was soon to become my boss, and eventually my business partner. By the end of 1999 I had started working at Gary Furman Architects, and by the time the Homes Tour rolled around in 2000 I was working as a docent again, but this time as a member of the firm that designed the house. Fast forward a few years to 2004, when our firm showed another house on the tour -- this time, it was a house I was quite involved with as a member of the design team and as construction phase project architect.

By this time I recognized that our firm had received a lot of benefits from showing our work on the Homes Tour, and I decided that it was my turn to give back a fair share by volunteering for the Homes Tour Committee. Right around the same time, Gary and I began talking about forming a partnership, and in 2005 he brought me on board to launch Furman + Keil Architects.

In the years since, I have deepened my involvement with the AIA -- our firm has had a few more houses on the tour, and I volunteered for the Homes Tour Committee for several years. I had the opportunity to co-chair the Homes Tour Committee in 2010 and 2011, and this year I served as Activities Commissioner on the board of directors for AIA Austin. Our firm was once again honored by being among the 13 firms chosen to showcase their work for the 2012 AIA Austin Homes Tour, being held on October 6th & 7th.

The more I get involved, the more amazed I am at the variety and depth of AIA Austin's engagement with the professional and civic community here in Austin, and how much more there is to AIA Austin than just the Homes Tour. The more engaged I am as a professional architect, the more I realize I can learn from my peers and mentors at the AIA.

So I ask you: where do you fit in to AIA Austin? What committee or outreach program is your gateway to personal and professional development? You never know where it will take you…

Philip Keil, AIA
principal, Furman + Keil Architects