2016 AIA Western Mountain Region Conference Summary by Dan Stalker, AIA
Saturday, October 1, 2016
2016 AIA Western Mountain Region Conference Summary
by Dan Stalker, AIA, AIA Wyoming President-elect
AIA Utah hosted this years AIA/WMR Conference. The theme of “Forward - Making
Lives Better” was used to inform and inspire attendees with an array of gifted speakers,
tours and social gatherings. Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention Center was a
marvelous venue where regional ideas were discussed and visions for the future were
We were welcomed to the Conference by Peggy McDonough Jan, AIA Utah and Russell
Davidson, FAIA, our 2016 National President. To set the stage for the conference, the
Keynote Address was given by James Timberlake, FAIA who's work and practice are
blazing the trail for architects of the future. His firm is a leader in practice based
architectural research and innovative buildings. Based in Philadelphia, he was proud to
announce that his office is 100% naturally ventilated, and by very creative means. His
work and his talk were truly powerful.
After the Keynote Address, we were able to choose between several workshops
featuring Jhane Barnes - Bio Influences in Design, Renee Cheng, FAIA - Integrated &
Research-oriented Practices, Donna Laquirdara-Carr, PhD - Smart Markets & Industry
Trends and Stephen Swisher, AIA - Eccles Theater: Creating a Downtown District
through Public Private Development.
I chose to attend the Renee Cheng and Stephen Swisher workshops. Renee currently
teaches at the University of Minnesota and is heavily involved in collaborative
techniques to integrate design with emerging technologies. Her current work in
Integrated Project Delivery (IDP) has been published by the American Institute of
Architects and her work and research with the General Services Administration has just
Stephen Swisher was joined by a team of two which included a representative of the
development authority and a property owner. It took the vision and cooperative
collaboration of these three and many others to develop the new Eccles Theater and
the 111 South Main Street Office tower. Both projects were realized as a result of
patience, perseverance and vision. We later toured these facilities and celebrated the
successes with wine and hors d’oeuvres in the lobby of the Eccles Theater.
The AIA/WMR business meeting was convened right before lunch. We elected a new
Treasurer, Mark Ryan, AIA from AIA Las Vegas and approved the resolutions submitted
for the regional By-Laws. We were also introduced to two Jason Pettigrew Scholarship
Friday afternoon's Keynote address featured R. Steven Lewis, FAIA NOMAC, a second
generation architect from Detroit. He focused on “Our Changing Impact as Architects”
largely from a diversity perspective.
Steven later chaired a round table where the collaborative efforts of civic leaders has
led to a plan that will improve the livability of Salt Lake City. The overriding virtue for
citizens in Salt Lake City is that they are content to do it “right" rather than do it “right
now”. Contributors to this discussion included Robert Gow, JD, Salt Lake County Mayor
Ben McAdams, Molly O’Neill, AAICP and Alan Bright, FAIA.
Saturdays’ workshops included our own Stephen Dynia, FAIA - Design in the Western
Mountain Region, Jose Galarza, Erin Carrier, AIA and Jorg Rugemer, Associate AIA -
Regional Relevance and Resilience: Lessons from the U. Nick Sirup, FAIA - Redefining
Place and Craig Hartman, FAIA - 111 South Main Case Study.
I attended Stephen’s presentation and was amazed at the quality of work that his offices
provide. His work and thoughtful gestures were very well received. I then was
captivated by a presentation by Craig Hartman, FAIA of the San Francisco office of
SOM. Craig presented several wonderful projects including the office tower
affectionately referred to as 111 South Main. This building was only able to be
completed by virtue of the use of an innovative hat truss which escalated building costs
substantially, but allowed a truly remarkable structure to reach fruition. 111 South Main
now gracefully compliments the Salt Lake City skyline. Craig also shared his vision with
his work on the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California.
Ed Vance chaired the Demystifying Fellowship workshop and in closing, Russell
Davidson inspired us all to be the best we can be.
I did not attend the Awards Gala and have not been able to access the listing of those
I was gratified to see 11 architects from Wyoming in attendance and will encourage
greater participation in the years to come.
Next stop, AIA Las Vegas!!