AIA Idaho Board Members Advocate on Capitol Hill

Pictured left to right: Jonathan Gallup, AIA, NCARB, Resin Architecture, Idaho Falls; Chad Blincoe, AIA, Blincoe Architecture, Ketchum; Ellie Thomas, AAIA, LOMBARD/CONRAD ARCHITECTS; Anna Svidgal, AIA Idaho Executive Director; U.S. Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho; Dave Davies, AIA, CSHQA, Boise; Jared Schmidt, AIA, NCARB, Pivot North Architecture, Boise

On March 6, 2019, six architects from the State of Idaho met with Idaho’s senators and representatives Russ Fulcher, Mike Simpson, James Risch, and Mike Crapo on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to advocate for public policies that will create safer schools.

Following September 11, 2001, the design of buildings—including airports, sports centers, and office buildings—became a central focus of the U.S. government’s terrorism mitigation strategy. Schools are not currently included in that strategy. Additionally, most of the nation’s 122,000 public and private K-12 school buildings are not designed to deter school violence. Education officials lack funding and credible information about how school violence can be mitigated through architecture and design.

In our meetings with Idaho legislators, we discussed how design plays a key role in making new and existing schools safer while still being excellent learning environments for students. The AIA launched its school safety initiative in August 2018 with the goal of promoting design-centered approaches that create safe and healthy schools while ensuring that new and existing schools remain positive learning environments and not be transformed into prison-like buildings. AIA is advocating Congress to make design services eligible for existing federal grant funding, and the Institute is asking the federal government to create a clearinghouse that will provide all school officials with a “one-stop shop” repository of credible best practices to make schools more secure by design.

We were accompanied on Capitol Hill by more than 650 architects from across our nation as they met to advocate for this issue with their legislators. We are hopeful that our legislators will consider our proposals to help our communities design safer and more secure schools. More information on the AIA’s initiatives regarding safer schools can be found on the Institute’s website, Visit our Blueprint for Better campaign website to learn more about how architects are working to improve our communities.

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