“Home is where I want to be, Pick me up and turn me ’round.”
Song lyrics from “This Must be the Place” by The Talking Heads, 1983
After leaving our Clay Street location last year in, we have a new AIA East Bay home: The Brower Center, in downtown Berkeley. Many of us have memories of 1405 Clay Street, as we occupied the space for more than 20 years. I recall an inspirational design award ceremony with John King of the SF Chronicle, truly lively accessibility training seminars, committee recruitment gatherings that got me involved in the chapter, warm Saturdays taking licensing classes, and many great programs organized by dedicated committee leaders. The Brower Center at 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA is a LEED Platinum building, located close to public transportation and public parking, and offers various sized meeting spaces to continue the long history for great programing at the AIAEB.
New space, new opportunities
During our 1.5 year search for a new space, staff and/or board members saw more than 100 spaces in many of the inner East Bay cities. These spaces included storefronts, upper floor offices, co-working, and shared offices. We also reached out to members on their thoughts for key features needed for a new space for our chapter. We have a good understanding of the current market for an organization like ours.
We will be located on the 3rd floor of the Brower Center. This space is 1,610 SF, so we can accommodate 25-40 people for events but also have enough space to explore alternate ways to activate our home. Outside our space, the building offers a number of scaled meeting spaces that allow new opportunities for workshops, large events, symposiums, and receptions. When we saw the potential of the center, we presented the idea to membership and received positive response.
Lastly, the Brower Center is adjacent to UC Berkeley and is a building filled with like-minded organizations, who attract over 46,000 people each year. We see our new home overlooking the East Bay Hills as an exciting opportunity to expand our influence and reach, which no other space we considered was able to offer.
As I noted in my first letter to members, I want to celebrate this new opportunity with a lecture series of distinguished East Bay architects; we need to celebrate the designers who have shaped and are shaping our region. As we formulate this lecture series, we will have an open house in September at the Brower Center so we can all gather and discuss the AIA East Bay’s future. I want this open house to be a celebration but also part of my presidential listening tour. Our chapter includes Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, and Solano counties, which is a large region. A majority of our membership is located in the inner East Bay and we want to understand why you are a member of this organization and how we can better serve you.
I had the pleasure of starting my listening tour in Vacaville, Solano County. In talking to our members, it turns out we are facing many of the same challenges and successes; we are indeed “Four Counties, One Community.” I’m glad we started building connections to Solano County and look forward to the October Napa event associated with Home Tours. For outer East Bay Members, we are working on a Walnut Creek happy hour. I also plan on being in the Tri-Valley and Fremont areas by the end of year.
The AIA East Bay was founded in 1947, and the next years at the Brower Center will continue to build on the legacy of this chapter. AIA East Bay is one of the most diverse chapters of the American Institute of Architects, serving over 900 members across Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, and Solano counties. We want to take advantage of this long history, large membership, and diversity to allow the chapter to reach its full potential. For this to happen, we need your attendance at events, for you to take advantage of showcasing your skills via presentations, for you to get involved in our forums/committees, or consider being on the board of directors. We will continue to listen, but I also challenge each of you to be active and attend three events this year.
“Pick me up and turn me ’round,” we are in Berkeley.
Brian Stryzek, AIA
Associate Principal, Kennerly Architecture & Planning
2022 AIA East Bay President