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The True Mission at the Convention

I must admit it was a last minute decision (think two days before the event) to attend the AIA National Convention in Philadelphia this year but it was so well worth it. This event was held in my backyard so getting there was not an issue but finding a reason to go however proved to be a bit of a struggle as I had not attended one for more than eight years. One look at my continuing education credits transcript persuaded me, that was it, booked the hotel, packed the bag, off I went. So for three days, the convention center would be jammed packed with mostly architects not only from the United States but from all over the world. Newbies and pros walked up and down of exhibit aisles gawking at all sorts of products, attending hundreds of seminars as well as hopping from party to party. Unfortunately for me, I can only spend one day there to accomplish my mission. So this is how it went down – seven hours in seminars, two hours  of trekking across the exhibit hall, one hour of networking, and three hours of hanging out with friends. I was thoroughly exhausted and extremely energized at the same time after spending just one day at the convention. Perhaps staying for another day would have been a better plan as I did not have the chance to visit all the vendors as originally planned, I was a bit disappointed. Nonetheless, I learned a lot from the seminars (and no I did not fall asleep in any of the seminars despite the fact that I started the day at 5 AM). Talking about varieties, I attended a session on BIM, a session on fire-rated glass, one on designing to prevent noise from coming in or going out, and another one on firm culture. The highlight of the day, however, was running into a former employee,

So for three days, the convention center would be jammed packed with mostly architects not only from the United States but from all over the world. Newbies and pros walked up and down of exhibit aisles gawking at all sorts of products, attending hundreds of seminars as well as hopping from party to party. Unfortunately for me, I can only spend one day there to accomplish my mission. So this is how it went down – seven hours in seminars, two hours  of trekking across the exhibit hall, one hour of networking, and three hours of hanging out with friends. I was thoroughly exhausted and extremely energized at the same time after spending just one day at the convention. Perhaps staying for another day would have been a better plan as I did not have the chance to visit all the vendors as originally planned, I was a bit disappointed. Nonetheless, I learned a lot from the seminars (and no I did not fall asleep in any of the seminars despite the fact that I started the day at 5 AM). Talking about varieties, I attended a session on BIM, a session on fire-rated glass, one on designing to prevent noise from coming in or going out, and another one on firm culture.

The highlight of the day, however, was running into a former employee, Cuzy, and her fiance, Cam, who happened to worked with me when I needed help on a project that was produced with BIM (the names of the individuals were changed to protect their identity). The fact was I saw her but she did not see me when we were both in the gift shop. With the help of technology, I tracked her down by way of sending her a text. It was good that she texted me back as I have no clue if it was a case of mistaken identity. A few messages later, we confirmed to meet for a drink. Before then, I had another soiree to attend. There were good people, free food, and a few great conversations with fellow architects echoing the same challenges we all faced in our practices. I ended up having a drink with Cam and Cuzy later in the evening. For a few hours, we were lost in our thought-provoking conversations. I must make another confession here, I have ruined their anniversary dinner, guilty as charged. (I am told later that this is a ritual for them to have a special date night every month and this night happened to be the date night – note to self, I need to set up a date night soon.)

Like all the good times, this one shall end. On my drive home, I couldn’t help to think that the true mission of being at the convention is more than just attending the seminars, earning CE credits, or seeing the products on displays. This is about human interaction, from speaking with the sales representatives on the show floor, talking with the fellow architects at the networking events, and chatting with great friends at a semi-ruined anniversary dinner, the act of being in other’s company was the real mission. So next year, I have a real reason to be in Orlando, I may even visit Mickey after the show!

PS. For those who read my last post, the change is underway with the help of my good friend who is a fantastic graphic designer and a branding guru. I shall reveal the new logo in the next post.

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