For more than 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes.
On February 23, 1857, 13 architects met in Richard Upjohn’s office to form what would become the American Institute of Architects. The group sought to create an architecture organization that would “promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members” and “elevate the standing of the profession.”
The founding members decided to invite 16 other architects to the second meeting on March 10, 1857. These forward-thinking individuals agreed on a draft constitution and bylaws. The only change they made was to the name of the organization, at that time the New York Society of Architects. Thomas U. Walter, a well-known Philadelphia practitioner, suggested the American Institute of Architects.
From a small group of professionals sharing a meal, the Institute has grown to a robust, focused, organization providing guidance, service, and standards to architects around the world. The AIA continues to strive for quality, consistency, and safety in the built environment and to serve as the voice of the architecture profession.
AIA Membership Designations
The AIA offers several membership designations based on licensure status and other criteria. These abbreviations, which AIA members (except for Allied members) may show after their names, indicate membership to clients, the public, and other industry professionals:
AIA: U.S. licensed architects
FAIA: Members elected to the AIA College of Fellows
Assoc. AIA: Unlicensed to practice architecture but meeting other professional criteria
Hon. AIA or Hon. FAIA: Honorary members
Intl. Assoc. AIA: Those with an architecture license or equivalent from a licensing authority outside the United States
Learn more about Member Benefits and Resources.