Architecture has the power to transform lives. The built environment influences people every single day, whether by improving their home life, enhancing their workspace, or providing a compelling gathering place. Similarly, a building can transfigure a community or city, serving as developmental catalyst or cultural inspiration. In recent years, such iconic structures have literally redefined the sense of place in – and the identity of – cities like Barcelona and Milwaukee.
In an amazing stroke of timing, the deadline date of this submission will bring my first visit to the building I have long anticipated to hold the most intrigue for me in this regard: the Sydney Opera House. To have been part of the team that created and constructed this civic landmark would have been incredibly exciting and extremely rewarding. But…to see how it has become revered by people around the would be even more fulfilling. The number of persons who actually attend the opera is relatively few, but those who delight in this captivating structure reach into the millions. THAT is the power of architecture.
-- Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, the executive director of the Virginia Center for Architecture, was inaugurated as the 90th president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).