2023 Design Matters Conference


Clockwise from top: AAO Board Chair Sarah Herda opens the conference; funders’ panel with Justin Garrett Moore, Judilee Reed, and Ben Prosky; Owen Nichols explains a multi-layered architectural print during a site visit to a83; José Esparza Chong Cuy shares several Storefront projects; and Andrew Brown leads a community-centered design workshop with Van Alen.


Earlier this month, AAO conducted its first in-person Design Matters Conference since 2019. Sixty-seven attendees gathered at the AIA New York/Center for Architecture, hailing from 46 different architecture organizations throughout New York City, the United States, and Europe. The intimate scale of the conference allowed for a terrific depth of conversation and easy to facilitate peer-to-peer connections.

As one attendee commented in our post-event survey: “Hearing from leaders in other organizations, especially in funding and the media, gave me highly valuable insight I wouldn't have received anywhere else… I came away with tools to advance my organization and move us forward in these uncertain times.” That was the goal!

Sessions covered issues of access and representation and collective impact by examining how we fund the work of architecture organizations; what issues we choose to prioritize; and how we present architecture and design through print and digital platforms. Sessions were not recorded for re-airing, but notes are being compiled for the attendees.

Many thanks to the numerous New York organizations that hosted us, and to the speakers, event sponsors, and program committee members who generously supported and shaped our meeting.  

At the conference, we also announced that AAO will be organizing a one-day virtual convening in late fall 2023, fueled by content from an open call to be issued this spring. Be on the lookout for more announcements in May!