The survival of organizations rests on membership numbers and appeal. The American Institute of Architects is suffering from a decline in members and a negative perception to aspiring architects. Redefining the value and perception of the AIA is of utmost importance.
My team and I discovered the primary cause of these issues to be:
A) The social gap between the emerging architects and established ones.
B) The lengthy and solitary process to become an accredited Architect by the AIA.
We focused on closing the gap to strengthen the community, then add value to the years leading up to accreditation. This will reverse the negative perception about the AIA and subsequently help the membership numbers.
We created DraftHouse, a physical and digital place where emerging architects can connect, established architects can mentor, and both can track, practice, and share their craft. The physical space is a communal workspace where members can meet-up and those working actively working on their credentials can accrue hours for accreditation.
DraftHouse online consists of four sections:
1) The public facing architecture publication.
2) A community and forum.
3) A visual tracking guide for accreditation progress.
4) The portfolio to showcase work.
After establishing that emerging architects needed a digital hub of their own, we created DraftHouse online to complement the physical space. We made a digital key for the physical space that also contains information to guide emerging architects through the accreditation process. I created mental models, wireframes, high fidelity mockups, model renders, and a 3D-printed key.
To create this platform we began by exploring the user needs and creating user stories. I translated this into the mental & information models that subsequently informed the wireframes. A first round of high-fidelity mockups was designed for the client presentation in Miami, Fl.