The Empire State Building basked in the limelight after taking top honors in last year’s “America’s Favorite Architecture” poll, in which the American Institute of Architects (AIA) asked the public to pick the nation’s most beloved 150 buildings in honor of its 150th anniversary. Now, architects are taking a turn. Buoyed by the immense popularity of sesquicentennial events—the AIA’s Web site, which usually averages 7,000 hits a week, was slammed with a server-crashing 27,000 hits-per-hour after results of the top 150 poll were unveiled—they’re capitalizing on the freshly elevated profile of their profession to shape policy, in ways large and small, across the country.
Yesterday, for instance, the AIA launched an initiative titled “Walk the Walk” to promote sustainable design and help the nation move toward the AIA’s goal, announced last year, of achieving a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions from buildings by the year 2010. Through an extensive advertising campaign, as well as providing online toolkits, it hopes to educate consumers, business owners, and architects about the benefits of going green.