AAI Awards 2011: Presidents Speech

In the current culture of abrasive architectural acronyms (CPDs, PPQs, PPP's, PSDP's)  it is worth reminding ourselves of the origins of language and architecture. In his Ten Books on Architecture Vitruvius relates one such story. 

A spontaneous forest fire started by nature itself, at first incites fear in those that see it. Through regular fuelling of this fire the peoples come to a shared understanding of its value as a source of warmth for the community and a means of surviving the harsh winters. 

Vitruvius suggests that in giving this social event a name, both language and architecture are born in tandem for civilization.

The Architectural Association of Ireland continues this tradition since its foundation in 1896 as a medium of friendly communication. It is through our own social events, the whispers at the back of the lecture theatre, the debates that follow, the questions during site visits, the submissions to our journal Building Material or the presenting of one's work in a forum such as this exhibition that the language of architecture can develop. I call on all present to continue your engagement in these social events as the very best means of supporting the AAI.

I would like to thank all our Members, Patrons, Friends, Sponsors and the Arts Council for their financial support. I would also like to especially thank darcspace and all those on the committee who helped with the awards and this exhibition: Kate Gannon (Events Officer), Conor McGowan (Secretary), Fergus Naughton (Site Visits Officer) and Dave Cuddy. Particular thanks are due to Colm Dunbar, the AAI's membership officer who has worked tirelessly to organise both tonight and the move of this exhibition in two weeks time to the Print Room of the National Gallery on Merrion Square. Please make Colm feel extra appreciated by renewing your membership on you way out. I would also like to thank the jurors for 2010 and those on the AAI's awards panel last year: Paddy Cahill, Miriam Delaney and Hugo Lamont. Hugo, now ex-officio on the committee, has been of great assistance throughout these first few months of my presidency and I would like to take this opportunity to make special mention for the incredible amount of work he put in as President in 2010. Since last year the AAI has seen the departure of our administrator, our ongoing restructuring and a significant cut of over half of our funding. Despite this the AAI has (with the help of Culture Ireland and under the generous curatorship of Shane O'Toole) sent a significant exhibition of 10 years of AAI Awards to Europe, inaugurated the first AAI 'Describing Architecture' exhibition during Open House week and hosted or co-hosted over 30 events across the island of Ireland with over 50 architects continuing this tradition of naming the fire. Therefore the valuable advice given to us by previous AAI Presidents and previous committee members and the ongoing efforts of the current committee and volunteers throughout the year must also be mentioned, in particular Darius Cyparski, Alice Clancy, Ronan McCann, Antoin Doyle, Ellen Rowley, Joa van Wyck, Stephen Mulhall and each of our student reps in the universities across the island. 

I now call on our distinguished guest, Minister Ruairi Quinn to formally open this exhibition and present the awards for 2011.

Douglas Carson AAI President 2011