Outgoing 2012 Chapter President Thomas Bitnar offers a recap of the year for AIA Europe.

AIA Europe

Dear <<First Name>>,

As we come to the end of 2012 and my term as AIA Continental Europe president, I'd like to share with you some of the highlights of the year.
As every year, we began 2012 with our annual board meeting in Paris on January 14. Following the secretary's, treasurer's and section directors' reports, we discussed the ongoing preparations for our 2012 conferences, Tel Aviv in April and Hamburg in October; our 2013 conferences in Lyon and Dusseldorf; and future conference possibilities, including Paris 2014 for our 20th anniversary, London and other cities. We covered the topic of sponsorship, and I personally invited our new sponsor, the president of Sipral from the Czech Republic, to meet the Board and make a short presentation after the meeting. We voted to appoint Alan Schwartzman chairman of the Fellowship Committee, and also discussed ways to increase chapter membership and more fully promote our conferences.
March 7-14, I attended the 2012 Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., entitled "Leadership, Advocacy and Communication." The conference was held in the Grand Hyatt, and presided over by Jeffrey Potter, FAIA, 2012 AIA President, Mickey Jacob, FAIA, AIA First Vice President and 2012 Grassroots Chairman, and Robert Ivy, FAIA, AIA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer. We had several important international regional meetings, the main one focusing on the new international region initiative. I also met with congressional leaders during a trip to Capitol Hill to discuss advocacy and other topics important to our chapter. During the conference, I attended several informative workshops and was able to meet many of the AIA National executives as well as other chapter and component presidents. Rick Bell, Executive Director of AIA NY, Etain Fitzpatrick, 2012 President of AIA UK, and I discussed a closer connection between our chapters. As a consequence of this discussion, we were able to promote our AIA Europe Tel Aviv and Hamburg conferences through the AIA NY newsletter and website.  
Our spring conference in Tel Aviv, April 19-23, was a unique opportunity to visit the eastern rim of the Mediterranean Sea, and explore artistic, technological and cultural developments in the region. Our tours included the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Design Museum Holon, the Bauhaus White City, the Peres Peace House, a visit to Jerusalem, and a popular day-long extension trip to Beer Sheva University, Masada and the Dead Sea. The combination of lectures and tours investigated how architecture connects the past with the present, and the architecture tapestry in a culturally diverse area. The conference was excellently prepared and conducted by Yael Kinsky (Chair), Scott Sivan and Ryan Clarke.
Our board member Bertrand Coldefy prepared a successful one-day conference in Lille, France to visit a new development originally planned by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, of 110 hectares and more than 740,000 square meters of activities, and developed in several phases. And, in November, he organized a visit to the famed Ile Seguin development in Paris. 
The AIA National Convention: Design Connects took place in Washington, D.C., May 16-20. Our chapter was well represented at the convention, and we enthusiastically supported Tom Vonier in his candidacy for Vice President. I took part in all the International Committee events, beginning with a seminar presented by Helen Hatch called "Moving to an International Practice" that provoked much discussion. Later in the day, we had an International Committee Advisory Group meeting. It was very important for us all to meet personally — many for the first time — and have an open global discussion and share information. An International Advisory Group dinner followed, where I had a long discussion with Gregory Yager of RTKL who is forming the new Beijing chapter.

Thanks to the efforts of Alan Schwartzman, we were able to celebrate the appointment of a new Honorary Fellow from Europe, Pierre-Antoine Gatier, a renowned expert in restoration and a Richard Morris Hunt Fellow. At the International Presidents' Forum, presided over by President Potter and Vice President Mickey Jacob, CEO Robert Ivy, AIA International Director Tom Vonier and Chairman of the International Committee Advisory Group Steven Miller, the presidents of allied organizations in other international regions — Japan, Korea, South America, UIA and so on — plus the president of NCARB and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) gave presentations. This event was followed by the International Member Open Forum, chaired by Tom Vonier, where each international chapter president gave a short presentation about his or her chapter. I gave a ten-minute presentation to introduce AIA Europe. The forum ended with an open discussion.

At the Saturday AIA Annual Business Meeting, there was a landslide victory for the amendment authorizing the AIA Board of Directors to establish a new International Region that includes all geographic areas outside the United States and its territories. This was followed by the introduction of newly elected officers: Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, elected 2013 First Vice President and 2014 President; Donald C. Brown, FAIA, elected 2013-2014 Vice President; Susan Chin, FAIA, elected 2013-2014 Vice President; and Richard DeYoung, AIA, elected 2013-2014 Secretary. Later in the day, architects involved in post-9/11 memorials and rebuilding efforts were honored at a special session. The convention closed at the National Building Museum with the President's Reception for Presidential Medalists, International Presidents, the AIA Executive Committee and the International Committee Advisory Group, followed by the black tie Convocation and President's International Dinner.
Our fall conference — Hafen-on-Elbe — took place in Hamburg, Germany, October 18-21. During this conference, we studied the HafenCity development in the old harbor, a redevelopment of industrial land that expands the city center area by 40%. Of particular interest was a tour of the under-construction Elbphilharmonie, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. We also visited buildings by Richard Meier & Partners, Behnisch Architekten and Schweger & Partner Architekten, and the embankment by Zaha Hadid. On Sunday, there was also a presentation and tour of the IBA site. At our chapter meeting, we reviewed membership — we've increased our membership by 10% this year; budgeting — we continue to have a surplus; and the upcoming conferences for 2013 and 2014. In spring 2013, we will meet in Lyon and in the fall in Düsseldorf. In 2014, our 20th anniversary year, we plan a big celebration in Paris. We also discussed our current sponsorship efforts; we are grateful for the support of our sponsors of 2012: AGC Glass, DIP Tech, Downstream, Laufen, Marvin, Schüco, Sipral, and Swisspearl. We also elected our new Board members for 2013. This successful conference was prepared by Vincent Marani (Chair) and Gabriela Caicedo.
At the end of this year, our most exciting development is that the AIA Board of Directors voted to create the International Region. I offer hearty congratulations to all those who worked so hard to achieve this. 2013 President Mickey Jacob has appointed a ten-member interim board led by Tom Vonier as president.
As a member of the Continental Europe chapter since 1995, a 22-year member of the AIA, and a naturalized American born in former Czechoslovakia, today the Czech Republic, I have been honored and proud to serve as AIA Europe chapter president this year. I've enjoyed my seventeen-year involvement in the chapter — and meeting members who've become life-long friends — and my participation in the sixteen AIA Europe conferences I've attended over the years. Thank you for trusting me with this responsibility by electing me for this position. Our quarterly conference calls have cemented the communication between Board members concerning ongoing chapter issues, and the monthly International Committee conference calls have served to keep our chapter well connected with presidents of other international regions. I firmly believe that attendance at the Grassroots Conference and the AIA National Convention is crucial to maintaining contact with other AIA members and, as this year demonstrates, improving the relationships with other domestic chapters. I look forward to working with our new AIA Europe Board members as Eastern Europe section director, and to our participation in the new International Region.
I wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2013.
My best regards,
Thomas Bitnar AIA, CKA, LEED Green Associate
2012 President

AIA Europe
10, rue Penthièvre
Paris 75008

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