The annual fall convention of the Iowa chapter of the  American Institute of Architects is underway in Des Moines.  Matt Rodekamp is an architect at Substance Architecture in Des Moines.  “The theme of this year’s convention is ‘Feedback’ and it’s focused on the importance of mentorship to the profession of architecture — essentially to teach others to take your job. I think the better teaching we do today the stronger our future will be. And I think and interesting aspect to it, is it not only occurs from the     top down, but young staff can have as much to offer to the senior staff as well,” Rodekamp says.

The economy had business owners and others reluctant to build, but Rodekamp says things appear to be turning around. “Well they always say contractors can know how busy they are going to be by how much architects are drawing, and there certainly was a time not too many years ago when there was less drawing going on,” Rodekamp says. “I think various stimulus programs from the federal and state governments help to keep some firms going, but everyone had to find their way of adapting. I think we are kind of slowly coming out of that here and a seeing a real promising future.”

You might be surprised to hear Rodekamp talk about drawing in an age when it seems like everything is now done electronically. But he says the basic starting point for good design still involves the human factor. “I think the technology is really allowing us to better model and establish and determine conflicts in our building — but really no computers do the design work and that’s the part that probably remains somewhat consistent to the way it has been done. Creative thoughts are developed through sketching and various types of modeling,” Rodekamp says.

Creating sustainable buildings continues to be a top issue, and Rodekamp says architects have to keep up with the constantly changing materials and devices that are used to achieve the goal. “More options provide certainly more opportunity, I think everybody waits to see what kind of sticks,” Rodekamp says. He says the things they do now are certainly a lot different than what they were doing in other decades, and the industry will continue evolving.

The convention will wrap up today.