Ric. Abramson, FAIA, founding principal of WORKPLAYS in Los Angeles, serves as a voice for architects as chair of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) California State Housing Congress, as well as on a national scale having just completed a three-year term as a member of AIA’s National Strategic Council. Through his work within AIA, Abramson has focused on the importance of design-thinking, which can benefit all industries and organizations in our lives. Abramson has always been one to express his ideas through design and found architecture to be the perfect medium to put those skills into practice.
Architects like Abramson have a special talent for outside-the-box thinking. So many of the skills architects possess can be utilized to solve problems in our everyday life, especially on a larger, forward-thinking scale. The programs and initiatives Abramson has worked on thus far have a common thread of thinking toward the future and using design innovation and fresh policy approaches to tackle problems that are becoming more and more prevalent. The positions he holds in AIA have afforded him a valued opportunity to strategize and create plans for the future of architecture.
At the national level, Abramson is proud to be a part of the AIA Strategic Council. One of the goals of this Council is to highlight and foster how an architect can fit into local communities and how they can create frameworks to elevate opportunities for community members to have a voice in tackling the issues that affect them.
Currently, Abramson and the Council are working to introduce design thinking back into local government. Historically, architects were a central, authoritative part of the local government’s planning of towns and cities; unfortunately, over time, many of the key positions, especially that of the city architect, were dissolved. The Council’s City Architect Initiative seeks to reintroduce the importance of knowledgeable architects’ voices within local government, especially as resources to help with community challenges.
Establishing creative, design-based conversations and bringing architects, communities, problem solving expertise and government together is what Abramson believes will solve problems effectively.
On a regional level, as a member of AIA’s California chapter, Abramson chairs its Housing Congress. This Congress brings together committed members from components throughout the state to discuss the housing and homelessness challenge that the California region faces. Abramson believes architects can go beyond just building more housing. Working directly with the local community, Abramson wants to look at all the factors around homelessness and housing. Lack of housing and homelessness may be the surface-level issue, but architects like Abramson aim to dig deeper to target the root cause, understand cause and effect relationships, and break the cycle.
Regions across the country are faced with challenges very similar to this, which is why groups like the Strategic Council, AIA’s Large States organization, and the Housing Knowledge Community were formed. Encouraging states to communicate resolutions and ideas that worked for them allows other states to take actionable steps in their own communities to solve problems.
Abramson believes there is true value in design thinking in all aspects of our lives. Bringing an architect into the conversation can introduce a unique point of view and thought process that may otherwise go unheard. Because of their rigorous training and close connection to the forces that drive the built environment and human behavior within it, architects are especially capable of situational thinking and have the skills to balance aspirational civic or social goals with practical physical realities
Looking into the future, architects like Abramson will continue to make connections, find unique solutions, and ultimately build stronger communities in the process.
Want to learn more about Ric. Abramson? See the full interview below.