Claire Saeki catches up with Clark Manus, president of the American Institute of Architects and CEO of Heller Manus, a firm with a growing presence in Asia.
Clark Manus has stepped back a little from the busy role as CEO of commercial architecture firm Heller Manus to take on the arguably more hectic life as president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). However, with skills befitting both positions, he doesn’t see the two roles conflicting, rather a “mutual advantage” exists.
As a practicing architect in a senior position with projects across the globe, the AIA benefits from Manus’ knowledge and ability to champion for the architecture profession. Conversely his position as AIA president brings his firm prestige and a network when he moves back into his company work 100 per cent.
With a San Francisco HQ, Heller Manus forms part of the increasingly deep connections running east to west having just completed his first project – an office tower – in Shanghai. It is one of Shanghai’s first LEED gold buildings. He sees sustainability as not only “a good societal aspiration” but part of the “bottom line need to save energy” and reduce waste in general.
Eastern Harbor International Tower. Image courtesy of Heller Manus Architects
Manus notes 2 themes in architecture going forward. The first, how the global economic environment will combine with trends in sustainability to produce more modest buildings contextual to their surroundings – at ground level we will see “much greater accessibility” and more landscaping at pedestrian level.
“Because this is where people touch and feel the buildings” he says.
Another example of Heller Manus’ sustainable design – Guangzhou International Fashion Center. Image courtesy of Heller Manus Architects
The idea of architect as care giver carries on through trend number 2, where groups such as the AIA are getting actively involved in disaster repair…and prevention. The impact of recent earthquakes, floods, typhoons and other natural disasters on building infrastructure in many countries can be mitigated through his organisation’s interaction with policy makers, suggestions as to code upgrades and enforcement and changes in materials standards.
The list goes on, and so does the busy life of an AIA president all over the world.
Guangzhou North and South Axes Urban Design by Heller Manus. Image courtesy of Heller Manus Architects