2014 Design Matters Conference

2014 Design Matters Conference Logo

Abstract: This year at the Design Matters Conference, we’ll take a close look at how architectural organizations can construct more effective program narratives, from easy to consume stories fit for national broadcast to memorable first-person appeals to enriching curator-driven museum format presentations. Learn how to better engage audiences and inspire them to share your message with others.

Wrap Up Letter from AAO Executive Director Michael Wood

Thank you to all who attended the 2014 DESIGN MATTERS CONFERENCE: Crafting the Story, and a very special thanks to our local hosts, volunteers, and event sponsors. More than 125 delegates joined us at this year’s meeting in Washington, DC, plus an additional 175 local guests who participated in our public program held in conjunction with the National Building Museum. People came from 30 U.S. Cities and from 3 countries to take advantage of this unique networking opportunity within our growing field.

We knew heading into this conference that we’d selected a theme of high interest to all our AAO members, but were thrilled with the responses collected from the post-event survey. The three highest ranking sessions (Engaging Your City/Engaging Your Audience, Mary Rowe, The Municipal Art Society; Working Smarter, Not Harder, Margie O’Driscoll, Architecture for Humanity; and Constructing Personal Narratives, Terence Mickey/Mary Domowicz, Thought Warrior with Mary Fitch, AIA DC / District Architecture Center) reflected a strong appetite among the attendees to learn from a variety of experts and engage a range of territory, from theory to practice. The chief complaint centered on the desire to allot more networking time within the conference schedule, so something for us to improve upon next year.

There were several high moments throughout the meeting, but I think we’d all agree Mary Fitch’s personal narrative was a captivating and memorable experience. We thought you might be interested in this quick post-script: Mary delivered her story at the AIA DC gala to rousing success, garnering more than $26,000 in the 10 minutes immediately following her appeal. Way to go, Mary! And kudos to Terence and Mary for their story coaching work.

For those wishing to take a closer look at the conference materials, please take note of the following resources:

To all the 2015 Conference delegates and presenters, please know how much we admire and appreciate the time and resources you committed to be able to join us for this year’s discussion. We look forward to seeing you all next year in Chicago at the 2015 DESIGN MATTERS CONFERENCE (November 5-7).

-Michael Wood, AAO Executive Director

Conference Sponsors

Local Host


Additional Support

American Architectural Foundation
The American Institute of Architects
Chicago Architecture Foundation
District Architecture Center
The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation









ally the staff and special events team at the National Building Museum, who made our visit to Washington so much fun!