The Studio 14: Your Check Is In The Mail

by Tim Alatorre

Alexander Tsai, Cal Poly class of ’98, Associate AIA, Regional Associate Director for AIA California Council and good friend of Haley gives Tim a lesson on the importance of The American Institute of Architects and joins in a great conversation.

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Show Notes

Site News

  • 6 new fans on Facebook
  • Email from Somer

Cal Poly News

  • 2009-10 Hearst Lecture Series – Spring 2010 Integrated Practices.
    • “Under the directorship of Prof. Mark Cabrinha, the College has been fortunate to draw to campus a number of distinguished guest speakers who have shared their knowledge with students, faculty, and guests. Please mark your calendar, and we hope that you will be able to join us this quarter and enjoy several of the lectures.”
    • Elena Manferdini: Atelier Manferdini, Friday, April 2nd, 2010, 4:00pm, Business Rotunda (03-213) For additional information, visit Elena Manferdini’s web page.
  • Alpha Rho Chi sponsors Portfolio workshop
    • Berg Gallery
    • Saturday, April 10th, 12-5pm
    • Lunch will be provided

Other News/Topics

Rapid Fire Questions… maybe not so rapid

  • Cal Poly or Berkeley? Cal Poly
  • Autocad or Revit? Revit
  • Parallel bar or T-Square? T-Square
  • Facebook or LinkedIn? both
  • Arch Record or Arch Digest? both… or record
  • Drafting dots or tape? dots
  • Yellow trace or white? yellow
  • Ad Markers or Prisma? primsa
  • Pen or Pencil? both
  • Mac or PC? PC

Score: 90080-02
Alex questions the philosophical reasoning behind our Rapid Fire Questions… so perhaps he is the ultimate winner?


  • What’s your story?
    • born and raised in Taiwan, moved here when he was 13
    • went to Cal Poly, graduated and opened his own practice in the bay area.
  • Currently serving as the Regional Associate Director (RAD) for the AIA California Council, he was also the first Associate member to sit on the AIA California Chapter Board of Directors, and has also sat on the Board for AIA San Francisco and been the chair of BAYA (Bay Area Young Architects).
  • His Rad position means that he currently serves on the AIA National Associates Committee (NAC) representing the Associates of California at the National level of the AIA.
    • As the California RAD he also sits on the Council of Advisors for the AIA CC Academy for Emerging Professionals (AEP) along with Haley. The AEP brings together Emerging Professionals in California in various career stages; students, interns pursing licensure, or perhaps not pursuing licensure; and architects licensed in the past 10 years. This group offers cross mentorship.
  • What brought him to AIA?
    • He wasn’t involved in the AIA until later in his career
    • While at Cal Poly he was the vice chair of the CAED council at Cal Poly but not really involved with the AIAS.
    • After Cal Poly he started his own business and it got lonely as a sole practitioner, so he got involved with BAYA to help start a network and from there he started getting more and more involved.
    • He started to realize there are many resources that the AIA offers, and wanted to get involved.
    • The AIA isn’t perfect, that’s why he’s involved to help change it!
  • How does he keep in touch with the needs of Associates in California?
    • The main source of information is the AEP
    • We have a network throughout the state that helps gives us information through all of the local chapters
    • The AEP works to develop this network so members in those various career stages of Emerging Professionals feel that their membership is of value and their needs are represented accurately.
  • We put Tim on the spot!!! Why has Tim never been involved with the AIA, and what would be the reasons for him to get involved?
    • There are events you can attend for free
    • All recent Cal Poly (or Arch. Program) graduates get a free Associate AIA membership for 1 year and entry into the National Convention
    • Networking, meeting people locally in your profession
    • Fellowship and commradory with other professionals
    • Advocacy, not only for AIA members but all Architects, on state and national issues
    • Public awareness and outreach
  • Is there something you wish you had done or known when you were still at Cal Poly?
    • Don’t dwell in the past, it distracts from the now! — a quote from one of Alex’s favorite movies, “The Incredibles.”
  • What kind of advice can you give to current Cal Poly students?
    • Encourage them to get out of the studios, get out and look around, it’s important to have a full and complete college education and experience, get involved with student council and sports, it’s important to broaden your horizons with things outside the world of architecture
    • While we sometimes travel in packs, it’s important to be able to communicate with those outside of the CAED
    • Get involved, even the best looking resume won’t necessarily get you the job, sometimes it’s the network you’ve built, how effectively you communicate and how plugged into your community you are
  • has a jam packed calendar of events!!!

About the Author

Tim Alatorre