Architecture's Responsibility: Interview With Clark Manus, Former AIA President


Versatility across diverse disciplines can be a difficult concept to master, especially in a field as esoteric as architecture. As the CEO of Heller Manus Architects and former president of the The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Clark Manus radiates a dedicated sense of understanding of the field, particularly urban design and the policies influencing change. With over 35 years of experience in the industry, Manus has created a career as an architect and leader that has cemented a lasting footprint within global communities. 

In a recent episode of The Modern Architect radio show and podcast, Manus shares his unparalleled insight into the industry and what he learned while President of the AIA, as well the unforeseen link between psychology and architecture. 

Listen to the full interview

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Architecture's Responsibility: Interview With Clark Manus, Former AIA President

Clark Manus, CEO of Heller Manus Architects

“Architecture is ultimately responsible for health, safety, and welfare.”

Taking us back through American history for a brief moment, Manus explains the inception of the AIA in 1857. At this time, the field of architecture was beginning to become more standardized in terms of education, certifications, and general guidelines. Starting off with merely a dozen members, the AIA has grown to develop a national presence with over 90,000 active members spanning different programs. Aside from pertinent architectural topics, the AIA fervently advocates for several social impact issues such as gender equality and sustainable design. As the former 87th President, Manus reflects on his role in keeping balance and establishing a common ground amongst all chapters of the professional organization. A handful of the initiatives he oversaw during his presidency include disaster planning and energy efficiency. Additionally, Manus led the initial AIA foreign trade missions to India in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce to champion for architectural opportunities in underdeveloped areas. 

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Architecture's Responsibility: Interview With Clark Manus, Former AIA President

500 Pine Street by Heller Manus Architects

Manus now focuses his time on his work as CEO of Heller Manus Architects, a Bay Area firm which has been in business for more than 30 years. Manus’ 35-year career as an architect and leader has afforded him a honed design thinking in the urban and regional space that has influenced the character of San Francisco’s built environment, and beyond. 

“In any project’s design, I bring a heightened awareness for those who have a physical disability.”

Aside from professional inspirations, Manus is also deeply inspired by his family. Many of his decisions when designing structures for the physically disabled are inspired by his close relationship with his mother who has dealt with such struggles for the majority of her life. When considering the structural design of a building, Manus strives to consider how it can best accommodate those who may not have all of their physical strength. The principle that drives his work? The best design comes out of good intentions. 

Listen to the full interview

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