Thought Leadership Forum Series Reports

Thought Leadership Forum I: Craftsmanship, Design & Cultural Heritage

On December 15, 2014, the American Architectural Foundation’s (AAF) Center for Design and Cultural Heritage convened its inaugural Thought Leadership Forum, “Craftsmanship, Design & Cultural Heritage,” in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the forum was to explore the role of craftsmanship and its role in design and cultural heritage in the 21st century.

Stakeholders in historic preservation, including architects, engineers, craftspeople, and public policy experts attended the forum. The 30 participants shared similar priorities and interests. Bridging the gap between architects/professional designers and craftworkers and rectifying the hierarchy between the two emerged as the primary issues of interest at the Forum. Participants also discussed fostering collaboration between architects and craftworkers and the use and promotion of technology in historic preservation.

To read about the Forum’s conclusions, please read the Final Report here.

Thought Leadership Forum II: Storytelling, Design, and Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century

On July 20, 2015, AAF’s Center for Design and Cultural Heritage held its second Thought Leadership Forum, “Storytelling, Design, and Cultural Heritage in the 21st Century,” in Washington, DC. During the Forum, preservationists, policy-makers, and other cultural-heritage stakeholders discussed storytelling’s role in greater preservation advocacy.

The Forum drew on AAF’s current partnership with the National Park Service’s grant, Save America’s Treasures. Over 20 attendees brought a variety of perspectives to storytelling’s role and impact in preservation, and discussed how audience, technology, narrative and advocacy can be used tactically to broaden preservation’s reach and ensure its livelihood in years to come.

A full report summarizing the forum’s proceedings is available here.

Thought Leadership Forum III: The Politics and Policy of Preservation – Changing Civic Practice in the 21st Century

On July 15, 2016, AAF’s Center for Design and Cultural Heritage held its third Thought Leadership Forum, “The Politics and Policy of Preservation: Changing Civic Practice in the 21st Century,” in Washington, DC. During the Forum, 22 preservationists, policy-makers, architects, and other cultural heritage stakeholders were led through a series of design thinking brainstorming exercises by AAF to generate ideas and issues surrounding the topic.

Some themes that emerged and were explored by the group coalesced around increasing cultural diversity and inclusion, broadening and explaining the values of preservation, creating an expanded and unified definition of preservation that illustrates it is more than just buildings, and exploring ways to increase organizational capacity and funding through new leadership models.  Additional promising ideas included a cultural emergency task force and the need to better use social media more effectively to reach across the generational divide.

A full report summarizing the forum’s proceedings is available here.

The Thought Leadership Forum was created as a series. Please contact Thom Minner at for the next installment of this series.

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