David Epstein and Cam Featherstonhaugh Speak at AIA Conference on Architecture

This June, TruexCullins architects David Epstein and Cam Featherstonhaugh presented their work on the Winooski School Project at the AIA 2023 Conference on Architecture, the AIA’s annual gathering of architects and designers from around the nation.

The conference was held in San Francisco, and in this report, Cam shares a few highlights from the conference and their visit to the City by the Bay.

AIA 2023 Presentation: DEI In School Design


San Francisco is a beautiful city with incredible food and wonderful people. We did our due diligence as visitors by seeing some modern and historic architecture, walking along Fisherman’s Wharf and visiting the markets there, and even riding a cable car across the city after a long walk on the waterfront and through Great Meadow Park at Fort Mason.

We went to San Francisco to present our transformational project for the Winooski School District. This project, designed and built for a diverse population, provides a case study using a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to inform the design process and product. We were thankful the session was well attended and well received. More on Winooski Schools Project

In general, the conference proved an uplifting and educational experience. We attended a keynote from Barbara Bouze, FAIA, the current President of Walt Disney’s Imagineering Studio, the multi-disciplinary design house for all the Disney parks, rides, and attractions across the globe. Her personal story of growth and leadership as a minority-woman architect was very moving.

We also heard an informative keynote panel discussion where industry leaders from the government, construction, and architecture discussed the challenges and opportunities for architects and others to collaborate and deliver the best value to clients and owners.

The Right Honorable Jacinda Ardern, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, delivered the most inspiring keynote. Her personal stories about leading New Zealand through a major earthquake, an unprecedented mass shooting at mosques in Christ Church, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, were sobering and inspiring.

We took in many other sessions, including school tours, a tour of the Old US Mint, sessions on carbon-neutral buildings, a summit of the AIA Committee on the Environment, and how to communicate the value of design.

Interior architecture at the Hyatt Regency, San Francisco
Interior architecture at the Hyatt Regency, San Francisco.


Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission District, San Francisco
Yerba Buena Gardens in the Mission District of San Francisco.


The inner courtyard at the Old US Mint in San Francisco. Until 1937 when Fort Knox was built this courtyard housed one-third of all US Treasury gold.
The inner courtyard at the Old US Mint in San Francisco. Until 1937 when Fort Knox was built, this courtyard housed one-third of all US Treasury gold.


Overall, it was a wonderful experience in a very cool city, eating great food, attending exceptional presentations, presenting our work from Vermont, and being in a community with many other like-minded people and professionals from all over the country. If the opportunity presents itself again, I would go to another conference on architecture in a heartbeat. Maybe I’ll see you at AIA’24 in Washington, DC.