In 1887, a group of French artists and architects formed a Committee of 300, a group that banded together to protect something dear to them—the city of Paris—from Gustav Eiffel’s iron tower. The size of the group carried symbolic meaning—one member for each meter of the tower’s height. Fortunately, the Eiffel Tower was successfully constructed and stands as an internationally beloved landmark today. We can, however, learn from this historic committee—through their united concern for their city’s future, they launched a public debate about the tower’s meaning and the place of commercial development in the City of Light. And they demonstrated that even 300 people, working together, can make a difference.
At the Society of Architectural Historians’ annual conference in April, I will announce the formation of our own Committee of 300, a group that will support and enhance something dear to us—the vitality and future of SAH. Like the original committee, this group will support what SAH has come to represent: dialog between scholars, professionals, and communities about the role and history of the built environment.
In recent years, SAH has emerged as a leader in the innovative use of digital technologies and will continue to pursue cutting-edge technologies to support our members and advance the field: exploring opportunities for scholars in a radically changing, challenging, professional environment; forging new, mutually beneficial collaborations with national and international organizations; and sharing our scholarship with diverse professional communities and public audiences.
To support these efforts, SAH must build its capacity to garner new sources of revenue, and to that purpose, plans to hire a full-time director of development—ensuring that in the next crucial years, SAH builds a strong base of support from private individuals, institutional donors, and earned revenue. Like the historical Committee, the size of this group has been carefully chosen. A donation of $300 each by 300 members of the Committee will raise sufficient funds to launch the capacity building initiative
When I announce the formation of the SAH Committee of 300 in April, I would also like to announce that 30 distinguished SAH members have joined the Committee by making a $300 contribution. Members of the SAH Development Committee have already made the commitment. We are confident that the names of SAH leaders on the roster will encourage others to join. Please contribute to this effort by joining the SAH Committee of 300 today. To make your donation, make a check payable to the “Society of Architectural Historians” and mark “Committee of 300 Contribution” in the noted area. Mail the check to Society of Architectural Historians 1365 N. Astor St. Chicago, IL 60610-2144.
In 2015, SAH will celebrate its 75th anniversary celebration at the annual conference in its home city of Chicago. With your support, we will celebrate the occasion with an organization equipped with critically needed additional staff and resources to lead SAH in the 21st century.
Abigail Van Slyck,