The Boston Architectural College was established as The Boston Architectural Club in 1889 by a group of both young and established local architects. According to its original charter, the founders created the Club “for the purpose of associating those interested in the profession of architecture with a view to mutual encouragement and help in studies.” The BAC was envisioned as a broad community not just for architects but also sculptors, painters, decorative artists, and patrons of the arts. The club gradually evolved to be a center, and now a college with degrees in architecture, interior architecture, design studies and landscape architecture.
The BAC offers design education emerging from practice and believes in delivering on its educational mission of diversity and inclusion to help students fully actualize their potential without boundaries.
Transitioning to Large-Scale Virtual Events
When asked about the type of events BAC hosts, Eliza Wilson, Associate Director of Alumni Relations & Development said, “The BAC has a history of always convening architects for significant events, going back to 1917 when the BAC held a meeting to ‘mobilize’ the architecture community. In the 1940s, we encouraged and hosted a lecture by Frank Lloyd Wright, who was considered to be a radical in the industry. In the 1980s, we were the first school to host a conference discussing architecture and the computer. That is the evolution of the BAC, doing things first and leading. When we found success last year (through the first BAC Talks event in 2020), we decided that we had to make it an annual event.”
BAC Talks started as an annual daylong gathering in 2020 that included design and architecture experts from all over the globe to discuss relevant themes emerging in the design and architecture industry.
For their inaugural event in June 2020, they had to look for new virtual technology due to the global pandemic. Though the college had online courses and small virtual meetings via Zoom, they had never hosted a large-scale virtual event of this magnitude.
With other platforms, they were underwhelmed with the lack of features such as no screen sharing, relying on a single presenter, and asking somebody else to change the slides. This made it difficult for both the presenters and attendees to focus and enjoy the event.
During the same time, Eliza attended an event organized by the University of Massachusetts, Boston, on Airmeet. She instantly fell in love with the platform and convinced her team to use it for their BAC Talks event in June.
Challenges (And Solutions)
Challenge 1: Find a platform that offered round-the-clock support and guidance in managing the event and was easy to use for a global audience
Managing a global event with multiple speakers and diverse audiences from different countries posed unique challenges for the host. Plus, moving to a new platform with unique features and aspects added a learning curve to the process. The fact that Airmeet offered exclusive support and event management services was a huge plus and ensured that their audience received the best possible experience during each event.
Airmeet social webinar plan was ideal for all of their requirements and exceeded all their expectations with the following features:
- The Stage Management Team: Airmeet provided Eliza and her team with professional stage managers who helped with presenting and managing all the sessions and perfectly coordinating with the speakers and attendees.
The Events Manager, Kristin, elaborated on her experience, saying, “To have a stage manager to reiterate everything we’re saying was great. We had him directing speakers regarding time and conveying to the audience when they needed to mute themselves if there was noise, etc. There was somebody always guiding the attendees and it was really helpful.”
- The Support Lounge: Remembering the on-demand help they received from the support team, Kristin said, “The support was huge for us. It allowed us to focus on our speakers. It allowed me to focus on the chat, to get any questions to the speakers, to queue up the next session, and go backstage when a session ended.”
- Seamless Video Quality and Speed: When talking about their event experience, Kristin explained, “We had more than 500 attendees, including students from 41 countries and 26 states. We had an alumnus who spoke from Saudi Arabia and guests from India. We had people tuned in from across the globe without a glitch.”
Challenge: Find a platform that encouraged spontaneous engagement between the attendees and the speakers
Prepping speakers before all the sessions while guiding the hundreds of attendees was not a one-person job—the BAC needed a platform that was readily manageable, easy to use and engaging for a new audience.
Airmeet social webinar plan offered that exact experience with these features:
Social Lounge: Many of the attendees were students or alumni with a history at BAC, so the social tables and networking options allowed them to catch up and communicate with their peers. Eliza mentioned an incident during the event where one of their speakers was late for prepping in the backstage area because she lost track of time conversing with attendees at the tables. Kristin emphasized the subtle meaning behind this incident by saying, “The fact that one of our alums was late to the backstage because she was at a networking table in a (virtual) space is the level of engagement that we want at our events.”
The Backstage: Eliza loved the Backstage feature and highlighted it, saying, “While hosting day-long events, it was great to be able to spend a few minutes with the speakers (in the backstage) without disrupting 500+ people with the backstage mic check chatter.”
Screen Sharing: Eliza also accentuated the ability to screen share on Airmeet, saying, “Each presenter can share the screen and control the presentation, which is a great engagement feature because you can focus on what you’re saying without saying ‘next slide…next slide…’ It also reduced the burden of having a single slide presenter/manager who was supposed to manage multiple presentations.”
Eliza focused on the importance of virtual events in the future, saying, “The more presence we can offer through global events, the more alumni we get to engage. As we continue to grow, we plan to include more alumni events, both virtual and hybrid, to keep our global alumni community connected.”
“We first met Airmeet in February (2020) and fell in love with it. We initially thought it would only be used for BAC Talks (annually) but we have already used it for multiple events. We had our first virtual commencement ceremony on Airmeet. We also had nano-conferences for faculty members to share the breakthroughs they had in teaching and learning during the pandemic,” said Kristin.
When asked how they would describe Airmeet, Kristin said, “I would describe Airmeet as a user-friendly, enjoyable and entertaining platform. You feel like you are a part of something. Everybody could use an extra hug this year, and with Airmeet, we were able to accomplish that because it has that human touch to it.”
Kristin concluded by adding that, “Through virtual events, we can further engage with our alumni community who can’t visit us for an in-person event because of the distance, but can tune in for an event from the comfort of their homes all while feeling connected to the BAC.”
They mentioned that the future of BAC events would still have hybrid elements, and the events will be kept accessible online, and as far as they saw it, they would be on Airmeet. They are exploring hosting possible virtual events for mentorship programs, networking site events, and the college’s founding week via Airmeet.
Want to immerse your students and aspirants in such life-like events? Book your demo with Airmeet today to see how you can leverage it for your upcoming event!