Session 8: The Future Of Our Culture


Date: May 3, 2019
Location: District Architecture Center, 421 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
Led by: Amber Wirth, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Charles Thompson
Session Sponsors: District Architecture Center, Lutron
Session Downloads: Session 08 Guide

Session 8, led by Amber Wirth and Charles Thompson questioned what the future holds for the profession by exploring the future of our city, our partnership, and our firm culture. Topics included: equity, diversity and inclusion, transparency, well-being and people and HR opportunities. In small groups, scholars built a consensus of an “ideal culture”. Each scholar reflected on their individual LSI results and the progress that was made throughout the program. This sparked conversations about our development as leaders and how scholars plan to use their CKLDP experience to shape the future of our culture.

Presentation #1 – The Future of Our City: Sustainable DC
The session began with a presentation by Kate Johnson, the Chief of the Green Building and Climate Branch in the Urban Sustainability Administration at the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment. Kate presented a summary of the Sustainable DC 2.0 plan adopted earlier this year and discussed the goals of the plan related to building design, construction and operation. The city has developed two primary policies to enforce the goals of the plan: Clean Energy DC and Climate Ready DC.

Clean Energy DC was described as the “offensive” strategy to reduce green house gas emissions and increase renewable energy supply. The city is on track to adopt code requirements for Net Zero Energy commercial buildings in the next ten years. Existing buildings will be required to adhere to a Building Energy Performance Standard.

Climate Ready DC was described as the “defensive” strategy, recognizing that despite reductions in green house gas emissions, the impacts of climate change will continue to present challenges for the city and residents. Climate Ready DC includes 77 specific actions to upgrade existing buildings and design new projects in an effort to mitigate climate change. DOEE has a Multi-Family Resilience Assessment Tool available to the public online and is working on developing resilient design guidelines.
Photo of Presentation #1 - The Future of Our City: Sustainable DC

Presentation #2 – The Future of Partnerships and Process Panel Discussion: Our Client’s, Consultant’s and Contractor’s Perspective
The second portion of the day’s programming began with presentations from a panel composed of Jessica Long, Sara Lappano, and Colin Regan. Each panelists illustrated their take on what’s ahead in the future of the built environment when working alongside developers, consultants and contractors.

Jessica Long, Director of Sustainability at JBG Smith, gave a presentation that explained the extensive JBG portfolio of properties and how climate change is now a factor in managing risk to its investors. Their DC portfolio has been evolving by acquiring and developing properties that are more transit oriented and are upheld to green certifications. Afterwards she focused on Environmental Social Governance or ESG. This involved working with the industry and governments to set standards to facilitate sustainable development which in turn would have the financial backing of investors through institutional funds. She concluded by talking about GRESB, a Real Estate Environmental rating system that rates public companies on their sustainable practices.

Following Jessica Long, Sara Lappano an engineer and managing principal of Integral Group spoke of looking at the future collaboration as a spectrum that ranges from the big picture involving policy development and scientific research and to the end solution of achieving lofty green goals in buildings. On the policy side, she talked about collaborating with cities to lobby policies that would make an impact in further development. On the research side, she discussed studying net zero buildings facilitated via grants and using institutional level quantification to provide strong conclusive analytics. These design metrics would assist in aligning owner goals and expectations to provide the financial backing needed to execute environmentally efficient sustainable development.

The third panelist and a project manager with Whiting Turner, Colin Regan gave the contractor’s perspective on high performance development. Colin discussed a recently completed site net zero project as precedent, the United Therapeutics Unisphere building in Silver Spring, MD. This project involved lobbying to modify the code in Montgomery County to allow a geothermal mechanical system within the site that was previously not allowed. Colin spoke about risk mitigation and the necessity for a contingency plan when developing net zero buildings because of the complexity of the required mechanical systems. These systems are part of a volatile industry that is constantly evolving with new technologies, requiring data collection and analysis to help establish a case for future legislation.
Photo of Presentation #2 – The Future of Partnerships and Process Panel Discussion: Our Client’s, Consultant’s and Contractor’s Perspective

Presentation #3 – The Future of Our Culture Panel Discussion: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion/Transparency/Well-Being
For the third portion of the session, three presenters shared their expertise on the topics of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Transparency and Wellbeing.

Marcia (MJ) Calloway, Director of Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the American Institute of Architects, shared data about AIA membership (72% male and 67% white) and the ways that the AIA is working to improve EDI in the profession. Their current efforts include: measuring and reporting demographic data of AIA membership and staff, creating EDI training courses available online, and ensuring AIA uses their own photography rather than stock photos in all publications. AIA is also working with K-12 and higher education programs to ensure a more equitable, diverse and inclusive future for the profession. MJ reminded the scholars that “this is a journey, not a race!”

Sandra Leibowitz, Managing Principal of Sustainable Design Consulting, LLC, shared her companies experience with the International Living Future Institute’s JUST Program. The social justice transparency program requires participants to disclose information about their business in several categories. Sustainable Design Consulting is about to start the documentation and disclosure process for their first renewal (required every two years). Sandra shared some of the ways the company has been challenged to improve JUST operations upon receiving the results of the initial submission s they look forward to seeing improved results with the renewal.

The third panelist, Lida Lewis, is a member of the WELL Faculty and a passionate designer and thought leader currently working with Wingate Hughes. Lida’s experience as an interior architect has increased her passion for considering people first in design. Harmful chemicals and conditions persist in building design, construction and operation. There is a lot of potential for transitioning to a “net positive” scenario where buildings improve rather than endanger occupant health. Lida described people as “very expensive equipment” and shared the business case for occupant health.

The three presenters encouraged scholars that the best strategy for improving EDI, transparency and well-being in our designs and our industry is to start where you are. Set metrics for improvement and document your progress as you go.
Photo of Presentation #3 - The Future of Our Culture Panel Discussion: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion/Transparency/Well-Being

Presentation #4 – The Future of our People: A Global HR Perspective and Opportunities for Impact
After an informative panel discussions, Enrique Rubio, a human resources professional and founder of Hacking HR, presented a new perspective on looking beyond the traditional way of developing human resources within one’s firm. He categorized human resources in two ways: the transactional part of HR that requires obtaining intellectual capital for talent acquisition and the retention aspect of HR. To retain employees, firm’s need a more engaging work environment centered around their culture that focuses on delivering value to the employee. This value ranges from continuing education, providing growth opportunities, flexibility in the workplace as well as varying levels of transparency. Management’s awareness of the benefits of the second category will help to achieve a positive employee experience and create a win-win situation for the firm.
Photo of Presentation #4 – The Future of our People: A Global HR Perspective and Opportunities for Impact

Presentation #5 – Designing Your Future: Look Back at LSI
Cable Clarke, CEO of Clarke Consulting returned to remind scholars of the ways that leadership and culture are intertwined in an organization to generate performance. The scholars worked in small groups and were aasked to come to a consensus on a series of prompts which were compiled into a circumplex mapping of the CKLDP class’s “ideal culture”. No surprise, the CKLDP “ideal culture” was very similar to the “ideal culture” of the general population survey and the survey’s of many distinct organizations and nationalities. Each scholar received the results of his/her second Life Styles Inventory and was able to compare the results to the survey’s taken last September. The LSI is a tool for decreasing defensive styles and increasing constructive styles to change behavior, not personality, by changing the way we think.
Photo of Presentation #5 – Designing Your Future: Look Back at LSI

Reflections on CKLDP
Who are you? What have you learned?

As a closing activity to reflect our year together, the session presenters reviewed the bootcamp PechaKucha slides and had the group guess which scholar the slides represented. Then each scholar presented three new slides about lessons learned and the CKLDP experience.

“We learned a little about a lot of different things…I would describe this experience as epic.” – Katie

“This is just the beginning and the future is bright!” – Frank

“We already have the wings to fly.” – Amber

“If you come to a fork in the road, choose whatever path you want.” – Charles

Each scholar had the opportunity to sign the “yearbook” with a message to their fellow scholars about what they learned from CKLDP.
Photo of signed “yearbook” with a message to their fellow scholars about what they learned from CKLDP

And then we partied! The closing reception was a celebration of growth, achievements and the great relationships developed throughout the program.

Class Photo 1

Class Photo 2

CKLDP DC 2020-2021 Call for Applications

Due to COVID-19, our leadership team is working hard to solidify the schedule and programming for the upcoming class. At this time, we plan to delay the start of next year’s program to January 2021, and applications will likely open in early September. Stay tuned for more information on next year’s class schedule, to be updated soon.

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program’s (CKLDP) Application Submissions for the class of 2020 – 2021 are just around the corner. Here’s what you need to know to apply!

What is CKLDP? Beginning in 2013, the AIA|DC chapter undertook an initiative to develop a program which would help train and nurture the next generation of leaders. With the success of the program, the CKLDP looks to secure a promising new cohort of scholars in 2020 – 2021. The year-long program consists of nine half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of 16 emerging professionals*. Prospective participants must go through an application process for selection where proven career success, community involvement and the individual’s firm/agency support will be considered.

How and when are applications due?

What should I start preparing? Please click the following links for relevant information, instructions and forms from previous years for reference.  2020 – 2021 information to come.

What do I need to submit to be considered? Applications must include the following. Incomplete applications may be disqualified:

  1. Letter of Interest – candidates must submit a one-page written letter of interest that describes your past experiences and interest in the program, as well as what you feel you will contribute to the upcoming class. Letters are limited to one page and uploaded in PDF format. (Last Name-First Name-Letter of Interest.pdf)
  2. Letters of Recommendation – each application must include a minimum of one and maximum of three, letter(s) of recommendation. It is in the best interest of the applicant to provide only strong letters of support/recommendation. Letters are limited to one page each and uploaded in PDF format. (Last Name-First Name- Letter of Recommendation-1.pdf)
  3. Personal Resume – including applicant’s education, employment history, organizations or activity involvement, and honors and awards. Resumes are preferred to be no more than two pages and uploaded in PDF format. It is NOT in the best interest of the applicant to simply submit a 1-page firm resume with project experience. Instead, include relevant topics such as education, community involvement, industry involvement, volunteer work, etc. (Last Name-First Name-Resume.pdf)
  4. Agreement Form – completed, signed, and uploaded in PDF format. Please click here to download a copy of the form. (Last Name-First Name-Agreement.pdf)

How do I learn more? There will be an “Applications 101” information session hosted by members of the CKLDP Selection Committee where candidates can ask questions about what to include and what not to include in applications. Attendance at this event is NOT mandatory for applications and will hold no merit on acceptance into the program. This event will take place virtually, date TBD:

Have more questions? Reach out to Daniel or Claire for more information:

Clarification! The difference between a letter of interest and a letter of recommendation is a follows:

  • Letter of Interest – a letter of interest should come from the applicant themselves. The letter should address specific leadership skills that the candidate will bring to the program, as well as what the candidate expects to gain from the program. Applicants are still highly encouraged to provide additional letters of recommendations as support.
  • Letter of Recommendation – a letter of recommendation speaks to the leadership character of the applicant. Individual and specific stories are shared, which reinforce both the personal qualities and professional traits of the applicant. Letters of recommendation are encouraged to be provided by others who have worked closely with the applicant, but do not have to be from within the industry (church, university, client, contractor, coach, etc.).

We look forward to your application!

*An emerging professional is defined as someone who has graduated from college with an architecture degree and is within 10 years of their first licensure.

Session 7: Expanding the Definition of Practice


Date: April 5, 2019
Location: SmithGroup, 1700 New York Ave NW #100, Washington, DC 20006
Led by: Ashley Grzywa, AIA, WELL AP and Javier Maymi, AIA
Session Sponsors: Synergi, Spartan Surfaces, Mohawk Group
Session Downloads: Session 07 Guide

What could be the definition of architectural practice? Session 7 led by Ashley Grzywa and Javier Maymi, explored how the traditional definition of ‘practice’ is evolving through various modes of research and collaboration with non-traditional design and construction professions. Throughout the afternoon’s session, presenters discussed and shared experiences integrating research, education, public art, poetry and mindfulness into their own architectural practices.

Presentation #1: Research Informing Architectural Practice
The first speaker of the afternoon was Jason Smith, partner at KieranTimberlake. Jason discussed the basis of design research and technology at KieranTimberlake and how the firm’s culture promotes exploration, curiosity, creativity, and collaboration which helps expand their ability to produce transformative work.  The way his firm goes about integrating research into architectural practice was illustrated throughout his presentation of several of the firm’s completed projects. The projects discussed included the following:

  • An exploration of a facade design of vertical fins and horizontal shading patterns to reduce glare and increase daylight at the Engineering Research Center at Brown University.
  • The transformation of a historic brewing manufacturing building to KieranTimberlake’s current office space where they were able to reduce the overall size for the building’s mechanical equipment while maintaining occupant comfort levels.
  • A shading comfort analysis that quantified the effects of an exterior shading design on indoor thermal comfort at UCSF.
  • Investigations in letter packing at Drexel and the potential random patterns of alphanumeric characters for a facade design graphic.
  • Opportunities for staff members to participate in community focused initiatives.

Presentation #1 Photo

Presentation #2: Just Doodle It
Why do we practice? Why is freehand drawing important? These were some of the questions posed by Eric Jenkins, a professor at Catholic University’s school of Architecture and Planning, during the second presentation of the session. Eric noted that teachers of urban practice strive to answer the question of how to become immersed into urban practice, and ultimately engender a community of practice. Eric related the qualities of a great leader to drawing, specifically citing the best as both leaders and followers.

Eric’s presentation then explored the importance of freehand drawing, not just in architecture, but in a number of other professions, such as medicine. Architectural design is difficult, and the rapid, repetitious exploration of ideas that freehand drawing allows is invaluable in solving complex problems faster by sorting the information. The act of doodling serves as a memory palace, which helps one remember substantially more info while highlighting what’s important at a high level.

After discussing the importance of freehand sketching, scholars were given sketchbooks and tasked with drawing a number of axonometric shapes individually, eventually sharing their illustrations with one another to build off of each other’s sketches in a rapid-fire, freeform manner.

Presentation #2 Photos

Presentation #3 – Living your definition of Practice
The last presentation of the session consisted of multiple speakers who shared both their personal and professional journeys, with an overarching theme of what practice means to them.

Raj Barr, President of Barr-Kumar Architects and a professor of Architecture and Urban Sustainability at UDC, shared his story of  having the courage to take a large risk and develop his own home in Maryland, which he eventually used as a springboard into his role as a developer in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area.

Bill Hutchins, an author, poet, and ‘architectural midwife’, shared the personal events that became the catalyst of a drastic shift in his way of practicing architecture, with his daughter’s insistence on that he ‘play’ again shifting his perspective on the idea of what ‘Home’ was and space as a whole.

Hiroshi Jacobs, an associate principal at Studios Architecture, shared a number of art installations of different scales at a variety of locations that he’s created through HiJAC, a trans-disciplinary art and research practice, founded by Hiroshi.

Andrea Swiatocha, a manager for DC Public Schools (DCPS) facilities team, shared her professional journey of working as a project architect on school modernization projects in Arlington, Virginia, to leveraging that experience and eventually overseeing all DCPS school modernization projects.

At the end of the panel discussion, it became clear that each of the panelists unique interests, between poetry, art, real estate development, and education, helped them to forge their own practice. Scholars were then challenged to define their own definitions of practice. The session wrapped up with happy hour at Blackfinn.

Presentation #3 Photo