Session 5: Closing The Deal

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Date: February 1, 2019
Location: AIA National 1735 New York Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006
Led by: Ruben Quesada  Amy Daniels
Session Sponsors: Stanley Stevens and Gilbane
Session Downloads: Session 05 Guide

Overview

Ruben Quesada and Amy Daniels organized Session 5, Closing The Deal, at the AIA National Headquarters in the AIA Boardroom. With such a dignified backdrop to the session, the content couldn’t help but be educational and meaningful.

After Ruben and Amy gave the group a warm welcome to the session, they introduced the first speaker – Lauren Ewan – the Director of Marketing and Communications at Hickok Cole. Lauren’s presentation titled “Brand and Beyond: The New World of AEC Marketing” focused on the tools that firms need to win and sustain clients in the new world of social media and growing competition. As an icebreaker, Laura asked scholars to form and defend a position on whether architecture was a profession or a business.

Throughout the presentation, scholars learned about the makeup of a great marketing team and how each person’s interests and talents can be translated into a firm’s marketing strategy. Scholars learned that architects only recently began to legally be able to advertise their services in 1977, and there is still a culture that “the work should speak for itself” that permeates our profession. This mentally has allowed architects to believe that marketing is not necessary when the stakes are higher than ever to win both projects and talent.

In today’s market, customer relationships are the key to continued success. Every interaction with a firm is an opportunity to strengthen a client’s association with a firm’s brand. Not only does brand include the mission of a firm, it also should include its culture, projects, and people. This brand should always be cognizant of a firm’s strategic plan with 1, 3, and 5 year goals that align with the overall marketing strategy.

The remainder of the session was centered around preparing for a mock interview in response to an RFP that Ruben and Amy had created. At the previous session, scholars had been presented with the task of repurposing RFK Stadium and were required to create a firm with teams of four. Each team would take a different approach to building a firm and proposal.

In preparation for the interviews, Melanie Varcas from Cakewalk Strategies led the second presentation to provide some last-minute inspiration and education on how to approach any RFP. Scholars learned how to prepare and present for an interview relating to the RFP they had been tasked with. Scholars also learned the importance of passion and a clear message to the. The interview should be a team effort, allowing every participating member to shine and show their enthusiasm. Including consultants in the interview allows a team to answer technical questions and create a clear and holistic vision. Project leads who will be directly involved in the day to day with the clients should be highlighted as well. Melanie’s presentation was followed by a short break for final interview adjustments and then the room settled in for the interviews.

George Hayward from JBG Smith, Tim Williams from ZGF, Stephen Kitterman from the Architect of the Capitol, and Melanie Varcas all acted as selection team members for the RFP that had been created. Each team presented their proposal within their 20-minute allotted time and the jurors provided comments specific to the proposal and the presentation style. Their helpful feedback, a combination of comments on scholars’ styles and “firm” strategy, benefitted each presenting team as well as the remaining teams in the audience.  As audience members, scholars could experience how important enthusiasm partnered with a clear and client specific vision can set a team a part in a row of interviewees.

 

Following the close of all the interviews, the jurors turned back to the room for a panel discussion on the interview process to share personal insight and experiences they had individually faced in similar situations. Many of the questions had to do with the interview that just took place as well as what everyone can bring back to their firms. Scholars learned how to win clients through the SPIN model: Situation, Problem, Implication, Needs-Based Solutions. The SPIN model encourages asking questions and listening rather than pitching ideas or solutions with no context.

At the end of a very intense but wildly interactive session, scholars and presenters traveled to Hive Bar for conversation and comradery. We’re all looking forward to Session 6 in a week! 

Session 4: Community Engagement

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Date: January 11, 2019
Location: Ayers Saint Gross, 1100 First St NE #800, Washington, DC 20002
Led by: Desiree Hollar and Sarah Wahlgren Wingo
Session Sponsors: Ayers Saint Gross, Ernest Maier, Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors
Session Downloads: Session 04 Guide

Overview
During our first meeting of 2019, Desiree Hollar and Sarah Wahlgren Wingo organized our session around the various ways architects can get involved in community engagement. Hosted in Ayers Saint Gross’ office, the afternoon kicked off with an introduction to strategies the firm uses to engage in pro bono and higher education projects. ASG detailed the ways individuals at the firm are involved in their communities. Presentations throughout the session focused on how an architect’s unique set of tools can be used to benefit other people and places

Act #1: Architect as Community Collaborator
The first act of the afternoon was presented by Rick Schneider, Dan Snook, and Marisa Brown of ISTUDIO Architects in partnership with Mike Hill of the US Forest Service. ISTUDIO has done several projects with local agencies in DC as well as with agencies across the world. They described two types of communities involved in any project: community of place, affected because of their proximity to the project, who often have limited concerns and have an increased chance of long-term reliance to the project; and the community of interest, who are often visitors to a place because of its historical/cultural/activity-based significance. ISTUDIO exhibited several projects to allow scholars to better understand necessary tactics they utilize to understand how to engage with different communities of interest.

To understand the complex relationships that each project must consider, scholars then worked through a design charette for an Arboretum Recreation Center. During the exercise, each scholar was assigned a community member type (senior citizen, parent with children, single adult, and arboretum representative) and tasked with designing the program while analyzing adjacencies of a neighborhood recreation center located next to the National Arboretum. This charette was a great reminder that there are many stakeholders affected by our work, and one of the most important things we can do as architects is to listen.

Act #2: Architect as Community Leader
The second act was presented by Mayor Jacob Day of Salisbury Maryland. Day originally studied architecture and was the national AIAS chapter president. He went on to continue his studies and eventually landing back in his hometown of Salisbury, Maryland. After several years of involvement in his local government, Jacob ran for mayor and was able to combine his understanding of space planning and problem solving to create a strong platform to run on. Since his election, Salisbury has seen improving trends in many areas:

  • Created new local branding strategy to give identity to city.
  • Created local TEDx talks for community members to share ideas and meet each other.
  • City saw a 6% increase in budget after increase in new business and housing.
  • Lowest crime rate in 31 years after several initiatives looked at the root problems many residents faced.
  • Average citizen’s age has dropped after many young families have moved to the area.
  • Created housing for 1/3 of the chronically homeless population by working with community groups.

Created housing for 1/3 of the chronically homeless population by working with community groups.

Act #3: Architect as Community Activist
Our final act of the session was an opportunity to actually give back to the community by serving meals at Central Union Mission. Central Union Mission is a faith-based nonprofit organization, which serves as an emergency men’s shelter and operates a transformation program. As we walked to the Mission, we discussed with fellow scholars strategies we would like to employ to engage with the local community. Once at the Mission we were given a brief history of the organization and were assigned our roles for the dinner service. Scholars plated food, delivered dinner to guest, and cleared plates to close out an inspiring and self-reflective session.

Session 3: The Art of Negotiation

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Date: December 7, 2018
Location: FOX Architects 1240 22nd St NW, Washington, DC 20037
Led by: Francis D’Andrea, AIA, NCARB with FOX Architects and Kathryn Dreitzler with Microdesk
Session Sponsors: FOX Architects, Sauf Haus Bier Hall
Session Downloads: Session 03 Homework; Session 03 Guide

Overview
Kathryn and Francis prepared the third session titled “The Art of Negotiation,” which was held at the Fox Architects’ theater space in Washington DC. Throughout the afternoon scholars were involved in discussions on four types of negotiations that are experienced through one’s career progression: Project Proposals, Career advancements, Standard Contract Terms, and Enforcing the Contract. Prior to the session, everyone was asked to review a case study that was analogous to an Architect’s Standard of Care. The presenters shared valuable lessons learned throughout their own negotiations and careers to allow the scholars to see these concepts in practice.
Photo of scholars engaging in a discussion during one of the day’s presentations.

Presentation #1: Negotiating a Proposal
During the first presentation, Janet Rankin RA -Director of Operations at HYL Architecture -presented on key elements included in an architectural proposal and strategies for their successful negotiation. Ms. Rankin shared her 25 years of experience in the real estate industry to identify different approaches that can be taken to secure a project.
Photo of Presentation #1: Negotiating a Proposal

Presentation #2: Negotiating for Yourself
Robert Holzbach, AIA, LEED AP -Associate Principal and Director of Staff Operations with Hickok Cole Architects -gave his advice on how to negotiate for oneself at various stages along the career path. Holzbach, a hiring and staff operations manager with over 20 year experience, shared “do’s” and “don’ts” from past experiences when negotiating for a new position as well as a raise or promotion. The discussions focused on understanding what a successful negotiation is, establishing goals for the negotiation,and understanding the power landscape. He presented ways to leverage the concepts of hourly and billable rates to help the scholars achieve their career goals. He stressed that successful negotiations make both parties feel like they’ve won, and that reaching agreement and trust are key components to negotiations of any type.
Photo of Presentation #2: Negotiating for Yourself

Presentation #3: Negotiating a Contract
Mike Koger is an attorney on the Contract Documents team at the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC. At the AIA, Koger works with a group of attorneys and architects to create and revise the AIA contract documents. In the third presentation, Koger focused on the industry’s most negotiated aspects of the contracts: limitations of liability, indemnity, ownership of design,and the Architectural Standard of Care. Prior to the session, the scholars reviewed a Massachusetts case from 1850, Brown v. Kendall, an assault and battery case study that served as a teaching point for applying the Architect’s Standard of Care.
Photo of Presentation #3: Negotiating a Contract

Presentation #4: Enforcing the Contract
During the round table discussion, speakers took part in a moderated dialogue and open questions from the scholars. The round table participants were Mike Koger, Derek Warr, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Studio Director of the Lifestyle 2 Studio at Gensler, and Derek Wood, AIA, LEED AP, a managing principal at FOX Architects. Pairing Warr’s and Wood’s experience working with numerous contract types and negotiations with Koger’s expertise on contract language provided the scholars varying perspectives on theoretical, legal, and actual processes for enforcing the contract. Key recommendations included using the contract as a road map for managing the project and to request a copy of the Owner/Contractor Agreement to better understand the Architect’s rights and responsibilities during construction.
Photo of Presentation #4: Enforcing the Contract

 

Session 2: Entrepreneurship and Firm Management

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Date: November 2, 2018
Location: Perkins Eastman DC, One Thomas Cirlce, Suite 200, Washington DC
Led by: Daniel Blair and Nicole Keroack
Session Sponsors: Perkins Eastman, Marvin, Silman, YKK, Tremco, ECS, WSP, Kawneer, Pioneer, Henry Adams, ABC Imaging
Session Downloads: Session 02 Guide

Overview
This session focused on the underlying themes that are fundamental to firm productivity, entrepreneurship, collaboration, and leadership but that are often not learned in educational study or in professional practice. By drawing on discourse that started in CKLDP Session #1 “Working Together,” this session engaged participants through a roundtable discussion between three experienced firm leaders on firm management and lessons learned along the way; a presentation from a successful entrepreneur on business opportunity and branding; and through an interactive group activity on self-development and leadership.

Developing a Practice | Roundtable Discussion
During the roundtable discussion, speakers engaged in a moderated dialogue that incorporated questions from the scholars. The participants were Matt Daw, a senior principal at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH) engineering firm, Ryan Moody, founder of Moody Graham landscape architects, and Barbara Mullenex, a managing principal at Perkins Eastman DC. All three candidates discussed their paths through their own careers, from how they started to how they took on the positions they are in now, as well as lessons learned along the way. Much of the discussion focused around how architects can take the knowledge that they learned and possess from their education in design and apply those skills towards developing stronger business acumen and recognizing career advancing opportunities through leadership.

A Decade of Ditto + Lessons Learned Along the Way
Presentation by Martin Ditto + Callie Bruemmer
Martin Ditto,founder and CEO of Ditto Residential, and Callie Bruemmer, Ditto’s Communication and Marketing Director, led the second presentation that gave a brief history of how Ditto started and how they have become the innovative real estate and development firm that they are today. Martin discussed how his passion and desire to respond to underserved populations in DC has driven much of their business strategy and how his unapologetic attitude towards his work has benefited their mission and brought them significant recognition in the architecture community. With Martin, Callie discussed how she has helped to develop the Ditto brand and how it has helped to drive their success in the community and beyond.

Developing Your Leadership Brand
Presentation and Activity with Jordan McAnaney

Jordan McAnaney is the Global Head of Organizational Development at Altisource Portfolio Solutions in Atlanta, GA, where he helps the company optimize the potential of their workforce and set goals for long-term growth. Jordan gave a presentation on the principals of effective leadership and methods for building individual development plans to help the scholars achieve both short and long term career goals. During the activity, the scholars were broken into smaller groups and were given mock scenarios in which they were able to practice the important and crucial skills of giving and receiving feedback. The scholars were asked to role play participants from the mock scenarios and come up with effective solutions to communicating and addressing a workplace issue.