Session 7: Expanding the Definition of Practice

Date: April 06, 2018
Location: Perkins Eastman – 1 Thomas Circle NW, WDC
Led by: Claire Dickey & Lindsey May
Venue Sponsor: Pella Commercial; Perkins Eastman
Session Downloads: Session 07 Guide

The 7th session of CKLDP explored how the traditional definition of ‘practice’ is expanding. Through consideration of alternative practice models, research & critical thinking on social & economic design problems, scholars began to re-imagine the way the profession can evolve.

When Form Meets Content: Expanding the Definition of Practice
Hana Kim shared her trajectory from university, to practicing architecture, to artist, to her transition into exhibit design for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The skills she developed as an architect to coordinate a diverse project team, were a perfect fit for her roles as Exhibit Design Manager. Hana walked the CKLDP scholars through case studies of past projects which included the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and various exhibits at the Smithsonian American History Museum. Hana works with content experts, building managers, fabricators and other exhibit design firms, such as Exploratorium located in San Francisco, to shape the human experience surrounding sensitive historical objects, events and personal stories, into exhibits which resonate with the public.

The Expanding Role of Research in Practice
Utilizing internet meeting tools, the second segment of the session seven, included a lively exchange between two physically present speakers; Richard Schmitt with Thornton Tomasetti and Danya Hakky with Perkins Eastman, and two remote speakers; Andrew Burdick of Ennead Lab New York and author/researcher Anna Sussman in Boston.

Discussion topics covered a wide range. Andrew explained that some of their projects are brought on by social issues such as the need for creating and organizing refugee communities. While Richard, focused more on technology and using various software integration tools to help better understand the technical complexities within a building’s structure. Ann gave a taste of her research that concentrates on designing for the unconscious mind, by mapping different fixation points, using eye tracking software to evaluate architectural design. The conversation centered on how each participant has pushed the boundaries of the typical architectural practice.

The Architectural Lobby: Changing Architecture to Change the World
The closing portion of this session was devoted to considering the different business and ethical aspects of architecture, and a commitment to social justice within the architectural community. These types of issues are the undertaking of the Architecture Lobby and its organizers. The last speaker, Keefer Dunn is the National Organizer for the Architecture Lobby and is also founder of Pigeon Studio located in Chicago.

The diverse offerings provided by architectural firms, begs the question of whether current billable structures, long hours, and tight schedules, is a sustainable practice. This format lends itself to creating perverse incentives that can lead to a demoralized and drained team. The Architectural Lobby suggests that using a value based fee structure, may be more appropriate. Whatever the course of action, it is important that firms take care to consider the value of their teams, their time, as well as whether or not the project will benefit the community in the future.



Session 6: Industry Trends

Date: March 02, 2018
Location: StreetSense, 1750 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Led by: Chelsea Thompson & Stacey Bringar
Session Sponsor: Insite VR
Venue Sponsor: StreetSense
Session Downloads: Session 06 Guide


Chelsea Thompson and Stacey Bringar hosted the sixth session of the year exploring Industry Trends at the StreetSense offices on Pennsylvania Avenue. Their program focused on practice adaptation, local food production, emerging design technologies, and real estate market shifts, all with the intent of exploring how innovative ideas can create lasting impacts in the profession.

Presentation #1 – Putting Resilience into Practice: Planning and Adapting:

Jon Penndorf, FAIA, of Perkins+Will presented planning for Resilience as an emerging school of thought for the architectural profession. The first question we must ask is why do architects need to be concerned with Resilience? A professional duty to the healthy, safety, and welfare of the public requires that architects pay attention to the environmental resilience of our planning. Additionally, our contractual duty to our clients demands that we evaluate the economic costs of non-resilience and the relatively low cost of minimal resilient interventions. Resilience can mean designing for shocks, which are sudden events like hurricanes or terrorist events; or stressors, which are gradual or long-term such as drought, sea-level rise or war. Penndorf illustrated the a variety of resilient strategies through several case studies and tools to determine resiliency risks such as National Climate Assessment report, FEMA Flood Maps, and NOAA Sea Level Rise Projection Tool. The next step in the Resilience movement is to quantify and regulate the standards. RELi – a resilience standard developed by Perkins + Will was recently acquired by the USGBC. This standard coalates to LEED, and other third-party certified standards, and creates a gold standard for planning Resiliency into the practice of architecture.

Presentation #2 – Incorporating Agriculture: The Why and How:

Next, the session dove into the weeds on one specific trend in the broader realm of sustainability, Urban Agriculture, and incorporating local food production into buildings and communities. Meredith Sheperd, the founder and CEO of Love & Carrots, presented her business and the intricacies of incorporating urban agriculture into architectural design. The United States has a public health crisis in which 1 in 3 adults is obese and our food production system is broken. Love & Carrots is a small business that provides productive food garden planning, design, and installation, as well as coaching and maintenance. There is substantial research and regulation currently focused on using urban agriculture to address both the obesity epidemic and the food production system. Sheperd then presented several case studies where Love & Carrots has established a working garden or local food supply. Love & Carrots works with the architect or community to locate and optimize the garden for production, builds and installs the garden, and then provides either some maintenance and coaching or fully manages the garden production.

Presentation #3 – Practical Uses of VR within the Design Industry:


Justin Benjamin is the Design Application Manager for Perkins + Will DC, and create a two-part session for the CKLDP scholars. In the introduction, he talked our class through his philosophy on incorporating VR into the design process and how it can be an effective tool if the focus is on project deliverables rather than simply innovation. Benjamin works to create reliable workflows for teams that require little start-up training. His primary tools are Enscape, IrisProspect, Revit Live, and Insite VR. After a brief overview of the software products and process, scholars then participated in a lively VR demonstration and exploration.

Everyone was able to test the goggles and move around in a project environment. There were several challenges to accomplish, for example: navigating to a specific location in the project, testing different movement types, drawing redlines in the 3D environment, and changing design elements in 3D. Overall the presentation and demonstrating gave the class a feeling for the possibilities of working with VR in a typical design process.

Presentation #4 – An Experience Consultancy:

The session concluded with a wide-ranging talk on commercial, residential and retail trends by two senior StreetSense consultants, Bruce Leonard and Cassandra Cullison. StreetSense is a collective of architects, designers, graphic designers, marketing & branding, analysts, brokers, and consultants that work with clients every step of the way through a real estate project. They specifically discussed their firm’s structure and strategy and the changing paradigm of retail real estate. The built environment has moved from commodity to strategy – turning the built environment into a user-interface. They spoke about the crisis retail real estate is facing, that the U.S. has 23 sf of retail per capita compared to 12 sf in Canada and 8 sf in Europe; with over 13 billion square feet of that retail space unoccupied or under-utilized. While there are not a lot of obvious solutions to this over-supply of retail real estate beyond demolition, StreetSense is working to create future facing solutions. Leonard and Cullison outlined a few of the paradigm shifts necessary for the current market: national anchor tenants vs. boutique, local retail & amenities, horizontally phased mixed-use vs. vertically phased, and consistency vs. sense of place. They used several case studies from across the country to illustrate these concepts, from Reston, Austin, Atlanta, and Washington, DC.

Chelsea and Stacey ended the afternoon with a happy hour at The Old Ebbitt Grill, a D.C. institution.

Session 5: Marketing and Business Development

Date: February 02, 2018
Location: JLL Offices, 2020 K Street NW, #1100, Washington DC 20006
Led by: Siobhan Steen & Derek Roberts
Venue Sponsor: Society for Marketing Professional Services, Hickok Cole Architects, JLL
Session Downloads: Session 05 Guide


Siobhan Steen and Derek Roberts organized the fifth session of the year focused on marketing and business development. The session kicked off with a presentation by Laura Ewan on the basics of marketing, and expounded on content marketing and personal branding. Next, we presented our personal branding statements and received feedback from Ms. Ewan and the group. Next, we listened to a presentation from IA Collaborative, discussing how to proactively develop project leads and generate a pipeline of work from repeat and new clients. A roundtable discussion followed, with discussions focusing on business development as it relates to proposals, interviews and post-interview debriefing. The session concluded with a panel discussion with local practice leaders and session presenters on their own experiences with marketing and business development.

Presentation #1 – Marketing 101: Content Marketing & Branding

Laura Ewan’s presentation focused on the at of branding and steps to effectively establish and maintain a positive image to one’s intended audience. She explained how marketing is the art of connecting with customers without selling. This is now accomplished through various platforms including blogs, social media, video, and conferences where expertise can be shared and presented in person. The group was encouraged to interface with their own marketing team and gain a better understanding of the firm’s strategy and the various tasks that comprise the effort to publish firm information through formal and informal means. The second part of the presentation focused on personal branding, where Laura shared her experience and evolution of personal branding and the differing opinions in the industry. Branding in the age of the internet has allowed for greater exposure outside of traditional geographic and size constraints. A discussion continued to pursue this topic, followed by the scholars presenting their personal branding pitches. Feedback from Laura and the rest of the scholars helped inform a successful pitch.

01 Marketing 101

Presentation #2 – Proactive Pitching: Developing Project Leads and Pipeline

The next presentation focused on innovative approaches to business development from IA Collaborative’s Patrick Jones and Rebecca Gimenez. The presentation was organized around three steps of innovative business development: leading with user experience in order to identify the gap and learn the market, predicting the future by knowing clients and their needs, winning the work by illustrating a compelling solution and future. Expressing the value of design to the client is tantamount; synergies around what is viable, desirable and possible will yield potential design solutions. To create a successful outcome, the IA Collaborative strategy is to show the client the end-user. How will they experience the design solution and what can be learned from understanding their needs. The summary of the presentation was a call to expand the problem that is being solved for, design for value cycles and to test opportunities.

02 Proactive Pitching

Venue Tour

Laura Maples, one of the project leads for JLL’s new office space, gave a tour of the office space to the scholars. The tour reinforced how companies use their office space as a marketing and business development tool for current and potential clients as well as employees. The client area was developed to create a hospitality feel, while the employee and working areas were collaborative and provided a variety of meeting spaces.

03 Venue Tour

Presentation #3 – Business Development Roundtables

The third presentation was a series of roundtable discussions in small groups with business development experts that led scholars through interactive exercises focused on the inner workings and real-life examples of proposals, interviews and debriefs.
Jen McGovern, the regional marketing manager from VHB discussed how winning work is challenging and takes valuable time and money for a firm to execute. Proposals must be compliant, compelling, concise, client-centric. Jen discussed what is typically included in the content of a proposal and provided numerous resources for writing effective proposals for varying scales and types of work.
Stacey Sheperd, a federal client manager from Jacobs explained the importance and strategies for successful interviews when competing for work. Her presentation focused on the following: developing the value-add proposition; applying your expertise to the client’s needs; understanding the audience; being flexible and malleable in the moment to address the dynamic tendencies of the interview process.
Laura Roth, Business Development Director at Hickok Cole facilitated a discussion on the importance of a client debrief for both successful and unsuccessful pitches for new work. Conducting a debrief creates the perception that the company is serious about their work and is continually advancing. Understanding the results of the debrief should inform the next proposal and become an evolving metric for evaluating success.
The exercise shed light on how to engage a group of community members in order to solicit their ideas and input.

04 BD Roundtables

Presentation #4 – Business Development Mythbusters and Panel Discussion

The group rounded out the day with a brief presentation breaking down some common perceptions of marketing and business development by Laura Roth from Hickok Cole. She discussed how business development differs from marketing, the importance of formal and informal networking, and the idea that not everyone should be in business development. Personality, platform and positions help define the individuals in an organization that are primary actors in business development.
Laura then introduced members of the panel discussion. Previous presenters Patrick Jones and Stacey Sheperd joined Brian Miller (Edit Lab) and Greg Kearley (Inscape Studio/ Publico) to participate in an open discussion on their own experience in business development and marketing. The discussion was led by Siobhan Steen and produced a robust discussion on how each firm leader began getting work, unique lineages of client development, how to cultivate practice expertise while being open to new opportunities.

05 Panel

Session 4: Community Engagement

Date: January 12, 2018
Location: Robert Silman Associates 1053 31st St NW
Led by: Ming-Yi Wong and Adam Greene
Venue Sponsor: Robert Silman Associates; Bonstra Haresign Architects
Session Downloads: Session 04 Reading, Session 04 Guide

Ming-Yi Wong and Adam Greene organized the fourth session of the year focused on community engagement. The session kicked off with a presentation by Janet Bloomberg on the tenets of volunteerism, the reasons we volunteer, and what some of local programs look like. We then transitioned to a panel presentation and discussion on the redevelopment of the Georgetown Canal, reinforced with a foot-tour of the canal, which runs directly adjacent to the venue. Our third speaker, Allie O’Neill from the Neighborhood Design Center, provided a presentation and led an interactive discussion on the grassroots aspects of a community-oriented design organization.

Presentation #1 – Community Engagement at the Personal Level: Washington Architectural Foundation
Janet Bloomberg began her presentation focused on the reasons we decide to volunteer. For most people this tends to be the Personal Reward, or the value of working on something you care about. Others are motivated by Community Responsibility. We are often connected to communities through our projects or even where our practices are located. Janet highlighted organizations she volunteered for as a student and walked us through some of the programs she started here in Washington DC and her work with the Washington Architecture Foundation. This provided an excellent segue into challenging our scholars to take a hard look at the programs the WAF supports and provide constructive feedback as well as to come up with examples of volunteer programs we may be missing.


Presentation #2 – Community Engagement at the Professional Level: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Park and Georgetown Heritage
Our group was introduced to a panel of professionals working to revitalize, activate, and interpret the National Park Service assets in Georgetown, turning them into inviting, inclusive, and inspiring. Their efforts are focused on the C&O Canal National Historic Park. The panel included Sophia Kelly from the National Park Service and Scott Walzack and Maggie Downing with Georgetown Heritage. After a short introduction, the panel gave us an overview of the history of the Canal and its related components. They walked us through the importance of why the project came to fruition, how their organization was started, what it took to get the project to its current state in which portions of the canal already under restoration, and what future efforts may entail to bring their full schematic design to fruition. It was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the various community organizations in place and what new entities had to be created to efficiently blend the complex nature and variety of demands that comes from a project touching so many different people/ businesses and how they’ve been raising money to fund the entire process. It’s clear that as the project progresses, the historical and natural impacts must be considered simultaneously and it is important to keep in mind what that means on a local, national, and even international level. We then took a foot-tour of the canal from 31st Street to the trailhead of the Capital Crescent trail to understand the physical challenges faced and see the progress that has been made while learning a few interesting historical facts along the way.

Presentation #3 – Community Engagement at the Grassroots Level: Neighborhood Design Center
The group rounded out the day with an interactive discussion lead by our third speaker, Allie O’Neill from the Neighborhood Design Center, on the grassroots aspects of community-oriented design. She discussed how organizations like hers engage with the public to make a project successful and responsive to community needs. Allie posed important questions to the group such as “Why don’t we interface with so much of the population [as Architects]?” and “What is social design?” We reviewed some important historical milestones of community development in urban environments and discussed how good design is not just about aesthetics but, more importantly, also about creating buildings and spaces that can be functional, maintainable, and reflect community principles. After reviewing the tenets of her design process, we completed community needs surveys, playing the role of the community in question. The exercise shed light on how to engage a group of community members in order to solicit their ideas and input.