Session 3: The Art of Negotiation

Date: December 01, 2017
Location: City Market at O, Rooftop Lounge – 800 P St NW
Led by: David Kaplan and Adam Crain
Venue Sponsor: City Market at O
Session Downloads: Session 03 Guide

In this year’s third CKLDP session, David Kaplan and Adam Crain organized an event on The Art of Negotiation featuring three compelling presentations. Michael Hraber started the afternoon speaking from his experience working with architects from the perspective of an insurance broker. This presentation focused on managing risk and role of contracts in that process. Following that presentation, Meredith Moldenhauer spoke to the scholars about her experience leading architects and clients through various approval processes. She shared strategies for negotiating with neighbors, councilmembers, ANC’s, and various other stakeholders that may initially oppose a project. After a short break the scholars were led on a building tour of City Market at O by architects Joe Corridore and Andrew Taylor from Shalom Baranes. The final presentation was led by Tiana Russel, an attorney at the Department of Justice, which taught scholars negotiation tactics though a series of bargaining simulations. After each simulation, Tiana broke down the critical steps that lead to a persuasive argument and successful negotiation.

Presentation #1 – Risk Drivers & Contractual Pitfalls in the Practice of Architecture
Michael Hraber, an insurance broker at CBIZ, spoke to the scholars about lessons learned from his experience working directly with architects. He explained the concept of risk; strategies for avoiding, transferring, assuming or controlling that risk. These concepts were further developed by reviewing historical insurance claim data broken out by project type. Following this discussion, Michael went on to present various owner-architect contract types. While the AIA contracts are preferred, owners often strategically modify these contracts or provide contracts of their own that can leave the design team exposed if the risk is not properly managed.

Presentation #2 – Zone, Development & Community Engagement
Meredith Moldenhauer is a lawyer who utilizes strategic negotiations to lead architects and clients through various approval processes. She opened by debunking several common myths of negotiation which led into discussion on the importance of compromise. In DC there are a host of regulatory agencies, neighbors, and other critical stakeholders that often oppose your project and the architect should clearly demonstrate how successive designs compromise by responding to stakeholder feedback. Responding to these concerns can be done creatively by considering a wide range of negotiation issues; materials, height, use, or even construction timeline. Meredith went on to emphasize the role of overdesign in project development. Successful projects build in margin that allow room for negotiating down to the bottom line during public review processes.

Tour of City Market at O
The afternoon’s series of presentations was punctuated by a building tour of City Market at O by the design architects Joe Corridore and Andrew Taylor of Shalom Baranes. Scholars were taken though around the buildings, though the grocery store, and even into an apartment unit. The tour included fascinating stories about the design and construction process that led to the successful completion of the project.

Presentation #3 – Techniques and Process of Negotiation
The last presentation of the day was led by Tiana Russel, an attorney at the Department of Justice, which taught scholars strategies for negotiation through a series of bargaining simulations. Scholars were broken up into groups of two, each member was given a separate set of instructions which initiated a series of negotiations. After each simulation, Tiana spoke about the conversation mechanics that lead to a successful negotiation. Scholars went on to perform additional bargaining simulations, further refining their body language and ability to construct persuasive arguments.

Session 2: Entrepreneurship & Management

Date: November 03, 2017
Location: Knoll Inc – 1050 K Street, NW 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20001
Led by: Ethan Walker and Teri Coates, AIA
Session Sponsor: Microdesk
Venue Sponsor: Knoll
Session Downloads: Session 02 Guide

Ethan Walker and Teri Coates organized the second session of the year focused on entrepreneurship and management, held at the Knoll showroom. There was a specific emphasis on how these ideas look outside of the practice of architecture. Our first speaker, Marc Steren, spoke about the process of idea generation and consumer research required to create a successful and profitable product. Bill Spauling then discussed the variety of social styles that likely make up an office setting and how to work together in a successful way despite these differences. Our third speaker, Ben Miller, introduced his company, Fundrise, and the regulatory challenges that come along with creating a different type of investing business. Brad Bauer of Bluecadet then walked the group through the different skill sets that have contributed to his company’s success. We finished the day with the challenge of creating a two minute pitch to be presented to the group, utilizing Jeff Reid’s “6 steps to a Successful Pitch”.

Presentation #1 – Systems and Frameworks for Entrepreneurialism
Marc Steren of Georgetown University kicked us off with an introduction to the process of entrepreneurship. His presentation centered on the ability to pivot during the creative process while finding and identifying problems to solve. Marc discussed his Business Model Canvas and the steps to creating. The first step he identified was to create a value proposition. This proposition helps to identify the problem, build out the need for a solution, create a social connection, and determine the jobs that can be done. Once the value proposition is identified, Marc talked about the importance of identifying the appropriate client through customer interviews and open ended questions. He finished his presentation by walking the group through his process with his latest product, its testing, and its adoption by a major buyer.

Presentation #2 – Knowledge Management
Bill Spaulding of Bergmeyer began the second presentation by providing a thorough review of the group’s survey results. Scholars were asked to take a survey prior to the session to help identify social styles including: Analytical, Drive, Amiable, and Expressive. People of each social style communicate to others in a variety of different ways, in both a leadership position and when working as a member of supporting staff. Bill walked us through ways to resolve conflict with others that might have different social styles than our own by presenting a variety of scenarios to the group. He also introduced us to ways in which Bergmeyer tries to stay in touch with its employees through their internal intranet. Bill finished his presentation by discussing knowledge management, supported by sharing knowledge, a critical knowledge of specific information, and the ability to surround yourself with a knowledge community.

Presentation #3 – Office Culture and Entrepreneurialism
Ben Miller from Fundrise discussed his own entrepreneurial experiences. Fundrise serves as an online investment platform that believes in delivering a simpler, smarter, and more reliable way to invest money. Ben spoke on local investment in the DC market and the overall strategy in the startup process. He described the ins and outs of recognizing both valuable opportunities and the signs that something is not working. A key point of discussion was the ‘speed of change’ and how the desire for linear growth may not always be realistic. Actual growth may meander in a variety of ways, but with a good idea and persistence the target growth can still be reached.

Presentation #4 – Entrepreneurial Habits
For the final speaker of the day, Brad Baer from Bluecadet, broke down the personal styles and positions within their company and how it has led to success for them. By focusing on the roles and players within their office, it showed the importance of each person in the overall success. Brad shared knowledge behind the process of many unique projects such as the Museum of the American Revolution, Van Gogh’s Bedrooms, and Hoover-Mason Trestle. Bluecadet brought a unique focus described as “the Process is the Project.”

Activity #1 – Mini Pitch Competition
The culminating activity of the day involved scholars testing their own entrepreneurial creativity with a mini “shark tank” style pitch competition. Scholars were paired off and given the objective to quickly and concisely sell an idea that would benefit their firm using knowledge gathered from the various topics of the day. Pitch ideas ranged from new food programs for the office, technological advancements, mentoring programs, reward systems, and even an umbrella exchange. Each team gave an enthusiastic pitch as they tried to beat the clock and concisely sell their idea. The pitches followed  Jeff Reid’s “Six Steps to a Successful Pitch”, which include:

-Define the problem
-Describe your solution
-Explain the business model
-Make the ask

Session 1: Working Together

Date: October 6, 2017
Location: District Center Roof Terrace, 555 12th Street, Washington, DC 20004
Led by: Alison Pavilonis and Adam Davie
Sponsors: HITT Contractors and MetLife
Session Downloads: Session 01 Guide


Alison Pavilonis and Adam Davie organized Session #1, “Working Together,” which was held at the District Center Roof Terrace. Adam gave a brief project history of the District Center building and its current renovation. The three presentations focused on multiple pathways to enable self-awareness through personality traits, diffusing and resolving conflicts within a team, and realizing potential pitfalls when trying to get a group consensus.  Prior to the session, the team was given the OCEANs-Big 5 Personality Survey and Tolerance for Ambiguity, which was analyzed by our first speaker, Julie Broad. Small group sessions with panelists Christian Zazzali, Matt Robinson, Jim Landau, and Scott Silveste, who represented stakeholder views from the owner, contractor, and consultant perspective, provided the opportunity to share and learn from each other’s personal experiences. Finally, the group learned how powerful transparency and a dollar can be through a real-time negotiation exercise led by Holly Ellis and Ali Fernandez.

Presentation #1 – Psychological Capital

Julie Broad, the founder of Organizational Sciences, LLC, and The Positive Organizational Behavior Institute, led an engaging conversation that defined untapped Psychological Capital (PC). Through her work with DHS and FEMA, she demonstrated the benefits of building up PC in order to increase resilience, self-awareness, and health and well-being. Ms. Broad stressed the importance of understanding ourselves both as an individual and as part of a team. She also outlined the HERO model:

  • H: Hope -Build hope by setting and maintaining goals using multiple pathways
  • E: Efficacy -Build efficacy (confidence) by going with natural passion
  • R: Resilience -Increase resilience by identifying creative pathways; reflect on assets vs. risks
  • O: Optimism – Increase optimism by positive self-talk and emotions

The group further learned about individual and team member traits by taking the OCEANs Big 5 Personality and Tolerance for Ambiguity survey.  Every personality has a place and a time, in a team.

Presentation/Activity #1 Photo

Presentation #2 – Round Table Discussion – The Architect’s Role: Working together with team members and stakeholders

Four professionals representing the viewpoints of a building owner, a contractor, and a consultant, discussed the architect’s role in facilitating conflict resolutions. Christian Zazzali, Vice President at HITT Contracting, discussed examples of finding paths to compromise and reaching solutions as a team, in lieu of leaving details to means and methods. Scott Silvester, Associate Principal at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., has dealt with complex structural designs and echoed Mr. Zazzali’s sentiment. Mr. Silvester shared a personal experience where honesty and acknowledging his own mistake eliminated the blame game and enabled the project team to come up with a quick solution.  Matt Robinson, Principal at MRP Realty, highlighted the process of getting to the root of a problem.  With his experience in the real estate industry and multi-family residential, Mr. Robinson shared a case study of how multiple floods in a building were resolved swiftly. Jim Landau, Director at MetLife Real Estate, added that good communication and collaboration leads to strong relationships that continue over multiple projects. The conversation continued through rotating small group discussions with each presenter. The conclusion, not everything drawn is buildable, but by working together towards a solution and showing kindness, one can establish a long-lasting relationship for the future.

[Presentation/Activity #2 Photo]

Presentation #3 – Activity: System in a Room

The last activity of the day, called “System in a Room,” was led by Holly Ellis and Alejandra Fernandez, both Senior Associates at Jones Lang LaSalle. Ms. Ellis and Ms. Fernandez have conducted this activity for various clients including businesses and other CKLDP classes. The goal of “System in a Room” is to challenge one’s ideals, pre-conceptions, and problem-solving skills. Participants each contributed $1 and were given pieces of paper with numbers or letters written on them. The four people (“management”) with letters were told to leave the room and were given instructions behind closed doors. If they got the remaining people “workers” to get in sequential order, then everyone would get $1.50. If they should fail, everyone would lose their money. The “workers” were given specific instructions as well: stay in their seats and keep their number.  If not, they would lose their dollars.  After re-entering the room and revealing the instructions given to them, “management” used transparency and honesty to win over the “workers” after a long, back and forth discussion. With five minutes remaining, the “workers” agreed to move and get in sequential order.  Ms. Ellis then mentioned that less than 5% of groups have success in getting the “workers” to move, which prompted a thoughtful Q & A. Despite culture, history, and pre-conceptions, this particular group succeeded through immediate, open communication and persistent transparency.

[Presentation/Activity #3 Photo]

Session 8: Developing Your Future With-in The Practice

Date: May 5, 2017
Location: District Architecture Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Carrie Parker, AIA LEED AP BD+C & Mary-Margaret Stacy, AIA LEED Green Assoc.

Session 8 (Full PDF)
Session 8 Agenda
Session 8 Speakers

When the profession is more inclusive, our clients and communities benefit. A talented group of speakers shared their experiences in working toward a more balanced gender, socio-economic, and culturally diverse profession.

Kathryn Prigmore encouraged scholars to push for more diversity in practice and in leadership roles. Prigmore shared the story of the Reeves Municipal Center designed after the area sat vacant for two decades following the riots of 1968. The design process of the Reeves Municipal Center engaged the community and still hosts vibrant community activity today. “Communities are revitalized when you embrace diversity,” says Prigmore. She highlighted opportunities through the Women in Architecture series, and the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit.

Randy Steiner shared her experience defying coworker expectations working as a female architect in a time when that was rather uncommon. She encouraged scholars to look past our preconceived notions and stereotypes when looking to hire young designers. Steiner has a passion for teaching, a perfect combination of design and psychology. She founded to Coalition of Community College Architecture Programs and advocates for the diverse strengths and passions that community college students bring to the profession.

Dr. Whitney Austin Gray brought the unique perspective of a public health expert studying the effects of buildings on people’s wellbeing. Gray encouraged scholars to get comfortable in spaces where they don’t know the answers, and to push themselves to ask questions of those with varied backgrounds. Gray outlined the importance of prioritizing diversity of thought. She encouraged designers to create buildings that are welcoming to all, stating, “when you design for the minority it benefits everyone.” Gray sees health and wellness as an architecture topic that’s here to stay. She recommended investigating the WELL professional certification as a way to gain more insight on the topic.

Jason Winters shared his innovative approach to practice. As an young architect, he was once told that he’d need to choose between the firm, and family. In an attempt to create a better balance, he started Kezlo group. Kezlo Group sees the firm as including not only its employees, but the families of its employees as well. The firm encourages working remotely and prioritizes work life balance. Winters’ ideas about the changing practice are outlined in the article “Balancing Act: How Firms are Adapting to the Modern Employee.” As adjunct faculty at University of Maryland School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, and the Architecture and Interior Design Department at Anne Arundel Community College, Jason teaches his approach to design process. He enjoys teaching at University of Maryland as a creative outlet, and sees teaching as a great balance to project work in the office. In both school and practice, Winters helps foster a strong diversity of design ideas as well as a diversity of design platforms.

The Internet of Things, and a multitude of apps are combining to automate technical processes in many fields. Brad Lukanic discussed ways this will impact how we practice. Perhaps in the future, applications will calculate code compliance and provide layouts for things like bathrooms and stairs. He encouraged scholars to examine new typologies as workplace and housing models shift. Lukanic recommended that scholars find workplaces willing to let them take on large amounts of responsibility, and take the leap and move on if they weren’t getting what they needed from their current offices.

Carl Elefante, the 2018 AIA President, closed the session with an inspiring discussion on the future of the profession. He encouraged scholars to recognize that it’s design impact that matters, not just the design itself. We must show the value of our designs, and we must value our environment. Life cycle assessment tools are making it easier to evaluate the carbon impact of our proposed buildings and renovations. We must show empathy and work to create healthy built environments for all.

Thank you to CertainTeed Ceilings and Mosa for sponsoring the session.