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.

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]