Session 8: The Future Of Our Culture

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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

Overview
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

Session 7: Expanding the Definition of Practice

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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

Overview
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

Session 6: Industry Trends

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Date: March 1, 2019
Location: WeWork 777 6th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20001
Led by: Gina Volpicelli, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Devon Hogan, RA, LEED AP BD+C
Session Sponsors: WeWork, Quinn Evans Architects, Colliers International, The Living, HITT Construction, Adaptive Studio, Graphisoft
Session Downloads: Session 06 Guide

Overview
March’s session on Industry Trends was fittingly located at WeWork, a nationally trending hot spot for collaborative workshare spaces.  Presentations focused on Industry Trends with a heavy emphasis on technology, sustainability, and research.  The session comprised of multiple presentations by industry professionals including architects, BIM consultants, and contractors, as well as an interactive activity where scholars grouped together to experience “Building Overtime”.

Presentation #1: Virtual Reality and Augmented reality Technologies in Real Estate
The afternoon’s first presentation was given by Karen Whitt, of Colliers International. Karen oversees property management assignments in the United States for Colliers International.  She, along with a third-party consultant, The Layer Group, are educating landowners on current and future risks and potential revenue opportunities of Augmented Reality in the built environment.

Buildings are currently being used as a gateway for commerce experience. This integration is set to explode with the forthcoming implementation of the 5G network.  Courts and landowners are looking to understand who owns the rights to Augmented Reality on buildings and public spaces.  Risks include unintentional and unwanted AR activity on any given property. The potential revenue opportunities include advertising, rent, and data collection for the owner.  AR integration into the built environment also has many implications for Architects including the aesthetic alterations of buildings, the impact on Historic preservation, and zoning regulations.
Presentation #1: Virtual Reality and Augmented reality Technologies in Real Estate

Presentation #2: Round Table & Scholar Image Discussion
The second part of the afternoon began with the individual images, “visual disruptors” impacting the future of the industry, selected and explained by each scholar.  The images targeted many topics including generative design, prescriptive programming, robotics, global population growth, AR/VR, and wealth inequality.

A round table discussion followed with a group of diverse industry representatives. Julie Siple, who oversees Quinn Evans Architects’ sustainability practice, spoke about climate hazards and climate change impacts. She shared case studies of ways Architects are living up to the challenge of making more sustainable buildings.  David Stone, Director of Virtual Construction at HITT Contractors, spoke about the challenges the AEC industry faces with implementation of virtual workflows.  He showed how HITT is using VR technologies to review and coordinate issues in the field.  John Skippers, a BIM consultant with Adaptive Studio, shared the current state of Revit implementation among firms, including examples of Dynamo and Data standards.

A lively discussion followed the presentations, during which scholars actively engaged the panel in conversation about the risk and reward of the industry, the ability to track success and failures through data systems, and the role of regulation in successful sustainability efforts.
Presentation #2: Round Table & Scholar Image Discussion

Group Activity: Building Over Time
During this group activity, scholars were split into 4 groups of 4 and given a vague task of creating an object by folding paper.  Initially, scholars were given a set of written directions, representing specifications. Next, scholars were given a set of 2-D diagrams, representing construction documents. Finally, scholars were given a set of 3-D diagrams, that could also be used in a virtual environment.  A conversation followed regarding the Architects’ role and deliverables of instruments of services.

Marcus Monroe, a BIM Consultant with Graphisoft shared information about Virtual Reality (VR) implementation into the architectural office workflow.  Marcus explained the BIMX mobile tools and integration with ArchiCAD, which offers friendly user interface for navigating construction documents and presentation drawings.
Group Activity: Building Over Time

Presentation #3: Projects from Autodesk Research Studio
The final presentation of the afternoon was given by Lorenzo Villaggi, a research scientist associate with The Living, an Autodesk Research Studio. Lorenzo presented three concepts and case studies including Bio Computing, Bio Sensing and Bio Manufacturing.  Each case study utilizes information derived from biological sciences, research, computer programming, and fabrication.  For the Bio Computing project, the studio created an algorithm to develop geometry based on the growth of Slime Mold.  The Bio Sensing project combined natural intelligence with artificial intelligence by using living organisms in the water to retrieve information and data on the health of the water. The Living studio developed a “Bio Manufacturing” process using living organisms as tiny factories to create building blocks for an installation at MOMA’s PS3.  Lorenzo shared that he sees generative design as one part of the process, as architects are responsible for curating outcomes.  Ultimately, he said, AI will not replace design knowledge, but will be an integral part of the way we work and design buildings.
Presentation #3: Projects from Autodesk Research Studio

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!