Session 06: Industry Trends

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Date: March 06, 2020
Location: American Geophysical Union; 2000 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
Led by: Andrew Bickell & Lindsay Brugger

Downloads: Session 06

In this session on Industry Trends, scholars explored the idea of resilience and how it relates to new opportunities to serve clients and communities while anticipating and designing for shocks and stresses. This session taught scholars how to analyze design strategies and use leadership skills to apply this process in a firm setting.

Activity #1 – The Business Case for Resilience

Katharine Burgess moderated a panel on climate change and real estate, identifying financial challenges and opportunities for leaders within firms. Panelists included Jessica Long with Nuveen, Jim Landau with MetLife, and Kimberly Pexton with JBG Smith. Panelists began by discussing how insurance companies utilize risk management to create resiliency standards and how architects should have the initiative to dig deeper and ask questions to investors. Developers may not be thinking about this, yet, but investors are. The future is going to get hotter, wetter, and more volatile so architects and designers are encouraged to aim for energy efficient and cross disciplinary solutions. The takeaway: financially, everything boils down to risk, and climate change is moving faster than policies and projects.

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Activity #2 – Shocks and Stresses Analysis Workshop

Dr. Janice Barnes, managing partner at Climate Adaptation Partners, discussed how to identify risks and vulnerabilities of clients and how to design to meet goals for resilience. Janice began the session with the message on how to see things differently and how not to turn our heads away from vulnerability and risks. Her hashtag #wecantunknowthis encourages designers to take a problem and ask how to mitigate the vulnerabilities that are identified.
Janice led a workshop to show scholars how easy it is to identify low and high likelihood stresses as well as ranking them from low to high consequence. This activity shows how shocks and stressors can have a compounding impact. This is an easy activity to take to any firm or client to start the discussion on vulnerabilities and how to mitigate and adapt to foreseeable events. After all, climate change is not covered in the building codes.

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Activity #3 – Building Tour of American Geophysical Union

Architects of the American Geophysical Union gave a guided tour to see some of the spaces showcasing the building´s energy saving systems. AGU has four net-zero strategies including generation, reduction, absorption, and reclamation. Scholars toured the command center, viewed the hydroponic wall, learned about the municipal sewer heat exchange system, and saw a portion of the storm water collection and reuse system.

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Activity#4 – Calamity and Adaptation Workshop

The final activity for Industry Trends was led by Ann Kosmal. Ann began by explaining the difference between resilience and adaptation, an important distinction when discussing issues such as climate change. Ann explained the four steps of determining stages of resilience: identifying exposure, identifying the dominant factor, determining plausibility, and determining coping capabilities.
Ann stressed that architects and designers have the duty to elevate the client’s knowledge and demonstrate foreseeable risks. Designers also can discuss the cost impacts for mitigation versus revenue loss to the client.
Scholars ended the day discussing how to bring back conversations on resilience to firms and how to use leadership skills to start the conversation with clients.

Session 05: Closing the Deal

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Date: February 07, 2020
Location: 700 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
Led by: Tanya Ally and Krutika Shah

Downloads: Session 05

Through a series of presentations and activities the session covered topics such as branding, presentations, business development, and networking for different types of businesses and us as individuals in the industry. The first two presentations of the day focused on tools to develop ourselves professionally as we take on new roles and responsibilities in our careers – from the values of good presentations to using your own personal ‘branding’ to better represent yourself and your firm. A quick tour of the venue provided an opportunity to move around. A discussion with the project’s architect informed scholars about the architectural approach and how the building’s design was adapted during construction for incoming tenants. The day was rounded out with a panel discussion with four industry professionals about business development strategies – including the importance of building relationships, having a plan, and following up.

Presentation #1 – How to Capture your Audience by David Gerson

The first presentation of the day was by David Gerson, the Chief Brand Officer for Inscape, and centered around the art of presenting. David walked through his tips and tricks on how to focus your audience while not being over the top or demanding and emphasizing the importance of speech control. Before any presentation there are steps you can take to be successful, including arriving early with ‘tech support’, introducing yourself to members of the audience to learn names because “people want to hear their own names,” and PRACTICE. He also showed how pacing your speech, inserting pauses, and asking questions can keep members of the audience more engaged for an overall more successful presentation.DSC_0059

Presentation #2 – Brand & Beyond by Laura Ewan

Laura Ewan, Director of Marketing and Communications at Hickok Cole, presented on the importance of marketing and branding for any individual and company to further your future or the future of an office. Laura introduced what a brand really is – Mission, Culture, Projects, and People – and how having these topics developed is important for the office to be able to move in their desired direction. We were reminded that a firm’s brand “is not what you say about your office but what others say about your office”. We learned that we market ourselves through our ‘What, How, and Why’ and of the importance of not only being brand ambassadors for our firms but also advocates for our personal careers in our ‘elevator pitch’ and social media profiles.

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Presentation #3 – Building Tour of 700K by Siobhan Steen

A quick building Tour of 700K at Anthem Row with Siobhan Steen, a Project Manager from Hickok Cole, demonstrated how the building was developed and the design adapted during construction to meet specific client needs – tech companies occupying the lower floors to support the new neighboring Apple store at Carnegie Library and law offices on the upper levels. Working with the existing structure, the design team made major structural changes at the upper level to expand square footages and allow for wider bays. The expansive entry lobby was created by removing part of an existing second floor, changing the level of the first-floor slab, and relocating the main entrance from a previous pedestrian entry around the corner.

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Presentation #4 – The Art of Rainmaking – Panel with Kathleen Coxe, Brad Marson, Barbara Miller, Laura Roth moderated by Krutika Shah and Tanya Ally

In the final activity of the session, Tanya and Krutika moderated a panel with a group of local business developers from the design and construction industry. Each of the panelist explained how their company has approached business development, which varied across their respective fields, and shared insights into how they learned to set themselves apart from the competition. Kathleen Coxe spoke about how their team has a company meeting at the beginning of each year to make goals for each month and how individual offices across their network respond with a planned approach based on their local industry. Brad Marson spoke about how attending conferences and meeting people working on the specific types of work they are interested has helped broaden their client field at Wiencek Associates. Barbara Miller and Laura Roth both discussed the importance of keeping in touch with clients, consultants, and new contacts because one day they could be the person who gives you a job or recommends you for one. Barbara noted that she was once told that only about one of every ten people you meet at a networking event may follow up, so FOLLOW UP!

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Session 04: Community Engagement

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Date: January 10, 2020
Location: Brookfield Properties–301 Water Street SE, Washington DC, 20003
Led by: Allyson Klinner AIA, and Jenna Bolino AIA

Downloads: Session 04 PDF

This session focused on the much anticipated 11th Street Bridge Park project as a major theme.  The first speaker, Omar Hakeem from BC Workshop discussed his history in the design industry focusing on Public Interest design and community engagement.  During this conversation, he showed his firm’s work related to the Bridge Park as well as other public interest projects across the country.  Ted Jutras of the Capitol Riverfront BID led the group on a walking tour of the park site as the second session of the afternoon.  Scholars then met with Brenda Richardson to discuss her background in the park project and other work she has done for stakeholder engagement over her career. The last sessions of the day were led by Sheldon Clark of the Douglass Land Trust and Allyson Klinner and Jenna Bolino.  The group learned about the history of Community Land Trusts and how the Douglass Land Trust operates and followed up with an interactive workshop to look at the area in Ward 8 just beyond the 11th Street Bridge Park Project.

Design Justice Through Community Engagement

The first speaker was Omar Hakeem, design director of [bc]. Mr. Hakeem presented his history of work that focused on design justice through community engagement. By focusing on the individual design decisions of the thousands that impact the direction and future of cities, he led the scholars on the many local ways they could leverage the needs and wants of local constituencies to push for better solutions to seemingly intractable poverty and catastrophe. Additionally, Mr. Hakeem invited scholars to understand how they could leverage their own work in their firms to express their personal values and shared his own projects from Dallas to Washington, DC. Additionally, he presented ways in which his work had used data analytics to arm residents with the information and context to make their own change and disrupt and re-establish the power structures that keep people poor.

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Discover the Community Site Walk

The second session was a walking tour of the 11th Street Bridge Park project site with Ted Jutras, from the Capitol Riverfront BID. The BID area encompasses around 500 acres between I-395 and the Anacostia River. It is one of DC’s quickest developing neighborhoods. There are 10 acres of park across the area already, and there are plans to bridge across communities with a future 11th Street Bridge Park. After over two years of community engagement, design is underway to be finalized. A major goal of this park will be to not only bridge communities but focus on engagement with the river and environmental education. The scholars enjoyed this walking tour and a chance to chat with Ted about the history of the park project.

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Connecting Communities: Benefits of Stakeholder Participation

The second speaker of the day was Brenda Lee Richardson, a self-described “eco-feminist” and environmental justice advocate who has been involved in local government, oversite and community activism in Ward 8 and beyond for over twenty-five years. Ms. Richardson brought the scholars through her rich history of local engagement including campaigning on behalf of a DC United soccer stadium at Poplar Point, environmental advocacy for the Anacostia River and the 11th Street Bridge Project. Her advice focused on the need to be persistent in engagement, putting in the leg work, seeking those who aren’t consistently engaged being mindful of their mental bandwidth competing with other personal issues and always going back again an again.

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Methods for Ensuring Equitable and Inclusive Development

The last speaker session was led by Sheldon Clark, co-founder of Define Design Group. Mr. Clark is also an adjunct professor at Howard University and the President of the Board of Directors for the Douglass Community Land Trust. He led the scholars in a presentation and discussion about the history of Community Land Trusts and specifically what the Douglass Community Land Trust does in the DC area. In his career, his focus is on community engagement and accountability, and affordability for those in need of housing. The group discussed how CLTs operate, affordable housing in the District, as well as how equitable development plays out in both rental and ownership models.

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Housing in Ward 8 Workshop

The final part of the program involved a brief exercise where groups of four scholars took a parcel in Ward 8 in proximity to the 11st St Bridge project and roleplayed as developer, architect, community activist and local official. Armed with the zoning information and site context, these groups then brainstormed an ideal development scenario that would balance the interests of appropriate density, public and community needs, commercial use and existing infrastructure. Though most teams devised some scheme that included an affordable housing component in addition to market rate, there was a diversity in programmatic additions like community space, retail, green space and supportive services.

Session 03: The Art of Negotiation

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Date: December 6, 2019
Location: Perkins Eastman –One Thomas Circle NW, Suite 200, Washington DC 20005
Led by: Tom Zych, AIA and Valerie Boudreaux, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP

Downloads: Session 3 PDF

Upon hearing the word ‘negotiation’ in the context of the architectural profession, one may initially think of contracts. This is certainly a fundamental aspect of the business of architecture that drives relationships and agreements; however, through various activities and discussions, scholars soon realized that the term negotiation encompasses more. As architects, we employ persuasion, empathy, and ethics, to not only form agreements, but also to align stakeholders around a collective vision, to effectively communicate complex ideas, and to advocate on behalf of ourselves or others.

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Kurt Robbins from Graceworks, led the scholars through a dynamic workshop he likes to call, “any time you open your mouth training”. These face-to-face interactions, whether speaking at a conference, presenting to a client, or networking, hinge on human connection. The first step to being contagious is to trust yourself and be vulnerable, but ultimately, the presenter’s task is to “help your listener get your message”. Every interaction is not about you, it’s about them.The scholars engaged in a series of exercises to practice essential communication skills such as authentic introductions and handshakes, the craft of listening while you speak, a physical warm-up, body language, and visualizing concepts through a combination of purposeful gestures and thoughtfully edited graphics. Captivating an audience of any size or disposition is not merely the execution of a flawless performance; it involves both verbal and non-verbal discernment to deliver a powerful, visceral experience. Mr. Robbins adeptly demonstrated this balancing act while facilitating the workshop, proving that communicating doesn’t have to be stressful, and in fact, it can be energizing and fun!

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In a change of pace, Jeffrey Morris, AIA, a managing principal of WDG Architecture’s DC office, gave a refresher on contract negotiation fundamentals, while also providing insights gained throughout his career. Using a sample contract, heexplained how almost every section of an AIA contract is revised and how each unique contract serves as a roadmap and costing mechanism to transition from one phase to the next for the project team. Mr. Morris shared advice for establishing fees, schedules, and being very specific in outlining scope of work and additional services. He cautioned against incorporating words such as comply, guarantee, will, must, etc. that imply a promise or ultimatum to reduce liability. It is in everyone’s best interest to not go to court, and once again, the human connection comes into play, as it is key to sincerely understand the owner’s and other stakeholders’ concerns and expectations.

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Every negotiation involves multiples perspectives and the final panel, including Jessica Bloomfield, an attorney at Holland & Knight, Brett Swiatocha and Mary Rankin, architects at Perkins Eastman, and Janice Szymanski, Director for Facility Planning and Design at DC Public Schools, talked about projects they have partnered on and delved into how to navigate the often times arduous process. The panelists described the hallmarks of a successful negotiation as moving the project forward in a positive way through compromise and representation of all voices. The interests ofdistrict agencies and the community don’t always align, and as a result, educating/mentoring, listening, and advocating are essential to arrive at solutions that best meet everyone’s needs. Being transparent and not jumping to conclusions will help to overcome conflict and rally around a mutual end goal. Not surprisingly, the human connection was stated as critical to understand what is at stake for each individual, especially during a process that is messy and complicated. 

A familiar quote by Maya Angelou was referenced not once, but twice, during the session: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This sentiment eloquently sums up the common thread of human connection. Coming to a consensus takes more than rationale or logic. There is always a dimension of humanity and emotion tied to decisions and actions. Despite whether one agrees with the outcome of a negotiation, treating others with compassion and dignity is the mark of an exceptional leader. Scholars learned that approaching negotiation, not by thinking about what is in it for them, but rather by willingly considering what the other parties involved hope to gain, will lead to establishing trust and bring far greater value.