Session 08: The Future of our Culture

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Date: May 01, 2020
Location: Zoom Virtual Webinar
Led by: Steven Grossenbacher and Rachel N. Redmond
Sponsors: EXP| Engineering, Architecture, Design and Consulting; Page Southerland Page

Downloads: Session 8

This was the final session of the 2019-2020 scholars and second virtual CKLDP session due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This session, entitled The Future of our Culture, was extremely relevant given the current state of the global pandemic. Scholars were able to reassess their personal management inventories, which we were first introduced to in session one; discuss technological and innovative disruptions and advancements to the design culture’s status quo; and explore the ever changing methodologies of internal and external design factors that architects and designers face.

Activity #1 – Learning from Leadership Styles and Self-Assessment – Part 2

The first session was again led by Cable Clarke, President of Clarke Consulting in Washington, DC., which is an international consulting firm, founded in 1994. Each scholar was able to reassess their Life Style Inventory assessment and determine what areas of improvement were realized during that past 8 months. Individual and collectively scholars were able to compare what areas saw dramatic improvement and what areas may have differed from their original assessment. This reassessment allowed the group to focus more on the intricacies and nuances in understanding ourselves and others.   Cable then presented strategies and other techniques for improving and utilizing these characteristics to positively implement change and best practices in one’s industry.

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Activity #2 – Technology Culture: Effects of Technology and Innovation on Design Culture

The second session pivoted from the internal reflection of session #1 to the stark realities of the outside world.  Led by Chris Tisdel of Ruckus Innovation Consulting, the session focused on how innovation shapes our culture and profession.  Chris asked us simply this – if you could enhance a process by the millionth degree – what could be possible?  The question forces the solution making process on its head and frees the designer to think outside of the box.  Chris walked us through his consulting agency and how he works on innovation with design firms across the nation. The session paid special attention to the recent Covid-19 realities.  Scholars were pushed to think of what the current crisis means for our profession in a very thoughtful and engaging way.

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Activity #3 – Urban Culture: Panel Discussion on the Direction of Market Trends, Development and Preserving Urban Fabric

The last session of the day was a panel of experts in the fields of preservation, urban planning, and finance that discussed the hurdles and opportunities that both the culture and profession are facing in the current crisis.  Marnique Heath of STUDIOS Architecture spoke about the outlook of architecture firms in the local DMV context and how capital A architecture would be effected.  Kristen Jeffers, founder and editor-in-chief of the Black Urbanist multimedia platform, spoke about how the community needs to respond in a grassroots, hyper localized effort to the aftermath of this pandemic.  The last speaker, Tyrone Ross Jr., owner and consultant of 401 and Director of Community at Altruist, painted us a picture of the financial ramifications of the pandemic and how this would affect our communities.  While session #2 focused on the “what if”, session #3 focused on reality, as we dove deep into the topics of what a response looks like in our city to this pandemic in the here and now.  This was a very challenging session and somewhat somber, but a necessary topic which all scholars appreciated.

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Session 07: Expanding the Definition of Practice

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Date: April 03, 2020
Location: Zoom Virtual Webinar
Led by: Chris Haverkamp and Joe Iwaskiw

Downloads: Session 07

This was the first ever virtual CKLDP session, held remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The speakers that participated in this session focused their presentations on the different types of architecture practice and the different ways of working within the profession. The session featured digital presentations, Q&A sessions, and an interactive sketching workshop. The timing and format of this session was very fitting, as we are all learning new ways to practice while working from home.

Activity #1 –‘Defining…’ The Wow Factor and the Spectacular Line

The first presentation was by Moh’d Bilbeisi, who spoke about the “importance of drawing and dreaming” and translating ideas to paper. He started his presentation by sharing examples of his work and how he uses drawing to portray ideas and concepts. Moh’d finished his prestation with a group virtual drawing. During the exercise he emphasized “9 Laws of Perspective” to remember to help create better drawings. The “Laws” as he described, are as follows:

  1. Find the horizon line first and locate the vanishing point on this line (always)
  2. Always draw at eye level
  3. Objects get distorted the closer they are
  4. Always start from the front and work to the back
  5. Converging lines – to vanishing points
  6. Foreshortening (item disappears at horizon line)
  7. Composition
    • Establish a focal point
    • Intensity of the sketch at focal point
    • Foreground, middle, back
    • Rule of thirds
  8. Scale and relative proportion
    • Judge using a pencil at a fixed length away from your eye
  9. Line quality
    • Sharp pencils and quality pens
    • Confident strokes

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Activity #2 –‘Expanding…’ The Architect Developer Value Proposition

The second presentation was led by AJ Pires of Alloy LLC. Alloy started in Brooklyn 14 years ago and continues to work in NYC today. It is a multifaceted firm that provides services that often include development, design, advisory, construction, management, and “whatever else it takes” over the life of a project. The company acts as the owner/developer, so they hand pick a select few projects every year that interest them because they will work on these projects over the entire life of the building. Deciding which projects to develop is a rigorous process that involves the following steps:

Step 1: What would be the right “thing” for the site (program), look at demographics, comparative products, etc.

Step 2: SWAT analysis and comparatives, identifying specifics of the project

Step 3: Design (gross, loss, efficiency, life safety compliance)

Step 4: Budget (using comparative info)

Step 5: How much to pay for land (critical)

Each of these steps is completed on a potential project before a decision is made and once complete, they have the information needed to make an informed decision.

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Activity #3 –‘Innovating…’ The tooling of Innovative Practice

The final presentation was given by Minyoung Song and Scot Teti of SHoP Architects. Their presentation focused on SHoP’s unique design and fabrication process, which they highlighted by describing the design and construction process of the Steinway Landmark Building, 9 Dekalb, and the WaPo Building.

Scot and Minyoung also described how the firm viewsprojects as a “kit of parts” and how they often look to other industries for inspiration in fabrication, automation, technology, and building methods. They see themselves as thinkers and makers and there are several in house tools and resources to support this, including a 360-degree virtual reality room and a model shop.

At SHoP, they are constantly looking for better ways to deliver information to contractors, questioning traditional methods of production, and experimenting with new fabrication methods using traditional materials.

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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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