CKLDP-DC: 2019 Call for Applications

It’s time to get excited…. The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program’s (CKLDP) Application Submissions for the class of 2020 are just around the corner. Here’s what you need to know to apply!

What is CKLDP? Beginning in 2013, the AIA|DC chapter undertook an initiative to develop a program which would help train and nurture the next generation of leaders. With the success of the program, the CKLDP looks to secure a promising new cohort of scholars in 2020. The year-long program consists of nine half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of 16 emerging professionals*. Prospective participants must go through an application process for selection where proven career success, community involvement and the individual’s firm/agency support will be considered.

How and when are applications due?

What should I start preparing? Please click the following links for relevant information, instructions and forms: 

What do I need to submit to be considered? Applications must include the following. Incomplete applications may be disqualified:

  1. Letter of Interest – candidates must submit a one-page written letter of interest that describes your past experiences and interest in the program, as well as what you feel you will contribute to the upcoming class. Letters are limited to one page and uploaded in PDF format. (Last Name-First Name-Letter of Interest.pdf)
  2. Letters of Recommendation – each application must include a minimum of one and maximum of three, letter(s) of recommendation. It is in the best interest of the applicant to provide only strong letters of support/recommendation. Letters are limited to one page each and uploaded in PDF format. (Last Name-First Name- Letter of Recommendation-1.pdf)
  3. Personal Resume – including applicant’s education, employment history, organizations or activity involvement, and honors and awards. Resumes are preferred to be no more than two pages and uploaded in PDF format. It is NOT in the best interest of the applicant to simply submit a 1-page firm resume with project experience. Instead, include relevant topics such as education, community involvement, industry involvement, volunteer work, etc. (Last Name-First Name-Resume.pdf)
  4. Agreement Form – completed, signed, and uploaded in PDF format. Please click here to download a copy of the form. (Last Name-First Name-Agreement.pdf)

How do I learn more? There will be an “Applications 101” information session hosted by members of the CKLDP Selection Committee where candidates can ask questions about what to include and what not to include in applications. Attendance at this event is NOT mandatory for applications and will hold no merit on acceptance into the program. This event will take place as follows:

  • When: May 30, 2019 at 6:30pm.
  • Where: WDG Architecture
    1025 Connecticut Ave NW Suite 300
    Washington, DC  20036

Have more questions? Reach out to Claire or Teri for more information:

Clarification! The difference between a letter of interest and a letter of recommendation is a follows:

  • Letter of Interest – a letter of interest should come from the applicant themselves. The letter should address specific leadership skills that the candidate will bring to the program, as well as what the candidate expects to gain from the program. Applicants are still highly encouraged to provide additional letters of recommendations as support.
  • Letter of Recommendation – a letter of recommendation speaks to the leadership character of the applicant. Individual and specific stories are shared, which reinforce both the personal qualities and professional traits of the applicant. Letters of recommendation are encouraged to be provided by others who have worked closely with the applicant, but do not have to be from within the industry (church, university, client, contractor, coach, etc.).

We look forward to your application!

*An emerging professional is defined as someone who has graduated from college with an architecture degree and is within 10 years of their first licensure.

Session 7: Expanding the Definition of Practice


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

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


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

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


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


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!