Session 8: The Future of Our Culture

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Date: May 4, 2018
Location: District Architecture Center 421 7th Street NW Washington, DC 20004
Led by: Alison Pavilonis and Adam Davie
Sponsors: Coakley Williams Construction, AIA|DC

Overview
Eleanor Choi and Mike Johnson II organized the eighth and final session of the year focused on the topic, “The Future of Our Culture,” held on May 4 at the District Architecture Center. Through a series of presentations, small group discussions, and a unique personality assessment, CKLDP Scholars were able to gain insight into their individual management styles, better understand how biases impact decision-making, and hear about how a panel of industry leaders overcame bias and other challenges to find success. To close the session, the Scholars highlighted lessons learned over the course of this year’s CKLDP program, also discussing strategies for how to integrate those lessons into daily practice as they transition into principal leadership roles moving forward.

Presentation #1 – Personal Development: Understanding Thinking Styles and Skills to Best Impact Firm Culture
Understanding one’s own strengths and weaknesses and how to leverage them can be key factors to achieving success within a firm. With more than twenty years of experience working with diverse and influential companies, Cable Clarke, President of Clarke Consulting, kicked off the day’s session with a presentation on effective leadership styles and implementing culture change within an organization.

Prior to the day’s session, Cable asked participants to complete an online personality assessment that resulted in a comprehensive analysis of each person’s collaboration and management styles. Sharing anecdotes of how previous clients were able to utilize the assessment’s insights to improve company culture and team dynamics, Cable described several ways everyone might interpret the results of their personality assessments in order to become more collaborative, strategic, and effective leaders.

Looking Beyond Labels: Either/Or
Jamē Anderson wears a lot of labels: architect, artist, spouse, and mom were a handful of them she mentioned specifically, but a common thread tying these labels together was “maker.” Currently working as a Principal in SmithGroupJJR’s Cultural Studio, Jamē relies on her diverse artistic background to inform her architecture work and keep her inspired as she continues to take on new professional challenges and evolve her art.
After a fascinating overview of Jamē’s non-traditional career path as an artist, exhibition designer at the National Gallery of Art, and architect, Jamē then spoke on the topic of bias. Having studied in-depth the way women are portrayed in the arts, and experiencing her own journey through a male-dominated profession, Jamē has developed a strong point of view about the role bias plays in the workplace.

In an exercise intended to highlight others’ biases, the class divided into smaller groups and participated in an exercise where two hypothetical candidates’ resumes and interviewers’ observations were provided. After reviewing the information, each group was asked to select a candidate to hire and then explain why they made that decision. The follow-up discussion about balancing one’s subjective impressions and biases against a candidates’ qualifications on paper left the Scholars with some interesting food for thought as the activity ended.

Becoming an Architect and Career Challenges
A roundtable discussion moderated by Eleanor Choi and Mike Johnson II brought four esteemed architecture professionals to the table to share personal experiences regarding education, diversity, career challenges, and achieving work/life balance. Hazel Edwards, Ph.D, FAICP, Assoc. AIA of Howard University; Gene Klus, AIA, LEED AP of Stantec; Kevin Sneed, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C of OTJ Architects; and Jamē Anderson, AIA of SmithGroupJJR answered questions and shared their perspectives on changes impacting the field of architecture and architecture education.

CKLDP Reflections
“What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the CKLDP program? How will you apply what you’ve learned? What will your path be moving forward?”

Reflecting on these questions, this year’s class of CKLDP Scholars discussed their key takeaways as the program ended. A few of the points made include: discovering the many ways to be leaders together; gaining perspective into the diversity found within the practice of architecture; finding the courage to break out of one’s comfort zone; becoming inspired to engage more with the wider community; and learning how to advocate for a better, more equitable profession in which everyone thrives.

As Scholars talked, graphic artist Steph Brown translated the comments onto an oversize poster. By the end of the session, Scholars had filled the poster with lasting impressions from their nine months participating in the CKLDP program.

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Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program Applications Due

Event: CKLDP Application 101
Date:
May 29, 2018
Time: 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Location: Gensler (K Street Center for Graduate Education, 2020 K St NW, WDC)

In 2013, AIA|DC developed a program to help train and nurture the next generation of leaders in architecture. The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program is looking to secure a promising new group of scholars in 2018. The year-long program consists of nine half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of 16 emerging professionals. An emerging professional is defined as someone who has graduated from college with an architecture degree and is within ten years of their first licensure. Prospective participants must go through an application process where proven career success, community involvement, and the individual’s firm support will be considered.

The Applications 101 session will provide interested scholars with an overview of the program and application process, followed by Q&A. Attendees are welcome to attend the CKLDP 5-year celebration following Applications 101.

Organized by: AIA|DC Emerging Architects Committee

Deadline to apply is June 29 at 11:59pm.

Application Materials:

Session 7: Expanding the Definition of Practice

Date: April 06, 2018
Location: Perkins Eastman – 1 Thomas Circle NW, WDC
Led by: Claire Dickey & Lindsey May
Venue Sponsor: Pella Commercial; Perkins Eastman

Overview
The 7th session of CKLDP explored how the traditional definition of ‘practice’ is expanding. Through consideration of alternative practice models, research & critical thinking on social & economic design problems, scholars began to re-imagine the way the profession can evolve.

When Form Meets Content: Expanding the Definition of Practice
Hana Kim shared her trajectory from university, to practicing architecture, to artist, to her transition into exhibit design for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The skills she developed as an architect to coordinate a diverse project team, were a perfect fit for her roles as Exhibit Design Manager. Hana walked the CKLDP scholars through case studies of past projects which included the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and various exhibits at the Smithsonian American History Museum. Hana works with content experts, building managers, fabricators and other exhibit design firms, such as Exploratorium located in San Francisco, to shape the human experience surrounding sensitive historical objects, events and personal stories, into exhibits which resonate with the public.

The Expanding Role of Research in Practice
Utilizing internet meeting tools, the second segment of the session seven, included a lively exchange between two physically present speakers; Richard Schmitt with Thornton Tomasetti and Danya Hakky with Perkins Eastman, and two remote speakers; Andrew Burdick of Ennead Lab New York and author/researcher Anna Sussman in Boston.

Discussion topics covered a wide range. Andrew explained that some of their projects are brought on by social issues such as the need for creating and organizing refugee communities. While Richard, focused more on technology and using various software integration tools to help better understand the technical complexities within a building’s structure. Ann gave a taste of her research that concentrates on designing for the unconscious mind, by mapping different fixation points, using eye tracking software to evaluate architectural design. The conversation centered on how each participant has pushed the boundaries of the typical architectural practice.

The Architectural Lobby: Changing Architecture to Change the World
The closing portion of this session was devoted to considering the different business and ethical aspects of architecture, and a commitment to social justice within the architectural community. These types of issues are the undertaking of the Architecture Lobby and its organizers. The last speaker, Keefer Dunn is the National Organizer for the Architecture Lobby and is also founder of Pigeon Studio located in Chicago.

The diverse offerings provided by architectural firms, begs the question of whether current billable structures, long hours, and tight schedules, is a sustainable practice. This format lends itself to creating perverse incentives that can lead to a demoralized and drained team. The Architectural Lobby suggests that using a value based fee structure, may be more appropriate. Whatever the course of action, it is important that firms take care to consider the value of their teams, their time, as well as whether or not the project will benefit the community in the future.

 

Session 6: Industry Trends

Date: March 02, 2018
Location: StreetSense, 1750 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Led by: Chelsea Thompson & Stacey Bringar
Session Sponsor: Insite VR
Venue Sponsor: StreetSense

Overview:

Chelsea Thompson and Stacey Bringar hosted the sixth session of the year exploring Industry Trends at the StreetSense offices on Pennsylvania Avenue. Their program focused on practice adaptation, local food production, emerging design technologies, and real estate market shifts, all with the intent of exploring how innovative ideas can create lasting impacts in the profession.

Presentation #1 – Putting Resilience into Practice: Planning and Adapting:

Jon Penndorf, FAIA, of Perkins+Will presented planning for Resilience as an emerging school of thought for the architectural profession. The first question we must ask is why do architects need to be concerned with Resilience? A professional duty to the healthy, safety, and welfare of the public requires that architects pay attention to the environmental resilience of our planning. Additionally, our contractual duty to our clients demands that we evaluate the economic costs of non-resilience and the relatively low cost of minimal resilient interventions. Resilience can mean designing for shocks, which are sudden events like hurricanes or terrorist events; or stressors, which are gradual or long-term such as drought, sea-level rise or war. Penndorf illustrated the a variety of resilient strategies through several case studies and tools to determine resiliency risks such as National Climate Assessment report, FEMA Flood Maps, and NOAA Sea Level Rise Projection Tool. The next step in the Resilience movement is to quantify and regulate the standards. RELi – a resilience standard developed by Perkins + Will was recently acquired by the USGBC. This standard coalates to LEED, and other third-party certified standards, and creates a gold standard for planning Resiliency into the practice of architecture.

Presentation #2 – Incorporating Agriculture: The Why and How:

Next, the session dove into the weeds on one specific trend in the broader realm of sustainability, Urban Agriculture, and incorporating local food production into buildings and communities. Meredith Sheperd, the founder and CEO of Love & Carrots, presented her business and the intricacies of incorporating urban agriculture into architectural design. The United States has a public health crisis in which 1 in 3 adults is obese and our food production system is broken. Love & Carrots is a small business that provides productive food garden planning, design, and installation, as well as coaching and maintenance. There is substantial research and regulation currently focused on using urban agriculture to address both the obesity epidemic and the food production system. Sheperd then presented several case studies where Love & Carrots has established a working garden or local food supply. Love & Carrots works with the architect or community to locate and optimize the garden for production, builds and installs the garden, and then provides either some maintenance and coaching or fully manages the garden production.

Presentation #3 – Practical Uses of VR within the Design Industry:

 

Justin Benjamin is the Design Application Manager for Perkins + Will DC, and create a two-part session for the CKLDP scholars. In the introduction, he talked our class through his philosophy on incorporating VR into the design process and how it can be an effective tool if the focus is on project deliverables rather than simply innovation. Benjamin works to create reliable workflows for teams that require little start-up training. His primary tools are Enscape, IrisProspect, Revit Live, and Insite VR. After a brief overview of the software products and process, scholars then participated in a lively VR demonstration and exploration.

Everyone was able to test the goggles and move around in a project environment. There were several challenges to accomplish, for example: navigating to a specific location in the project, testing different movement types, drawing redlines in the 3D environment, and changing design elements in 3D. Overall the presentation and demonstrating gave the class a feeling for the possibilities of working with VR in a typical design process.

Presentation #4 – An Experience Consultancy:

The session concluded with a wide-ranging talk on commercial, residential and retail trends by two senior StreetSense consultants, Bruce Leonard and Cassandra Cullison. StreetSense is a collective of architects, designers, graphic designers, marketing & branding, analysts, brokers, and consultants that work with clients every step of the way through a real estate project. They specifically discussed their firm’s structure and strategy and the changing paradigm of retail real estate. The built environment has moved from commodity to strategy – turning the built environment into a user-interface. They spoke about the crisis retail real estate is facing, that the U.S. has 23 sf of retail per capita compared to 12 sf in Canada and 8 sf in Europe; with over 13 billion square feet of that retail space unoccupied or under-utilized. While there are not a lot of obvious solutions to this over-supply of retail real estate beyond demolition, StreetSense is working to create future facing solutions. Leonard and Cullison outlined a few of the paradigm shifts necessary for the current market: national anchor tenants vs. boutique, local retail & amenities, horizontally phased mixed-use vs. vertically phased, and consistency vs. sense of place. They used several case studies from across the country to illustrate these concepts, from Reston, Austin, Atlanta, and Washington, DC.

Chelsea and Stacey ended the afternoon with a happy hour at The Old Ebbitt Grill, a D.C. institution.