Session 9: Public Policy and Advocacy

Date: May 2, 2014
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Marcy Giannunzio, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CDT, & Mindy Goodroe, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Session 9 PDF


Presentation: AIA|DC’s Advocacy Committee

Presented by: Carolyn Sponza, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Carolyn Sponza kicked off Session 9 with an informal discussion about the impact and role of architects in public policy and advocacy at its most local level. Together with her colleagues on the AIA|DC Advocacy Committee, Carolyn interfaces with the local regulatory agencies and government groups to bring attention to local regulations, practices, and policies which matter to the practitioners of architecture in the District of Columbia. These issues range from requirements for professional licensing to the city’s approach to transit-oriented development.  The CKLDP participants were particularly impressed by two major accomplishments of the committee over the past year – the hosting of a mayoral candidate forum in which all the democratic candidates participated to discuss issues of interest to the architecture and design community, and the roll-out of ANC Process Workshops focused on training ANC commissioners throughout the city on matters of zoning, design, and the public realm.


Presentation: AIA Advocacy

Presented by:   Adam Melis, AIA Director, Political Affairs & Engagement and Andrew Goldberg, Assoc. AIA, AIA Director, Government Relations and Outreach

Adam Melis and Andrew Goldberg direct a large portion of the AIA’s public policy and advocacy efforts on the national level, and provided a tag-team presentation outlining both the AIA’s involvement on these fronts and the need for architects to be engaged in these efforts. There are two main groups of issues that architects should concern themselves with – business issues such as small business regulations, liability, permitting, permitting, procurement, education, licensing, taxes and healthcare; and built environment issues such as zoning, development, resources conservation, and building codes. To a large degree politicians listen to people who are actively involved, participating and leading in the advocacy process – hence, the more involved and outspoken architects are as a group, the more power we have to influence policy, legislation, and practice.




Session 8: Beyond Green

Date: April 4, 2014
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Ana Baker, AIA & Jason Kasparek, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C, APX

Session 8 PDF


Session 8, Beyond Green, was a dynamic afternoon that provided information on the next era of sustainable design in a variety of formats.  This session planned by Ana Baker, AIA of Cunnigham Quill Architects and Jason Kasparek, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP or ZGF Architects, posed the important questions of what is next in green design and construction, and how do we go beyond LEED and the conventional approaches to sustainability.

Bill Browning of Terrapin Bright Green kicked off the conversation with a presentation on his research and project work that was influenced by the ideas of biophilia, which looks for connections between humans and other natural systems and patterns.  Commonly referred to as biomimicry, this process looks to nature for inspiration and solutions for design problems. He had the group glued to his presentation as he outlined the 14 patterns that inform the built environment, and how design benefits from incorporation of these principals.

Diane Sullivan, senior urban planner of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and Otto Condon, AICP of ZGF Architects next spoke on a case study, the SW Ecodistrict.  Have you ever wondered how to transform an enclave of mid-century modern federal buildings into a vibrant thriving 24-7 community where people, live work, and play that reduces greenhouse emissions and creates new sources of renewable energy?  NCPC and the extended team of partners and consultants are trying to answer that question (and many more) as they attempt to achieve their goals set out by Executive Order 13514.

The group then had a tour of the USGBC headquarters.  The office space is a showcase of sustainable materials and design approaches and showcases the newest LEED evaluation tools.  One of the most intriguing aspects of the tour is the new LEED dynamic plaque. This plaque is coming soon to a project near you and the USGBC headquarters has the first prototype installed so they can see if their facility is successful at meeting their energy and water reduction goals.


The final part of the session was a round table panel of leaders in the field of sustainable design moderated by Ana and Jason.  The panel represented a range of interests and roles in the discussion – large and small design firms, engineering firms, general contractors, and academia.  Panelist included David Bell, AIA, LEED AP, Founding Principal and President, Bell Architects, Chris Grech, RIBA, Director, Master of Sustainable Design Program, Catholic University of America, Anica Landreneau, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, Principle, Director of Sustainable Consulting, HOK, Bungan Mehlomakalu, PE, LEED AP, Principal, Integral Group, and Apryl Webb, LEED AP, AVS, Preconstruction Manager, Skanska USA Building. A great discussion took place, engaging the audience, and addressing the future trends of the profession.


The theme of resilience and how our designs need to respond, change and stand the test of time was prevalent in all of the sessions and provided the group with a new way to look at the future of sustainable design.

Session 7: Working Together

Date: March 7, 2014
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Marek Hnizda, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C & Kathryn Slattery, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Session 7 PDF


Teambuilding Activity: Marshmallow Challenge

Moderated by: Kathryn Slattery

The kickoff activity was a team-building marshmallow challenge. Based on a friendly in-house contest started by employees at Intel, teams of four people are tasked with coordinating the construction of the tallest self-sustaining tower possible in 18 minutes. The structure, built using various building elements provided: strands of spaghetti, tape and twine, must support a marshmallow at its top. The clock started as soon as the challenge was announced and material were distributed, creating a sense of urgency as teams quickly strategized an approach to execute the design and construction.

After time had expired, only one tower was able to be self-supporting, coming in at 29 inches in height. Congratulations to Team Marek, Melinda, Danielle and Sean!


Facilitator Presentation: Partnering for Profits, Teaming for Fun

Presented by: Charlie Silver of M. Silver and Company

Charlie presented the concept of Partnering to get various construction stakeholders to work together harmoniously. Partnering is a formal management process in which all parties to a project voluntarily agree at the outset to adopt a cooperative, team-based approach to project development and problem resolution to eliminate — or at least reduce — conflicts, litigation, and claims. The process is typically used for large construction projects, but also applies for smaller complex projects. Partnering has been of proven benefit in improving the quality, cost effectiveness, and timeliness of projects using the process.


The Partnering process is organized by establishing four components: a Charter, Communication guidelines, a Problem Solving system and an Issue Resolution process. The first step is for the group to create a Charter with common goals and a clear mission statement (example: “Open Communication”). The Communication process is aided by individuals taking a DISC assessment test, a personality assessment tool, to help the group determine the most effective forms of communication for the project. The formal Problem Solving process is established by the group to identify issues that need attention and an Issue Resolution system is set in place to provide a fast and fair method to decide potential disputes.

Charlie presented and discussed case studies from that his company was involved in. As a Partnering facilitator, Charlie has to stay neutral and works for the project, not necessarily for the client who is cutting his paycheck.

After the presentation and a Q&A session, the class broke up into smaller groups and worked on team-building exercises, such as sharing little-known facts about ourselves and coming up with common group traits (ex: we are all wearing shoes).

Round Table: Large Project Team Complexities and Strategies

Moderated by: Marek Hnizda

Panel: Charles Wesberg of CEW Project & Development Services, John Grounds, AIA of HKS Architects, Michael Pittsman of Davis Construction, John Edwards, AIA of Bonstra/Haresign Architects, Robert Walker, PE of William H. Gordon Associates

The group is currently working on a large-scale design project in Arlington County for an undisclosed client. The design of the master planned campus, led by Bonstra/Haresign Architects with entitlements management by William H. Gordon Associates) includes the plans for a 30-plus story tower, directed by HKS Architects with pre-construction services provided by Davis Construction. The group discussed their specific roles and how they work together in the overall project.


As the owner’s representative, CEW Project & Development Services is in charge of coordinating all the consultants and maintaining the project schedule. This is established, among many other activities, by weekly meetings, documenting all decisions, and creating visual diagrams of decision paths and timelines, many of which were shown and discussed to the class. A very high level of detail is required to proceed quickly and to establish a sound cost estimate at early stages of the design.

Tour and Presentation: Commission of Fine Arts

Presented by: Thomas Luebke, FAIA, Secretary of CFA

Meeting in the CFA’s boardroom at the NBM, Tom discussed the history and current day influence of the Commission. Established in 1910 by Congress, the Commission of Fine Arts is charged with giving advice to the Federal and District of Columbia governments on matters of design and aesthetics, as they affect the Federal interest and preserve the dignity of the nation’s capital. The Commission consists of seven “well qualified judges of the fine arts” who are appointed by the President and serve for a term of four years. Within DC, the Commission advises on design matters affecting the Historic District of Georgetown, under the Old Georgetown Act, as well as other private sector areas adjacent to federal interests, under the Shipstead-Luce Act. The Commission also provides advice on the design of coins and medals, and approves the site and design of national memorials, both in the United States and on foreign soil.


The Commission reviews about 700 cases a year, the majority of which are design issues concerned with new construction or renovations to existing building. All federal projects get reviewed as do most private construction projects in Georgetown and areas that fall under the Shipstead-Luce Act. A separate commission, the Old Georgetown Board, reviews and articulates opinions on projects in Georgetown before they get to the larger Commission.

Large, recreated watercolor paintings from the McMillan Plan hung on the walls of the boardroom, where public meetings are held once a month.

This session illustrated many effective ideas of working together at different levels: within the internal team, as consultants coordinating on a project and at the regulatory level. Success is best achieved when operating across all these levels.

Session 6: Serving Communities

Date: February 7, 2013
Location: District Architecture Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Gregoire Holeyman, AIA, LEED AP & Ricardo Rodriguez, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Session 6 PDF


On Friday, February 7, 2014, the sixth session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was held at the District Architecture Center. Organized by Greg Holeyman, AIA & Ricardo Rodríguez, Associate AIA, LEED AP, the day focused on Serving Communities and emphasized the point that good design should be for everyone.

At the beginning of the afternoon, Steven Spurlock, FAIA, Principal at Wnuk Spurlock Architecture, presented a lecture on the importance of Pro Bono work and giving back to the community. Steven discussed the many benefits of pro bono work, from improving office culture, to getting your name out, to simply advancing the profession. He also stressed the important aspects to consider when taking on this kind of work, from the lessons he has learned throughout his career, including mixing non-profit and for-profit work. Echoing comments made by speakers throughout the day, Pro Bono work should be thought of like any other project in the office, and go through the same framework and processes, including a formal contract with the owner.

As a follow-up to the themes of the first lecture, leaders of local firms presented some of their own projects and discussed how they approach public interest design. While varied in their firm size and structure, Todd Ray, FAIA, Suzane Reatig, FAIA, Stefan Schwarzkopf, AIA, LEED AP, and Steven Spurlock, FAIA all presented significant examples of public interest design, ranging from local residential projects to a small school and housing complex in Haiti. The presenters discussed the significance of doing your research and evaluation on a non-profit organization and establishing ground rules with the client before committing yourself to a project. As an architect, there is a lot of value you can bring to any project, and it is important to not be taken advantage of. The phrase “Pro Bono” means “For Good” and is frequently mistaken to mean “For Free”, and there are many ways to offer your help at reduced rate and donated service.  


Jess Zimbabwe, AIA, AICP, followed the first roundtable with a passionate keynote on how architects can effectively use their abilities to serve in leadership roles within their communities. From her perspective, architects are uniquely suited to help given their skill set in identifying the problems at hand and a methodical approach to solving them. Using her own career as a case study, she discussed the organizations she’s been involved with in cities across the country, and recommended resources to follow up to become part of the movement.


The final event of the afternoon was a panel discussion on community engagement from an alternative perspective, the view of the client. Though repeating some of the points (and praise of architects talents) made by earlier speakers, Lawrence Huff, Andrew Huang, Kristina Castro, Josef Fuentes, RA, LEED AP, and Max Skolnic shared their own insight into successful Pro Bono work.  While encouraging general volunteering (Max claimed that he has probably made hundreds of PB&J sandwiches), skills based volunteering has a much better impact in the community. As the panel saw it, even the smallest Pro Bono project can enable an organization to reduce the amount of time spent on miscellaneous things, and more effectively focus on their core mission.


Public Architecture:

Washington Architectural Foundation:

Institute Guidelines to Assist AIA Members, Firms, and Components in Undertaking Pro Bono Service Activities: