Session 5: Practicing Professionalism

Date: January 10, 2014
Location: NCARB – 1801 K Street NW, Suite 700K
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Kendrick Richardson, NCARB, AIA, LEED AP & Jon Toonkel, AIA, LEED AP

Session 5 PDF


The fifth session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was held at NCARB’s Headquarters on Friday, January 10th.  The topic of discussion, led by Kendrick Richardson and Jon Toonkel, was Practicing Professionalism.  The focus of this session was to gain deeper understanding of the complex legal and ethical issues surrounding the practice of architecture, and how to integrate them into daily practice.

The session was kicked off by a presentation on Professional Ethics by Jay Stephens, Esq., Hon AIA – Senior VP and General Counsel, AIA.  Jay’s presentation discussed the development of the AIA Code of Ethics, the ethical duties of Architects and gave real life samples of how ethics can be applied through a series of dilemmas.

Jay Stephens presents the AIA Code of Ethics and poses ethical dilemmas to the participants

Jay Stephens presents the AIA Code of Ethics and poses ethical dilemmas to the participants


The portion of the presentation dealing with a series of dilemmas was very helpful to understand how the Code of Ethics applies to real life situations.  Some of the questions put forth were:

  • Can an architect take the work of another architect if approached by a client?
  • Can you take work with you if you leave a firm?
  • What credit do I need to give to others?
  • What is the architect’s responsibility with clients?
  •  What is the responsibility for the works of others?

Jay’s presentation concluded with a description of the process when someone behaves unethically and possible penalties that can be imposed.

The second presentation was given by Stephen F. (Hobie) Andrews, Esq., Hon. AIA with the topic of Law for Architects 101.  Hobie’s presentation gave the class a basic understanding of the legal duties and obligations surrounding the practice of architects.  The presentation was divided into two parts: discussion on the Law in general and an interactive session to work with contracts.

During the first part, some of the topics that were further developed are:

  •  Code interpretation
  • Standard of Care
  • Liability issues
  • Tort Law
  • Negligence
  • Contract claims
  • Defense in Contract claims
  • Dispute resolution
  • Intellectual Property /Copyright
  • Insurance

During the interactive session the class had the opportunity to review a series of contract provisions that had some of the text modified to change the way the contract was supposed to read.  This was a very successful way for the class to engage with what had been discussed throughout the day and to better understand how a few words can make a contract unfavorable for either party and set an unrealistic set of goals for a project.

Participants review mock contracts and propose edits to problematic language.

Participants review mock contracts and propose edits to problematic language.


The last portion of the day was a discussion panel between Stephen F. (Hobie) Andrews, Mike Heatwhole, Executive Vice President & Partner, Ames and Gough and Jeff Nees, CFO, WDG Architecture moderated by Kendrick Richardson and Jon Toonkel.  The dialogue that took place allowed the class to understand the different stakeholder’s interest within contractual language.


The panelists discuss their perspectives and experiences on contracts, ethics, and law as they relate to the practice of architecture.


The candid conversation between panelists and class interaction covered a range of topics such as:

  • Types of insurance
  • Amount of insurance
  • Attorney’s and insurance fees
  • Insurance for different project delivery options
    • Design / Build
    • Design / Bid / Build
    • Integrated Project Delivery
  • Error and Emissions provisions
  • What type of contract and insurance can a small firm benefit from?

Session 4: Future of the Practice

Date: December 6, 2013
Location: Gensler: 2020 K Street NW #200, Washington, DC
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Danielle Lake, Associate AIA, & Luis Velez-Alvarez, LEED AP

Session 4 PDF


Round Table: Digital Tools and Technology Summary

Moderated by: Danielle and Luis

Panel: Erin Carraher, AIA, Zach Downey, RA, Jeff Gravatte, Hiroshi Jacobs, Assoc. AIA, and Phyllis Klein

The panel avidly promoted the use of technology to help facilitate collaboration and communication with the project team, consultants, client, and others involved. Several programs were mentioned such as Revit which help collaboration occur naturally through the software structure itself (software is collaborative inherently à inherently requires collaboration), although it was stated that no one program can solve all problems, nor should it! However, the question arose regarding liability: Can Information passed between parties be distilled to avoid liability; design liability?


Roundtable 1 Discussion


Through the discussion, the panel spoke of know general knowledge about as many aspects of a project & know the persons who know the person who know the specifics and can help you solve an issue that may come up. The current methodology of design drawings, created by the architect, and then recreated by sub-contractors in the form of shop drawings during the construction of a building was noted to waste time and money. With more collaborative project execution methods, drawings may only need to be drawn once.

Another question arose through this discussion: If a model uses contains “auto-building” to assist in constructing a project, how does one really know the details of the model (if one did not draw them)? The idea of the FABLAB was mentioned in its use to create better collaboration internally in a firm. And it’s validity has already struck the interest of other professions including contractors. Visiting any large construction site once will see how much construction uses technology. Now, As-builts are live! There is usually someone full time on the jobsite updating as-builts. As a result there a continuing race with BIM technology: Architects cannot make it an option by project managers. Rather people who understand the BIM process & how to use this type of software need to use it. Not just for marketing but to show the value of an Architect to a client: you don’t just show a client an image but energy calculations, cost analysis and more (this can show the benefit of the software and offset the initial software expense and learning curve).

As Architects we need to take risks or contractors will keep taking on more and inherently have more control of the outcome. “We need to stand firm and put our ass on line and take risk back!” Furthermore, the AIA Should be educating the Owners and not just Architects: what questions to ask Architects on a project, know what they should value (i.e. ask for energy modeling from architects). This then allows the project budget to include added research and energy calcuations.

Presentation: Role of the Citzen Architect

“It looks good from afar but far from good.” Keith and Marie Zawistowski presented a slice of their ongoing architectural practice and teaching experiences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Set on having control of both the design and construction, they have set out to do it themselves. Learning through doing, they presented projects using old, reclaimed, re-used, or donated materials to create new shelters (public & private). They made a point to mention that old materials are reusable unlike materials of today which are not. Through their teaching experiences, they help students understand the processes of design and the cause and effect relationships of time and budget.


Keith and Marie Zawistowski

Presentation and Round Table: Integrated Project Delivery

Moderated by: Danielle and Luis

Panel: Graham Davidson, FAIA, Elizabeth Kinkel, Assoc. AIA, Bill Kline, AIA, Tom Krajewski, Tim McCurley

The AIA defines Integrated Project Delivery as leveraging early contributions of knowledge and expertise through the utilization of new technologies, allowing all team members to better realize their highest potentials while expanding the value they provide throughout the project lifecycle.

This presentation and round table presented current stats of design and construction:

-54% of work is delayed from when originally projected
-30% waste factor in construction
-20% result due to design, 10% by contractor
-3 deaths each day in nation in construction field

Versus prefabrication which allows the compression of scheduling time, but it was noted that it is important to experience the entire traditional process at least once. The MacLeamy Curve was introduced to graphically show the benefit of IPD.


MacLeamy Curve

One of the fundamental purposes of IPD is to push design changes to the earlier stages of the project (blue region). This reduces the changes made during a project to earlier stages and reduces costs associated with change orders. Remember, it’s cheap to change things in the beginning. In IPD, all persons (client, contractor, architect, main consultants and sub-contractors) sign the same contract.

With IPD, the Cash Flow Model is also different: main subcontractors are paid early on with all other persons involved because all are working congruently to design the project. This process is not cheap, but statistically provides the most value for dollar; it uses a shared financial model where each person is both at risk and paid hourly without any profit, but receives profits as well when milestones of a project are met, depending on the execution of the collective whole. However, sub-contractors are paid on a GMP method to give incentive.


IPD also uses the idea of co-location to design and discuss the project and any problems that may arise; this is a meeting intensive project model and the owner needs to drive the process from beginning to end. This is also a project model which requires trust; go into IPD with people you already know and have worked with! Usually with a core group of approximately (8) persons, IPD has so far been used for Hospitals and Historic Renovation projects; it is not always appropriate for every project type, because it requires unanimous agreement by all person in the core group. To help, each person needs to truly understand what the other core group members need to fulfill their responsibilities. The person of the core group need to be experienced and should direct the risk of a particular component into the hands of the person(s) who can manage it best. No longer is the Architect responsible for answering and resolving all questions, rather, the team works as a whole. This does not mitigate risk but instead manages it better. If the core group is to succeed, there must be at least one person in the group who can answer any question that may arise.

Session 3: Effective Communication

Date: November 1, 2013
Location: RTKL: 2101 L St NW Suite 200, Washington, DC
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Amaya Labrador, Associate AIA, EDAC, Lean Six Sigma CE & Aimee Woodall, AIA, LEED AP 

Session 3 PDF


The third session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was held at RTKL on Friday, November 1. The topic of discussion, led by Amaya Labrador and Aimee Woodall, was Effective Communication. The session focused on a series of interactive programs that encouraged exploration in effective verbal, non-verbal, and digital communication, and concluded with networking tips practiced over an in-house happy hour celebration.

Following an old-fashioned game of ‘Telephone’, the communication session kicked off with an exciting and energetic workshop titled The Human Connection: Bring you Presentations to Life!, by Carol Doscher of Graceworks Inc. Graceworks is a public speaking, training, and coaching firm that focuses on clients in the building and real estate industry, and Carol is the President and CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer).

Carol’s presentation was so much fun, and had the entire class participating in presentation techniques that include BIG BOLD movements and most importantly, focus on individual connections. Most importantly, Carol taught us that the presentation is about the audience, not about the presenter. Her coaching techniques included reliance on minimal graphics (a concept that is sometimes difficult for architects and designers to turn away from), rather focus on telling the story of the project, the sales pitch, the team, etc. It was easy to see Carol’s background in theater during the coaching and training, and Carol encouraged all of the CKLDP participants to reach beyond the podium or the Power Point to connect with their clients, audiences, even peer groups. The Graceworks portion of the program ended with eager volunteers from the CKLDP (Michael Rouse and Jeff McBride) each sharing with the class the story of why they love what they do. It was entertaining, inspiring, and confidence-boosting all at once.


Following the workshop by Graceworks, Amaya and Aimee presented a short group of slides describing non-verbal communication and body language. It was interesting to compare the overlapping themes between Carol’s tips on human connections and some of the scientific research that Amaya had compiled on body language, human psychology, and facial expressions.

Facial Exp

Keeping with the theme of communication, RTKL Firmwide Communications experts Laura Ewan and Ashley Ross provided insight into the many forms of digital communication that are popular in the age of social media. Ashley presented the most popular social media and digital resources of today, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. She debunked some social media myths and also spoke in general about professional guidelines and etiquette. Laura Ewan then described some of the ways that RTKL uses digital communication and social media resources. Laura continued the presentation by focusing on how emerging professionals can utilize digital communication in a leadership role.

digital comms

Laura’s message was clear – develop your own brand and strive for consistency across all forms of social media that you use. While social media is an effective way to receive news and updates, it is equally effective for sharing and conveying your message and your motivation. She suggested that each of us should think of ourselves as a company, and brand ourselves accordingly based on what we want people to know and remember about us. Laura suggested that development of a personal brand was one of the most effective ways to engage and network with people you want to know and work with. In doing so, Laura and Ashley explained that as emerging leaders, we are all part of the business development leg of our firms. Lastly, they encouraged CKLDP participants to participate in AIA tweet-chats, help on the first Tuesday of every month.

The day ended at RTKL with Business Development professionals Jeanne Wood and Daniela Gaither providing tips on networking and developing a good elevator pitch. CKLDP participants broke into teams for a hands-on approach to write and deliver their elevator pitches, and Jeanne explained how important it is to follow up with new contacts within 24 hours-to-one-week after networking events. Her final summary recapped themes from the previous programs of the day, repeating again the importance of human connection and relationship development as the building blocks of effective communication.

Session 2: Firm Foundations

Date: October 4, 2013
Location: American Institute of Architects – 1735 New York Avenue Northwest
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Jeff McBride, AIA, LEED AP BD+C & Michael Rouse, AIA, NCARB

Session 2 PDF


On October 4 the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) met at the AIA National Headquarters to discuss the topic of Firm Foundations.  The session focused on three major themes: how architecture firms are started, how firm finances work, and how senior leadership works at established architecture firms.   Over the afternoon the CKLDP participants explored these themes with local architects through two roundtable discussions and a presentation.

The first roundtable discussion explored the barriers and opportunities architects face when starting an architecture firm. Five principals from young architecture firms participated in the roundtable: David Bagnoli and Adam McGraw of McGraw Bagnoli Architects, Sacha Rosen and Lee Rubenstein of R2L: Architects, and Griz Dwight of Grizform Architects.  The discussion covered a broad range issues including: the logistics of starting an architectural practice, best practices for transitioning from previous offices, methods for procuring new work, and advice for young professionals considering starting their own firm.

It was exciting and inspiring to hear the principals talk about their diverse experiences starting their firms.  For instance, Dwight Griz opened his firm with only a single project and a belief that the firm could succeed, while McGraw Bagnoli Architects and R2L: Architects were both slowly launched over a number of months with well developed business plans. However despite their different approaches, all the principals in this round table agreed on the importance of building and maintaining a strong networks.  This included not only a broad network of potential clients and partners for the new firm, but working to ensure that the launch of a new firm did not alienate past employers.  They also agreed that early projects are an important tool for young firms- to both showcase their design talent and get their name out to a larger audience via word of mouth.  The roundtable discussion ended with all the parties agreeing that starting a firm, while incredibly daunting, has been extremely rewarding and a worthy adventure.

photo 1

Yolanda Cole of Hickok-Cole Architects followed the first roundtable discussion with a great presentation titled ‘Keeping the Boat Afloat’.  With simple graphics and a step-by-step narrative, Yolanda was able to clearly explain how firms develop fees, how market factors affect fees, and how to manage projects and manpower to keep on budget.  Yolanda even had financial modeling of a fictitious firm to demonstrate how architecture fees relate to firm success and profits.  Ms. Cole spoke not only about how to use these tools when running a firm, but also how young professionals can apply them in their current positions.

photo 3

The final event of the afternoon was another roundtable discussion focused on the transition, ownership and management. This roundtable focused on the experiences of three firms:  David M. Schwarz Architects represented by Craig Williams, Hartman-Cox Architects represented by Lee Becker and RTKL represented by Karl Stumpf.  Over the course of the roundtable discussion a number of issues were covered including: firm history, legal structure, decision-making policies, project management, ownership transitions, and office culture.

The final roundtable discussion focused on strategies to ensure business success over the long-term.  The speakers highlighted the importance of making business decisions that reflect the identity and character of a firm.  Long-term planning should take into account the influence that location, type of work, and staff leadership has on business decisions.  For example, the speakers pointed out that each architecture firm at the roundtable is intentionally structured differently (Hartman-Cox is an LLP, DMS is a PC, and RTKL is owned by a publicly traded company) and is thus able to respond to different areas and locations of practice.  There was general agreement between the firms that leadership transitions are one of the most sensitive and important elements of business longevity.  It was fascinating to hear the steps that each company has taken to ensure not only successful transitions in leadership, but also to use these transitions as an opportunity to strengthen the firm.  For example, Karl Stumpf noted that previously at RTKL, vice presidents bought shares of the firm and were able to keep them in perpetuity.   Today, RTKL’s transition is focused on the next generation of leaders and promoting those people to the management level in the company.  To encourage this transition, VPs are required to sell their shares to the next generation of leaders within the firm.