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

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


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.

Session 4: Community Engagement

Date: January 12, 2018
Location: Robert Silman Associates 1053 31st St NW
Led by: Ming-Yi Wong and Adam Greene
Venue Sponsor: Robert Silman Associates; Bonstra Haresign Architects

Ming-Yi Wong and Adam Greene organized the fourth session of the year focused on community engagement. The session kicked off with a presentation by Janet Bloomberg on the tenets of volunteerism, the reasons we volunteer, and what some of local programs look like. We then transitioned to a panel presentation and discussion on the redevelopment of the Georgetown Canal, reinforced with a foot-tour of the canal, which runs directly adjacent to the venue. Our third speaker, Allie O’Neill from the Neighborhood Design Center, provided a presentation and led an interactive discussion on the grassroots aspects of a community-oriented design organization.

Presentation #1 – Community Engagement at the Personal Level: Washington Architectural Foundation
Janet Bloomberg began her presentation focused on the reasons we decide to volunteer. For most people this tends to be the Personal Reward, or the value of working on something you care about. Others are motivated by Community Responsibility. We are often connected to communities through our projects or even where our practices are located. Janet highlighted organizations she volunteered for as a student and walked us through some of the programs she started here in Washington DC and her work with the Washington Architecture Foundation. This provided an excellent segue into challenging our scholars to take a hard look at the programs the WAF supports and provide constructive feedback as well as to come up with examples of volunteer programs we may be missing.


Presentation #2 – Community Engagement at the Professional Level: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Park and Georgetown Heritage
Our group was introduced to a panel of professionals working to revitalize, activate, and interpret the National Park Service assets in Georgetown, turning them into inviting, inclusive, and inspiring. Their efforts are focused on the C&O Canal National Historic Park. The panel included Sophia Kelly from the National Park Service and Scott Walzack and Maggie Downing with Georgetown Heritage. After a short introduction, the panel gave us an overview of the history of the Canal and its related components. They walked us through the importance of why the project came to fruition, how their organization was started, what it took to get the project to its current state in which portions of the canal already under restoration, and what future efforts may entail to bring their full schematic design to fruition. It was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the various community organizations in place and what new entities had to be created to efficiently blend the complex nature and variety of demands that comes from a project touching so many different people/ businesses and how they’ve been raising money to fund the entire process. It’s clear that as the project progresses, the historical and natural impacts must be considered simultaneously and it is important to keep in mind what that means on a local, national, and even international level. We then took a foot-tour of the canal from 31st Street to the trailhead of the Capital Crescent trail to understand the physical challenges faced and see the progress that has been made while learning a few interesting historical facts along the way.

Presentation #3 – Community Engagement at the Grassroots Level: Neighborhood Design Center
The group rounded out the day with an interactive discussion lead by our third speaker, Allie O’Neill from the Neighborhood Design Center, on the grassroots aspects of community-oriented design. She discussed how organizations like hers engage with the public to make a project successful and responsive to community needs. Allie posed important questions to the group such as “Why don’t we interface with so much of the population [as Architects]?” and “What is social design?” We reviewed some important historical milestones of community development in urban environments and discussed how good design is not just about aesthetics but, more importantly, also about creating buildings and spaces that can be functional, maintainable, and reflect community principles. After reviewing the tenets of her design process, we completed community needs surveys, playing the role of the community in question. The exercise shed light on how to engage a group of community members in order to solicit their ideas and input.

Session 3: The Art of Negotiation

Date: December 01, 2017
Location: City Market at O, Rooftop Lounge – 800 P St NW
Led by: David Kaplan and Adam Crain
Venue Sponsor: City Market at O

In this year’s third CKLDP session, David Kaplan and Adam Crain organized an event on The Art of Negotiation featuring three compelling presentations. Michael Hraber started the afternoon speaking from his experience working with architects from the perspective of an insurance broker. This presentation focused on managing risk and role of contracts in that process. Following that presentation, Meredith Moldenhauer spoke to the scholars about her experience leading architects and clients through various approval processes. She shared strategies for negotiating with neighbors, councilmembers, ANC’s, and various other stakeholders that may initially oppose a project. After a short break the scholars were led on a building tour of City Market at O by architects Joe Corridore and Andrew Taylor from Shalom Baranes. The final presentation was led by Tiana Russel, an attorney at the Department of Justice, which taught scholars negotiation tactics though a series of bargaining simulations. After each simulation, Tiana broke down the critical steps that lead to a persuasive argument and successful negotiation.

Presentation #1 – Risk Drivers & Contractual Pitfalls in the Practice of Architecture
Michael Hraber, an insurance broker at CBIZ, spoke to the scholars about lessons learned from his experience working directly with architects. He explained the concept of risk; strategies for avoiding, transferring, assuming or controlling that risk. These concepts were further developed by reviewing historical insurance claim data broken out by project type. Following this discussion, Michael went on to present various owner-architect contract types. While the AIA contracts are preferred, owners often strategically modify these contracts or provide contracts of their own that can leave the design team exposed if the risk is not properly managed.

Presentation #2 – Zone, Development & Community Engagement
Meredith Moldenhauer is a lawyer who utilizes strategic negotiations to lead architects and clients through various approval processes. She opened by debunking several common myths of negotiation which led into discussion on the importance of compromise. In DC there are a host of regulatory agencies, neighbors, and other critical stakeholders that often oppose your project and the architect should clearly demonstrate how successive designs compromise by responding to stakeholder feedback. Responding to these concerns can be done creatively by considering a wide range of negotiation issues; materials, height, use, or even construction timeline. Meredith went on to emphasize the role of overdesign in project development. Successful projects build in margin that allow room for negotiating down to the bottom line during public review processes.

Tour of City Market at O
The afternoon’s series of presentations was punctuated by a building tour of City Market at O by the design architects Joe Corridore and Andrew Taylor of Shalom Baranes. Scholars were taken though around the buildings, though the grocery store, and even into an apartment unit. The tour included fascinating stories about the design and construction process that led to the successful completion of the project.

Presentation #3 – Techniques and Process of Negotiation
The last presentation of the day was led by Tiana Russel, an attorney at the Department of Justice, which taught scholars strategies for negotiation through a series of bargaining simulations. Scholars were broken up into groups of two, each member was given a separate set of instructions which initiated a series of negotiations. After each simulation, Tiana spoke about the conversation mechanics that lead to a successful negotiation. Scholars went on to perform additional bargaining simulations, further refining their body language and ability to construct persuasive arguments.