Session 7: Research and Practice

Date: April 7, 2017
Location: Milken Institute School of Public Health
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Marisa Allen, AIA, LEED AP ID+C and Lance Eubanks, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Session 7 (Full PDF)
Session 7 Agenda
Session 7 Speakers

Summary

Research and education are rapidly becoming two of the most crucial differentiators in the hyper-competitive practice of architecture. Firms that successfully integrate research into their practice advance their value to the community and provide a greater value proposition to the clients they serve. These are the core issues explored by Lance Eubanks and Marisa Allen, and furthered by their speakers who discussed strategies for incorporating research into their firm profile, education as a means of maintaining professional relevancy, and the positive social impact of incorporating both research and education to further our collective understanding of the health and wellness of the people who inhabit the built environment.

The first speaker of the afternoon was Michele Russo, the senior director of research at the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Michele’s current work at the AIA focuses on developing and fostering practice-relevant research “to amplify and make more accessible the knowledge and research available from AIA members, universities, and other building industry institutions.” The key tool for this is what the AIA refers to as Building Research Information Knowledgebase, or BRIK. BRIK was developed in 2014 to enable and support the building research knowledgebase, and to act as a central repository for non-biased, professionally reviewed and trusted content. Michele feels strongly that the AIA’s role is to act as facilitators of knowledge and education to increase research literacy with practicing professionals. The AIA accomplishes this by providing research based lectures at the annual Conference on Architecture, it’s web learning portal AIAU, and by forming partnerships with practicing professionals and firms actively engaged in research. Additionally, the AIA has heeded the call from firms to involve the next generation of professionals within the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS). To accomplish this the AIA has introduced a new program to bridge the gap between professionals and students called CRIT Scholars, which is a mentorship where students partner with firms to work on a research project

Immediately following Michele was Andrea Love, who is the Director of Building Science and Associate Principal at Payette in Boston. As a prerequisite to her presentation, Marisa and Lance invited the scholars to watch an AIAU webinar entitled Three Firms’ Approach to Integrating Research in Practice, which featured speakers from Sasaki Associates, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, and Payette. The webinar was valuable with respect to providing a thematic framework for the session’s key topics.

Andrea began by describing Payette as a “dynamic, inquisitive studio environment,” where research is led by the Building Science Group and is heavily integrated into the firm’s culture. Payette’s research motivation, or business case is predicated on their desire to be thought leaders in the narrow healthcare architecture market, to provide staff with education and career development opportunities, to design better performing buildings, and to provide a culture where staff is afforded the time and ability to answer recurring questions that come up during design. The research process at Payette creates “partnerships between people that have hair and those who don’t have hair; people who maybe have a lot of knowledge but not a lot of time, with those that have more time but maybe not as much knowledge.”

Currently, Andrea estimates that about 69 of the 140 people, or roughly 40% of the staff are working on research projects, where employees explore a variety of topics, with the majority focusing on energy and building performance issues. The research process at Payette provides employees with billable time and concrete deadlines to foster research when there is a lull on a project. This is reinforced with meetings at predetermined intervals to encourage employees to make progress on their research projects. Key to their research is to target “sharing of findings internally and externally” by speaking at conferences, writing blog posts, and maintaining a robust research page on their website where they can share their findings. Andreas outlined a few examples of research projects on the Payette website, which includes their research on thermal bridging, which was funded by winning the Upjohn Grant in 2012. Other notable projects focused on natural ventilation in healthcare and their 2016 AIA Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Innovation award winning research on glazing and thermal comfort which produced a glazing and winter comfort tool available on their website.

After Andrea spoke, Michele was invited back to the front of the room for a brief question and answer session. Scholars solicited advice from Andrea regarding effective strategies for convincing firm leaders that there is value in research. Andrea indicated that research has yielded value by way of branding and providing a competitive advantage, creating business development opportunities by speaking at conferences, maintaining client relationships, and increasing the quality of work. Liability was raised as a possible issue regarding sharing information; however, Andrea indicated that they classified their published web-based research under the umbrella of the AIA’s definition of “standard of care” and a legal disclaimer which mitigates their risk.

After the panel, the group was addressed by Stephen Chung, who is an architect and principal of his firm, Stephen Chung, Architect, and the creator of the public television series entitled “Cool Spaces! The Best New Architecture.” Stephen opened by positing the following question: “how [can] we as architects… provide value to the community?” This query was born out of his personal journey after the 2007 economic downturn- a drastic rescission that saw about 30% of architects, including Stephen, lose their jobs between 2007-2011. His curiosity led him to investigate how the public perceives architects, what we do, and ultimately to discover how shocking the lack of connection to architects truly is. The architect, Stephen argued, is most often portrayed in popular culture as the “Starchitect,” an elitist professional that’s not in touch with mainstream culture and represents a small fraction of the overall design community. It’s because of this inaccurate portrayal, and the general lack of respect that the profession was receiving, that Stephen found his key message: “architects solve everyday problems.” He made it his mission to educate the public by exploring new vehicles and ultimately discovered that creating a television show would be the best platform to convey his message. After attending acting school and appearing in a few small roles, Stephen pitched various networks and learned that a simple core message, packaged in a repeatable platform was how Cool Spaces! would eventually get on the air with PBS. He ended with the following takeaway: much like the design of a building, “any production is the result of collaboration.”

The scholars were then invited to take a self-guided tour of the venue, the Miliken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University. The building’s meandering main atrium afforded the scholars and speakers the ideal time to enjoy the building and engage in additional conversations that related to the material presented thus far.

After the tour, the scholars had the opportunity to engage in a presentation and a panel discussion comprised of three professionals- Abigail Brown, Susan Piedmont-Palladino, and Karl Feldman. All three are currently involved in a range of research endeavors within the practice of architecture.

Abi, who currently works at Hickok Cole Architects, presented on her firm’s approach to integrated research incubator, iLab. iLab is a program at Hickok Cole Architects that provides “microgrants” to employees who are passionate about pursing research topics outside their normal project workload. Receiving an iLab microgrant involves a rigorous proposal process, whereby the firms’ leadership awards employees billable time to investigate a compelling research topic. Abi was one of the first participants in the program in 2014, when she was awarded the opportunity to study an interest of hers, modular multi-family housing in D.C. This led her to several speaking engagements and opportunities to present her ideas to other like-minded design professionals.

Susan Piedmont-Palladino, who is an architect and the director of Virginia Tech’s Washington/Alexandria Architecture Consortium (WAAC), addressed the group next. Her interest at the WAAC, which is a highly international, globally connected graduate program, is in forms of communication. Specifically, Susan is focused on how we communicate- both in terms of our natural language (speech), and graphical language, which is acquired. Representation and communication is her obsession, and through her research she has found two main types of graphical communication styles, “drawings that draw from the world” and “drawings that draw to the world.” The former, Susan argues, is indicative- and requires an allegiance to truth. The latter, which speaks to the effectiveness of architectural renderings, has an assumed understanding and can make the world different by “enrolling someone in our wishes.”

The last speaker of the afternoon was Karl Feldman of Hinge, who is involved in research in the architectural practice, and more specifically how research can help you grow. Karl contends that research plays an important role in helping answer the questions that are holding you back, and that “even bad news is good news.” By understanding your target audience, a firm that engages in frequent research can act on an objective basis, help focus efforts and resources to be in better alignment with your firm’s niche market. Ultimately this strategy is fundamental to understanding your target audience and building engagement with potential clients by repurposing content to a variety of platforms.

Lastly, the speakers were all invited back to the front of the room for a brief question and answer session. The panelists all agreed that when you’re communicating, whether it’s graphically or verbally, figuring out exactly what you’re trying to say is paramount and requires focus, thought, and discipline. The panelists were then asked about how to build interdisciplinary research efforts within a firm, a concern for many young architects who tend to become “siloed.” Abi was adamant that putting yourself out there and pushing yourself was the key to breaking out of the silo. Related to Abi’s suggestion, Susan left us with perhaps the most compelling take-away of the day, and her area of focus at the WAAC; “we are not training people, we want to educate people to be internally resilient.”

2017 Call for Applications

Featured

OVERVIEW

In 2013 the AIA|DC Chapter established a program to help train and develop the next generation of architectural leaders.  Demonstrating sustained success since its inception, the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program looks to continue this trend by calling for applications to the 2017 class.

The year-long program consists of nine monthly half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of sixteen emerging professionals – defined as someone who has earned a degree in architecture and is within ten years of their first licensure.  Prospective participants will go through an application process for selection through which they must demonstrate proven career success, community involvement, and full support by their firm/agency.

CURRICULUM

The CKLDP focuses on core professional skills, such as: entrepreneurship and firm management; teamwork and collaboration; negotiation skills; client development; community leadership; understanding industry trends, and; developing your future within the practice.  The selected scholars to CKLDP will plan and participate in each of the sessions.  The program is kicked off with a “Boot Camp” session to introduce the participants and develop the curriculum for the year.

APPLICATION

Applications for the Program are due by Monday June 26th 2017 at 11:59 pm. To apply, visit the following link: Application Link
Please have the agreement completed (Agreement Link) and ready for upload.

If you are applying for tuition assistance, please visit the following link and fill out the form along with your application: Tuition Assistance Link

Want to learn more before you submit your application?

CKLDP Applications 101 is on June 5th 2017 from 6:30pm-8:00pm @ HKS (1250 Eye St NW Suite 600).. The CKLDP 2017-2018 Selection Committee will discuss the benefits of participating in CKLDP and how to successfully apply. Register and find out more via the following link: http://www.aiadc.com/event/ckldp-applications-101.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the difference between a Letter of Nomination and Letter of Recommendation?

Letter of Nomination – a letter of nomination should come from someone who is familiar with the program and Institute as a whole, as well as 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. The nomination letter should also explain why the author and/or author’s firm see the candidate as a current and/or future leader. A self-nomination letter from the applicant is also acceptable, but note that self-nominations are 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.).

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

The Fifth Year sessions will be held monthly from 12:00pm – 5:00pm, September 2017 through May 2018. You can find more information here.  Please contact Kate Renner (Chair) & Ricardo J. Rodríguez (Past-Chair) if you have any questions.

Session 6: Industry Trends

Date: March 3, 2017
Location: The Studio Theater
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Tim Nuanes, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Clay Jackson, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Session 6 PDF
Session 6 Agenda
Session 6 Speakers

Summary

How is new and emerging technology shaping the profession of architecture? This is the question addressed by Clay Jackson and Tim Nuanes in their seminar for the 2017 Christopher Kelley Leadership Program. Throughout the afternoon’s session, presenters discussed how new technology is redefining business models, the many uses of virtual reality and augmented reality technology, the impact of “big data” and the architect-consultant, and how all of these tie together in architectural practice.

Hosted at the Studio Theater (14th and P St, NW), Session 6 of the 2017 CKLDP began with David Woessner of Local Motors kicking off the afternoon with a perspective from outside of the field of architecture.  Local Motors is an automobile manufacturer founded in 2007 with the mission of solving niche product needs through mass production on the scale of just a few thousand. Local Motors strives to shape the future, influencing humanity through the hardware they provide by taking advantage of 21st c
entury technological advances.

00_LocolMotors“What would Henry Ford have done in 1908 if he had the internet?” Woessner asked. “How would his assembly line structure be different?”

The team at Local Motors sought out their own answer to this query, structuring the organization by mirroring two major emerging trends: co-creation (i.e. crowdsourcing) and micro-manufacturing.  Through a co-creation platform, engineers and designers come together as a “hive-mind” to generate solutions for complex problems; they rely on cloud-based collaboration tools and brainstorm internationally.  On the production end, the manufacturer strives to “do complex things utilizing the best tooling and software to produce complex products on a limited footprint.” Or in more basic terms, create big things in small spaces. While the complexities of the auto industry and manufacturing may be foreign to most of the Scholars, there are transferrable lessons to be learned from another industry that has used technology to reinvent its entire process of design and production.

Following the lecture from Local Motors’, the session pivoted to a focus on technology becoming more ubiquitous in the field of architecture through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Hailing from Canada, Anthony Murry and Thomas Hirschmann of The Third Fate detailed their application of virtual reality for storytelling of spaces through the lens of “past, present, and future.”

00_ThirdFate-1Focusing on the past, The Third Fate uses VR to capture the memory of a place.  This can recreate an experience for someone else – such as amazed recreations of the BIG maze at the National Building Museum, or unglamorous moments such as the dilapidation of the Miami Marine Stadium. In the realm of “transforming the present,” VR is a tool for experiential tours, such as their idea for Battersea Station. Visitors to an historic smokestack could take in present day London in reality or, through virtual reality, experience London as it was during the World War 2 air strikes with barrage balloons floating high above the city.  In the final segment called “envisioning the future,” the speakers discussed the importance of a “render-to-real ratio” to trick your brain into thinking the entire rendering is real.

Throughout The Third Fate’s presentation, the group engaged in a discussion of morals and ethics in storytelling – in recreating the past through virtual reality, how do you distinguish between what was real and what is a modern conception superimposed into the past? Will virtual reality introduce a more real experience of a design concept, complete with “the un-prettiness of reality?”, e.g. street signs and traffic signals that block a view and are obscured from typical design visualization.

While the Third Fate focus their work in virtual reality, the group got a glimpse of augmented reality through Bill Santos of Gensler. Santos introduced the Microsoft HoloLens and its potential as the workspace of the future. Virtual monitors projected on a real-life surface can allow you to transform any seat or piece of wall into a workstation. Some of the challenges to integration right now are the reliance on Wi-Fi for connectivity, and the weight of the hardware that is worn around the user’s head.

00_HololenseDuring a short break, the Scholars and presenters were able to experiment with the VR experiences The Third Fate brought, and try out Gensler’s HoloLens.

“Big data” is another emerging industry trend that was addressed by Fady Barmada of Array Architects.  He spoke about the use of GIS to layer data and maps and guide decision making that happens before the constraints of a project scope and budget are set. Presenting from his perspective of practice in healthcare architecture, Barmada demonstrated how use of big data can drive hospital expansions and services based on the needs of the demographics they serve. Post-occupancy evaluations are another practice common in healthcare architecture that can harness the power of technology. Database technology can aggregate data from front-end metrics and POE’s to refine the decision-making process and evidence-based design power.

The topic of ethics arose again with the concept of the architect as a consultant. Acting as an architect-consultant, professionals can help a client to determine their need and set a budget, expanding the realm of architecture beyond the conventional constraints usually inherent to a pre-defined project. However, this business model may raise suspicions that the architect-consultant is using its position to drive clients towards a self-serving solution in the shape of a new building project that may be beyond a client’s true requirements.

The day’s presentations wrapped up with a lecture from Jeff Barber, a Principal and Regional Design Experience Leader with Gensler. Through his presentation, Barber knit together how many different technologies – new and old – are useful in achieving the ultimate goals of the profession: design and construction. In their Fab Labs, Gensler integrates technology like laser cutters and 3D-printers in the production of conventional physical models. A myriad of technologies go into producing many design and visualization tools, from 2D renderings to simulations and (with the advent of VR) immersion. These tools aid both designers and clients to understand and experience spaces as they are developed. Meanwhile, digital fabrication, full scale 3D-printing, and point-cloud scanning are transforming the construction process.

00_JeffBarber“We are not leaving behind the ways we used to draw, think, investigate,” Barber says, “but now the spectrum is much richer.”

 

Call for Applications

Overview: In 2013 the AIA|DC Chapter established a program to help train and develop the next generation of architectural leaders.  Demonstrating sustained success since its inception, the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program looks to continue this trend by calling for applications to the 2017 class.

The year-long program consists of nine monthly half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of sixteen emerging professionals – defined as someone who has earned a degree in architecture and is within ten years of their first licensure.  Prospective participants will go through an application process for selection through which they must demonstrate proven career success, community involvement, and full support by their firm/agency.

Curriculum:  The CKLDP focuses on core professional skills, such as: entrepreneurship and firm management; teamwork and collaboration; negotiation skills; client development; community leadership; understanding industry trends, and; developing your future within the practice.  The selected scholars to CKLDP will plan and participate in each of the sessions.  The program is kicked off with a “Boot Camp” session to introduce the participants and develop the curriculum for the year.

Schedule:

  • There will be an “Applications 101” Workshop held on June 8th 2016 @ Hickok Cole Architects. The discussion will provide potential scholars with tips for developing successful applications.You can find more information hereRegister online via this link.
  • Applications for the Program are due by June 20th at 11:59 pm. 

For information on the submission requirements and to upload your application please visit this link.

The Fourth Year sessions will be held monthly from 12:00pm – 5:00pm, September 2016 through May 2017. You can find more information here.  Please contact Ricardo J. Rodríguez (Chair) & Aimee Woodall (Past-Chair) if you have any questions.

 

CKLDP Workshop Flyer Page 002