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.”

 

Session 5: Marketing & Business Development

Date: February 3, 2017
Location: Town Hall Conference Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led By: Valerie Berstene, AIA, LEED AP, CNU-A and Joey Ijjias, RA, LEED AP

Session 5 Program
Agenda
Speakers

Summary

The fifth session, “Rain-Making” focused on marketing a business with the goal of becoming profitable in a viable way. The session was organized by Valerie Berstene and Joey Ijjas at the Town Hall Conference Center at 19th and K Street. The session began with two energetic presentations, first by Amy Cuddy and Laura Ewan, then followed by Carol Dorscher. The day ended with a panel discussion about business development that included the following panelists: Joe Brancato, Co-Managing Principal for Gensler’s Northeast and Latin America Regions; Joanna Hoffschneider, Business Development and Marketing Team Lead at Grimm + Parker Architects; Deborah Kuo, Vice President of Real Estate & Facilities for Exelon Organization, and; Sean C. Cahill, Senior Vice President of Development for PGP Development LLC.

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Amy and Laura started off the day by discussing their perspective on what marketing means to the A/E/C community. Both women are members of the Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), a community of marketing and business development professionals working to secure profitable business relationships for their clients. Amy explained how the marketing industry is changing rapidly from a time when faxing proposals and cold calling clients was a common practice, to new approaches such as the use of social media. Some firms, for example, create themed marketing booklets to share their portfolio of projects with current and potential clients – a relatively novel marketing strategy that is starting to be adopted is the sharing of information that would be unique to a firm.

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Even in a competitive market, sharing information that would typically have been hidden from the public view could now be beneficial to aid clients. Amy then went on to discuss how her firm has restructured their marketing team to become more diverse, robust, and introduce a new hierarchy. In the past, a standardized title system and clear career path didn’t really exist within marketing. Amy, who is very much into data, started to describe the benefits of a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. CRM are practices, strategies and technologies to manage and analyze customer interactions and data with the goal of improving business relationships with customers. CRM can be successfully implemented in a firm if the employees are empowered to enter the information. It can also be as sophisticated enough to track the number of clicks and information that is being read by individuals within a database.

Amy went on to explain that social media has boomed in the last five to six years. Due to the changes in marketing practices, several roles have been defined the scholars were walked through their descriptions. Amy described the importance of participating in a debrief even if the team wasn’t successful in winning a pursuit. There are many benefits that could come from the debrief, including an opportunity to work on another project. An interesting statistic that was mentioned was that 90% of pursuits should make the shortlist. This is because there should be more filtering of the pursuits so time is used more efficiently as there are other ways to get potential clients to know who you are. Lastly, Amy explains that firms needs to identify how to differentiate themselves from the competition. The differentiating factors can be unique for each project. Boiler plate templates can be appropriate for branding, but otherwise proposals and marketing content should be client focused.

Laura, after her introduction, explains that the industry is a bit behind in content marketing. She explains that “content marketing” is a relatively new term and it’s the art of communicating with customers without selling. It was explained that blogs should have a marketing mission and focused on what is being talked about constantly. Laura explains that various content has it’s advantages in different ways. For example, social media is useful for promoting blog content while video can be used to share testimonials. Conferences is an excellent way to capture an audience. Laura then shifted the presentation in talking about brands and how they should align with actions. Brand is a reputation and without proper alignment, clients and employees are going to realize the disconnect.

After the first presentation, Carol started her interactive workshop “The Human Connection: Bringing your Presentations to Life.” Carol is the CEO of Graceworks, a company that trains thousands of professionals on the importance of human connection during presentations and business development activities. Carol, a former Broadway actress, was quickly able to capture the participants’ attention right from the beginning of her workshop. She explains that there is a direct connection of the listeners to the speakers and that live communication is contagious. She further explains that clients care about trust, commitment and chemistry.

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While live presentations can be stressful, Carol suggested ways to minimize the anxiety. Some examples included a breathing exercise and even the simple suggestion of showing up to the meeting early to make friends. Following these examples, Carol facilitated an interactive exercise to understand the “responsive” handshake. Scholars shared their reactions to the exercise and through some more practice were able to feel more comfortable with it. Carol then asked the scholars to share the various “masks” one may use during a presentation. Many of the “masks” are nervous tendencies used which result in severing the connection with the audience. Carol then went into more specifics on some techniques that can be used during a presentation. Body language can contribute positively to a presentation, especially where “big moves” are being use to show commitment. When presenting from slides, Carol explains that the story should come first and the graphics should only be used to reinforce. For slides with a lot of content, you can break it down into multiple steps so it’s early to process. The session ended with one scholar giving a presentation about “What does she love about what she does” and another one use “big moves.” Scholars followed up with some constructive, supportive feedback.

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The day ended with a fruitful panel discussion about business development. Panelists included practitioners, business development professionals, and client side representative. Valerie and Joey facilitated the session with several questions. Some of the takeaways were that business development activity should be natural and purposeful; it’s important to make that meaningful connection. Building relationships is a professional effort but can be personal and ultimately long-term relationships are ones that matter. When aiming to keep connected with a client, understanding the metrics that are important to them and keeping them informed are great ways to maintain the relationship. For maintaining repeat clients, the culture of the firm and the people you will be interfacing with are some main drivers. To finish off the panel discussion, the panelist each gave their advice. Some examples, listen to the opinions of others and don’t get too attached to your outcomes. Be curious of what you are clients are thinking and concerned about. Be passionate about what you do and think long term but still have a good life/work balance.

Session 4: Social Responsibility & Community Leadership

Date: January 13, 2017
Location: Make Offices
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led By: Josef Fuentas,  AIA and Matthew Vargas, AIA

Session 4 PDF
Agenda
Speakers

Summary

Joe Fuentes and Matt Vargas coordinated Session 4, which was hosted at the newly-opened co-working space, MakeOffices, in downtown Washington, DC. The session consisted of opening remarks by DesignForce, followed by a presentation by Citizen HKS, an interactive session by OpenIDEO DC, a tour of the MakeOffices space, and a presentation by buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. The overall theme of the session focused on teaching and inspiring the scholars to think about the design process and how it can be used for social impact – above and beyond the “typical” architecture of residential, commercial, and institutional design.

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The session began with a short presentation by Ahmed Kurtom, who briefly described his company, DesignForce, which is an executive placement agency, as well as a workforce solutions consultancy. His most memorable piece of advice to the participants was to, “Apply your knowledge; don’t just store it away.”

Sheila Ruder and Amber Wirth, architects with HKS Inc., started their presentation with a collaborative exercise using a map of the District of Columbia and its immediate surroundings. Participants were instructed to add two pins to the map: a blue pin to represent one’s place of work, and; a red pin designating where one lives. Each pin had a piece of circular translucent plastic with two concentric circles, representing a primary “sphere of influence” and a secondary “sphere of influence.”

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The main goal of this exercise was to start thinking of our broader community and how we can impact it in a positive manner. Afterwards, Sheila and Amber outlined HKS’s public interest design initiative, which is called “Citizen HKS.”  As the non-profit arm of HKS, Citizen HKS began by providing professional design services to social and community projects, but has since expanded to include fundraising and volunteering efforts through a program called the “Global Month of Service.”  Citizen HKS appears to have been a very successful spin-off of the architecture firm in that staff members commit many additional hours of their personal time to the design of these projects and volunteer efforts.

Facilitators from OpenIDEO (the social impact spinoff of IDEO, an international design and consulting firm), Tina Grassi and Ana Bello, next lead an interactive session during which scholars were taught the “Human Centered Design” process. It is a step-by-step problem-solving methodology that can be implemented in a variety of timeframes – from a 90-minute session (which was implemented for this session), to a five-day seminar. The process was developed by IDEO and is currently taught at Stanford University in their “d.school.”

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The “d.school” process entails five steps: empathize; define; ideate; prototype, and; test. The class’ 90 minute “mission” was to “Redesign the TRANSIT STOP EXPERIENCE … for your partner.” We worked in pairs, going through various timed exercises that were entitled:

  1. Interview;
  2. Dig Deeper;
  3. Capture Findings;
  4. Define Problem Statement;
  5. Sketch at least 5 radical ways to meet your user’s needs.;
  6. Share your solutions & capture feedback;
  7. Reflect & generate a new solution;
  8. Build your solution, and;
  9. Share your solution and get feedback.

The solutions varied from the whimsical (like the use of a flying pony) to radical design solutions, such as creating an alternative bike lane within the metro subway tunnels.

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Following this exercise, the class was led on a tour of the MakeOffices, ending with a break in their lounge, where free drinks, coffee, and tea are available to members.

The last speaker was Omar Hakeem, of the Washington, DC, office of buildingcommunityWORKSHOP. Omar introduced himself and described how his career path changed to include projects that are more socially oriented, including the design and implementation of community spaces in the very depressed city of Brownsville, Texas. He challenged the participants to think about one’s engagement within one’s own community as well as in other communities, how to implement designs that are impactful, and to be aware of one’s own biases when designing for others.

In order to counteract any biases, Omar presented a process of “LISTEN – CONFIRM – ACT.”  During the “listening” phase, the needs of a community are gathered.  Next, the design solution is created and “confirmed,” and finally implemented during the “acting” phase. He also encouraged the participants to think about using the design process to solve not just spatial issues, but policy issues as well.

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Overall, the session was a solid overview of three different methodologies for implementing social responsibility and community leadership. The first presentation by Citizen HKS was an example of how a large corporation can successfully integrate a social impact effort within a traditional business model. OpenIDEO’s interactive session was enlightening in that it showed how the human-centered design process – which is a more structured version of the architectural design charrette – can be used to solve social and community issues. Finally, Omar Hakeem’s presentation brought the session to a close, melding ideas that were introduced throughout the afternoon. He described how a small architecture firm, like his buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, can successfully take on socially responsible efforts and use the design process to solve larger socio-cultural issues.

Links:
http://designforcesolutions.com/
http://www.hksinc.com/hks-community/
https://openideo.com/
http://dschool.stanford.edu/
https://www.ideo.com/
https://makeoffices.com/locations/washington-dc/k-street/
http://www.bcworkshop.org/

Session 3: The Art of Negotiation & Contractual Pitfalls

Date: December 2, 2016
Location: AIA National
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Lucy Moore, AIA and Constance Lai, AIA, NCARB, LEED BD+C CQM-C

Session 3 PDF
Agenda
Speakers

Summary

The third session is focused on the art of negotiation and contractual pitfalls. It was organized by Lucy Moore and Constance Lai at the AIA National Headquarter, Washington, D.C. The session included three presentations by Mike Koger, Kirsten Kulis, and Leslie Mulligan respectively.

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During lunch, Price Modern introduced the firm’s practice and products to the group on how they transform the way people think, collaborate and perform by creating modern office designs for smarter, happier and more productive work environments.

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Mike Koger started his presentation with how to limit architect’s potential liability. He discussed some basic approaches such as being selective in accepting clients and incorporating limitation of liability clause in the contract, etc. After that, he emphasized on the concept of indemnity and its impact on architect’s everyday practice. The group was intrigued by the profoundly different legal implications depends on the way indemnity clauses are worded in the contract. Mike’s case studies were very helpful for the audience to understand the concept better. He then presented other negotiation strategies for architect’s benefits such as how to use the ownership of intellectual property to help getting paid, and how architects could use the standard of care to protect themselves from unreasonable claims. At the same time, overstating a firm’s performance in marketing material could be harmful to the company in dispute, even though it is not hard evidence.

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Following that, Kirsten Kulis, who is a GSA Liaison, did a presentation on Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NPHA). She first gave a general introduction to the NPHA and ACHP (Advisory Council on Historic Preservation), including its related programs and organizations. She then broke down Section 106 to a step by step process, including initiating the process, identifying historic properties, assessing adverse effects and resolving adverse effects. Each of the four phases is later discussed in detail with the group, followed by several case studies, including the old post office project in Washington D.C. Kirsten mentioned that bringing sketches and alternatives in back pockets is beneficial for the architects to help prevent deadlock conditions during the negotiation process. It helps people to reach consensus more quickly during the meeting.

Lastly, Leslie Mulligan from Watershed Associates was focused on negotiation skills. She
started her presentation with an image of two acrobats, making the point that negotiation
happens with movement. The difference between persuasion and negotiation is that persuasion is one-way movement, however, negotiation is all about offering different alternatives depends on the interaction. She discussed on how to push for dialogue that could discover the real need instead of the position held by people, as there could be a difference between what people want versus what people say what they want. During her presentation, there was a mini-activity when the group was divided into pairs of two to discuss what they have in common quickly. To find out as many shared things, the group experienced the fact that building a relationship through small talk could get people more comfortable in negotiating. After that, Leslie discussed the different types of negotiation such as those which are more outcome oriented, such as buying a car, or those which are more relationship oriented, such as deciding which movie to see with a family member. She underlined that people should use different negotiation methods depend on the actual scenario.

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Session 3 gave the scholars an excellent overview of negotiations and contractual issues in the architecture industry. Mike Koger’s presentation covered typical tips and mistakes to avoid. Case studies are very helpful to illustrate abstract legal terms that are unfamiliar to architects. Kirsten Kulis was more specific in historic preservation while Leslie Mulligan included a comprehensive on people’s negotiation skills. Many speakers mentioned the importance of offering different alternatives and bringing options to the table. The presentations and discussed were stimulating and inspiring for young architects to learn to do work in a financially sounder and less risky way.