Congratulations to the CKLDP│Detroit + CKLDP│NM Class of 2021-2022! In June of 2022, a graduation ceremony was held at Crown Hall, at Illinois Institute of Technology (ITT), in Chicago. Many of the scholars were able to join us for this joyous event to celebrate the scholars accomplishment and finally meet each other in person (after a year of remote sessions!). Commemorative plaques, sponsored by Century Sign Builders, were given to all of the scholars (to those that could join us and those that could not). Once again, thank you to the Scholars, Speakers, and Sponsors that make this program possible!
School of Architecture, ITT – Building designed by Mies Van Der Rohe
The session kicked off with an Ice breaker question, “What brought everyone into architecture?”
The cohorts answered with variety of background profession that paved their path into Architecture. Some of them were artists, high school class trajectory, post high school technical classes, art, engineering exam vs architecture exams.
Presentation #1: Architecture and Social Justice by Julian Arrigton, SmithGroup
Julian expressed the societies rage towards racism which has a historic timeline of hate crime. On May 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, a group of Architects/ Designers were determined to make a stance and stake their position for the need to change societies thoughts through design.
The installation laid grounds in Washington DC, Baltimore and Tulsa. The design of the installation came from collecting data charts that included death by cops, death by lynching, mass incarceration, and capital punishment. The base of the installation has graphics describing the elevation and with over 10,000 names inscribed on the floor who fell prey to the hatred. The installation spread out strong message with various artists/ dancers performing to express the emotions, pain and agony of the suffers. Each site provided different programming opportunities both day and night. They directly worked with local municipalities to work on coordinating the set up, take down, transportation etc. He also expressed that they received multiple funding avenues.
Presentation #2: Sustainability and how it will define spaces in the future by Chris Heine, Co-Chair AIA Environment, Smithgroup + Kris Callori, AIA New Mexico President, Verdacity
The speech began with Chris Heine describing how sustainability can mean so many different things to various scenarios but it is all about how we are meeting our needs without comprising the needs for the future generations. It is about doing less bad to produce more good to the environment and the people living in it. He expressed the fact that we should be educator first to teach the world the need to follow sustainable practices and the designers within ourselves will follow the rest. It is also important that we as people in the profession should pledge for a green environment and participate in committing for climate actions. AIA 2030 is beginning to be an integral part of climate action commitments which is becoming more and more mandatory. A lot of A/E firms are playing a crucial role in pushing towards the goal.
The second half of the session was taken over by Kris Callori who started a firm to design sustainable buildings. Although it was very difficult to find clients with such interest as they always thought the concept of sustainability never existed. She took a stand to step away from traditional architecture to be a sustainable consultant. Her initial career had hiccups to challenge but her determination made way to the clients. She started to influence the designers, community, architecture industry to create a strong work force and to make an impact on the building and behind the scenes of constructability.
The firm also took part in various sustainable programs to keep the community growing. They also started to work on state and federal projects in New Mexico. They created healthy buildings to nourish healthy environment and make better choices.
They always had design charrettes to jot down the goals for the project and spent quality in schematic design. Reducing carbon footprint was the biggest challenge. Though projects are always based on client budgets, the firm thinks sustainability should not be assigned under a budget item. Some of their recent projects include school with Fitwell goals to address the nutrition, daylight and health of the kids.
Presentation #3: Architecture and Artificial Intelligence by Kameron Baumgardner, RS21
“Everbody need to know how to code” This was something Kameron himself heard during his education years and put into practice to participate in the learning and production of Artificial intelligence to connect with Architecture. He added, good AI indicators can help in automation and saves time. It is like a communication between the architecture school to transfer to engineering and technology. When he started diving into the practice, AI was a needle in the haystack. Slowly, it made sense of the madness with consistency and monitoring. Thinking out of the box was always in him as we are limited by thinking what’s possible but an algorithm might evaluate what we might not thought possible. His go-to motivation was “(AI)rchitecture”
He threw light on how the Engineering industry is growing and companies like NVIDIA has master planned an entire community by similar constraints. Grasshopper is an other software to look at floor space utilization and energy to generate thousands of options. In addition, Autodesk sets requirements on daylighting, circulation, proximation of program, and noise. All these use AI to optimize the layout for those constraints.
His company use Alice technologies that produce GANTT chart at theoretical level and generate different scenarios to have an overview on the variety of options. The information could be clustering in the beginning but skimming to what the client/ designer needs is the bottom time. But, by doing so the design can be a product of permutations and combinations that result in thinking out of the box by saving time with consistency and proper monitoring. Things like room data sheets can be linked, automatic revit to AI etc. Collecting all this data in the initial phase can reduce errors and be used for other project types of similar interest. The firm tends to have different professional backgrounds and can nurture in growing productivity.
By bringing computers and AI in the human force, it only means for better collaboration. Humans will not be out of the decision making role for a long time.Software vendors (everyone in technology) has machine learning that they are integrating into the product.
Group Review and Discussions
How would you implement social justice, sustainability, or data science into your work moving forward?
What profession would you want to have if you weren’t an architect?
Within that profession how would you incorporate your skills from the architecture world?
Presentation #1: Industry Trends Overtime by Carole Wedge, FAIA, LEED AP
Carole Wedge is a principal at Shepley Bulfinch in Boston, MA. Carole gave us great insight on how a strong firm culture can adapt over time and work to meet the goals set by employees. Starting with a position in the mailroom at the firm, Carole worked her way up to principal and CEO and she can truly say she knows the firm inside and out. The fact that change is inevitable and moves in many different directions and at many different speeds was a key point Carole emphasized. The best way to keep up with change is to have a strong understanding of the values your firm has. Carole outlined that for Shelpey mentoring, learning, and community were top for them. Throughout COVID Shepley has aimed to make sense of the confusion and disorientation that came by remaining flexible and acknowledging that the office is no longer the end all be all. The firm had put a large focus on Hybrid environments and how to hire in a hybrid environment. She was also extremely proud of the firm’s internal online learning platform called the “Birdfeeder” where employees have access to a multitude of resources. The idea of internal feedback and examination was also extremely important and came to life in the form of the “Hatchery”, another online platform where employees can submit ideas or innovations they have. At the end of the day however, Carole spoke most highly of the people of the firm and how Shepley truly creates a community and an environment where people can “bring their whole selves to work”.
Presentation #2: Designers Should be Developers by Michael Harrison, RA
Michael Harrison is currently working on the development team at Bedrock Detroit. His unique position between the development world and the architectural design world allows him to see the construction of the build environment in a new way. He emphasized having an understanding of the development’s larger idea and impact as it relates to the more nitty gritty facts of timeline and budget. He also pointed out that on the development end there is always the consideration of the larger vision and how the value of one project impacts others down the line. Having more upfront conversations between the developer and the architect can help to maintain the priorities of a project and hopefully achieve the vision of the project and of the projects to come. Michael reminded us of the many dichotomies within our field: architects vs starcitects, autonomy vs service, transparency vs stability. There are many concepts in this field that seem to contradict each other. It is important to realize that the relationship between the developer and the architect is an ecosystem and not a spectrum. We need to cultivate longer lasting and cyclical relationships within the field. It was also eye opening to understand that, unlike developers, architects receive no long term profits from the value they add in the project. He left us with the important question: How can we as architects both get compensated for the value we add into the project and create a project worthy of the developer’s vision?
Design Charette: Act Now
Looking at challenges facing our profession now Over the last decade, across the country a new “developer” style of architecture has emerged. No matter the city, we can all point out the new mid-rise buildings springing up that look the same regardless of their location. How can we as designers, through different lenses, challenge this standard design that is often driven by ROI while still meeting the overall goals for the client?
The world is moving much faster than the building code.
We need some space to experiment with new strategies and opportunities.
Client shift will hopefully result in priority shift.
We need to have the change come from the younger generation.
How can we become a design focused firm vs a budget focused firm.
Presentation #1: Design Your Brand Blueprint by Sorakamol Prapasiri
Opening the session with the broad question of “What is Marketing?” Sorakamol Prapasiri, kicked off a marathon workshop that showed us what guiding principles, a mission and vision statement are along with taught us principles of how to create and hone one for ourselves.
Early on Sorakarmol addressed that many of us held the concept that Marketing = Selling along with the negative connotation that selling is bad. She reframes, spending time defining what our personal brand is and what it wants to be, touching on the point of communicating with integrity, as our communication becomes our brand, which was reframed by the questions and thoughts surrounding “what are we communicating and WHY?” proving that we can Market ourselves and it is a positive, fruitful act.
A powerful point and clarification was that of marketing is the overall category with other terms falling into it:
Marketing = your audience (the bigger umbrella that hold Branding and Advertising)
Branding = “You”
Advertising = paying someone to highlight you
Another point she made as we worked through some of our colleagues’ company webpages was, don’t put the wagon ahead of the horse, don’t go get a logo then try and define your brand. Build from the foundation up. That way you will be able to easily give key offerings that you are true to your brand.
A good carry over from the opening of session 4 into this, was the highlight of touchpoints, Sorakamol, highlighted to take advantage of every opportunity for human interaction.
As we drew to the close of this workshop we were given advice to – show up so our whole team see us – if we are just trying to act a certain way for customers, we are being true and falling short in our brand. And lastly, if we are re-evaluating brand to often, there may be something bigger than a branding issue, if we did it correctly this work should last!
Presentation #2: Building Strategic Partnerships by Brianna Davis
The second section of the session opened with an introduction of Brianna Davis, a strategic business development partner at Adobe. She shared some valuable insight from her job where she evaluates partnerships at a more corporate level. Partnership with clients and other outside companies for symbiotic relationships and promotion.
As she went through her presentation, the idea of Consistency came up, we should be consistent in whatever we are looking to do. Whether it is connecting, or sharing, as we look to network, we need to keep our goals and brand in mind. Another interesting point made was the question she would ask herself as she engaged other possible partners, “Why us together?” it seems appropriate to be able to ask yourself often when evaluating most things.
Presentation #3: The Role of Inter-Cultural Awareness in Professional Communication by Desiree Wilkins-Finch, MATL
Desiree Wilkins Finch had the opportunity to lead the final section of the session, and she didn’t disappoint. It should have been a question of Curiosity… one of her points that resonated a lot was the point that we look and ask from a point of curiosity not from a spot of assuming or “knowing” what we don’t. Her example in relation was the story of a friend and colleague that assumed and asked the question of “What class are you taking?” when in fact Desiree was Teaching the class.
Presentation#1: Building Trust and Emotional Connection by Bob Pomeroy + Cynthia Porter Janes, Fishbeck
The session begins with the introduction of the first two speakers, Bob Pomeroy and Cynthia Porter Janes, both representing Fishbeck. Cynthia begins with introducing herself and talks about her experiences working with Bob over the years. She continues to mention how Bob has been a big influence in her life and how everyone could benefit being like Bob.
Bob first talks about his experience starting as a staff architect, designer, PA then Project Management and it is at this point where he learnt more about working with people and building rapport. But it was 4-5 years ago when he started working with Cynthia who has a MasterClass on the topic of building trust and emotional connection. And talks about Cynthia’s experience I Business Development and being great and well recognized in the A+E industry for her job.
Emphasis the importance of building rapport and reads an article by Forbes that mentions that eight key skills that will be needed in the near future. One of those skills being learning how to build strong relationships through rapport and learning how to build rapport quickly and from a distance. We won’t be able to build relationships slowly as we been able to in the future. He also mentions 40% of our time at work is spent non-sales selling. Meaning a lot of time is used persuading people and working with people convincing them of your ideas.
Rapport is about building a sympathetic connection with somebody else at its core and it is a strategic business skill that we all need to have in what we do. It can be developed with a lot of knowledge and practice. It’s building trust, gaining leverage, and influencing others these tactics are very important for leadership and convincing someone to come with you on a journey. Basic Points of conversation made by Bob Pomeroy and Cynthia Porter Janes about this idea of building rapport.
You must know yourself. An inventory of yourself is needed. Eg. Your strengths, how do you want to lead and what’s your preferred way of communicating.
You have to do you homework. You have to know the people that you want to work with. Doing some due diligence on getting the necessary information, background information. LinkedIn in a good source. Source of funding and some challenges they might be facing like for the financing of a particular project etc.
Practicing empathy is an essential part of building trust. You need to always remember this is another person. The whole point is to humanize the experience, and this will take some of the pressure of each of the interactions you have in the not so good ones. Always remembering that people are going through some of some things you go through. Being open to understanding a different perspective and looking at things though their eyes.
Keys of communication which are prioritizing your commonalities, keeping it more personal upfront. Find commonalities that can start of the conversation and talking through those.
Nonverbal communication skills are things you can work. Smile.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. You must stay connected.
Building trust as early as you can, be open and honest in those conversations with what you want and needed
Cynthia makes the point that she does look at what she does as sales and selling but as relationship building and networking. Look at things from a perspective of a long-term relationship as would as marriage relationship. It also builds a mutual trust between you and your clients or even the new relationships you build with others.
Bob talks about the importance of staying connected by making an example of how earlier in his career he didn’t try of staying touch with people that he would met while going to events or even some of the people he worked with earlier in his career. And emphasize how important it is to stay connected even for with us as a cohort which could be beneficial for us now or even in the future.
Presentation #2: Negotiating Owner-Architect Agreementsby James Lyons, R.J. Dean & Associates
The session begins with the introduction of James Lyons, Korra introduces James Lyons as the Vice President and principal for Professional Liability Insurers Inc. dba R.J Dean & Associates. During his 36 years in the Commercial Insurance Industry he has served as Chief Underwriting Officer for a large insurance company and has worked in Underwriting, Risk Management and Loss Control within the Construction, Energy and Design Professional Industries. James started his career in the insurance industry upon graduation from New Mexico State University with a BBA in Finance.
James being the conversation by making a reference to a comment that Daniel, one of the scholars, had made about a relationship going south. He continues to say, “that claims are going to happen and that doesn’t necessarily impact your relationship and some of them can be very significant claims.” A claim is a claim… let it happen, that is why you have professional liability insurance.
Some of the private owners have sometimes taken a situation the wrong way, but a lot of the public business, city, county, state and federal it remains about trust and integrity. I think where a relationship change is at a claim, James says.
James lays the foundation with wanting to talk about the topic of client selection. It’s important to be selective on who you want to work with or not. He continues to talk about the point made by Bob and Cynthia on building trust can gain leverage, and influence others is huge in negotiations you do have to know people. Empathy is very important in contract negotiation. You have to build trust and integrity to negotiation a contract.
Also make mention of how great AIA contracts are especially when they are untouched, unchanged, and unedited they work perfectly. They are language that’s true and tested, very rarely does he see a straightforward AIA contract. A owner change them which is okay but warned us that just because you receive an AIA contract doesn’t mean you have to sign it. You have to read it and make sure of what you have read.
He also talked about communication and how it is the leading risk driver in professional liability claims currently is due to communication or the lack thereof. You have to have a balance between designing and contract documents because everything is about design. He also made mention of texting, emails etc and how it can be used against you in the court of law. So, we have to be careful when texting and never get personal keep everything business.
Continues to say that the fundamentals of contracts and risk management have not changed and that the only thing that’s changed in our industry is technology. Kevin Sexton, joins the conversation and makes a comment that you can have a great design, a great project and a great team but a bad client we can’t always pick our clients as we might like because there’s so much work, time and effort that goes into responding to RFP’s trying to get the work sometimes it’s hard to turn it down.
James makes mention of all the professional liability claims he is dealing with because of the delays. Whether its construction materials, Covid etc. there are a lot of delays and people are making claims. And makes a point about the evaluation of a client, don’t assume that the client is knowledgeable in your business and that the project adequately funded.
Then James going into the presentation slides titled the “Eight Key Contract Provisions and how to make them work for your Firm.” He begins with the learning objectives, which are listed below:
This program will provide attendees with a foundation to understand the significance of written contracts and how the law operates to interpret and enforce contracts.
At the conclusion of this session participants will have a greater appreciation for how a written contract forms the building blocks of a firm’s risk management program as key risk transfer mechanisms and protections are considered in light of a variety of risk factors beyond the contract.
This program provides attendees with a deeper understanding of the pitfalls of key contractual risk transfer mechanisms and strategies firms can employ to mitigate the negative impacts.
After completing this program attendees will have better understanding of how professional liability insurance works, and how insurable contract terms can help manage a firm’s liability risk exposure.
Presentation #3: Contracts + Construction Related Disputes by Kevin Sexton, Resnick & Louis, PC
Kevin M. Sexton, Esq. is a partner in the New Mexico office of Resnick & Louis, P.C. He concentrates his practice to negotiating and litigating construction related disputes on behalf of architects and engineers. He represents design professionals from numerous disciplines, including architecture, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering and surveying.
Kevin began his time with answering a few questions lingering from Presentation #2. Including that liquidated, as in ‘liquidated damages’ simply means agreed upon. He shared that an enforceable contract is quite simple. It needs to address: Who? What? When? How Much?
All the other language in a contract is defining, managing, and shifting risk. The best way to do this is to avoid ambiguity. This can be done through using standard contracts (like AIA) which have been litigated and have terms with understood meanings, although not all clients are willing to use standard contracts. The most important things to remember is to read the contract, try to understand it, ask questions until you do understand, and then follow that contract. Sometimes, if you don’t enforce a clause or requirement in the contract, it can be viewed as waived. Limitation of Liability, try hard to get in every contract. This is enforceable if it is: in the contract, clear, unambiguous, and reasonable.
Round Table: Negotiating Standard + Federal Projects by Robert G. Hall, AIA, Integrated Design & Architecture + Chris Kretovic, AIA, NCARB, Fishbeck
Robert Hall is a registered architect with over 37 years of architectural experience on a broad range of building types with specialization in multi-family housing, public works, and schools. As former County Architect for Washoe County, Nevada, Bob specialized in Project Planning and Management for multiple new and remodeled public projects while managing over 1 million square feet of County owned and leased facilities.
Over the last 23 years, Bob has worked on new and renovation apartment projects in New Mexico and Nevada. Those jobs have been in rural and urban locations, senior, multi-family, special needs, USDA Rural Development, Nevada Housing, New Mexico MFA.
Chris Kretovic, AIA, NCARB is a registered architect and licensed in 21 states. He earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture from the University of Michigan. He has been with Fishbeck for over 23 years, and is both the Architectural Department Director and Retail Team Leader.
His project experience includes libraries, workplace, movie theaters, grocery stores, banks and municipal facilities. He has been involved in all aspects of architecture and currently focuses on project management and contract review. Bob and Chris gave their perspectives on obtaining and negotiating projects with Bob from a small, sole proprietor and Chris from a large firm of around 500 (120ish being on the A/E side). Joseph moderated and asked questions of both Bob and Chris as well as James Lyons who stayed on the line after his presentation. All agreed in the importance of communication, in different aspects, whether that is forming a relationship with a client so that they become a repeat or making sure everyone on a project knows the expectations. Bob shared that you never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression and that everything in life is negotiable. Chris shared the importance of being willing to walk away from a client that is not willing to be reasonable in the contract process.
Session led by: Daniel Gonzales, Sanda Khumalo, + Becca Snyder
Notes by: Ke Vaughn Harding + Pamela Rodriguez-Leon
The session was convened by Becca, who provided an overview of the agenda and the learning objectives that were established by the session coordinators. This introduction highlighted the planning team’s intent to examine the importance of business fundamentals from a primarily entrepreneurial perspective. Session content and speakers had therefore been chosen to discuss a range of topics covering fiscal and human resource management, as well as the unique challenges inherent to establishing and sustaining private practices.
Presentation #1: Entrepreneurship by Joe Snyder
Following the session introduction, the group was invited to participate in an ice-breaker activity, where the prompt was a question that sought to identify each participant’s favorite donut. This participatory group activity preceded the first presentation of the day, which was delivered by Joe Snyder. Known as ‘The Donut Guy’, Joe provided attendees with a talk on Entrepreneurship, which he delivered from his own perspective and the experiences that he accrued on the journey to business ownership.
Using his early background as a grocery store employee, Joe explained the value of creative, engaging and memorable marketing strategies. In his early roles, these strategies involved the utilization of food demos to help their products stand out from competitors. He also discussed the use of competitive pricing models in efforts to improve the marketability of a yogurt business that he eventually bought in his 30s.
The presentation culminated with an overview of the operations of Lerch’s Donuts – a second business that Joe purchased, and which remains a principal endeavor of his today. The donut company is an 85 year old family business and is routinely the largest vendor at the county fairs that they attend. The company has grown from one to five mobile trailers, which are used to create mobile, pop-up sales events. Joe currently employs 70 staff members, and maintains a low employee turnover rate.
Joe reflected on the pros and cons of his work through the years, and used these to explain the benefits and difficulties that are typically associated with entrepreneurship. Some of the difficulties outlined included the extensive work hours that were required as a business owner, alongside the minimal income that he received in the early days of ownership. Another challenge outlined was the high up-front costs that are often associated with business ownership, and the general importance of reliable and consistent cash flow. These factors necessitated the acquisition of substantial debt, including the undertaking of a new mortgage in Joe’s case. A major challenge discussed in this talk revolved around the inherent risks associated with entrepreneurship. This was addressed relative to the acknowledgement that some people are more inclined to take risks than others, but that entrepreneurial skills can be learned, even by risk averse individuals.
Benefits of entrepreneurship outlined in this talk included the flexibility to determine one’s own business process, and the resulting opportunities to establish schedules that foster a good work / life balance. Joe was keen to point out that in his business, this flexibility in schedule was also extended to employees. Additionally, he is currently in the process of selling 75% of the company to his employees to further increase the benefits to be gained by the staff. He believes that these considerations for his employees’ well-being have contributed to the company’s low staff turnover rate and strong work ethic.
TED Talk: What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection by Jia Jiang
Following the first presentation, the group watched a pre-recorded TED Talk by Jia Jiang entitled What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection. Jia highlighted the fact that many outstanding leaders of the past were individuals who were initially met with violent rejection. He went further to point out that these people didn’t allow these negative experiences to define them on their journeys toward the fulfillment of their goals. This witty presentation focussed on strategies that could be utilized to overcome the fear of rejection as part of personal growth initiatives. Key steps outlined in this process from the presenter’s own experiences included:
The strategy of desensitizing one’s self to the pain of rejection by seeking out and confronting rejection head-on.
Not retreating at the initial sign of rejection, and instead providing an explanation that might turn a no into a yes.
Employing certain keywords to maximize the chance of success. A key component of this step involves acknowledging any doubts that your audience might have so as to better understand the source of any reservations that they might have about your request.
Not allowing rejection to define you as an individual, but instead using your reaction to rejection to be the dominant part of your narrative.
Panel Discussion by Emile Gonzales, Thomas Lowing, AIA, LEED-AP, + Keith Shaw, AIA
The third activity was a panel discussion, and this was structured to address the issues that are specific to entrepreneurial roles within architecture and construction fields. Organized under the title How to Start an Architecture Firm, the panel consisted of three speakers who have found success through differing models of private practice. Panelist Thomas Lowing, AIA, LEED-AP spoke primarily from his experiences as a licensed architect who works as a consultant to various architecture firms. Thomas simultaneously works in architecture education at Belmont University, where he serves as the Chair of the Architecture Department. Emile Gonzales spoke principally from a management perspective, drawing from her experience as the founder of G2i Construction, a robust minority owned company that has undertaken industrial and commercial projects for both government and private sector clients. The third panelist Keith Shaw, AIA spoke from the perspective of an architect who has established his own architecture firm called Shaw Design and Associates, a practice known for its residential projects.
Major points that emerged from this panel discussion are outlined as follows:
Independence as a Design Consultant: The benefits of working as a design consultant were weighed against the hurdles that sometimes accompany the pursuit of establishing and managing a new architecture firm. An example of the advantages discussed include the flexibility afforded by working as a consultant, including the ability to simultaneously pursue other passions like full-time educational roles.
Managing Stress as a Small Business Owner: A major point of discussion explored the need for effective stress management strategies to ensure the preservation of well-being in both employees and business owners.
Securing Your First Projects: Panelists spoke about the difficulties that can accompany leaving a full-time job to start a new practice. Emphasis was placed on those challenges that surround securing new projects when one has limited or no experience as an independent practitioner. Guidance on this matter included the recommendation that young professionals conduct a comprehensive assessment of the value of all projects that are available to them. This means sometimes looking beyond the scale and financial value of a project, to the networking and experiential benefits that may accompany it.
Networking: The discussion of networking was centered on two main ideas. The first is that networking is no good without building and maintaining a good reputation. This reputation relies on both the quality of services delivered, and evidence of your good intent towards both clients and the general public. The second idea was that networking should not be undertaken solely for the purpose of acquiring new jobs, but also as a means to doing good for one’s community. It was therefore recommended that members of the architecture and design profession consider community-based volunteer work in order to give back to the communities that they serve, and to better understand the needs of community members.
Federal Government Project Opportunities for Small Businesses: The advantages to be gained by pursuing Federal Government projects were discussed by exploring opportunities for small businesses to stand out from larger, more established practices. Among Federal Government provisions discussed were those set out to engage minority owned businesses, including women-owned and economically disadvantaged companies.
Handling Rejection: Panelists were unanimous in their views on the best strategies for handling rejection as sole practitioners and business owners. They shared a recognition that failing to secure projects that they previously pursued was sometimes fortuitous. Specifically, panelists explained that in hindsight, these rejections were often indications that their offerings did not align well with what the project required. This realization, in turn, served as opportunities for them to understand the shortfalls of their own businesses, make adjustments and move forward.
Presentation #2: Managing Up by Barbara Felix
The final presentation of the day was delivered by architect Barbara Felix, founder of Barbara Felix Architecture + Design. Barbara spoke on the topic of Managing Up, a strategy that involves developing and utilizing effective management skills in order to maximize one’s own effectiveness as an employee.
Barbara’s talk stressed the importance of proactive action on the part of employees in ensuring that their strengths are best utilized toward the success of their team as a whole. The antithesis of this strategy would involve absolute reliance of an employee on the direction of managerial staff. Not only can such complete dependence contribute to burnout in managerial staff, but it can deny emerging professionals the important opportunity to hone their own managerial skills.
The speaker highlighted the importance of understanding how one’s boss communicates, and how they make decisions. She also explained that there are tremendous benefits to be gained by both individual employees and the work team as a whole when employees align themselves with their employer’s goals, utilize effective communication strategies and become a trusted source of information.
Barbara also expanded the discussion of the managing up principle beyond the work team to include project clients. Here, she spoke about strategies that employees can use to understand what clients want, and to make a personal connection with clients in order to develop a true understanding of their expected outcomes.
Because managing up involves an employee taking the initiative to actively shape the nature of their interactions with the wider work process, it provides the opportunity for them to do more of the work that they are truly passionate about. The managerial strategy also allows employers to do more of the work that they need to do. This is because their employees will have taken a greater level of ownership over their own work, thus requiring reduced instruction from their supervisors.
The speaker addressed situations where employers are unwilling to cede the level of responsibility that is necessary for an employee to effectively manage up. For such scenarios, Barbara recommended the adoption of a mindset that is crucial for the employee’s success. This mindset involves thinking not only about what you want for and from your training as an employee, but also about how you can start working towards training your boss to be better involved in your managing up process.
Session led by: Ke Vaughn Harding + Pamela Rodriguez-Leon
Notes by: Rachel Gendich + Doris Grose
Engaging Your Community explored ways in which members of the architecture profession can engage their communities in order to effectively address various categories of human need.
Breakout Session: Strong Communities
The session started with a breakout activity to identify the elements that are essential to strong communities. Scholars attended small group discussions to explore personal experiences within strong and weak communities. Experiences varied based on people, density, infrastructure and life stages.
Presentation #1: Mona Lisa Development by Aysha Boston
Following the breakout session was the first presentation lead by Aysha Boston presenting the Mona Lisa Development, a real estate development firm in Detroit that revitalizes old homes and uses them to offer affordable housing options for people who are looking for a temporary place to live while they get back on their feet. The Women-Owned business is committed to extending opportunities to other Detroiters and disadvantaged businesses. Mona Lisa Development works with diverse teams and think critically about their impact on the community and environment.
Breakout Session: Cultural Heritage Binds Communities
The second small group activity was titled Cultural Heritage Binds Communities. Scholars went back into their breakout sessions and discussed the value of heritage in unifying communities. Nonprofit cultural heritage organizations are helping people to remember and celebrate their shared experiences, traditions, identities, struggles and aspirations.
Presentation #2: The Wattle and Red Earth (WARE) Collective by Sarah Ann Hodges, Georgia Love and Peter J Francis
The Wattle and Red Earth (WARE) Collective by Sarah Ann Hodges, Georgia Love and Peter J Francis focused on engaging communities through the celebration of traditional building methods in Jamaica. Ann talked about their efforts to preserve the homes built around the 1830s and create a living museum to preserve the historical sustainable building practices and keep their history intact to share it with the younger generations. The historic building process in Jamaica was very much a community affair and relied only on local resources.
Breakout Session: Solve a Community Problem
In the final activity of the day, Solve a Community Problem, each group came together to provide a possible solution to a homeless center housing project. The small groups used an AIA Resources template with a real-world example. Each member acted as a voice to the different parties that would be involved in such a scenario.
The group concluded this session with a virtual Happy Hour and Virtual Games.
Working Together started with an icebreaker that asked, “What was the worst job you ever had?”. Replies ranged from jobs related to the architecture/engineering industry to ones that were held as far back as high school.
Presentation #1: Learning about the ‘Team of Teams’ structure by David Bolt, CEO, GMP + Rob Den Besten, COO, GMP
David Bolt, CEO and Rob Den Besten, COO at GMP, presented first on “Learning About the ‘Team of Teams’ Structure”. The term ‘Team of Teams’ is derived from a book by Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Circa 2016/2017 David and Rob saw the team at GMP was growing larger than a “family size” (>~40 people) and realized the company needed to make a decision. Both people and processes are important, but ultimately you must pick one to be first. They chose people over processes and proceeded to set the company up for self-management. The principles of this concept are people first ideas: building connection & trust, working toward a common goal & purpose, empowering individuals, and free exchanging of ideas. It was acknowledged that this type of organization is not for everyone, and GMB attracts or detracts people based on their affinity for this type of company. A couple of keys to the success of a people focused organization is continual learning and sharing of knowledge, and being surrounded by good people both internally and externally.
Presentation #2: Introduction to Belbin Team Roles and Review of Individual Reports by Max Isaac, CEO, 3Circle Partners
The second presentation was an “Introduction to Belbin Team Roles and Review of Individual Reports” led by Max Isaac, CEO of 3Circle Partners. The Belbin testing system is good at giving you heightened self-awareness and is very effective for individuals and a team as it has a synergistic approach.
The Belbin test system was created by and named for Dr. Meredith Belbin and it is a predictor of financials and determining team roles. The test looks at how people behave, contribute, and interrelate with others, assesses your ability to contribute over time, and indicates your functional and team roles based on self-perception and observer responses. There are (9) roles that are grouped into (3) categories:
Thinking roles: plants, specialists, and monitor evaluators
Action oriented roles: shapers, implementers, and completer finishers
People oriented roles: coordinators, team workers, and resource investigators
There are natural/preferred roles, and the idea is to focus on your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses. This tool can be used to help diagnose and improve team performance or to design teams. What rounds out the testing is the observer’s portion which can sometimes reveal that you’re “hiding a Ferrari in your garage” meaning you have hidden strengths that you aren’t aware of! Conversely, it can reveal things that you may think you’re good at that you really aren’t. We must keep in mind that the results are computer generated, so they’re very general and we should be careful not to label people based on the results. Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are helps to improve speed, quality, and execution of decision making, creates a higher quality of cross team collaboration, produces more effective individuals, builds trust, and allows the ability to assign tasks to people who will do them well.
Presentation #3: Leadership through Honest and Timely Feedback by Pam Hartsell, CPD PMP
The last presentation for this session was guided by Pam Hartsell, CPD PMP, a Project Manager and Senior Mechanical/Electrical Designer at Strategic Energy Solutions.
The importance of feedback was emphasized as it creates trust, is a learning opportunity, allows for performance improvement, and gives you insight that will help with your job performance. There is an art to giving feedback. The more you do it and the stronger your relationship is with the person, the better it becomes. You should be aware that feedback may sometimes cause animosity, could be perceived as criticism or a complaint, and you need to be sensitive to other’s cultural differences. The benefits of giving good feedback are preventing repeated errors, time wasted, missed deadlines, and lost profits. It improves project quality, encourages making meaningful connections, and contributes to professional growth and success. Honesty, delivery, and timing of feedback are critical and remember, feedback isn’t always negative, it can be positive. An easy way to ease the tension of giving feedback is to start by answering two basic questions:
What is someone good at?
What could someone do better?
As a leader, it’s imperative that you give constructive feedback and listen to understand not listen to respond. Feedback is a gift, especially when coming from people who care about you.
Breakout Session: Communication Styles
Finally, we had small group discussions about communication styles and answered the following questions:
For a second year, the CKLDP│New Mexico launched virtually on Friday, September 17th in collaboration with CKLDP│Detroit. The session was led by New Mexico co-chairs Evan Berger, Associate AIA and Alex Nellos, Associate AIA and by Detroit chair Stephanie Bonderczuk and chair assistant Paige Donnell. The remote session started off with an introduction of the program, remembering its namesake: Christopher Kelley, and an overview of CKLDP’s creation in 2013.
Presentation #1: Introduction Keynote Speaker by Laura Walker, RA, NOMA, Crain’s Detroit Business 2020 Notable Women in Design
The introduction keynote speaker was Laura Walker, RA, NOMA, Crain’s Detroit Business 2020 Notable Women in Design. Laura broadly presented on the idea of relationship building through sharing her life story and how relationships, formed through both work and personal passions, can yield to unexpected career paths. She expanded on how her recent work has pushed the limits on a traditional design process and allowed her to explore high level concepts. Engaged in transdisciplinary and inclusive collaboration, she designs participatory environments that radically affirm and celebrate marginalized human identities, expressions, and desires.
Following the introduction keynote speaker, the cohort began its first breakout exercise: strategically brainstorming topics of interest for the individual sessions of the program. With the topics ranging from “Engaging your Community” to “Expanding the Definition and Future of Practice,” the scholars were broken into groups of four to engage and discuss what they would like to get out of the program in order to benefit themselves, their firms, and their communities. These ideas were presented to the overall group.
Pecha Kucha Introductions
After the first brainstorming breakout exercise, the scholars introduced themselves through Pecha Kucha style presentations. Each was asked to present an image that describes them, to describe the type of leader they are now, and to describe the type of leader which they aspire to become. With introductions made, the co-chairs informed the scholars of the teaming outline for the individual sessions. The scholars then reconvened with their sessions partners to further refine the session topic and begin to plan its agenda, location, and speakers.
Presentation #2: Closing Keynote Speaker by Kristen Fox, RA, AIA + John Padilla, RA, AIA, CKLDP│NM Program Advisor
The closing keynote address was given by John Padilla, RA, AIA, CKLDP│NM Program Advisor and Kristen Fox, RA, AIA. With an introduction and words of wisdom by John, Kristen took the scholars on a ride through the creation of Meow Wolf. Kristen’s presentation was every bit as experiential as Meow Wolf itself: she provided the scholars a lot to think about regarding how to design with an unconventional scope and how to grow as a leader in collaboration with so many talented and wonderful artists. One of the biggest take-aways from Kristen’s presentation was how to approach the permitting to allow for a more flexible artist installation while ensuring fire and life-safety was comprehensively integrated into each space.
Overall, the bootcamp was a success and it was great to meet each of the scholars (even virtually!). We would like to thank our guest speakers for their time and sharing of experiences.