Author Archives: Bruce D. Turner, AIA

Sole proprietor architect working on commercial residential and municipal projects, both new construction and renovations/additions. Sustainable design; LEED ap

Governance Week 2016

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017. I am excited to serve all of you as the 2017-2019 AIA New Jersey Regional Representative to the AIA National Strategic Council. My tenure got a jumpstart early in December when I attended Governance Week 2016. This served as my orientation/initiation to the Strategic Council and a farewell to the outgoing Class of 2016. Among that group is our outgoing Regional Representative Robert Cozzarelli, AIA. His tenure marked the transition from the previous role as Regional Director on the AIA Board to the new role of Regional Representative on the Strategic Council. That is NOT a distinction without a difference. These are significantly different roles. Bob, and the rest of his Class of 2016, were at the forefront of defining this new system which has the specific goal of better serving the members and the profession. After attending these meetings in Washington, DC, I can personally attest to that fact that Bob was highly respected and did a very good job representing us. He will be a tough act to follow. I want to personally thank Bob for his many years of hard work and dedication to the AIA and the support he has offered me throughout the years.

The agenda for the week was packed. Our work started with two half-day sessions of orientation. During these sessions we were reminded that the purpose of the Strategic Council is to advance the profession of architecture by informing the Board and other Institute bodies of important issues and opportunities.  Toward that end we were challenged to continually ask the question: “What does it mean and why does it matter?” and to listen more than we speak. With that in mind I will remind you that my door is always open to all of you. I can be reached by phone at 856-405-0351 or by email at [email protected] Or, if you want to meet face-to-face, and you are in Vineland, you are welcome to stop by. Or, let me know if you want me to come see you.

paul-revere-williams-faiaAfter our orientation sessions, my group (the Class of 2019, or XIX as we refer to ourselves) was invited to join a Joint Board/Council Meeting. As you may have read in other publications, this was the meeting where the Gold Medal, the Firm Award, The Topaz Medallion, The Kemper Award and the Whitney M. Young Award were considered and ratified. It was a humbling experience to be in the room as these awards were deliberated and announced. It was especially moving to be a witness to the posthumous award of the 2017 AIA Gold Medal to Paul Revere Williams, FAIA.

The next day we were invited to the final Strategic Council Assembly of 2016. This was a day-long session with a variety of generative exercises, outreach exercises, reports, discussions and agenda setting for 2017. Beyond the specific discussion on any topic, it was apparent that the focus of the Council, and the remainder of the leadership, has the member experience at its core. This discussion was informed by the goals of the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, namely: Elevating Public Awareness, Advocating for the Profession and Advancing Knowledge and Expertise. To achieve its goals, the AIA has articulated the following primary objectives: Career Pathways, Influence, Innovation, Market Leadership, Outreach, Policy, Relevance and Research. All the while we are constantly being challenged to try to find The Next Big Thing.

After (and among) all of these working sessions, we also had time for networking with our fellow Councilors and other leaders of the Institute. Since the Council only meets face-to-face three times during the year, this time was critically important to build or expand these relationships. Among these meetings was a reception at the Institute Headquarters, the AIA Presidential Inauguration, which was held at the Museum of African American History and Culture, and a Class of 2016 Dinner that was hosted at the home of Robert and Holly Ivy. I was glad to be joined at the inaugural by my wife Sarah, and David and Suzanne Del Vecchio, Jerry and Marsha Eben, and Verity and Andy Frizzell. I am sure they will also be glad to share with you their impressions of that event.

AIAeagle_2016Now it is time to get down to work. These are exciting and challenging times for our profession. But, working together I am confident that we all can make the AIA and our profession of ever increasing service to society.

Bruce D. Turner, AIA
AIA New Jersey 2017-2019 Regional Representative

AIA Call For Issues Survey

AIA-NJThe AIA biennial Call for Issues for our federal agenda is currently open, and we are hoping to get as wide participation as possible. This is a chance for all members to weigh in on what issues they want the AIA to bring to Congress in 2017.

This is something that has been done for almost 10 years, and it is perhaps as important as ever to give members the chance to speak out on the AIA’s agenda. This Call for Issues will also appear in AIA Architect, but we wanted to share the survey and the message below directly with our AIA New Jersey stakeholder group.


In a few weeks, a new Congress will take their seats on Capitol Hill and begin debating issues that affect all of us. It’s critical that lawmakers hear from architects and that you be involved in those discussions that affect our profession.

That’s why the AIA has launched its biennial Call for Issues. Through this survey, you can inform the AIA about where you stand on the major issues for architects. Your feedback helps us to prioritize the policies and issues that we will advocate on before Congress and the White House for the next two years. Essentially, your responses shape the AIA’s advocacy agenda.

In the past, your responses to the Call for Issues have led the AIA to advocate for sustainable design policies, financial incentives for healthier and more resilient communities, and policies that reduce unnecessary red tape on architecture firms. Your voice has made the difference.

Make sure your voice is heard: take the Call for Issues survey by December 16, and please feel free to share with other AIA members. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the AIA’s Government Relations and Advocacy team at [email protected].

AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx)

AIAeagle_2016The AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx – and previously the Small Firm Roundtable SFRT) recently published its inaugural newsletter. Click here for a link to the letter from the Chair. There you will find the first articles and a link to sign up for the Small Firm Exchange (nationally), which will put you on the email list for the newsletter.

As mentioned in previous SFx posts, AIA New Jersey is also interested in organizing local Small Firm Exchanges (Roundtables) throughout the state. Please stay tuned for additional information, but if you have an interest, you can always contact me directly.

Thanks,

Bruce D. Turner, AIA
email: [email protected]

AIA South Jersey & AIA West Jersey Joint Meeting

AIA SJ&WJ Sept 13 2016 invitation

AEC Cares at the 2016 AIA National Convention

In this month’s ARCHITECT Magazine, July 2016, pages 52-53 feature the AEC Cares project from the National Convention in Philadelphia. The project was a “blitz-build” renovation of the Philadelphia Athletic Recreation Center. As described on the AEC Cares website: “In 2016, AEC Cares partnered with the Community Design Collaborative to renovate the Philadelphia Athletic Recreation Center. Used by hundreds of children in the Sharswood neighborhood for after school and sports programs, the center was in desperate need of repair and upgrades.” As their sixth annual blitz build, project Philadelphia, as it was dubbed, took place on May 18th, 2016, the day before the 2016 AIA National Convention in Philadelphia. AIA WJ Emerging Professional, Jeffrey Brummer, AIA, was a member of the design team. Jeffrey is located on the far left side of the design team photograph on page 52 (and below).

Visit www.aeccares.com for more information. There are videos on the website highlighting the program.

Story submitted by Mark Barone, AIA, President-Elect of AIA West Jersey

AEC Cares at 2016 AIA Convention One Page

SURVEY – Business Models for Small Architectural Firms

AIAeagle_2016The Small Firm Exchange (SFx – previously called the Small Firm Roundtable, or SFRT) seeks the anonymous input of small architectural firms (10 persons or fewer) on a variety of business practices. Below is a full article by Kevin Harris, FAIA explaining the request. This article will soon appear in the CRAN Journal. But, to help us get a jump on this we are asking for you to participate in the survey now. The survey is very brief and should not take long to complete.

To access the survey click HERE!

Kevin Harris PhotoCRAN Journal – Summer 2016
Article by Kevin Harris, FAIA

ARCHITECTURAL MODELS FOR SMALL FIRMS

As architects, we are all familiar with the process and benefits of modeling our designs prior to construction. Models are an effective medium to study proposed creations and help communicate those concepts to our clients.

Constructing a model takes time however, it can give us an opportunity to take a break, reflect on new insights, and manipulate the parts until all seems right. Working with a model is a process that helps us elevate our plans from good to better.

As part of their ongoing effort on identifying what information could best benefit members of the AIA, the Small Firm Exchange (SFx) distributed its Small Firm Survey (Beta version) during the 2016 AIA Convention. Its purpose was to identify and measure the variety and commonalities existing in small firm models with the goal of providing meaningful insight to all architects practicing in small firms. It collected data on firm location; staff number, credentials, and commitment; project numbers, types, locations, and budgets; business plan existence and update frequency; contract usage; fee methods; gross revenue; and identified interest areas for additional studies.

The surveys were distributed as paper copies in both the SFx and AIA Fellow/VIP Lounges at the convention. Participants in this “Beta” test group formed a small sampling however, one large enough to reveal certain patterns of important concern to small firm practitioners.

Most notable is the fact that very few responded as having, or updating, a business plan. Those that did have one admitted at best to infrequent review or updating of this important planning tool. A business plan is widely acknowledged as a basic guide that is to be used throughout the lifetime of any business. In order to be of value, the plan must be kept up-to-date!

This brings up the rhetorical question that, as a profession, why don’t architects apply those concepts of creative process improvement modeling used to arrive at better designs, to plans used to guide their own businesses? Why indeed!

I am also guilty of spending little to no time on developing, studying, or “modeling” my own business plan. This SFx survey has piqued my interest on what other things I might learn from observing other practices. What patterns are applicable to my own firm? For example, since I want to improve my financial success, is there a correlation between firm income and the number of projects each year? Or does the number of staff in my outfit restrict the types and sizes of projects I can best handle? What type of contracts do others use? Are there better patterns to distribute the responsibility hats worn by a sole proprietor when in a firm of 2-4 people, or is it any better with 5-10? Is a larger firm more profitable than a sole practitioner without support staff? The data sampling of small firms must be greatly enlarged to properly study these and other relevant questions.

Below is a sample “dashboard” that visually communicates the data gathered from the initial “Beta” version. Similar outputs will be applied to the digital version, and will be made available to all who participate. Follow this link to the survey: http://tinyurl.com/AIASFxBusinessModelSurvey

SFx Beta Survey Results

Answering basic business questions and conducting mid-stream course corrections is required for your basic business survival. Having access to a database illustrating how your peers address these same issues will go a long way towards guiding you towards a more financially sustainable practice.

Download the survey link NOW! http://tinyurl.com/AIASFxBusinessModelSurvey

Updated small firm model statistics will follow in a future issue of the CRAN Journal.

CRAN Journal – Summer 2016
Article by Kevin Harris, FAIA

WORKING WITH THE MEDIA – “Bridging” your Message

AIA-NJBelow is the sixth in a series of “Working with the Media” articles. With your help, we hope to be able to leverage our strength in numbers to help promote architects, architecture and AIA-NJ. The other installments of the Working with the Media series can be found here.

Previously in Working with the Media, we focused on the basic elements of delivering your message in an interview. In a nutshell, this strategy recalled the principles of the “inverted pyramid,” by which the interviewee emphasizes the most salient points first, followed by supporting details and minutiae. This strategy helps to ensure that your most important insights are recognized as such by the reporter.

That said, a reporter will often begin working on a story with a specific “angle” in mind. Perhaps they’re looking for commentary on a new piece of legislation from an architectural perspective, or maybe they’re writing about a controversial development project. These interviews carry several professional sensitivities, making it important as ever to prepare a clearly mapped message. While it’s always ideal to cooperate with reporters as much as possible, there will be times when a reporter is seeking response to a question you’re unable to answer for legal or other reasons – or because you don’t have expertise on that specific topic.

If, in the course of an interview, you are asked such a question, you may want to “bridge” your answer – that is, gently transition the topic of conversation in your response. This is naturally preferable to a “no comment” response, since you may be able to offer some valuable information for the reporter without hitting on the topic’s specific sensitivities.

A few phrases that can help you bridge your conversation:

  • While I’m not at liberty to discuss specifics on that right now, I can tell you that…”
  • “I think what’s most relevant is…”
  • “I can’t speak for any of the involved parties, but it is generally true that…”

The goal in bridging your message is not to be evasive and avoidant, but to guide the conversation to a space where you can provide valuable commentary without overstepping any professional boundaries. In some cases, the journalist’s “probing” questions may actually have the simple goal of moving the conversation forward, and your relevant comments, which don’t necessarily answer the question directly, will give them the additional color they were seeking.

Ultimately, while bridging within an interview may feel somewhat unnatural at first, it’s preferable to providing a reporter with an on-the-record comment that could have negative legal (or other) ramifications.

If you would like to read the previous articles in this series, please see the following links:

Working with the Media Pays Off

Building Relationships

Writing a Letter to the Editor

Personal Engagement

Composing a Press Release

Composing a Boilerplate

Kyle Kirkpatrick
Account Supervisor
Beckerman PR Real Estate Team

Working With The Media Pays Off

AIA-NJI hope you are familiar with our Working With The Media series. Having read these articles you might wonder if any of this really makes a difference? Well, here is concrete example of how it can work.

I recently read an article in my local newspaper announcing the groundbreaking for a new local public charter school. As we often see, the article named local and state politicians that were present, quoted the executive director of the new school and named both the developer and the contractor for the project. What was missing was the name of the architect.

I did a Google search to see if I could identify the architect for the project, but was unable to find any reliable information. However, I know the contractor and I know a local architect that does a lot of this type of work. Therefore, I sent them both text messages to try to confirm the name of the architect. While I waited for their responses, I sent the following email to the newspaper:

I read with great interest your article, Vineland School Breaks Ground, Saturday, May 28, 2016. I am glad to see this new school coming to our community. I also noted that the article referenced a local contractor with whom I have completed multiple successful projects – Capri Construction.

However, I was very disappointed to see that the article does not mention the architect for the project. This is especially troubling when one considers the focus on STEM (or STEAM) in education today. Architects, and careers in architecture, are a direct result of the STEM/STEAM educational program. It is sad therefore, that the architect is overlooked or deemed irrelevant to an article about the very buildings they are helping to bring to life by virtue of their STEM/STEAM education.

Every building project involves three primary entities: the owner, the architect and the contractor. It is the three-legged stool of every project. It should be fundamental to the who, what, when, where, and why of any article. I urge you to ALWAYS include the name of the architect in any article about any building.

Remember – be it a home, school, or an office; wherever we live, eat or pray; every building has an architect!

Respectfully,

Bruce D. Turner, AIA
President, AIA South Jersey

I was pleased to receive a very prompt response from the newspaper:

Unfortunately – the name of the architect was not included with the information provided by the school.

However, I will keep your suggestion in mind next time I receive this type of information.

Thank you!

This is not an unusual response. And, the conversation could have ended there. But, I decided to continue the dialogue. Once I confirmed the name of the architect – Manders Merighi Portadin Farrell Architects of Vineland – I sent that information to the newspaper. I also offered that if the newspaper ever has difficulty finding this type of information for any of their articles that they could contact me. Within a very short period of time I received a reply from the newspaper that the information was added to the online version of the story. I was perfectly satisfied with this outcome. I thanked them and thought that would be the end of it. However, the next day my original email appeared on the opinion page of the newspaper. That was icing on the cake. Not only had I engaged in a positive conversation with the newspaper about the value of including the name of the architect, but I also got the opportunity to deliver that message to a larger public audience.

This is the value of working with the media. This isn’t difficult. Any of us can do it. In fact we all can. It won’t always deliver such immediate and positive results, but we need to try. If the media hears from enough architects on a regular and routine basis we can make an impact. After all, we are their readers. They will appreciate our attentiveness to what they write.

Bruce D. Turner, AIA
Co-Chair, AIA New Jersey Public Awareness Committee

For more suggestions, refer to AIA Best Practices – Getting Good Press on the web at http://www.aia.org. Please note this is a password protected, member only website. Therefore, we cannot provide a direct link to the site for you. But you can find it under Practicing Architecture; Best Practices; Part 2 – Firm Management; Chapter 6: Marketing and Business Development. You might also find a lot of other beneficial material in this area of the website. You can also find samples of other quick responses here.

If you would like to read the previous articles in this series, please see the following links:

Delivering Your Message In An Interview

Building Relationships

Writing a Letter to the Editor

Composing a Press Release

Press Release Boilerplates

Personal Engagement

The Big Green Boxes of Cheer

During the AIA National Convention in Philadelphia, AIA South Jersey President, Bruce D. Turner, AIA, was among a group of architects who helped deliver 136 gift boxes to patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Dubbed the Big Green Boxes of Cheer, the event was organized by Andersen Windows and Cheeriodicals, a national corporate team building company that conducts philanthropic events benefiting children’s hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses, Veterans Hospitals and other charities across the country.

The gift boxes were assembled at the Andersen booth on the Expo Floor by the Andersen team, architects, and Cheeriodicals team members, and then delivered to the patients at St. Christopher’s Hospital.  The boxes were made up of age-appropriate magazines and activity books, room decorations, puzzles, stickers and games for the children to enjoy.

To learn more about Cheeriodicals, visit www.boxesofcheer.com, or follow Cheeriodicals on Twitter and Facebook.

IMG_2600

Pictured, left to right are: Denise Thomson, AIA, President, AIA Philadelphia; Bill Warwick, AIA, Principal at Barton Partners; Joe Bongartz, AIA, Principal at Meyers Design; Joel Pullman, Commercial Sales Director at Andersen Windows; Erin Kelly, AIA, Architect at Francis Cauffman; Gary Massenzio, Architect Business Development Representative at Andersen Windows; Bruce D. Turner, AIA, President, AIA South Jersey; Chelsea Ebling Marketing Coordinator at Two Men and A Truck, Philadelphia; Wes Tavera, Commercial Business Development Representative at Andersen Windows; Pat Henry, Commercial Business Development Representative at Andersen Windows; and Kate Ward, AIA, Business Development Director at Bernardon Architects.