Category Archives: NJ Architect Newsletter

AIA Grassroots Leadership & Legislative Conference a huge success…despite the snow!

Submitted by Justin A. Mihalik, AIA, 2015 ArchiPAC Steering Committee Member

grassroots2015_archiThe Grassroots Leadership & Legislative Conference over the years has moved its focus from Leadership to Advocacy and Legislative efforts, and this year was no exception.  More than 800 AIA members attended the Conference and were trained on this year’s Legislative Agenda.  In addition, AIA Leaders raised $57,000 for ArchiPAC, exceeding the goals for the Conference!  If you have not donated, it is never too late, click here! Thank you to all those AIANJ members who did contribute as we are in full swing to exceed our goals for this Legislative season.

Here is a synopsis of the Talking Points for the Capitol Hill visits.  The full version can be downloaded hereContinue reading

AIANJ Takes home Component Excellence Award from Grassroots Convention

Submitted by Justin A Mihalik, AIA, Co-Chair, AIA Regional Recovery Working Group

aianj_GR15_award3The AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference is always a great event to kickoff the new year as an AIANJ Leader.  This year it was even sweeter as AIANJ took home a Component Excellence Award for Expanding & Sharing Knowledge through the AIA Regional Recovery Working Group (AIARRWG).  The AIARRWG was formed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy by Illya Azaroff AIA, AIANYS, and co-chaired by Justin Mihalik AIA, AIANJ.  The Group organized three workshops focusing on the effects of Sandy on Jersey City, Hoboken and Newark, the Jersey Shore, as well as the State’s infrastructure and critical buildings.  Some of the comments received from the jurors included,

“This is a very strong submission demonstrating collaboration among components and states to promote knowledge of resilience best practices.”

“This is a great example of how components can work together to achieve measurable results on a topic of great importance to the profession. We can all learn from this program!”

“This very strong effort brought together various players to the table in a symbiotic manner with a collective vision and shared goals. I am not aware of any such other strong showing of organizational achievements lead by the AIA, specifically to assess a post-disaster situation, to the extent of what occurred with Sandy. I would hope that these efforts remain in the forefront with the state and federal agencies that have jurisdiction over events such as Sandy.”

On behalf of the AIARRWG, we are very proud of the work we have done and the honor of being recognized by AIA.  The AIARRWG will continue its work to help connect the victims with the various resources in the State, as well as share information with our allied professional organizations and the State of NJ.  If you are interested in joining the AIARRWG please contact Justin Mihalik AIA at [email protected].

Presidents Message – AIANJ Update and Grassroots

Spring is almost here in New Jersey, I know many of us are looking forward to warmer temperatures and to see projects delayed by weather move forward.  Though it is only March a lot has been happening in the architecture community in NJ.

We were saddened this week to learn of the passing of two architects who impacted the architecture community in New Jersey.  Paul DeMassi, AIA, and Michael Graves, FAIA.  Graves took architecture and design beyond structures, whether it was a building, a chair or a toaster he taught that Design Matters.   Read more about his life.   DeMassi opened his firm in NJ in 1971, was a past president of NJ Society of Architects  (AIA-NJ) in 1981, and three term past chairman of the Joint Committee of the NJ State Board of Architects and Engineers.   Find out more information.  The AIA-NJ community if feeling a great loss by the absence of these two members.

aianj_GR15_senator

aiawj_GR15_congDuring the last snow storm here in the northeast, leaders from around the country, and a number of AIA-NJ members were in Washington DC for the Annual Grassroots Legislative and Leadership Conference.   Continue reading

NJ Disaster Safety Assessment Seminar

 

Registration Open Now for Post-Disaster Certification program.

April 11, 2015
8:30 am to 4:00 pm
at NJIT School of Architecture

Click here to Sign Up now !

 

 

2015 Disaster Training Promo II with background color

Support Historic Preservation Funding – Important Deadline March 18th

AIA Members –

Please ask your Member of Congress to support historic preservation funding. Historic preservation programming on the state and federal level relies on annual funding appropriated by Congress to continue to run – we need your help TODAY to make sure that happens. Please ask your Member of Congress to sign on to the historic preservation funding letter.  We need to act fast – the deadline for legislators to sign this letter is Wednesday, March 18.

These core historic preservation programs help stimulate private investment, spur economic growth and create jobs while revitalizing our communities and protecting the nation’s cultural heritage.  The letter for the funding request would provide grants to preserve and protect vital pieces of America’s cultural heritage such as historic civil rights sites and historically black colleges and universities, preserving them for future generations.

Without continued funding by Congress, the offices that administer the Historic Tax Credit and other key historic preservation programs could close, leaving citizens without the needed tools to revitalize, rehabilitate, and protect the places that give meaning to America.

Please act today.

Help protect these programs for the future by telling your Member of Congress that we need their help now and that they should sign the letter by Wednesday, March 18 to make their voice heard!

TAKE ACTION NOW

 

 

Lightweight Construction Materials – the Public’s Perception

Mihalick_2014Submitted by Justin A. Mihalik, AIA 
2015 AIANJ President-Elect

As a result of the AvalonBay fire in Edgewater, I was interviewed by PIX 11 news and Al Jazeera America as a representative of AIANJ, for the Architect’s perspective on lightweight wood construction materials.  Architects understand that the building code takes into consideration the use group of a building as well as the construction type of materials in order to determine how then to protect the materials being used in order to meet a minimum standard and to be considered “safe”.  But what is the public’s perception of “safe”?  After all, as Architects, it is our responsibility to design “safe” buildings.  In watching many Youtube videos and reading white papers on the subject of lightweight construction as I prepared for the interview, I found that the public’s perception of engineered lightweight materials, mainly wood I-joists, is that they are “cheap”.

 

There are a few reasons for this that I can understand from a lay person’s perspective.  One being that the material used for the web of the I-joist, which is oriented strand board or OSB, appears to be a cheap wafer board.  A second one is that after a fire, not much of a structure built with these materials is still standing.  Being interviewed at the AvalonBay site, it did not take an experienced eye to see that the stair towers and elevator shafts that were constructed of masonry concrete block were the only structures standing amongst a sea of wood debris.  It was clear to the eye that the masonry concrete block was far superior to the wood because it had survived the fire.

Architects also understand that the building code does not require the building to fully withstand a fire but only that it withstands the fire long enough for its occupants to escape in a safe manner.  The public does not understand that this is in fact the way the building code works.  It is up to the Architect and the owner of the building to design it in such a way that it potentially can withstand a fire and the effects of fighting the fire in order to minimize the reconstruction.  So is the public wrong for having the perception that engineered lightweight wood materials are cheap?  Or is it the industry’s fault for allowing this perception to exist?

There is one other party that should be involved in this conversation and that is the insurance industry since they are making the payouts on policies to then reconstruct these buildings.  Fortunately, no lives were lost in the AvalonBay fire.  So do we then believe that the building code was sufficient?

Any Architect that has been involved in repairing/reconstructing a building after a fire understands that it is a liability nightmare and that the best approach for the owner is to rebuild the structure.  Rebuilding instead of repairing should not be a problem since the insurance policy covers for the “replacement value”.  Well, anyone who has worked on a fire job also knows that the term “replacement value” is vague and does not guarantee that this “value” will in fact cover the full cost of the reconstruction.  A question for Architects to consider is the following: how sustainable or resilient are the current practices in constructing single or multi-family buildings if they cannot withstand a fire?

Recently legislation was proposed by Republican Assemblyman Scott T. Rumana, bill A4195 (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/A4500/4195_I1.HTM), and if approved it would impose a two year moratorium on the use of lightweight construction materials in multi-family buildings.  The proposed bill not only includes engineered wood, but also traditional nominal wood and steel bar joists.  If approved, this bill would be devastating to the construction industry and would affect not only job creation, the housing market, but also architectural firms.  Safety is ultimately the most important issue when it comes to buildings.  Does this bill take this too far?

Save The Date – AIANJ Annual Conference

Save The Date:

The AIA New Jersey Conference

October 23rd & 24th

Mark your calendars – speakers and seminars are being finalized  –  Watch for more information soon.

DesignConf2015

Working With The Media – Writing a Letter to the Editor

AIA-NJIn our recent year end review of the 2014 activities of the AIA New Jersey Public Awareness Committee, we asked you to stay tuned for tools that will help you make a splash in the press. Below, is the second in a series of articles that will help you in that regard. With your help, we hope to be able to leverage our strength in numbers to help promote architects and architecture.

In the inaugural installment of our Working with the Media series, we discussed the process of familiarizing yourself with your local media landscape, including reporters and editors from various mainstream and trade outlets, and local community papers. We discussed a process called source filing, in which you, as an architect, establish yourself as a professional resource for future building and design-related stories that a journalist may be writing.

This is a necessary first step to making a splash in your local publication, but as a standalone measure, it leaves you in a passive position. Source filing vastly increases your chances of being contacted by a reporter when they need a source, but what if you want to proactively offer your expertise to the media?

Without pitching a story to a local reporter, it’s still possible to get published through a simple letter to the editor. A letter should be short – ideally less than 300 words – addressed to a newspaper or website’s editorial staff regarding a specific story or pertinent trend. Once you’ve identified the correct email or mailing address for the editor (usually located on the ‘Opinions’ or ‘Letters’ page), it’s time to get started on your letter.

As you’re writing your letter, keep in mind a few key points:

  • Keep it (somewhat) formal: Begin your letter with a proper salutation and thoroughly check it for spelling, grammar, and unnecessary shorthand writing. The printed letter is a direct reflection of you as a professional!
  • Send it electronically: While sending a physical letter is a novel idea, you greatly increase your chances of being published if you email the letter. It’s far easier for busy editors to copy/paste a letter than to retype it.
  • Clearly state your position in the opening paragraph: Whether you’re responding to a recent article or commenting on a building or architectural issue, make sure that you don’t bury your main point. In the first paragraph, be sure to plainly state your stance in relation to the story or subject.
  • Don’t (always) have a bone to pick: The tendency for many is to write a letter to the editor only when they are upset or opposed to something that a reporter has written. In fact, letters to the editor can be laudatory of a reporter, fellow architect, development project – anything! In fact, as long as you’re offering a fresh perspective, staying positive is a great way to solidify your relationship with the publication in the early stages of your relationship.

Letters to the editor offer a unique opportunity for architects because they are not controlled by an editorial board or journalistic practices. They’re an opportunity to say something constructive, educational, or unique about architecture while solely owning the message. Best of luck and happy writing!

For more suggestions, refer to AIA Best Practices – Getting Good Press on the web at 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.

If you would like to read the previous article in this series, please click here.

If you would like to see a sample Letter to the Editor, please click here.

Kyle Kirkpatrick
Account Supervisor
Beckerman PR Real Estate Team

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

AIA Fellowship Workshop

red_eagleAIA New Jersey Members;

This year AIA New Jersey was successful in having two of its members elevated to Fellowship; Pamela Rew of KSS Architects in Princeton, and Joseph Tattoni of Ikon5 also of Princeton. We have begun to put in place a process to assist those who wish to apply for AIA Fellowship and hope to continue this year to build on this success.

Last year I was able to hold a series of seminars to discuss the process of applying for Fellowship, and it seems to have helped. As some of you know, I had the opportunity to serve on the AIA Jury of Fellows from 2008 to 2010 and I became very familiar with the jury selection process and what the Jury of Fellows are looking for in their deliberations. I will lead each of the two seminars outlined below and answer questions regarding the process, the jury, and the submission itself.

This message is to encourage those of you who might be considering applying for Fellowship to attend. Even if you may not be thinking about it in the immediate future, it may be helpful to attend to understand what sort of information you should be collecting and organizing in the interim, so that when you do apply, it will be an easier process.

To begin this effort I will conduct two identical seminars at locations around the state; the dates and meeting places are shown below. The seminars will be to meet potential candidates, help explain the process, discuss approaches and strategize how to work with them as they complete their applications. We now have a AIANJ standing Fellows Committee with members willing and able to help you in the submittal process. The seminar times and locations shown below will also be posted on the AIANJ website.

All individuals who are considering applying for Fellowship either now or in the future are urged to attend. 

Please call or e-mail me if you plan on attending, so I can get some idea of how many people we will have to accommodate. Thanks.

Allan Kehrt FAIA

 

There will be two seminars as follows:

Date:         March 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Location:   The offices of Clarke Caton Hintz
                    100 Barrack Street
                   Trenton, New Jersey
                   609-883-8383

Date:         March 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Location:   New Jersey Institute of Technology
                    AIA Room, School of Architecture
                   Newark, New Jersey
                   973-596-3079

RSVP:            Allan Kehrt FAIA cell: 609-240-1364
                         e-mail: [email protected]

CSI 2015 Mid-Atlantic Conference

CSI-MARC_Banner2

MARC2015

The Mid-Altantic Region CSI Conference annually brings together construction industry professionals from CSI Chapters, allied associations, design professionals and specifiers.

Thorough technical presentations and tours we will explore our theme of ‘Detailing Innovation’, intended to explore innovative changes that will impact the construction industry in the near future, these will include Sustainablity, Energy, and Construction Technology. Additonal events and tours will offer networking, and social opportunites.  Presentations and tours will offer AIA Continuing Education Credits

For more information or to register:

www.csiphila.org/marc2015/

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