Category Archives: Business

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

Small Firm Exchange (SFx) Lounge at Convention

BDT2If you’re a small firm or sole practitioner and attending the 2016 AIA National Convention in Philadelphia, you won’t want to miss the Small Firm Exchange (SFx) Lounge. Come by to meet new people, view a demo of the AIA Kinetic App 2.0, and discuss what challenges you most in the practice of architecture. Hear more about the Small Firm Practitioner Collection, a curated lineup of workshops, seminars, events, and other programs designed to help small firm architects unlock their power and apply the latest trends to their practice.

The SFx Lounge offers a great touch-down area, with comfortable lounge furniture, where you can catch up on your work or catch a brief mini-education session to learn about programs and benefits to help you in your practice! Look for the brightly colored cubes just outside of Hall E near the AIA Expo– stop by.

As your AIA New Jersey representative to the SFx, I will be spending some of my free time at the lounge. If you see me there, I will be happy to make introductions.

The AIA Small Firm Exchange Lounge is sponsored by the AIA Trust.

I hope to see you at the Convention!

Bruce D. Turner, AIA

The Small Firm Round Table (SFRT) was recently renamed the Small Firm Exchange (SFx) to better reflect the idea that the group is meant to foster an exchange of ideas and a sharing of experiences.

NJ Architectural Firm Positions Available

The following positions are available, qualified candidates please inquire directly to the firm below:

Project Architect

Northern NJ Architectural firm has immediate opening for a Project Manager position.
Min. 5 years experience in Multi Family and Commercial projects in NY, NJ & CT.
License required. NYC Experience preferred.
Successful candidate must be self motivated, able to work independently and/or as part of a team.
Proficiency in AutoCAD, Revit and Microsoft Office is required.
Forward resume and salary requirements for consideration.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Draftsman/Junior Architect

Northern NJ Architectural firm has immediate opening for a Drafting Position.
Min. 5 years experience in Multi Family and Commercial projects.
Successful candidate must be self motivated, able to work independently and/or as part of a team.
Proficiency in AutoCAD, Revit and Microsoft Office is required.
Forward resume and salary requirements for consideration.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Marco A. Neves, AIA, NCARB
Neves Architecture & Design, LLC
582 Kearny Avenue, 2nd Floor
Kearny, New Jersey 07032
Tel. 201.246.7979
Fax. 201.246.0235
E-Mail: [email protected]

WORKING WITH THE MEDIA – Personal Engagement

AIA-NJOur previous installments of “Working with the Media” have discussed ways in which you, in a personal or professional context, can begin to build a bridge with the editorial staff of your local publications. This included some strategies as to how to introduce yourself (and your expertise) to the outlet, along with a brief guide for writing an effective letter to the editor and a primer on packaging newsworthy projects into a formal press release to send to journalists.

In all of these installments, we were mainly addressing “proactive” media outreach, which is to say, outreach initiated by an architect specifically designed to garner publicity.

However, in certain cases, you may be spurred to engage with a journalist because of comments or omissions that he has previously made. While we touched on “letters to the editor” – letters written to be published in the paper – in a previous piece, we’d also like to discuss a somewhat different concept: Engaging specifically with the journalist by writing a personal note directly to him or her (as opposed to “letters to the editor,” which are targeted at the broader public).

It’s a scenario that you’ve likely encountered many times: The local paper runs a feature article about a building and includes comments from the developer – but there is no reference to the fact that there was an architect on the project that conceptualized the design and drew the blueprints. While this frustrating scenario is all too common, if approached properly, it can be an opportunity to educate the reporter so that the same mistake isn’t repeated in the future.

Before we discuss how to approach the journalist, it’s important to recognize several likely facts about the omission:

Reporter specialty – In many cases, the reporter is not particularly familiar with architecture – or even real estate development. The editorial staffs are shrinking at most newspapers, and reporters are frequently tasked with covering several beats. In some cases, the offending article may be the only one the reporter writes relating to architecture or real estate over a period of several weeks or months.
Communicated information – Many real estate developers provide reporters with press releases, which include much of the basic information about their projects. Frequently, reporters write stories based nearly entirely upon the press release – including mention of the architect if she is mentioned in the press release, but omitting it otherwise.

What both of these facts mean is that the reporter was probably not omitting the architect’s identity deliberately; chances are that he or she simply doesn’t understand the architect’s importance. With this in mind, the best practices for this sort of letter are clear:

Choose judiciously – While every building has an architect, that doesn’t mean that every article written about a structure without reference to its architect should turn into a letter. Instead of flooding the inbox of a reporter after every offending article, only send a note when the omission is flagrant, e.g. if the building’s architecture is particularly noteworthy, or if the article focused significantly on the building’s design.
Keep it educational – The article is already published, so the goal is to explain to the reporter why the architect is an integral part of the building process, so architects are included in future articles. Because most journalists have limited knowledge of architecture, be as detailed as possible, including not just the legal requirement of having an architect but the specific value and creativity that the architect brought to that particular building, what is architecturally unique and/or how it promotes safety.
Offer to have a follow-up call – In addition to the obvious benefits of having a broader discussion on local architecture if the reporter accepts the offer, the offer itself drills home the point that you’re not looking to criticize the reporter because of an error they made; rather, you’re looking to provide them with your expertise to enable them to write more knowledgeably in the future.

Note that there are also several ways you can proactively go about making sure that you are given credit when your projects are covered in the media:

Create a requirement in your contract: Including a requirement that all project publicity will mention your firm is one way to guarantee that your participation is acknowledged in the developer’s press materials.
Provide a description of the project to your client: Giving your client an architectural perspective on the project will not only help them in their media outreach, but it will also ensure a proper description of the architectural elements of a project. In doing so, it is natural to include a mention of your firm in the description.
Draft your own press release: Now that you know how to compose your own press release from a previous installment of “working with the media”, you may be able to “take the lead” on announcing the project, which means that you can control what specific details are being shared with the reporters. If the developer is looking to do media outreach, they may be open to collaborating with you on the press release, which would also mean that you will have at least some control of what details are being sent to journalists.

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

Shlomo Morgulis
Account Executive
Beckerman PR Real Estate Team

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

Architect Business Development Summit Scholarships

Free Business Development Scholarship for AIA NJ Small Firm Principals
There is an opportunity for 2 members of AIA NJ to get a free scholarship to the upcoming Architect Business Development Summit in NYC on April 7 + 8 (read more here: http://architectresources.org/qoe8).
Attending this event will help you acquire the skills you need to help your firm prosper, and it is specifically tailored for smaller firms who might lack a dedicated marketing team.
Scholarship includes free registration for the 2-day event ($997 value)
Here is the link to apply for a scholarship: http://architectresources.org
The deadline for applications is March 24, 2016.
Use sponsor code: AIANJ
 arch-business-dev-summit-2016
*************************************

 

2015 NJ Code Update

AIAeagle_2016On September 21, 2015, NJ formally adopted the 2015 ICC series of codes including the International Building Code (IBC), the International Residential Code (IRC), the International Mechanical Code (IMC), the International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) along with the National Electric Code NFPA 70-2014.

As with all NJ subcode revisions there is a 6 month grace period in which the design professional can chose to use either the current or previous version of the code. The grace period is about to expire, and all applications submitted for plan review after March 21, 2016 will be required to use the 2015 codes.

The National Standard Plumbing Code 2015,  was not adopted until January 4 2016, so the option to use the previous version of the plumbing subcode only, is still available until July 6, 2016.

This is the first code update since 2009 and it comes with literally hundreds of changes.

Below is a small sample of some of the significant changes to the code.

  • Wind born debris regions that trigger the requirement for impact resistant glazing have been modified. This will affect many buildings along the NJ Shore.
  • Institutional uses, including medical offices & assisted living facilities will be affected by the addition of “Occupancy Conditions.”
  • Most of the Barrier Free Subcode requirements have been moved to Chapter 11 of IBC.
  • Egress requirements from mezzanines have been changed.
  • New sprinkler requirements for buildings with assembly occupancies on roofs.
  • New requirements for low level “Exit” signs in some occupancies.

Visit the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) home page for a complete list of code adoptions with links to full versions of the codes online. http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/codes/codreg/

Robert Longo, AIA
AIANJ Codes & Standards Chair

NJIT Design Showcase 2016

 

Register today for Design Showcase 2016!

New Jersey Institute of Technology
 FEBRUARY 2016 
 

College of Architecture and Design

Design Showcase 2016 – Our 10th Year!

Celebrating CoAD’s continued commitment to 

Students and Industry Professionals

 

 Thursday, April 7, 2016

Weston Hall Gallery

 

An evening featuring keynote speaker James Tichenor ’99, student design awards, live music and a cocktail reception. 

Registration with dedicated professional networking session for all guests begins at 4:30 pm.

 

To register, sponsor and for more information visit link:
Design Showcase 2016

or contact Tracy Bermeo at [email protected] or at 973-596-5531

 

Thank you!  

We look forward to seeing you on April 7th!

 

 

What Architects Need to Know About Responsible Charge

by David Del Vecchio, AIA
AIANJ Legislative & Government Affairs Chair  (L&GA)

A2023 was signed into law in New Jersey on January 11, 2016.  The bill revises the definition of “responsible charge” as it pertains to licensed professional engineers and land surveyors.  AIA New Jersey requested amendments to include architects along with the professional engineers and land surveyors included in the original language.

The original bill sought to revise the standard of supervision a professional engineer or land surveyor must give to individuals whose work affects the quality and competence of the professional services of the building design professional.  More specifically, the bill would change the definition of “responsible charge” as it pertains to architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, or land surveying work.

The bill defines “responsible charge” to mean the providing of oversight by a competent building design professional by means calculated to provide personal direction to, and quality control over, the efforts of subordinates of the licensee which directly and materially affects the quality and competence of the professional services rendered by the licensee.

The bill amends a section of law that currently lists various acts or practices engaged in by a licensed closely allied professionals that are deemed to be acts or practices in which that licensee has not rendered proper supervision.

The bill removes from this enumerated list of acts or practices contained in current law reference to the regular and continuous absence from principal office premises from which professional services are rendered, except for performance of field work or presence in a field office maintained exclusively for a specific project.

AIA New Jersey Legislative Committee was successful in having the bill amended to revise the definition of “responsible charge,” as it relates to engineers and architects, to mean the provision of regular and effective supervision by a competent professional engineer or architect, as the case may be, who shall provide personal direction to, and quality control over, the efforts of subordinates of the licensee which directly and materially affects the quality and competence of the professional services rendered by the licensee.

The amendments specify that a licensee engaged in the rendering of a limited, cursory or perfunctory review of plans or projects in lieu of providing sufficient direction to, and quality control over, the efforts of subordinates of the licensee shall be deemed not to have rendered regular and effective supervision.  Plan stamping is still plan stamping.

So while the bill allows building design professionals to provide personal direction and quality control to staff not located in the same office location, it maintains the prohibition Plan Stamping.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers