Category Archives: Small Firms

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.


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

WIA Lecture Series: Women and Democracy

WIA Final LogoPlease Join Us – All Welcome


Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi



6:00PM TO 9PM




to Kim Vierheilig at [email protected]
AIA Members: No Charge | Non-AIA Members: $20 (at door) 1.0 CEU Pending Approval

THANKS to our Sponsor



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


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:

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!

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

CRAN Journal – Summer 2016
Article by Kevin Harris, FAIA

AIA SFx Schedule at the 2016 AIA Convention

AIA SFx 2016 Convention 2If you are looking for events geared specifically to the small firm, look no further. The AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) published a list of programs geared specifically to the needs of the small firm. And, if you have any questions stop by the SFx Lounge near the Expo floor. People there will be glad to share their advice. See you in PhilAIAdelphia.

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.

Presidents Message – The AIA World Gets Smaller Everyday…

JAM_headshotOne of my goals this year is to meet with several firms across the state to discuss with them their involvement with AIA, the value of AIA to their firms, and to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.  This month I met with Stephen Schoch AIA, Managing Principal of Kitchen & Associates Services, Inc. in Collingswood.  Kitchen & Associates currently has 80 architects, engineers, planners and interior designers, and was founded in 1971 by Benjamin Kitchen AIA.  Stephen and I had not met one another before and we had no problem with diving into many issues.  As we discussed things, Stephen mentioned that he grew up in Hackensack and I said so did my wife.  Well Stephen and my wife grew up three houses from one another and it was one of those, “what are the chances of that” moments!  That just made the conversation even easier.

With my involvement at AIANJ, I know several K&A employees who are involved in local AIANJ Sections and the AIANJ Board of Directors, and have been for years.  This involvement comes with the all to important employer support and I wanted to take the time to applaud Stephen for his dedication to AIANJ and the profession.  We all need to take a page from the K&A playbook when it comes to this dedication, as K&A just supported 14 of its employees joining AIA by paying for their membership so that they could take advantage of going to the AIA Convention in Philadelphia for free with the new membership offer from AIA!  This effort goes hand in hand with the recent challenge from Russell Davidson FAIA, AIA President, where he announced that his firm is closing down the office for two days so that their employees can attend the Convention and take advantage of all that it has to offer.  These are great examples for all employers to consider.

Another topic that we discussed is the AIA Large Firm Roundtable.  The LFRT is comprised of chief executives from more than 60 large firms, the mission is to further the special and unique interests, both national and international, of large firms by working with and through the AIA.  Don’t worry small firms, there is also an AIA Small Firm Roundtable, which has recently been renamed to the Small Firm Exchange (SFX) and has a similar mission for small firms.  AIANJ is represented on the SFX but is not represented on the LFRT.  It is important that AIANJ is represented at both levels, as our membership is represented by both small and large firms.  In order for AIANJ to be a leader at the LFRT, it is paramount that we first start here on our home turf by resurrecting the AIANJ LFRT. If you are an executive of a NJ large firm and are interested in joining this committee, please contact me.  I will be reaching out too many of you to join this committee and will host a meeting to get the ball rolling.

Sometime over the next month, take the time to meet with one of your peers, enjoy a meal to discuss the profession and how to get connected with AIA, and you never know, your worlds may be closer than you think.  Hope to see you in Philadelphia!





Justin A. Mihalik, AIA

Phantastic Philadelphia

KSS Welcomes You To Philadelphia

A guide to the city for all, personally experienced and hand-crafted by your fun- and food-loving friends at KSS Architects

In town for the AIA Convention and digging deep into research for down-time activities? A newcomer looking to explore more Philly spots?

Look no further! Gather inspiration from locals of our favorite spots to munch, mingle, meander, and muse. Check out our list, exclusively compiled by our Philadelphia staff, categorized and curated for visitors of all interests.

We’ve organized our entries by overarching category, with each entry containing a link to further reading and brief WHY statement:

  1. FABULOUS SPOTS, unique Philly flair
  2. COFFEE SHOPS and CAFÉS, to get your [caffeine] buzz on
  3. MEALS, breakfast to dinner, and everything in between
  4. DESSERT, sweet, sweet delights
  5. DRINKS, to get your [other] buzz on
  6. PARTY SCENE, for those who partake in loud crowds and vigorous movement
  7. AWESOME SHOPS, cozy corners and cool collectibles
  8. ARTS & MUSEUMS, renowned international wonders
  9. GETTING OUT AND AWAY [bonus suggestion!]

Read more and Dive right on in!

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:
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:
The deadline for applications is March 24, 2016.
Use sponsor code: AIANJ


AIA West Jersey Seminar With Postgreen Homes

AIAeagle_2016AIA West Jersey will host the first General Membership Meeting and Dinner Seminar of 2016 on January 28th at Café Aldo Lamberti in Cherry Hill, NJ.

AIA West Jersey is excited to feature a presentation by Chad Ludeman, President of Postgreen Homes.  Chad will elaborate on strategies to help the architect-developer team succeed, and provide insight to Postgreen’s process for building high-quality homes on a spec developer’s budget.

RSVP:  No Later Than Tuesday, January 26th
see AIA WJ website to RSVP 

Location:  Cafe Aldo Lamberti: 2011 Route 70 West, Cherry Hill, NJ

Date:  Thursday, January 28, 2016

Additional details may be found on the AIA West Jersey website:
Thank You,
AIA West Jersey


AIA National Strategic Partner Autodesk Offers Small Firms Big Discount on Revit LT Suite

AutoDesk ImageThe AIA and Autodesk are working together to ensure that small firms have the resources they need to be successful. As part of Autodesk becoming an AIA Strategic Partner, the software designer is providing AIA members with a special 25 percent discount on a key practice tool, AutoCAD Revit LT Suite.

The discount, available only to AIA members now through January 31, 2016, responds to an ongoing request from small and solo practitioners to help them stay competitive and current in a fast changing marketplace. The Autodesk discount makes the latest tools and resources more affordable, so small firms can use them to better serve their clients and communities.

The Suite includes two of the most important tools small firm practitioners might need: AutoCAD and Revit. Priced by seat licenses, a one-year, one-seat license is $505; with the 25 percent discount, members can receive it for $378.75. Members can purchase up to 3-year license terms, and more than one seat license can be purchased for that same 25 percent discount.

This offer is available to AIA members only, now through January 31, 2016. Click here to access the member only portion of the AIA National Website with access to links to make the purchase. Enter the coupon code AIARevit25 at checkout to receive this special discount for either the 1-year, 2-year or 3-year basic subscription.

Reminder: You must use one of the three links on the AIA National Website to make your purchase, and this deal ends January 31, 2016.