Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

PhilAIAdelphia Convention Recap from Across the River

The 2016 AIA Convention just finished and Philadelphia was a great host to architects and design professionals from around the world.  AIA New Jersey members were able to take advantage of the close location of convention this year and it was wonderful to see so many of us attending.

2016NJ_Fellows

(L to R) AIANJ President Justin Mihalik AIA, Dean Marchetto FAIA, Michael Schnoering FAIA, and AIANJ President Elect Ben Lee AIA

Congratulations to the newest NJ fellows who were inducted during the convention:  Michael Schnoering, FAIA and Dean Marchetto, FAIA.

An AIANJ Fellows Reception to honor our AIANJ fellows was held on Thursday, May 19th, on the 24th floor of the Hotel Palomar.   Thanks to our event sponsor – Andersen Windows and Doors for hosting AIANJ for this wonderful evening.

The hotel was an appropriately location as it is also know as The Architect’s Building is a 1929 Art Deco tower that originally designed by a consortium of 20 architects and was the longtime home of AIA Philadelphia.

See Photos of the Fellows Reception here.

KA2016_conv2

AIAWJ President Jason Lutz speaking at Graphisoft Student Design Competition event at Kitchen & Associates.

A number of local NJ architecture firms hosted a variety of events, including KSS, Gensler, and Kitchen & Associates.   Including the announcement of the winners of the Inaugural ARCHICAD Student Design Competition.

Friday night of the convention an open house in the Collingwood, NJ, office of K&A was the stage for the announcement of the winners and a presentation by Graphisoft.

The design competition used shipping containers and sites centered around Philadelphia and the AIA Convention and was sponsored by Graphisoft, Kitchen & Associates and AIA West Jersey.

Find out more about the competition here.

2016Lazarus_conv

AIANJ’s Steve Lazarus speaking at the AIA Annual Business Meeting.

AIANJ’s Treasurer, Steve Lazarus AIA served on the AIA Credentials Committee and gave a brief report during the Annual Business Meeting.

If you weren’t able to attend, find some of what you missed at PhilAIAdelphia.

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.

YAF Connection – April 2016

The latest issue of the  is now available online – Click Here.

politicoconnection_

The YAF Connection is the official e-Magazine for young architects produced by the Young Architects Forum. Each edition includes articles on leadership, mentorship, and fellowship as well as book reviews by young architects. For more information, or to find out how to receive the Connection publication by e-mail please contact the New Jersey Young Architect Regional Director at [email protected].

Find us on social media (facebook & twitter).  https://twitter.com/yaf_nj and https://www.facebook.com/Young-Architects-Forum-AIA-NJ-346038778835594/

USGBC-NJ 13th Annual Golf Outing

Understanding RREM & LMI Homeowners Rebuilding Program

RREM Outreach Flyer 5 2016

AIA West Jersey – LBI LEED House Tour

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 4.04.10 PM

 

 

 

 

Saturday, May 14th, 2016 – AIA West Jersey is excited to announce a trip to Long Beach Island, NJ for the opportunity to tour a beautiful LEED Platinum home in Loveladies, NJ. The tour will feature conversations with the building architect, general contractor and LEED consultant.  Join us see the physical space set on the bay, and to learn more about what technologies were installed in the home. Perhaps more intriguing; what systems and strategies worked well and which are under performing. The home owner has offered to share the home’s data tracking information with those who are interested.

Time: The tour will begin at 11 a.m. and last until approximately 2 p.m. 

Cost$20 for AIA Members, $25 for Non-Members.

Continuing Education: This event has been approved for two (2) HSW CEUs. 

Upon RSVP, the address of the home will be provided.  We will meet at the home 15 minutes prior to the start of the tour. We sincerely hope you will take advantage of this opportunity, and join us for this building tour.

RSVP to Mark Barone, AIA [email protected].

See you there! 

Thank You,
AIA West Jersey

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

The Legacy of Malcolm Wells, FAIA: The Father of Gentle Architecture

MalcolmWellsHeadShotAs part of The Wetlands Institute’s 2016 Winter Lecture Series, the Wetlands Institute will present a retrospect on the legacy of the award winning architect, Malcolm Wells, FAIA. The program will be held at The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, NJ on March 18th, 2016 at 6:00PM. The presentation will be given by professor and planner, Reverend Wayne Conrad, as he reflects on how Malcolm’s work was inspired by the beauty of nature, and a need for a more sustainable world. This program will also be presented in cooperation with the members of The South Jersey Section of the American Institute of Architects and the group Between the Times.

After an initial presentation focusing on the architectural innovation and ecological sensitivity which characterized Well’s work, there will be responses provided by an architect, and ecologist, and a theologian, each familiar with Well’s work. The responders will be considering the renewed relevance of Malcolm’s early work.

Malcolm Wells was the designer of the iconic Wetlands Institute building. The Wetlands Institute, a nonprofit environmental organization, is located along the causeway into Stone Harbor, NJ. In fact, the Institute was a testing ground for many of the “gentle ideas” that were incorporated into subsequent projects. This was only after he had designed the 1964 RCA World’s Fair Pavilion.

Other notable structures of his design include his now famous underground office nestled at the edge of the Cooper River Parkway in Cherry Hill, the Law School Building at Rutgers Camden, the much admired (but also problematic) former Cherry Hill Library, three stunningly beautiful church sanctuaries, and his home office and art gallery on Cape Cod.Wells Building Drawing 1

At the time of his death, in 2009, the New York Times referred to Wells as the father of “gentle architecture”. In its obituary, the Philadelphia Inquirer related Wells reaction to the closing of the 1964 World’s Fair. “It was at this point that he abruptly changed course. With the realization that the pavilion would be torn down and that all his other buildings, along with their parking lots and concrete footprints had destroyed whatever had lived there before, he began to develop his theories of gentle architecture”. It was at this point that he resigned from RCA and set up his own shop.

The innovative features incorporated into Malcolm’s 1960’s and 70’s work included parking lots paved with oyster shells, the utilization of percolation troughs to return roof water runoff to the underground aquifer, interior gardens to create oxygen-rich air for breathing, the development of landscaped water retention lakes, the maximum utilization of south-facing windows to increase solar gain for heating and the incorporation of super insulated skylights for interior daylighting.

However, his best known, but most controversial, design feature was the practice of “earth sheltering” in which he waterproofed his gently sloping roofs by covering them with three to four feet of rich soil, and then planting them with native grasses and shrubs.

Wells Building 1William McDonough, FAIA, recipient of the first Presidential Award for Sustainable Development and one of the world’s most copied architect/planners in reflecting on Malcolm’s work suggested, “as a thinker, he was a hidden jewel. In the world of what has become known as green building, Malcolm Wells was seminal, actually inspirational, for some people including me. For a draftsman who started his career designing portable radios for RCA, Malcolm came a long way and now just beginning to recognize the importance of his journey”.

To make reservations for the presentation, please contact The Wetlands Institute at 609-368-1211. Cost of admission is $7 for Wetlands Institute members, $12 for nonmembers, and in the spirit of covered dish dinners, please bring an appetizer, entrée, salad or dessert to share with at least eight people. At time of RSVP, please notify the Wetland’s Institute front desk staff as to what dish you’ll be brining to the dinner. If you have any questions, please feel free to email the Wetlands Institute at [email protected], or call them at 609-368-1211.

AIA South Jersey is a registered provider with the AIA Continuing Education System AIA/CES. This program is approved for (1) Learning Unit, which will be reported directly to the AIA/CES for AIA members.

2016 AIANJ Convention – Save the Date

AIAeagle_2016Mark Your Calendars

The 2016 AIANJ State Convention (Design Conference) is in planning for October 20th at the The Palace in Somerset, NJ

The full day event will have tours, keynote speakers, continuing education course, the annual Design Awards, and a Student Design Competition.  Save the date on your calendars now, more information and registration information to follow.

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers