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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.

 

 

President’s Message -Illegal Practice

JAM_headshotEarlier this month a story broke out of California from Fox News on two people who posed as licensed engineers and using stolen software, drew up plans for homes, apartments, commercial properties and strip malls in at least 56 cities in Southern California since 2003.  These two men worked for a Professional Engineering firm and were “moonlighting” and were even poaching clients of the firm that employed them, which is what eventually led to the demise of their illegal actions.  “There has never been a case involving alleged engineering fraud of this magnitude”, was a quote from the Detective on the case, who further was quoted saying,“ we just don’t know if the houses are safe, unsafe or suitable for habitation”.

I have spent many of my years as the Chair of the Licensing Subcommittee on the AIANJ Legislative & Government Affairs Committee, and throughout that time received communication from many members about people practicing architecture illegally in their community and what AIANJ would do about it.  When I explained that it was their individual responsibility as a Registered Architect in NJ to report to the State Board of Architects of said illegal practice, the members were not willing to act.  Why?  Well in most cases they were afraid of some kind of repercussions.  What repercussions could be worse than the effects that illegal practice has on our profession?  Cheaper fees, sub-par services including construction without supervision, etc.  I have said to each and every person who talks to me about this subject that it is OUR responsibility to police OUR industry.  I personally submitted a complaint against a “designer” who proudly displayed their lawn sign, proudly marketed their services on their Facebook page with testimonials from clients and proudly presented themselves as an Architect.  It was the lawn sign that told me the person was not a registered architect and led me to check with the State Board of Architects website and voila, no license!  The designer gave all the necessary evidence through their Facebook page and website for me to use against them.  I submitted a complaint to the State Board of Architects and a couple months later received a copy of the findings of the Board, which resulted in over $9,000 in fines.  But the fines were not only levied against the designer, but against the registered Architect who signed and sealed the plans.

There is no doubt in my mind that there are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars lost to the illegal practice of architecture here in NJ.  The people practicing illegally are employees who are moonlighting, designers who went to architecture school but just don’t want to commit to the licensing process, design-builders, contractors, the list goes on.  AIANJ is committed to take this problem on by way of educating the public about illegal practice and the dangers of those people who are posing as registered Architects.  This subject is very important to the organization, but we cannot do this alone.  We need our members to act vigilantly and report illegal activity to the State Board of Architects by filing a complaint.  The form is very simple and takes 15 minutes to complete.  I am also providing a link to a AIANJ Blog article on this subject providing more detailed information on filing a complaint.

We must all understand that the real repercussions by not filing a complaint are allowing those who are practicing illegally to continue to do so and to have a direct impact against our businesses and livelihoods.  Once we take this seriously, we will begin to elevate the Value of the Architect.

Justin_sig

Justin A. Mihalik, AIA

AIA New Jersey 2016 President

Congratulations AIA Fellows

Congratulations to AIA New Jersey’s
two newest fellows
Dean Marchetto, FAIA
&
Michael Schnoering, FAIA
The 2016 Fellows will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the
2016 National AIA Convention in Philadelphia.
See the full list of AIA members that are being elevated to fellow this year.

AIAeagle_2016

 

Be a Part of Your AIA – Call For 2017 Officers

AIAeagle_2016We are often asked what is the value of AIA membership.  There are many things that can be listed as an answer, however the bigger truth is we can’t do any thing without the participation of our members.  Make a difference in your profession.  Become involved in your AIA.

AIANJ is looking for members who are interested in serving in officer positions for 2017.  Every year an election is held to fill a number of these volunteer positions, this year the following are available:

 

2017 OFFICERS POSITIONS

– Treasurer (2 year term)

– 2nd Vice President (1 year term)

– 1st Vice President (1 year term)

– President Elect (1 year term)

– Regional Representative (3 year term)

This is an excellent opportunity to have a voice in the workings of an organization that builds and sustains the VALUE OF THE ARCHITECT.

If you have an interest becoming a leader of  AIA-NJ or would like to know more about any of the offices, please contact Kimberly Bunn, AIA, 2016 Nominations Committee Chairperson, no later than March 15, 2016

The following 2017 Officer positions are multi-year terms and will continue to be held by previously elected terms:

President – Ben Lee, AIA
(Current President-Elect position)

Past President – Justin Mihalik, AIA
(Current President position)

Brandon Warshofsky, Assoc. AIA – Regional Associate Director
(First year of a 2 year term)

President’s Message – Happy 2016

JAM_headshotHappy New Year!

First and foremost, a big thank you to Kim Bunn AIA for her leadership as President taking on and delivering a new Strategic Plan and Member Core Services amongst all of the other successful programming events of 2015!  I am exhilarated to be your 2016 President and the year could not have started off any faster for us at AIANJ.  As just mentioned, AIANJ will be implementing its new strategic plan that has four key goals:

  • Advance the quality of the profession by keeping pace with technology, sustainable design practices and the ever-changing political, economic, social and physical environment.
  • Cultivate well-designed, livable, sustainable, resilient communities that enhance the public’s health, safety, and welfare.
  • Elevate the value of the profession; educate the public on the benefits of using architects for sustainable/innovative design; and promote a streamlined path to licensure.
  • Expand the diverse membership base; continue to enhance its organizational, membership and technical resources; and extend its policy advocacy role.

As you can imagine, the implementation of this plan is taking a lot of time and effort and I want to thank all of those who are involved for their commitment to the future of this organization.

This is also the first year of the implementation of Core Member Services, which is a new plan instituted by AIA to ensure that each member throughout the country receives a minimum level of membership benefits.  The good news is that AIANJ and its Sections meet all of the requirements of Core Member Services and will continue to deliver those benefits to all of you.

On the legislative front, the Governor signed Bill A2023 AcaSca (2R), which revises the definition of “responsible charge” as it relates to licensed architects.  This is a very important win for AIANJ as it supported the passage of this bill.  The revised language now recognizes the “digital age” in the architectural practice and the many firms who are utilizing production teams outside of their physical offices.  So in short, if you are working with a consultant or with a team member who is producing the drawings outside of the physical office that the architect sits in, you are practicing legally as long as you are providing the proper personal direction and oversight.  AIANJ thanks the efforts of Assembly members Louis Greenwald, Daniel Benson and Nilsa Cruz-Perez for their support!

Lastly, the sad news is the loss of the St. Mark’s Church in West Orange to a major fire on New Year’s Day.  The St. Mark’s Church underwent a major renovation and addition between 1861 and 1877 by Richard Upjohn FAIA, the founder of the AIA.  The church was nominated to the National Historic Register in 1977 and is also a State and local Historic Landmark.  Many AIANJ members including Jerry Eben AIA, Eli Goldstein AIA, Mark Hewitt FAIA and Marty Feitlowitz AIA, have been working with the church owner’s and the municipality to save the church from demolition.  This is a great example of AIANJ members taking the initiative to save an important and historic piece of architecture, while at the same time educating the public as to why it is important.

Educating the public about architects and architecture is something that all of us must do if we expect the public to value the talent and services we provide.  AIANJ through its Public Awareness Committee is committed to this important effort as it is one of the cornerstones of our Strategic Plan.  However, it does not stop there, it must continue with the boots on the ground, the members, who work with the public on a daily basis.  Let me know how AIANJ can help you in this most important effort.

Sincerely,

Justin_sig

Justin A. Mihalik, AIA

AIA New Jersey 2016 President

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:

http://aiawestjersey.org/2016/01/general-membership-meeting-and-dinner-seminar-jan-28th-2016/
Thank You,
AIA West Jersey

 

Spring 2016 ARE Structures Course Offered

The College of Architecture & Design at New Jersey Institute of Technology is offering an online review course for the Architect Registration Exam (ARE 4.0) in Structural Systems this spring semester.

njit_coadThe course will start on January 30 and will cover the exam material in a lecture format, including the related graphic vignettes. The instruction will be delivered entirely online so students do not need to travel to campus to attend class. Lectures are delivered weekly through a password- protected website. Questions are answered through the same website or by e-mail. Registrants can view the lectures at their convenient time. The course will run for 15 weeks ending by May 15.

For further information and for registration, please contact the instructor, Rima Taher, by e-mail at: [email protected].

NJIT Design Showcase 2016

College of Architecture and Design Design Showcase 2016

njit_coadThe College of Architecture and Design at NJIT hosts its annual Design Showcase event in April of each year. This fundraising/networking event will be in its 10th year in 2016 and has grown into an incredible success over the years.

April 7, 2016
Weston Hall Gallery
5 – 9 pm

During the course of the evening, we provide an industry related lecture (good for CEU credits), networking between alumni and sponsors, and an exhibit showing the work of our top students which leads to internships and entry level hires in many firms.

The money raised from the event goes directly back to the students in the form of scholarships, architecture environment enhancements, and this past year the introduction of a 3D print lab which is run on a volunteer basis by our local AIAS chapter. 

This venue is an excellent opportunity to bring together current students, past students, and industry professionals. Whether an alum of NJIT or not, we would welcome any AIANJ member who would like to support the school, the students, and the growth of our program. 

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