The 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]
In this month’s ARCHITECT Magazine, July 2016, pages 52-53 feature the AEC Cares project from the National Convention in Philadelphia. The project was a “blitz-build” renovation of the Philadelphia Athletic Recreation Center. As described on the AEC Cares website: “In 2016, AEC Cares partnered with the Community Design Collaborative to renovate the Philadelphia Athletic Recreation Center. Used by hundreds of children in the Sharswood neighborhood for after school and sports programs, the center was in desperate need of repair and upgrades.” As their sixth annual blitz build, project Philadelphia, as it was dubbed, took place on May 18th, 2016, the day before the 2016 AIA National Convention in Philadelphia. AIA WJ Emerging Professional, Jeffrey Brummer, AIA, was a member of the design team. Jeffrey is located on the far left side of the design team photograph on page 52 (and below).
Visit www.aeccares.com for more information. There are videos on the website highlighting the program.
Story submitted by Mark Barone, AIA, President-Elect of AIA West Jersey
The 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!
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
If 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.
The latest issue of the is now available online – Click Here.
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].
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