Tag Archives: Presidents Message

President’s Message – Time For Thanks

JAM_headshotDid you know that 50% of our military forces are made up of the part-time personnel?  I did not either until I attended an event at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst called Seven Seals Boss Lift, which is an annual event hosted by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR).  The ESGR is a Department of Defense office that was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers.  This event occurs every year and its purpose is to thank employers who hire members of the Reserves and the Guard and to allow them a peek into the lives of their employees when they leave for training and what they do when they are at training.  As a participant I experienced the training of our medics in a brand new facility with state of the art “dummies” that are wirelessly controlled by military personnel during a training session in order to control heart rate, breathing rate, blood flow, eye function and the ability to communicate.  Additional experiences included a simulated roll-over in a HUM-V, a patrol of a village in the middle east that resulted in a firefight with members of the Taliban, refueling a jet fighter plane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, and best of all a ready to eat meal (MRE).  The simulators that are used at the Joint Base make this only one of two training facilities of its kind in the world for our Guard and Reservists.  The base serves as home and work to more than 44,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians and their family members having a considerable impact on the economy of NJ.

This was a two day event and at the close of the event there was a ceremony that entailed the signing of a document by all those employers who attended acknowledging their support of the ESGR and those Guard and Reservists who serve our country.  I was very proud to represent AIANJ at this event just to raise awareness to our members about this organization and especially for those AIA members who do serve as Guard and Reservists.  Currently AIA does not track members that have served or currently serve our country and so I took the time to meet with AIA Membership staff at the Convention to discuss this.  With the launch of the new AIA website and digital transformation, it is possible for them to include additional check off boxes on the member profile page so that AIA can capture this information and we can know just how many AIA members have served and are currently serving our Country.  I want to thank Louis DiGeronimo AIA who serves as the Northeast Chair for the ESGR for inviting me to this event.  Lou himself served in the US Army and operated a tank, and for as long as I have known him he has been involved as an Architect in military work including the design of a gymnasium in Kuwait during the Gulf War.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank all of our members who have served, are currently serving and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to our Country.  The dedication and sacrifice that the men and women of our armed forces make to protect our country is a blessing to all of us that can experience the freedom that makes America the greatest country in the world.  I am proud to be an American and am the son of Sailor who was a Veteran of the Vietnam War.  Thanks Dad.

Sincerely,

Justin_sig

 

 

Justin A. Mihalik, AIA

Presidents Message – 2016 First Quarter

AIAeagle_2016It has been a very busy first quarter as your President and I wanted to share with you some of the events and projects that AIA-NJ has been busy working on…

February kicked off the year with a pair of building code seminars for the 2015 IBC and IRC at the Palace in Somerset.  There were well over 250 attendees to learn about the changes to both codes, which had not been updated since 2009.  As of March 21st we are officially beyond the grace period and into the new codes.  Hopefully, you were able to attend the code seminars, but if you did not, Robert Longo AIA, AIANJ Codes & Standards Chair wrote a brief article on the code changes you can find on our blog.

Also in February, more than 12 AIA-NJ leaders attended the AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference in Detroit, MI.  I have been attending Grassroots since about 2005 and I find that each time I attend I come back to NJ inspired and excited to implement ideas and programs for the new year.  aianj_grassroots2016This year was the first year since I began attending the conference that it focused on Leadership programming and did not have part of the event focused on Advocacy.  I have to applaud AIA on this change.  This July will be the second half of Grassroots, dubbed as “SpeakUp”, will happen in Washington D.C.  The event will focus on training AIA members to become leaders in Advocacy.  If you are interested in learning about the federal legislative process and how to become an active advocate for AIA and the built environment contact AIA-NJ.

 

Our Public Awareness Committee has been very active highlighting several of our members on diverse subjects.   On February 23rd Stephen Schoch AIA of Kitchen & Associates was interviewed by Construction Dive regarding FHA and ADA accessibility in multi-family housing.  William J. Martin AIA, Co-Chair of the AIANJ Public Awareness Committee and a member of the Bergen County Historical Preservation Commission was quoted in two articles regarding church fires in March due to their historic significance.  Kimberly Bunn AIA, AIA-NJ Immediate Past President, was featured in an article for Women’s History Month on none other than Eleanore Pettersen FAIA.  Most recently Stephen Schwartz AIA was featured in NJBIZ regarding architects who have taken the plunge into development.  To top things off our Public Awareness Committee had fun during National Architecture Week with #archselfienj for #archweek16.  Thanks to all those members that participated!

I have been fortunate to have maintained a close relationship with the College of Architecture & Design (CoAD) at NJIT and have been working with the Director of the School of Architecture, Richard Garber AIA, on a multi-week BIM program that will be held this summer at the school and offered to AIA-NJ members.  Not only will participants learn the basics on BIM, but will also learn how BIM can be integrated into your practice.

I am proud to announce that AIA-NJ’s Taskforce on Lightweight Construction, which was formed after the AvalonBay Edgewater, NJ fire in January 2015, has completed a whitepaper on “Building Design with Lightweight-Framed Construction and the Health, Safety, and Welfare of the Public”.  This document will be issued in order to better educate the public and our legislators about the findings of the Taskforce.  I want to thank the Taskforce for its work and look forward to the discussions that will occur as a result of the whitepaper.  Members who are interested in joining the Codes & Standards Committee to continue the work of this Taskforce are welcome to contact AIA-NJ.

In closing, I want to congratulate our new Fellows, Dean Marchetto FAIA and Michael Schnoering FAIA who will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the 2016 National AIA Convention in Philadelphia May 19th-21st.  AIA-NJ will be honoring our newest Fellows at the AIA-NJ Fellows Reception on Thursday, May 19th at the Hotel Palomar, formerly the AIA Building in Philadelphia.  If you plan on attending please contact Laura Slomka at AIA-NJ to RSVP.  The AIA Fellowship Committee will be hosting a presentation on  “Demystifying Fellowship”on Tuesday April 26th at 5 pm at the NJIT AIA room and on Wednesday, April 27th at 5 pm at the office of KSS Architects in Princeton.  If you are considering applying for Fellowship then you need to attend.

See you at the Convention in Philly!JAM_headshot

Sincerely,

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Justin A. Mihalik, AIA

AIA New Jersey Presiden

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

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

President’s Message – The Year of 2015

As 2015 is now in the past, it is amazing how fast the year flew by.  It has been an honor to serve as your AIANJ President over the past 12 months.

Much happened during the year, both in AIANJ and each of the six local sections.  Each month saw multiple events throughout the state.   I enjoyed meeting so many members, students and trade professionals; and talking about our profession of architecture that we share.

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AIANJ December Board of Trustees meeting at Princeton University

Internally, time was devoted to looking at the organizations long range strategic planning and evaluating the value to our members that the organization gives.  AIA national has been evaluating the value to the membership, and we at AIANJ have done the same thing.  It is your AIA, and we want to maximize your value from the organization.

We have reinforced many goals of the organization and we have been working towards them, including increased public outreach regarding the architecture profession, creating an online resource for both members and the public, more connection with the architects of tomorrow through increased involvement with the schools of architecture in the state and assistance for associates in the IDP/ARE process.

As part of that over the year AIANJ worked with all three of New Jersey’s Schools of Architecture – NJIT, Princeton, and NJ’s newest at Kean University.   To name a few initiatives – AIANJ sponsored an IDP event at NJIT, discussed the formation of an AIAS chapter at Kean University and opened dialogue with the new Dean at Princeton University.

Overall, 2015 was a good year, most of the firm owners I have talked with have agreed that the economy has improved from where we were a few years ago.   There was more project work, many firms have even brought on more staff to meet the need.  Students and young members have been successful in finding employment.  The profession is respected and we as the leaders are often reached out to for our ideas and participation locally.

All of the things that AIANJ did this year was the result of a team effort.   I would like to say Thank You to everyone who has played a part along the way.  There are to many people to call out by name, so just a Thank You to all.

And lastly, Good Luck to Justin Mihalik, AIA, as you start your year as 2016 President, I look forward to continuing to work with you.

IMG_8675      Kim

Kimberly Bunn, AIA, LEEDap
2015 AIANJ President

 

 

Presidents Message – Fall 2015

2015 has been flying by, as I talk with AIANJ members around the state there are often comments regarding how fast the year has gone, or that we can’t believe it is October.  The good news is, most of our offices are busy with work.  Our firms might not be back to pre-recession levels however most firms have an even workload level, this is promising news.

WJ_SJSimilarly, AIANJ and the  local sections have been very busy.  I have been trying to visit the different sections this fall.  Thank You to AIA South Jersey and AIA West Jersey for hosting an informative joint meeting the end of September in Hammonton with AIA partner Houzz.   It was a nice evening of networking and learning how to market our firms online.

IMG_3250IMG_3248In September and October I represented AIA NJ in both the South Jersey Food Bank’s Inaugural Canstruction event at Cherry Hill Mall and AIA Newark and Suburban’s Annual Canstruction event at the Livingston Mall.

All of the entries were so creative and the Food Banks received tons of much needed canned food donations.   The entries are still available for view at Livingston Mall, if you in the area stop by to see the creations.

At the end of this week, AIANJ’s major event of the year will be happening at Hanover Marriott.  The agenda that the committee has organized has something to offer in all areas, from the business of architecture to keynote for associates.    I hope many of you will come take part in this event.

Thanks to all the sponsors who have made this event possible and to the committee who has worked so hard to guide this event forward for all of us at AIANJ.

On Friday evening, October 23rd, there will be a Awards Reception to celebrate architecture in New Jersey.  The Design Awards entries will be on display to showcase the work of NJ architecture and architects.  The reception will end with the announcement of the Design Awards Winners and the years AIANJ Service Award winners.  This year the AIA Newark & Suburban Canstruction committee will also announce the 2015 Canstruction competition winners.

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President’s Message – Welcome 2015

AIA-NJHappy New Year AIA New Jersey !

It’s hard to believe that it is 2015.  With a new year comes new challenges and new beginnings.  For me the new year brings the start of my year as AIA-NJ President.   I am looking forward to an exciting year promoting our New Jersey architects and architecture.

As many of you hopefully know by now, at the end of 2014 AIA national launched a new awareness campaign asking the question – “What Do You See When You Look Up?”   To see the first video go to www.ilookup.org .  Help us spread the word to – Look Up.

Later this week, on Friday, January 9th, we will gather at the annual AIA-NJ Awards Dinner to honor this years Service and Design Award recipients.  This evening will showcase some of the best of AIA New Jersey.  Congratulations to all the winners!

As the year continues, many of our committees are already in the planning stages for a number of initiatives, from engaging political leaders on legislative issues that effect the architecture profession, to hosting code seminars to keep members up on the latest changes.  Watch your email for newsletters and information on these topics and much more.

If there is an issue that is important to you regarding our profession, please reach out.  The board members of AIA New Jersey and the local sections are here representing you…..the members.   We want to hear from you!

Kimberly Bunn, AIA
2015 AIA-NJ President

President’s Message – Be Heard !

Kurt Kalafsky, AIA

Kurt Kalafsky, AIA

2014 has been an exciting year for AIA New Jersey and our work is not done yet. In June the national delegation voted to move forward with the National repositioning effort. Many of the changes will be transparent to the average AIA member as they should be. Others will hopefully be more noticeable making our organization proactive on the national and regional stage putting the architect in the spotlight as a leader in our communities and giving more relevance to our profession. But this can’t just happen without our help. We all need to get involved and make architects noticed. Whether it is in your religious institutions, community organizations, your local AIA section or the state chapter, we all have a great deal of valuable experience to offer in support and leadership. I encourage all of our members to get out and make a difference in any way you can,

I have had the opportunity to visit with all of the sections at their monthly meetings and continuing education events. Each visit has been encouraging and uplifting to see so many new faces getting involved to help advance our profession. The next generation is our future and we need to continue to encourage and support them as they take on more leadership positions in the AIA.

Just as AIA National did, we are taking a close look at how we are operating at the state level. We have asked ourselves some hard questions. What do we do well? What do we not do well? What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? What should we continue doing? We still have a great deal of soul searching to do. Without constant self-evaluation we will quickly loose relevance.

On the legislative front, we finally got the Good Samaritan legislation passed so the Architects can volunteer their services in their local communities without the fear of litigation. Keep your eyes open for upcoming training sessions to see how you can help when the next disaster strikes. I was my honor to personally than the bill’s sponsors in the house and senate as well as the Governor on the behalf of our 1900+ members.

Speak up, be heard, after all, we are Architects!

Kurt M Kalafsky AIA

President’s Message – One Voice

Kurt Kalafsky, AIA

Kurt Kalafsky, AIA

The American Institute of Architects was founded in New York City in 1857 by a group of 13 architects to “promote the scientific and practical perfection of its members” and “elevate the standing of the profession.”

The AIA and AIA New Jersey uses the collective power of our membership to speak as our one voice to the public and private decision makers in our home state and country.

Here at home we continue to push forward on the ” Good Samaritan” bill that would help to limit the liability for our brothers and sisters who want to help their communities by donation of their skills, experience and knowledge in times of disaster as we saw after hurricane Sandy.

We also continue to push to get licensure comity with Canada to help our firms that have opportunities across our northern boarders but are unable to pursue them in this ever shrinking global business climate.

This week as Architects from all over the country converge on Washington DC for our annual Grassroots Conference, we will be meeting with our legislators to advocate for march larger issues that affect us. The theme is “Let’s get America Building” and the major topics will be helping small businesses, repairing and strengthening our existing buildings, revitalizing our  communities, reforming our government and protecting the next generation of Architects.

We are exploring new way to heighten resiliency awareness in design and planning by participating in the Regional Resilience Coalition, helping the state write new guidelines for raising historic structures and supporting NJIT’s new Resilient Design Center.

On behalf of AIA New Jersey, I would like to thank all of our volunteer leaders and the staff at PSI for continuing to push for ward in advancing the awareness of Architecture at the state and local levels.

It is an honor to serve as your President and want to thank you for giving me the privilege of representing our state chapter composed of a talented and diverse group of professionals. We really do have the opportunity to shape the future of our state through the quality of our work.

Presidents Message – A New Year

Kurt Kalafsky, AIA

Kurt Kalafsky, AIA

AIA New Jersey has hit the ground running in 2014. I’d be remiss if I didn’t first thank Jack Purvis, AIA for his leadership last year and I Iook forward to continuing to work together in the coming year. We will strive to put the architect in the forefront where it comes to rebuilding all of our communities across the state as we continue the rebuilding process after hurricane Sandy.

I have had the opportunity to visit with most of the sections at their inaugural dinners and have a few more to go, but in each that I have visited so far it has been encouraging to see so many new faces getting involved to help advance our profession. The next generation is our future and we need to continue to encourage and support them as they take on more leadership positions in the AIA.

We are gearing up for Grassroots in March where we will be taking our voices to the Washington to meet with our representatives and let them know that we have a great understanding of what needs to be done to move not only New Jersey, but our country forward as we come out of what has been the worst recession that most of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

I have been asked by many “What’s on your agenda for the coming year?” But I don’t see it like that. This is not my AIA, this is our AIA. Likewise it is not my agenda, it is our agenda. This is how I approached the leadership conference last year. For those who weren’t there, we asked ourselves some hard questions. What do we do well? What do we not do well? What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? What should we continue doing? Three major topics where chosen and broken down in great detail, Governance, Activities and Membership. We have assigned task forces to further discuss these issues and bring recommendation back to the board for action. This is what I see my role as your president, to help facilitate the will of the membership.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the coming year. Speak up, be heard, after all, we are Architects!

Kurt M Kalafsky AIA
AIA-NJ 2014 President