Dick & Rick: A Visual Primer For Social Impact Design
Aptly hosted at the Avenue Education Center, the session began with a welcome and overview by Chris Laugelli of Avenue CDC, focusing on their work with affordable housing and especially with assisting homeowners with recovery after Hurricane Harvey.
The session focused on three areas of Community Engagement:
Community Engagement through Public Interest Design
Community Engagement through Political Activism
Community Engagement through Political Leadership
The first speaker of the day was Adelle Main with University of Houston’s Community Design Resource Center (CDRC). Adele walked us through the various efforts undertaken by the CDRC and strategies to enhance the quality of life in low-to-moderate income communities throughout the Houston region through design, research, education, and practice. After a brief presentation, we jumped into our first charrette of the day focused on community engagement through public interest design. The scholars were divided into groups of 5-6, with each group assigned a community. Adelle and her team guided us through a process of conducting a Collaborative Community Design charrette to come up with solutions to the issued faced by each assigned community.
Our very own, Sarah Killingsworth was the second speaker of the day – moving the discussion from Community Engagement through public interest design into the realm of political activism. What is our role as a citizen architect? How can we engage as civic leaders? Sarah’s presentation focused on the AIA Advocacy’s “SpeakUp” training program. She walked us through the 5 elements of a legislative campaign and equipped us with the process and strategies which we would then apply to the last part of our session and our second activity of the day.
Following Sarah, Houston City Council Member, David W Robinson, At-Large Position 2, joined us for an informal and very informative discussion on his journey as a practicing architect and in the political world. Using his path as an example, we discussed how architects can take on civic leadership roles and build relationships with communities as representative leaders?
Finally, we ended the day with a very engaging “Speak Up” Advocacy Training Activity facilitated by Laura Carrera, Craig Garcia, Sarah Killingsworth, and Natasha Dunn. Immediate application of the process gave us a sense of what it takes to plan and coordinate a sensible campaign. An important take away is that well-intentioned campaigns may fall short of accomplishing the desired goal when efforts focus mostly on execution. This part of the seminar zeroed in on the impact of the preliminary organization, strategic recruitment of influential advocates and careful application of resources.
The third session of the Christopher Kelly Leadership Development Program was an exciting set of conversations on the Art of Negotiation. The organizers, Komal Kotwal and Mark Behm, started with a warm-up activity that had the scholars collaborating to spear marshmallows with absurdly long forks. The laughs were loud and the marshmallows were sweet with the taste of victory.
The first half of the afternoon focused on Negotiation, Professional Practice and Construction Law. Hugh Painter, an Architect and founding partner of Arc North LLC, kicked off the conversations with a lecture on Principles of Negotiation. Goal-oriented negotiation strategies can be competitive, compromising, collaborative, or accommodative; each with their own benefits depending on the desired outcome or relationship. Situational awareness allows the negotiator to determine the positions and interests of both parties by understanding, questioning, and listening to the other side. Hugh discussed that it is important to define your negotiating envelope by knowing your most desired outcome, least acceptable agreement, and best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Finally, Hugh emphasized the importance of putting the agreement In writing and Agreeing on next steps.
Bob Vecera, Executive VP of Manhattan Construction followed with an engaging lecture on Contract Negotiation. Beginning with a review of contract documents and the importance of specific phrases and inclusions. He gave examples of legal decisions and situations as falling along a spectrum between Ethical and Non-Ethical and Legal or Illegal. We discussed the power of words in contracts and the requirement for mutual consent of the meaning, privity, and precedent. Bob then followed with a helpful refresher on project delivery methods: Design/Build, Design/Bid/Build, and CM at Risk. He then ended with a case study of teenagers who snuck onto the construction site and were injured, demonstrating that anyone with ANY stake in the business can be considered a party and law suites often targeting those with the deepest pockets or greatest visibility.
The third lecture on Conflict Resolution came from Poston Pritchett, Attorney at Andrew Myers. He discussed anticipating disputes: who are the parties, and how will disputes start? When the demand letter is issued, the architect should make sure the party has a right to bring a claim against you and check the contract to determine if there is any validity. We then discussed the format of conflict resolution: Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation. The Key Considerations would be, who gets to choose dispute process, whether there is a mediation requirement, where will dispute be located, what rules govern the dispute, and what happens if you win/lose? A lively discussion surrounded the Certificate of Merit, a Gatekeeper device required from the plaintiff to prove that the validity of the expert. The typical timeline for a dispute includes Pleadings, Investigation, Discovery, Hearing/Trial Preparation, Final Hearing/ Trial, and the Briefing/Post judgment/Appeal. The conclusion was that Negotiating a contract on the front end should help prevent or anticipate issues that could arise later and mitigate risk.
The final presentation on Salary Negotiation was given by Marie Bergeron, the Director of Career Development at the Jones School of Business at Rice University. As a culture, Americans don’t talk about our salary, so how does one discover their going rate? By reviewing salary levels and ranges for a given company in a similar market and noting that most companies actually have a range in mind. We can take advantage of other areas of compensation for negotiability, including bonus, PTO, healthcare, and retirement benefits. During an interview, it is important to make them like you, speak positively about your experience, and ask for an offer in writing. Get a contact to call to discuss the offer, and ensure it is the person who can make decisions about compensation, as it might not always be the boss. A higher level of salary may indicate a different role or title in the company than you are being considered for.
We then discussed how to bring up internal promotions. These primarily come up at performance reviews from the companies side, and we should understand who has the authority to discuss this topic and act on it. It is critical to know your own value, be aware and keep track of your skills and experience that make you unique and beneficial, and useful ways to remind people of your value without bragging. You should know what other options are out there to use as a comparison for a negotiation tool or as a fallback if you hit a limit at your own company. But don’t forget, there is Value in Tenure. Finally, Architecture firms follow the Service company pyramid structure: grinders, minders, finders, binders.
Clayton Fry and Peter Muessig led the second session of the Christopher Kelley program, “Entrepreneurship and Business Management”. The topic was first introduced through a Rice Design Alliance lecture, “Innovation Lands in Urbanism: What’s Next?” by John Alschuler. During the program session at 2 East Fire Station, John Hand and Justin Stolze presented on the history, structure, and culture of Arup, as well as their experience of establishing local offices and their strategies for firm resilience. Following, Peter Muessig introduced the book “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown as a counterpoint to the expectation of architects having to be jacks-of-all-trades. Adam Koogler then presented his experience of growing a non-traditional practice and engaging the sharing economy at WeWork. To wrap up, Natalye Appel and Jesse Hager joined the previous presenters in a round-table discussion, speaking on their experiences with entrepreneurship and answering ever-prescient questions regarding the practice of architecture.
Presentation 1: “Firm Culture and Management”
Presented by John Hand and Justin Stolze, Arup
Arup Associate, John Hand, began the presentation with an introduction to Arup, a global company that aspires to “shape the world”. John explained Arup’s outlook of being one company with many, small local offices, one of which- the Houston office – he helped establish. His colleague, Justin Stolze, also outlined his role in starting other Arup offices, including one in Japan and Brazil.
Following, John and Justin told the story of their founder, Ove Arup, an English engineer, and the big project that started the firm: the Sydney Opera House. They spoke of Ove Arup’s main aims for the firm, and his lasting legacy of minimizing rules, with the mindset that providing smart, creative people the most leeway possible would create the best solutions. Arup prides itself on their “14,000 specialists” who leverage each other’s expertise to solve problems.
John and Justin also spoke of their internal structure; in particular, the “Four Legs of the Development Stool” – technical, marketing, commercial, and administrative or management, and their project approval process, based on thresholds of cost. They also outlined their internal professional development processes, from hiring new graduates, to formal training modules, to their project manager certification process.
They concluded the presentation with a discussion of trends that the company is looking to adopt, such as developing an internal university, performing additional research, and utilizing new tools including grasshopper, machine learning, digital automation, and many others.
Book Recommendation: “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown
Presented by Peter Muessig, Metalab
Peter Muessig of Metalab provided a quick introduction to Greg McKeown’s award-winning book, “Essentialism”. Peter summarized the concept as “doing less, but better,” noting how especially relevant this is to architects, who have traditionally carried the expectation of being “master builders,” while also combating the pressure of finding a focus or industry.
Presentation 2: “Starting and Growing Non-Traditional Practice”
Presented by Adam Koogler, WeWork
Adam Koogler of WeWork began his presentation with an introduction of WeWork, a company in the business of “designing [workspaces], building [workspaces], and filling [workspaces]” that seeks to “make a life, not just a living,” or humanizing the experience of the workplace. Founded in 2010, WeWork purchases ventures and sells access plans to workspaces at a variety of scales and levels of customizability.
Following, Adam explained what makes WeWork unique from other real estate or design firms. Because WeWork vertically integrates their functions – from acquiring real estate, designing the spaces, and brokering leases – there is less stuff for the owner to handle, so they can better focus on actually operating their business. In addition, WeWork continually monitors and updates their spaces based on live analytics, rather than going by traditional space capital improvement plans, which are often out of phase with economic changes.
Adam’s presentation concluded with a discussion of what makes WeWork different from a traditional architectural practice. Instead of separating by profession, employees work on cross-functional teams and are assigned to projects with professionals from different disciplines, while also maintaining access to others from the same discipline. Because of this interdisciplinary approach, WeWork operates projects with a Project Execution Plan, rather than a BIM Execution plan, and their iterative, streamlined process allows for consistency and clarity of information, rather than relying on “guesstimation” by contractors, reducing overall project cost and duration.
Roundtable: “Entrepreneurship in Architecture”
Presented by John Hand, Justin Stolze, Adam Koogler, Natalye Appel (Natalye Appel & Associates Architects), and Jesse Hager (Content Architecture)
For the final portion of Session 2, Natalye Appel of Natalye Appel & Associates Architects and Jesse Hager of Content Architecture joined John Hand, Justin Stolze, and Adam Koogler for a free-form roundtable discussion. After introducing themselves, Natalye and Jesse gave a brief history of their practices, with Natalye noting that her firm has “grown” over time, not by increasing in size, but by collaborating with others, while Jesse mused that his firm transformed from a Heights bungalow renovation business, to a full-service, ground-up residential firm, much to the chagrin of former real estate contacts.
One of the questions posed during the roundtable was, “why don’t firms participate in more in-house collaboration?”, particularly because all of the speakers’ experiences seemed to indicate that collaboration across disciplines was a positive thing. Beyond the basic assumption of higher risk, it was also pointed out that different disciplines follow different paces – for example, engineers turn over projects faster than architects. In the case of WeWork, they mitigate this risk by only doing in-house what is practical and necessary, such as only drawing to 50% Design Development internally, and utilizing architects and engineers of record to complete the remainder of the project. In addition, it was noted that it can also be a positive thing to have differing interests, which forces companies to produce good, efficient solutions, rather than becoming “too comfortable” under the same umbrella.
The following question prompted the speaker’s’ opinion of the AIA’s recent movement toward specialization, such as “AIA Healthcare” and its potential to restrict a more generalist approach to architectural practice. Although those from more traditional architectural firms were cautious of this change, Arup noted that they boast about having “14,000 specialists”, but that the reception of this may have to do with differing public perceptions of architects versus engineers. Jesse added that sometimes, developing a specialty can happen unintentionally, such as his experience of working on a small healthy nail salon eventually leading to a global headquarters project for a healthy brand.
The final question presented was one that every practice inevitably has to contend with – how do you survive an economic downturn? Justin offered up a solution he experienced while at Arup Japan – switching to a three-day workweek – which interestingly, due to the Japanese culture of overwork, actually only equated to a more normal workweek. Natalye also shared her strategy of sharing and switching employees with contact firms to help for a short duration or to work on a specific project. She noted that although these employees sometimes choose not to return, because of her collaborative approach to practice and permissive response to such departures, they remain “in [her] universe” and can still continue to work together in the future. To conclude, Adam warned that it is hardest for firms to be “mid-size”, with a higher workload but still having to handle multiple responsibilities at the same time.
The presentations and roundtable discussion in Session 2: Entrepreneurship and Business Management provided participants with insights into the process of starting and operating a successful firm, as well as strategies for growth and continued firm resilience. The different practice types represented by the speakers also provided variety in opinions and expertise, allowing for a richer perspective and more comprehensive understanding of architectural entrepreneurship and business management.
Organized by Altair Galgana-Wood and Sam McGlone, this opening session of the Christopher Kelley program addressed the most fundamental part of leadership: “working together” with those you lead. This session featured two speakers and one practical activity, allowing participants to both learn and apply lessons directly. Beginning the week before with each participant taking a DISC personality assessment, Alyse Makarewicz shared the class’ results mapped on the 2-axis DISC graph in relation to each other. Following, participants broke into teams of four for a “Write It, Do It” communication activity using text, voice, and sketch instructions to rebuild a Tinkertoy object accurately without direct observation. Finally, leader and entrepreneur David Steitz explored the value and use of 360 Degree Assessments in soliciting and understanding feedback and opportunities for personal growth.
Presentation 1: Alyse Makarewicz
Beginning the session, guest presenter Alyse Makarewicz identified the strengths of each individual participant in the session based on their recent DISC assessment prior to the class. Alyse, the president of her own small firm, shared how her knowledge of the DISC profiles and personalities helps her identify best fits for new hiring, facilitates better communicate with her team and with her business partner, as well as promotes effective information for clients.
Each quadrant in the DISC personality assessment corresponds to one of four letters: D, I, S, and C – which coincide to a list of traits and strengths. The assessment organizes traits by two main axes: “People-Oriented / Task-Oriented” and “Reserved / Outgoing”. The general terms associated with these four quadrants are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Supportive (S), and Compliance (C ). An individual, while often having representation in all four or a combination of these quadrants, generally has one dominant trait which helps identify their preferred approach to behavior, teamwork, and communication.
Two versions of assessment results provided an “environmental style” and a “basic style” for each individual. The “environmental style” indicates the behavioral style in which work and life circumstances asks or requires the subject to perform. The “basic style” reveals the subjects preference for communication and behavior in their natural state, as well as innate strengths.
Participants were given colored stickers for their name tags and arranged in the four corners of the room based on their dominant trait. These results led to discussion on the best work environment for each personality type, effective ways to communicate expectations and identify strengths, and the best way to leverage strengths from teammates as well as in current positions.
Activity: Write It, Do It
As a communication exercise, participants divide into teams of four, with two of each team taken to another room. One pair of team members were given a completed model made of tinker toys and the other pair of team member were given individual tinker toy parts. The two participants with the complete model direct their remote teammates solely through either texts, verbal descriptions through phone calls, hand sketches sent by couriers, or digital sketches using Bluebeam on a computer screen in an attempt to replicate the model from individual parts. After each team felt satisfied with their construction, the pre-assembled toy and the toy produced from remote instructions were brought together and compared. The CKLDP group analyzed the end-result for accuracy, as well as identify the success and failure of each method of communication.
Teams found that many unexpected issues arose, including non-matching parts and miscommunication; creating a common vocabulary for toy parts that resembled real-world things, such as “spatula” or “quarter cheese wheel”; and specifying model or connection orientation such as “perpendicular” or “align”. One key observation was the success of strategizing before diving in, rather than solely relying on situational communication and leadership ability to resolve issues.
Session 2: Dave Steitz
The afternoon wrapped up with an engaging discussion about 360 Degree Assessments, including typical uses and best practices; and differing perceptions and responses to representative questions within the CKLDP group. Dave Steitz, coming from a business and entrepreneurship background, offered plenty of perspective as a business leadership consultant. He highlighted the importance of Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, as a factor that could be developed and learned, while IQ (cognitive intelligence) is fixed. Developing Emotional intelligence involves a continuous, connected process of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Self-awareness, and Relationship Management.
Dave promotes structure to think about leadership and professional development, insisting that change requires measurable goals which allow analysis. The 360 Assessments accumulates information on an individual by asking interval scale questions of that individual, their manager, their peers, and direct reports. The review process includes several questions in each of nine broad categories:
Ensuring long-term results
Building strong teams
Delegating to others
Dealing with conflicting ideas
Personal and professional growth.
Dave went through a number of the questions with the group, asking the participants how they would rate themselves at certain tasks, demeanor or opinions relating to the categories above. For example, on a rating of 1 to 5, with 5 being always and 1 being never, do you “Establish timelines and measurable outcomes for initiatives”? We went around the group and rated ourselves. Then Dave asked participants to consider the viewpoint of a manager or direct report. By comparing outside perspectives, these assessments provide a more complete picture of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.
Answering these assessment questions as a group allowed CKLDP participants to become more aware of their own perceptions, possibly mis-perceptions, and emotional triggers, as well as differing perspectives. Some responses had a wide spread, particularly on a self-assessment of communication and delegation ability. The most intense discussion came in response to the sample question “Monitors progress regularly” and particularly the term “monitor”, signalling a discomfort with the connotation of mistrust, while others criticized the general apathy of mentors to properly oversee and communicate expectations to junior staff in an industry where on-the-job-training is a requirement for licensure, but can often be poorly managed. Other issues that were discussed include healthy and unhealthy conflict; recognizing vague or non-measurable feedback as ineffective; and encouraging the use of positive feedback.
The assessment and leaderships strategies covered in this first session are fundamental in “Working Together” and an insightful start to the CKLDP curriculum. This information enables leaders to better understand one another, learn particular strengths, and discuss experiences of fellow classmates. Additionally, the assessment and communication tools gained over the course of the session provides a base from which to launch a more thorough self-development and farther reaching career plan, hopefully benefiting each individual and the profession as a whole.
Led by: Amaya Labrador, Rebekah Gandy, Nicholas Banks, Kevin Barden, Michelle Huertas
Location Sponsors: Bell & McCoy Companies
The Inaugural AIA Houston CKLDP Class of 2019 kicked off with a Bootcamp Session, hosted in the Bell & McCoy offices. Amaya Labrador, current chair and past DC scholar, and Rebekah Gandy, vice chair, welcomed the incoming class. Ricardo Rodriguez, liaison to CKLDP DC and past chair, was also present to help guide the session.
Opening comments were delivered by AIA Houston Executive Director, Rusty Bienvenue and AIA Houston President, Derek Webb. The Bootcamp featured keynote speaker Annise Parker, former Mayor of Houston and Fellow at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders. Mayor Parker shared her personal leadership path, and highlighted her development as a politician – that also happens to be an introvert.
Scholars participated then in a Pecha Kucha exercise, speaking to their leadership styles, and in a brainstorming session to develop the year’s content. Closing comments were delivered by John T. Clegg, AIA Houston President-Elect.
The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was founded in 2013 by the Emerging Architects Committee as part of the AIA|DC Chapter. The program is in memory of Christopher Kelley, an employee of Gensler and an active member of the DC architectural community. Christopher was a recipient of the AIA Young Architects Award in 2010 and an exemplary, emerging young leader. Since its founding, the CKLDP has been established in Washington DC, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Georgia and Houston, and strives to carry forward Christopher’s legacy by actively training and nurturing the next generation of leaders within the architectural profession.
Applications for the 2020 Class will open Spring of 2019; sponsorship opportunities are available by emailing the committee.
The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) is pleased to announce our new Session Sponsor for the 2018-2019 Class, HOK! Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!
The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) would like to thank Bell & McCoy as an in-kind Sponsor for the 2018-2019 Class! Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!
The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) is pleased to announce our third Benefactor Sponsor for the 2018-2019 Class, Barbara J. Amelio! Ms. Amelio also serves on the Board of Directors for The Rice Design Alliance and the Houston American Institute of Architects.
Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!
The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) is pleased to announce our second Benefactor Sponsor for the 2018-2019 Class, Corgan! Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!