September 1 x 4
This month’s question:
If you could give the you-of-10-years-ago advice, what would it be?
Valerie Gindlesberger, Associate AIA | Summit Custom Homes
Disclaimer: 10 years ago I was navigating the halls of my high school so I will take some artistic license here and direct this toward my early college years.
1.) People will tell you ‘no’, and you’ll be stronger for it.
Two words: Jury Day. As painful as it sometimes was, there is no faster way to earn the tough skin required to stand up to a client’s rejection, and understand that it is only an opportunity to make something better.
2.) Learn to say ‘no’, and you’ll be stronger for it. (Note: I am still working on this one.)
Balance is important. If we commit to everything people ask us to do we are gearing up for a whole lot of mediocre work. Do a few things, extremely well, and then have the time to enjoy that success with friends and family.
3.) Say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as possible.
So I contradict myself. Opportunities to see and experience the world do not often come around more than once. They will become the stories that make up who you are, not ‘what you do.’ And you will find your best friends in the process.
Al Harris, AIA | Populous
Four pieces of advice in no particular order:
1. Find a mentor as soon as possible and develop a strong relationship with that person.
2. Learn just as much about the things you’re not that interested (weaknesses) in as well as the stuff that wakes you up in the morning (strengths). This applies to both inside and outside architecture. Being an (Renaissance) Everything Man or Woman is more valuable today than you think.
3. Create a plan and chart a path to the goals you’re aiming for and be flexible if and when that plan and path veers off course. Have and maintain a positive attitude and don’t limit the professional development process with preconceived thoughts based on assumptions and external influences. Some of the tasks you’ll be given may seem menial or not in-line with your skillset but with an open mind and a can-do attitude, those tasks will turn into meaningful responsibilities quicker than you imagine.
4. Time is relative: It may not seem like it at the time, but in hindsight 10 years goes by fast and is full of change. Have fun in the moment.
Angie Nygren, AIA | Crawford Architects
Ten years ago this week, I was entering my freshman year of college. What advice would I have given myself? Hem, hem: (I flick my wrists outwardly as a 20-foot-long scroll rolls out in front of me).
In terms of a career in architecture, my primary piece of advice would be: “Embrace what you don’t know.”
To admit ignorance is an uncomfortable feeling. Inwardly, I felt like a failure if I didn’t know or didn’t understand something. Outwardly, I worried about what others were thinking. The natural default was then to feign perfection in attempt to gain respect from others. But once you admit that you don’t know – and embrace it – you open yourself up for a richer learning process, which will in turn help advance your career.
How to apply this advice:
First of all, ask questions and speak up if something is unclear. Don’t feel like a failure if you don’t have a clear, decisive answer. Look at your career as a continual work in progress.
And on a larger scale, branch out and learn things that aren’t in your realm of expertise. Architecture is such an all-encompassing profession; in particular, the addition of sustainability to our architectural repertoire demands an even greater knowledge base, incorporating geography, climate, and the environment.
Charles Cassias, Jr., FAIA | BNIM
What advice would I give the me of 10 years ago….
I am a bit torn by the question; I’m not certain 10 years offers a long enough perspective over a 40‐plus year career, as in many ways, I was fairly well entrenched in my habits after 30 years. Looking back 10 years;
• I would stress being rigorous in all you do; to work to be better each day, to be excellent in all you do and to be the best teammate and collaborator in your work and relationships.
• I would also tell myself to be more willing to take risk and explore unfamiliar territories and ideas, to be more assertive and to be more outgoing and forthright in sharing the knowledge and experiences accumulated over my career.
• I would tell myself to delegate more to others and give them more space to grow and be successful and to know when to get out of their way and when to be there to support them.
• Lastly, I would tell myself to be sure to recognize and acknowledge all the amazing, dedicated and talented people I get to work with each and every day and recognize their incredible contributions.
The Architect 50
Congratulations to AIA Kansas City Firms making the list: DLR Group (#39 on Top 50), BNIM (#19 on Top 50), Helix Architecture + Design (Business List) and Populous (Design List). Additionally, AIA Kansas City member, Dan Maginn, FAIA, served on the Design Rankings Jury. Great representation Kansas City!
Every year, we approach the ARCHITECT 50 with the same premise. It may be impossible to capture every way in which a firm can excel, have a significant impact on its community, mentor a younger generation of designers, and help save the planet with its energy-efficient buildings. But we nevertheless strive to compile a list that recognizes firms small and large, who are making their mark beyond just their ability to run a financially lucrative business. This year, we added a few new data points, capturing information on how firms are helping their interns gain licensure, both through financial incentives and culture. And we asked firms to submit a portfolio with an energy-efficient project that best exemplified their commitment to sustainability (ARCHITECT editors judged those submissions). When we ran the numbers (check out our methodology here), some familiar firms rose to the top (Westlake Reed Leskosky), some newcomers rocketed into the top 10 (Studio Gang Architects), and some unexpected interlopers crashed the proceedings (Jones Studio). In the end, the exact positions may not capture the full extent of how firms are excelling. But we hope that the list inspires architects to review their own best practices and embrace even higher ambitions.
ARCHITECT | Bob Berkebile of BNIM Wins $50,000 Hanley Award
The Hanley Foundation and Hanley Wood announced today that architect Bob Berkebile, FAIA, the “B” in the Kansas City-based firm BNIM, has been selected as the 2014 recipient of The Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainability. With its $50,000 purse, the Hanley Award is the largest annual award for sustainability in the built environment.
The program is in its fifth cycle and is sponsored by the Hanley Foundation, a nonprofit, and by ECOBUILDING REVIEW, BUILDER, and ARCHITECT magazines. (Note: Hanley Wood is the parent company for all three publications.) It honors individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary, lasting, and far-reaching contributions to sustainability, and who have greatly influenced policy and industry response to critical environmental challenges in the United States.
Emerging Professional Updates
Intern Titling Survey
Did you take the Intern Titling Survey, and now you are interested in the results. Click here to check them out.
Emerging Professionals Summit Goals
At the 2014 Emerging Professionals Summit thought leaders from across the profession came together to address how practice culture can be shaped to prepare current and future architects for their role in society. Click here to see the main goals the summit developed.
ARE 5.0 will launch in late 2016 and incorporate new testing technologies to replace the graphic vignette software, which has been in use since the exam was computerized in 1997. This new version will have six divisions that align closer to how an architect practices today. Click here to learn more.
ARCHITECT | Architecture Billings Index Reaches Highest Score in Seven Years
Things are looking good in the design and construction industry, according to the latest Architecture Billings Index (ABI) released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which reported that the July ABI score was 55.8, up from 53.5 in June, and the highest mark since 2007. (An index score above 50 indicates growth, whereas a score below 50 indicates contraction.) July’s score marks the third consecutive month of growth, breaking the recent ABI pattern of two months of progress after two months of contractions.
The new projects inquiry index was 66.0, barely below June’s score of 66.4. Scores in this category have consistently remained above 50 since February 2009.
Call for Projects | MARC Sustainable Success Stories
Sustainable Success Stories is part of an ongoing community dialogue focused on building a better understanding of projects and practices that can transform our community through quality placemaking.
In recent years, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) has called for stories that exemplify great work throughout the region. The 2014 Call for Projects asks organizations to submit projects that focus on sustainable development in the Greater Kansas City region. Projects will be selected based on how well they advance the three pillars of sustainability — social equity, economic vitality and environmental stewardship. Projects must be submitted by 4 p.m., Monday, Sept. 22.
Call for Abstracts | First Annual Women in Design Journal: RISE
Women in Design Kansas City is proud to announce that it will publish its first issue of RISE in Spring of 2015! This first issue of the Women in Design Journal: RISE will be focused on The Contest of Meaning. As design projects increase in complexity and impact, the insight to properly identify and coordinate challenges and solutions becomes highly necessary. As windows of opportunity multiply and expand for professionals in the design fields, the ability to manage time, identity, and personal enrichment becomes more and more important. As management responsibilities or company size grow, communication hierarchy and office culture require more organizational definition. A contest for meaning exists in every design task and career-life decision – the first issue of RISE aims to discuss and elaborate on methods of approaching and handling the inescapable dilemmas of precedence and selection in an age of creative abundance and possibility. How does one decide what is most meaningful…and to whom?
Please see the full document for more information.
Local Magazine Wants to Profile Local, Sustainable Homes by AIA Kansas City Architects
August 1 x 4
This month’s question:
How does your hometown inform or influence your creative process?
Rashed El Singaby, Associate AIA | 360 Architecture
I come from Alexandria, Egypt, half way around the world from here. Alexandria, a 20 mile strip lying directly on the Mediterranean coast, serves as Egypt’s largest port, and is home to 6 million people. It carries within its walls eras of civilizations and architectural schools stretching back to 330 BC. From the days of its founder, Alexander of Macedonia, through the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic empires. It once housed the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; and the Great Library, the largest in the ancient world (now replaced by a modern one).
In modern ages the city has been prone to waves of unregulated urban expansions; unplanned neighborhoods, unrestricted building heights, narrower roads – all better described as an urban mess, a new era of depreciation and loss of glow.
As an architect, the aforementioned was painful to the sight and soul; and has greatly influenced my creative process in the start of my career. A new building shouldn’t be an independent structure erected oblivious to its surroundings; it is more of a new organ attached to a current fabric, and is either an added benefit or a catalyst for complications. I take it as my mission to deliver improvements rather than harm.
Hanna Roy Kurian, Associate AIA | Bell/Knott & Associates
Living in structures built from wood when I first moved to America to pursue my architectural studies was as foreign to me as the land itself. Having grown up in the Eastern Hemisphere where the vernacular architecture’s primary material for construction is finished reinforced concrete, the explicit realization what my surroundings were made of influenced my design process immensely. My revelation of the innate beauty of raw concrete as a primary building material I believe is a bias in my creative process which I owe to growing up in buildings where I never saw it in its naked form.
In India, the unfinished concrete was considered just that, unfinished. However, in Western Architecture unfinished concrete spoke a language I wasn’t aware it could speak. I found great love for this building material as I became an avid admirer of Louis Kahn during graduate school. Learning about the National Assembly Building in Bangladesh built by Kahn revealed to me an instance where, even though it was built in the Eastern World, the unconventional use of this traditional material choice was acclaimed. Through the realization of the defining potential of this material I find a great appreciation for its complex yet simplistic composition through design.
The thought concepts which have emerged from this evolutionary journey of mine with concrete constantly influence my design solutions. They make me strive to search for the unconventional alternatives rather than settle for the first impression of a probable solution, to instead approach the problem and view it in all possible lights before deciding its “finish”.
Martin DiNitto, AIA | MDArchitecture, LLC
I grew up in the small, south-central Kansas town of Haven, Kansas, where the built environment of the town is very practical in order and form. The tree-lined town grid and wide streets were established in the late 1800’s to simplify walking from home to school or business, and to contain and prevent wood structure fires from jumping from one side of the street to the other. The massive white block form of the Farmers CO-OP grain “elevator” temporarily stores large quantities of wheat in a minimal footprint right next to the railway tracks; tall concrete silos standing shoulder-to-shoulder against the potential of tornadic winds. The tall steel-legged water tower with its “Tin Man” shape elevates water to let gravity provide the water pressure, and boldly proclaims the moniker “HAVEN”; the town name, a slight distinguishing feature of the otherwise common and ubiquitous forms in every distant view of every small town along any state highway. These iconic forms and images are affirmations that the principal “form ever follows function” is definitely not just a Louis Sullivan design cliché. I believe I approach the creative process in the same purposeful and practical way, to find order and form from function.
Tim Cahill, FAIA | HNTB
Our hometown influences my design process every day. Throughout my 35 year design career, I have continuously looked to my Kansas City roots for inspiration: foremost is the integration of the arts in the design of civic spaces; also, the importance of urban design and landscape to the character of the built environment; and finally, the inclusion of cultural enrichment as part of a quality of life.
The Kansas City Architectural Community has also provided me with many opportunities and mentors. As architects, we can all have a national level of design input and influence from the Midwest beyond our geographic region. I strive to practice an architecture based on a strong Midwest work ethic formed first with a sense of optimism. Architecture to me will always be about the ability to dream – bringing vision to reality – for our clients – for ourselves.
Certainly our community of Kansas City and its spirited architectural professionals can deliver such inspirational goals. It is our responsibility as architects to continue to foster good design in all that we do.
ARCHITECT | How to Structure Your Firm
As you confront the complex design problem that is starting your own firm, how you structure your practice will help determine both the work you do and the success of your business. Here are three basic steps for how to approach that important task.