Event Recap: Community Outreach at My Girlfriend’s House

Volunteers from the AIA DC EAC, Women in Architecture College Park and emerging Architects from various local firms including Bonstra|haresign ARCHITECTS spent the day with ten (10) girls from My Girlfriend’s House inc. As a part of the EAC’s outreach efforts for this year, this event, Shaping Your Environment, was organized. The purpose of the event was to introduce local young women, predominantly African American, to the field of Architecture and its related fields, where women and specifically African American women are underrepresented. The girls ranged in age from eleven to sixteen years old.

The day started with two (2) construction tours of multi-family residential buildings designed by Bonstra|Haresign ARCHITECTS, Carver and Slowe Halls. The Project Architect for the two (2) projects is a leading woman in Architecture, Liz Duray, AIA. Liz, started the tour with a brief history of the projects, which are 75-year old dormitories that have been converted into modern day apartment buildings. Liz, then led the girls through various units and common spaces, all the while fielding several questions from the girls who were extremely engaged. The most common questions were about rental costs and the size of the units.

Following the tour, the girls and the volunteer Architects retreated to Bonstra|Haresign ARCHITECTS’ office for an office tour, lunch and discussions. The discussions led by the volunteers and Veronica Eyenga, Executive Director for My Girlfriend’s House Inc., were focused on why young women should consider Architecture as a career, what are the challenges involved as a women, the benefits of being in the profession, the process to become an architect and other topics that led to a healthy 45 minute discussion.

To wrap up the day, the girls were given a design task – design your ideal apartment unit or house. They were given trace paper, gridded paper, blank paper, and scaled cut-outs of doors, windows, and apartment furniture. The girls eagerly undertook the design task and were not shy in presenting their visions of their ideal living environment. It was fantastic.

In the end, everyone left satisfied. The girls, were very grateful for our outreach efforts, and excited about the profession. Veronica let us know that the girls talked about their designs and the tour for their entire bus ride home. The AIA DC Emerging Architects Committee looks forward to several future opportunities to work with My Girlfriend’s House Inc.

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Event Recap: Mentoring Workshop #3 – Let’s Negotiate!

For our third and final mentoring workshop, the EAC hosted a panel of experts to speak to the best strategies for negotiating. The panel consisted of Laurel Streeter of Streeter Consulting, an architectural recruiting company, John Thomann of Gensler, and Griz Dwight of Grizform Design Architects. Each of the panelists represented a slightly different point of view from large and small firm negotiations to negotiations for new hires and promotions.

After introductions, we kicked off the panel by asking each person to share a good and bad experience with negotiation. Each panelist emphasized the need to LISTEN to your coworker, boss, client, etc. If you find yourself speaking more than 30% of the time, you should reconsider your strategy because you may be less successful than you think. Finding common interests and learning a person’s or companies’ motivations will help you to be more persuasive. Every time you enter a negotiation you should do your due diligence to research the company or person you will be speaking with via company websites, Linked In, etc. to give yourself the best talking points for expanding the conversation to make it more personal. The panel recommended How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie as a resource.

A lot of the conversation revolved around negotiations with employers for a new position or a promotion. Money is often a motivator, but negotiations are multifaceted. Look for other opportunities beyond money. There are plenty of other benefits (health care, retirement, vacation days, etc.) that are worth negotiating for and can still provide a return to the employ.

As an emerging professional many wondered “How can I become a better negotiator?” The advice of the panel was to learn to negotiate and be uncomfortable in low stake situations. An example of this was to practice while negotiating your travel expenses, hotel, or airport travel. Most conversations have some element of negotiation within them, including those within our personal lives, and there are always opportunities to practice and improve!

Event Recap: ARE Study Series – Session #1

ARE Study Series Session #1 kicked off with a tour of the West End Public Library. The mixed use building is home to a library, a café, and condominiums. The award winning West End Library itself holds over 40,000 books and 40 public access computers. The library also features a variety of study spaces and community rooms to support the programmatic needs of the public. The design incorporates a playful use of color that is experienced both outside and through the interior of the building.

After the tour, the group sat down to study for the AREs. Check out our Getting Licensed page for a list of helpful resources.

Join us this Wednesday, April 24th at Francis A Gregory Library for ARE Study Group Session #2. We will start at 6:30 pm with a tour led by Michael Wiencek from Wiencek + Associates, the architect of record.

Event Recap: Coolidge Senior High School Construction Tour

The Emerging Architects Committee (EAC) led a construction tour of the Coolidge Senior High School (CSHS) in Takoma Park of Northwest DC. This historic facility is currently undergoing a design-build renovation and modernization by Architecture, Incorporated in association with Fanning Howey and Turner Construction.

Our tour started in the construction trailer. Architecture, Incorporated’s John Nolan, AIA, LEED AP, showed the group how he and the design-build team keeps track of tasks happening in various parts of the building. We learned about the abatement process regarding asbestos, lead paint and pipe insulation, and the non-structural terracotta tile found throughout the original 1938 structure.

Outside, the group was able to take note of the cornerstone and recently cleaned limestone pediment.

Inside the common corridors, John noted the structural engineer determined existing concrete joists and terracotta was too weak to support additional suspended load. He then pointed out the significant Unistrut system, which carried the building’s new prefabricated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.

There were quite a few interesting sights throughout the tour, which included the atrium space, underneath the cupola, historic auditorium and lobby. It was quite a sight to see the old and new juxtaposed within this educational campus.

Event Recap: Licensure Celebration

This year, the EAC organized the inaugural AIA|DC Licensure Celebration! This event has been a long time coming. Many chapters host an annual celebration to recognize newly licensed architects – it’s about time we did as well! There’s a bright future to look ahead to after licensure, and no more confusing verbiage describing what you do for a living (architectural designer / designer / design professional / etc.). During the event, Abi Brown reminded newly licensed architects to use their license for good – get involved, join an AIA committee, serve as a mentor, attend your local ANC meetings, or advocate for an issue important to you.

We started the event with a big congratulations from Abi Brown, AIA|DC President Marc Fairbrother, and Grunley Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Sonya Brown. After that, each of the newly licensed architects had a chance to be recognized specifically. As names were called, each new licensed architect approached the front to receive their congratulatory certificate from the EAC. At the bottom right hand of the certificate, each person used our Licensure Celebration Stamp to ceremoniously be able to “stamp and sign” for the first time!

We had a chance to eat, drink, mingle, and eat cake as a group afterwards. It was so great to celebrate those who got licensed this past year – and we can’t wait to do it again next year!

We are so thankful to our strong planning team and such generous support and sponsorship from Grunley! We could not have done it without them!

Architecture and ARE Trivia Nights

In 2018, the Emerging Architects Committee started an Architecture and ARE Trivia Night to meet a growing need for licensure candidate comradery as well as raise awareness for the exam.

For years, ARE study groups have been started and faltered as every individual is on a different path and often comes to the conclusion that studying would be more productive on their own terms. However, since studying can be such a grueling and intensive process, there’s no need to also have it be isolating.

That’s where Architecture and ARE Trivia comes in. The event is inclusive to people who are thinking about starting the exam, are currently taking the exams and have been licensed for years. Questions range from architecture history and current events, to code, site analysis, contracts, firm management, and everything in between.

The goal is to intersperse examples of question types from the exam with questions that architects would enjoy testing their knowledge on. The result is an event where a person with any level of any experience can feel both challenged and useful to their team. Teams are comprised of three to four people — often from one office, but people are also encouraged to show up even without a team and join other trivia attendees. It’s a great way to meet new people while studying and exercising your architecture trivia expertise!

With the fourth trivia having just wrapped up at the beginning of March, the event has been occurring about every four months. The next one is tentatively scheduled for July, and may be happening earlier. Stay tuned for upcoming events and keep learning those random archi-facts!

Fun fact from the March Trivia Night:

Q: What structure was the tallest in the world for a single year before being outpaced by the Eiffel Tower in 1889?

A: The Washington Monument

Event Recap: Mentoring Workshop #2 – New Year, New Credential!

The event was hosted at the American Society of Landscape Architects and it kicked off with a tour of their headquarters, which is on track to be LEED Platinum and WELL Gold. It was fascinating to see the differences in innovation between the green roof that was deigned 10 years ago and the lower level garden that was recently completed.  The second highlight of the tour was the existing enclosed scissor stair, that was re-imagined as an open connecting stair with one existing leg demolished. From the ground level you can see down into the lower levels, and all the way to the 4th floor. At the ground level, the footprint of the demolished scissor stair leg is clad in end-grain wood tiles to bring the atmosphere of the roof garden all the way though the building.

After the tour, Liz Resnic  gave a presentation on LEED v4.1 and highlighted some of the changes in requirements between v4.0 and v4.1, as well as walking through the certification requirements for those looking to get credentialed.

Finally, Ashley Grzywa and Marissa Mitzner spoke about the certification requirements for WELL and fitwel, in addition to explaining the steps needed to become a WELL ambassador. We learned that the requirements for a building to achieve a fitwel certification are less cumbersome than for WELL, but the evidence needs to be really well documented. Becoming a fitwel ambassador for your office is really achievable as it only costs $250 and you can take the exam from your own computer in one afternoon!

Thanks again to all of the speakers for diving into all of the ways that we can encourage our profession to be more sustainable and healthy.

Event Recap: Portfolio & Resume Workshop

The portfolio and resume workshop began with a presentation from Rob Holzbach, Associate Principal and Director of Staff Operations at Hickok Cole. The talk started with Rob explaining the process he uses to find and screen potential applicants. He showed examples of resumes and talked through what made them successful or unsuccessful. He also provided resume and job application “do’s and don’t” including adding teaser pages, compiling all documents into one file, and triple checking all spelling!

A major take away from the presentation was to keep in mind that people reviewing resumes are limited on time and have to make decisions quickly –  so make sure the graphics convey your personal style but aren’t overdesigned, and organize information in a concise and easy-to-read format.

After the talk, participants reviewed their materials with three to four professional reviewers from different architecture and design firms in the D.C. area. Reviewers stressed the importance of showing a mix of process and final work in a portfolio. This helps potential employers see how an applicant thinks through a problem using design. They also suggested using large images and providing bullet points of key facts about each project.

For more tips on how to best present yourself and your work, check out Architizer’s article, “Young Architect Guide: How to Sell Yourself With a Story.”

Event Recap: Mentoring Workshop #1 – New Year, Licensed You!

The EAC hosted our first event of the year in partnership with NCARB to review the process and requirements for getting started with AXP and the ARE. The Mentoring Series this year is focused on kicking off the new year to help attendees achieve their career goals for licensure, a credential, or the confidence to ask more specific questions within the office.

ARE 5.0 Exam Fees

Nick Respecki, NCARB’s Manager of Examination Development, presented the requirements needed to begin to test for the ARE, which vary state to state. The best way to determine the path that is right for you is to check out NCARB’s licensing requirements tool, which breaks down each state’s rules for requesting exam eligibility. Nick also discussed the 5 different question types that you will find on the 6 exams included in ARE 5.0. His top recommended resource was NCARB’s ARE 5.0 Handbook.

Martin Smith, NCARB’s Assistant Director of Experience + Education, discussed the requirements for documenting experience with AXP. AXP requires 3,740 base hours in categories that correspond with elements of architectural practice. Martin again referred attendees to the licensing requirements tool, which describes each state’s rules for the number of hours required to complete AXP.

Both Martin and Nick recommended that attendees continue to document their hours until they could receive an NCARB certificate. This way it is much easier to apply for reciprocity in other states if you ever need to get multiple state licenses!

For more information on our local chapter resources and events related to the ARE and AXP, check out our dedicated page!

Event Recap: 1900 N Street Construction Tour

1900 n poster_0

On December 4th, the Emerging Architects Committee held a construction tour of 1900 N Street, a new office building under construction in Dupont Circle. Developed by JBG Smith, with KPF as the design architect and FOX Architects as the architect of record, 1900 N will be an exciting addition to the architectural landscape of DC once complete. The building features a unique structural element in the form of a truss that hangs one third of the building. This allows an unobstructed, column free lobby at the corner of 19th and N Streets and will allow the building to become a gateway to downtown and Dupont Circle. The truss is encased in an architectural embellishment and celebrated by being encased in a bright red Fiber Reinforced Panel cladding.

Participants first listened to a brief presentation by the Architect, Structural Engineer and General Contractor about the project. Kate Mooney (Project Manager, FOX), Brian Schenck (Project Manager, DeSimone Consulting Engineers), and Jack Blank (Project Manager, Harvey-Cleary Builders) walked participants through the design of the project, the particulars of how the truss operates and was designed and the coordination between the teams that was required to pull off such a complex undertaking. Particular note was made to the unique design of the building, which in addition to the truss, takes advantage of zoning laws with an architectural embellishment, utilizes a state of the art DOAS HVAC system and has a generous rooftop amenity.

With the sold out crowed in tow, the group toured the building from top to bottom and was able to see the preparations for the truss as well as the “hanger columns” which will support the hanging portions of the building. Unfortunately, the truss pieces scheduled to be on site for the tour were delayed by the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush. Other than that minor hiccup, the tour was a success with participants learning about one of the most structurally and aesthetically unique future buildings in DC! Join the EAC for future tours of other unique buildings under construction!

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