Hurricane Season is Here! Disaster Assistance Program Update

Although Hurricane Season is here, we fortunately have not had to contend with any major storms.  Still, our recent history in Ellicott City shows that disasters can come at any moment, whether we are ready or not.  We are in the midst of organizing our AIA Maryland Disaster Assistance Program (DAP), as part of The AIA network of state DAP’s, and although we have made some significant progress, we still have work to do. Our goal is to have a statewide network of responders, trained and ready for when the need arises, and we are looking for your help!

Last week, while in NYC attending the 2018 AIA National Convention, AIA Maryland Executive Director, Sandi Worthman and President, Larry Frank joined me when we met with one of the countries leading experts on disaster response, Illya Azaroff, AIA.  He is an architect in New York, and is as experienced in this field as they come. We were able to cover some significant ground with Illya and he has offered to help us as we get organized.  There are only a handful of strong DAP programs in place in the country, and with Illya’s support we hope Maryland will become one of the model organizations in the US.

Sandi and I also met with Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) two weeks ago.  They are command central for any disasters that might develop and are thrilled to learn that architects are willing and able to help.  We will soon be joining them on a call with the Emergency Response teams  for all of Maryland’s counties, so we should soon be well connected to the government programs across the state.

We are appealing to any and all architects to let us know if you are interested in finding out more and/or are ready to join us in this effort.  Please contact me or Sandi with any questions you may have. The process is simple …  you attend a day-long training (6.5 HSW CEU’s) to become a certified building evaluator, get on our list of volunteers, prepare your “go-bag” and then wait to be contacted.  Your assignment will be to briefly inspect buildings to determine how safe they are for occupancy.  We rate whether a resident/owner should stay out of the building, go in temporarily to retrieve valuables or, re-occupy.  Local officials will follow up to verify your assessment.

Deployment may be local for a day or two, or if you are willing, it could be as much as 7-10 days any where in the world a disaster has struck.  This is volunteer work with expenses covered by government agencies such as FEMA.

Please let us know ASAP as…the next disaster is not a scheduled event.  Thanks.

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President’s Message – June 18

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
“Time,” Pink Floyd

The first half of the year of my term as president has flown past and it’s been exciting.  I just returned from the “A18” – this year’s AIA Conference on Architecture in NYC. It was great to see so many of you there!  For those who have attended this or other conventions (this year rebranded as a conference) it’s a fire-hose running full stream of opportunities, tours, CEU’s, events and products on the expo floor.  If you have never been you should go next year!

At the conference I was struck by….

Keynote Speaker Marc Morial, President and CEO of the Urban League revisited the challenge to AIA to be more diverse, inclusive and equitable.  This challenge was given first by Whitney Young to the Institute 50 years ago when he delivered the keynote.  Mr. Morial spoke and re-issued the challenge in 3 parts.  1.  Inclusion – finding the space to continue to make our community equitable for all.  2. Infrastructure – Looking at our cities and throughout our country – encouraging us to support and make re-building and building anew our infrastructure to make our communities equitable for all. 3. Intersectionality – open our eyes and calling our attention to look at the complex, overlapping forms and mechanisms that allow discrimination to continue and to make reforms.

It is clear we continue to have much work to do.  See my notes below about the general business meeting.

This year’s Whitney Young award winner, Tamara Eagle Bull, gave voice to the need to encourage, recognize and support diversity.  She spoke of her background and her father’s limited options growing up and how her parents encouraged her to challenge conventions.  She spoke forcefully about creating well designed spaces and schools to encourage creativity and broaden the options for all.  She is walking the walk with her work in tribal communities.  We need to join her in this work.

Again I note – we have much to do (sensing a theme yet?)

At the business meeting there were a handful of bylaw items to be clarified and a host of resolutions thanking all for the hard work accomplished, thanking the hosts and thanking our own Carl Elefante for a great conference and a great year. 

Two resolutions bear mentioning.

Resolution 18-3: Diversity Pipeline and National Representation was sponsored by AIA Georgia.  Paraphrasing the Yellow Book – its intent is to “support the Institute’s commitment to diversity and inclusion… calling for the implementation of a plan to develop a national leadership pipeline of ethnically diverse women candidates for national governance positions.”  This resolution brought much discussion, clarification and many friendly amendments (some passed, some not).  Ultimately the resolution passed with clarifying amendment, strengthened by strong support from Suzanne Frasier, FAIA – President Elect of AIA Baltimore.

And we heard and passed another resolution from the floor regarding equanimity.  This resolution was authored by Frances Halsband, FAIA.  The resolution will have the AIA Board study and update our Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.  Ms. Halsband initially circulated the proposal to 50 Fellows of the Institute seeking their support some 30 days ago. Ultimately (and quickly) it was endorsed by over 500 Fellows when it was presented on the floor.  The Institute will be taking a stand on harassment and taking it quickly.

Both these resolution passed with both an overwhelming and immense majority. 

And we have much work to do.

Lastly – It was exciting to see our own (unchallenged) Jason Winters, AIA easily win the race for 2019-2020 Secretary of the Institute.  Please join me in congratulating and wishing him success!

I hope you will attend an AIA conference – maybe next year in Las Vegas or in 2020 in Los Angeles.  Or join your colleagues at a local meeting, tour or event.  The AIA has a lot to offer.

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Research on the application of passive/natural systems in buildings

Mehdi Azizkhani is a Doctoral Candidate and researcher at the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. In collaboration with Professor Jeff Haberl, he is conducting research on the application of passive/natural systems in buildings in the US to find opportunities/challenges that could increase/reduce the frequency of their use on a national scale. The incorporation of natural/passive systems in buildings is in line with programs such as Architecture 2030 Challenge. Such programs can reduce the energy consumption of buildings, the associated cost, and preserve our natural resources for future generations.

As part of the current study, Mahdi is conducting a survey on the use of passive/natural systems. The purpose of this survey is to obtain a more accurate perception of the practice of passive system design and implementation across different disciplines in the building industry to better measure the following:

  • The factors influencing the increase/reduction of the use of passive/natural systems in buildings
  • The design tools being used for passive design
  • The most and lease recurring types of passive/natural system strategies
  • The importance of incorporating passive/natural system strategies in a practical design process with respect to their integration with mechanical systems

Your participation in the survey is greatly appreciated. The opinions of professionals like you are an important component to better understand the current practice in the building industry across the country.

This link will direct you to a survey with 20 questions that takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. The survey has been approved by the Texas A&M Institutional Review Board (IRB ID: IRB2018-0262/Ref. Number: 074600). If you receive the link from other organizations, please take the survey only once. Your responses to the survey questions will be kept confidential and the results of the survey will be sent back to you at the end of the research study.

Please take the survey: https://tamu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5ubDhJnq1WcAMpT


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Procurement – Architectural and Engineering Services – Reciprocal Preference

On May 15th the Governor signed into law, Senate Bill 1020, Procurement – Architectural Services and Engineering Services – Reciprocal Preference.  This bill was the culmination of over 5 years of collaboration between AIA Maryland’s Legislative Committee representatives, several leaders of Maryland’s small, medium and large Architecture firms, and representatives of the State of Maryland to assess and analyze procurement preference and professional service awards to Maryland resident and nonresident firms. The bill was prepared, sponsored and guided through the legislative process by Senator Joan Carter Conway and her staff.  AIA Maryland would like to express its gratitude to the Senator for her many years of continual support on behalf of Maryland’s Architects.

To further support this effort, AIA Maryland engaged the services of the nationally recognized Sage Policy Group, Inc.  The report was commissioned in 2016 and their final report, titled “The Economic Implications of Purchasing Architectural Services from non-Marylanders” was submitted in November 2017 to AIA Maryland.  It was subsequently submitted to the Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee for its review and consideration. Sage Policy Group measured the economic implications associated with out-of-state architecture service contracts by key Maryland State Agencies. The findings of this study helped form this current procurement legislation.  A few of the report’s findings are as follows:

  • Award Share: Since 2004 over 25% of state awards were secured by firms not headquartered in Maryland and over 50% of contract dollars went to design professionals outside the state. The University of Maryland System, for instance, has awarded only 40% of their contract dollars to Maryland headquartered firms.
  • Reciprocity: Many states, including neighboring states, have local preference laws that penalize out of state architects while architects based in these protectionist states to work freely in Maryland. The District of Columbia is an example of one of these jurisdictions where Maryland architects are subject to a non-resident penalty.
  • Employment Opportunities: The report identifies missed opportunities of over 2,250 jobs since 2004 if the contract procurement dollars had remained in the state. The associated labor dollars are estimated at over $166 million in labor income and approximate aggregate business sales over $350 million.
  • Tax Revenue: The state has forgone over $14.6 million in tax revenue through contracts awarded to out-of-state firms.

Though the new law reactivates past Maryland preference legislation for professional architectural and engineering services, it is critical to recognize that the current law does not create an isolationist position that could potentially trigger procurement preference language in other states thus negatively impacting Maryland firms.  The new law hopes to level the playing field, and creates fair and reasonable reciprocal preference for resident firms.  In summary, the law:

  • provides a clear and robust definition of a nonresident firm, especially with respect to time of residency, and applicability and/or limitations of a firm’s principle or branch offices;
  • provides a clear definition of a resident firm, especially with respect to the applicability and/or limitations of a joint venture;
  • provides preference guidelines to a State unit during the review of proposals and qualifications from prospective offerors;
  • provides reciprocal language that requires nonresident firms to follow their home state’s requirements for nonresident firm preference. Thus, if a nonresident firm has regulatory language that gives preference to that state’s resident firms, then an equal reciprocal preference will be applied to their weighting in the Maryland qualification based selection process. By leveling the playing field, nonresident firms cannot benefit from a restriction in their state, only to have an advantage in Maryland by not having the same restrictions;
  • provides language that a State unit may give preference to a Maryland resident firm if there is a tie in the scoring of a solicitation’s offerors;

To review the details of the new law, we invite you to visit Maryland’s legislative website.

Shortly, the State will begin to develop the policies and regulations in compliance with the law that will guide procurement by units of the State that solicit for architectural and engineering services.  The development of these policies and regulations may take time.  Currently, AIA Maryland is unsure of the law’s implementation timetable though we plan to continue speaking with legislators to be sure the policies created reflect the intent of the legislation . . . Stay tuned for updates.

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If a disaster struck in Maryland, would you be willing to help?

If a disaster struck in our state, would you be willing to help?

Floods, tornados and hurricanes are simply a reality of life in Maryland yet the aftermath can be devastating and heart wrenching. One of the biggest challenges is how easily the emergency response teams can become overwhelmed. Although there are many excellent emergency first responder programs statewide, one of the vulnerabilities is the “second responders” or those that come in to help assess the damage. The website of the International Code Council (ICC) describes the problem well, “All too often after a disaster, an affected community is left on its own to struggle with assessing its damage and determining whether structures can be re-inhabited. When assessments are not conducted quickly, a community’s residents will reoccupy potentially unsafe structures”. I learned of this recently when I attended a post-disaster Safety-Assessment Program (SAP) training last month. I was struck that as building professionals, we already generally possess the knowledge to assess post-disaster buildings, so our learning curve going into such a situation would be low. The training simply taught us what we would need to know about procedures and the assessment goals of the local, state, and/or federal agencies involved. The AIA has adopted the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) program, Safety Assessment Program (SAP) to provide us a direct way to help in the aftermath of a disaster in the state of Maryland or beyond. This is a program strongly advocated for by our own Carl Elefante, currently serving as President of The AIA. AIA Maryland is ramping up our post-disaster response program and we have formed the Maryland Statewide Disaster Assistance Committee.

THIS IS A CALL TO ACTION. Hurricane season starts this week with a season predicted to have an above average number of storms, and those storms are expected to carry high rainfall. We need volunteers, first to help us get organized and then to get enough of us officially trained so that when the next disaster comes, we will have teams ready to make a difference. We need to hear from all corners of the state. We are launching this program as rapidly as we can so stay tuned as more information becomes available.

In the next couple of weeks, we will be meeting with emergency agencies at the city, county and state levels to learn more directly what they need. Part of the urgency is that we need to get the word out that The AIA is here to help as no other organization can. We are particularly interested in those of you that may be connected to local building inspectors and/or fire, rescue, and police communities.

The process that allows us to get out into the field simply involves a one-day training to become a certified building evaluator. Architects will also earn 6.5 CEU’s in the process. If you are attending the Conference on Architecture – A’18 in New York, this training is being offered on Wednesday, June 20th. There are other sessions on disasters scheduled for Thursday and Saturday. You can meet members of the Disaster Assistance Committee on Thursday in the AIA booth, 2-4pm (booth 1739 in the Javits Center) or, get a SAP Sneak Peak on Friday, 12:30-1pm if you stop by the AIA booth.

Ultimately, this is about giving back. We all got into this profession in no small way to make a difference in the world around us. We now will have a chance to help others in a very immediate and direct way. The name of The AIA will perhaps have a somewhat different meaning to the communities we will have a privilege to serve. Please let us hear from you as soon as possible if you are at all interested.

Below are some links to educate yourself more on this emerging initiative.

The Safety Assessment Program – AIA

Recovery Safety Assessment Program – California

When Disaster Strikes | ICC


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President’s Message – May, 2018

And what have you done lately?

A week ago the Governor signed legislation that we helped introduce to provide some balance in state procurement for Maryland Architects. The bills provide reciprocal preference for Maryland firms when competing against out of state firms whose home state provides a preference to the in state architect.  That’s great news and now the next steps begin; we will work with state agencies to assist them as they adopt and implement the legislation in their procurement processes.  Keep your eye out as we continue to work on this throughout the year.

Other events continue to occupy us at the State – we are working to establish and coordinate a State Disaster Assistance Committee.  Big thanks to Bo Green for joining us and agreeing to take a leadership role. More folks are needed to serve as local liaisons to their City and County agencies.  Again, please keep your eyes open – we need you to lend your expertise and assistance.  Following on our successful training last month we will be looking to train and certify more architects throughout the state to be ready to assist in building evaluation should disaster strike.

And the Design Awards portal is open – now is the time to share your project and be recognized for the quality work that you and your colleagues produce. Enter now!

Our actions are critical, they show, they inform.  We are working hard for architects throughout the state.  We are doing more than simply talking, we are taking action and actions speak loud and true.  Come join us, enter your work in the design awards, join us at one of our events.  We are working for the future. We care about our legacy, and we want it to be strong.

Lastly – April showers bring May flowers – seems like the weather deities have things a little confused this year.  We just finished a couple of weeks of May where we received more rain than we had the entire 2 months prior.  Having said that – please stop, take some time, consider the world around you and smell the flowers. Life goes on – make sure you get your fill!

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