Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yabba Dabba Doo! How will you celebrate?

As we mark the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones, whose star worked for the world's first construction company, we look ahead to tomorrow's World Day of Architecture in the U.N. This year's theme is "Cities, Magnets of Hope."

Will your firm do anything to toast the occasion? We'd love to see pictures!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ABI inches toward 50; when will industry see growth?

The Architecture Billings Index, the American Institute of Architects' monthly gauge of design activity, moved up for the third straight month in August from 47.9 to 48.2, but still reflects an overall decline by falling short of 50. AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker tells The Zweig Letter in an exclusive interview in the Sept. 27 issue he sees signs of life but thinks the ABI needs to reach the mid-50s before firms feel much of a difference.

What's happening at your firm? Are you feeling better about the ABI's direction?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is economic stimulus a success or failure?

White House officials this week defended the $814 billion economic stimulus package -- more formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- as a success, saying it's created jobs and put people who wouldn't otherwise have jobs on payrolls across the U.S. Others -- most notably Republicans hoping to gain even more traction by the 2012 presidential election -- point to the 10% unemployment rate as evidence of the Obama administration's failure.

So, what do you think? Has your firm benefited from the stimulus? Were you expecting more?

A gift for the architect who has everything

As frightening as it may seen, the holiday season is fast approaching, so here's an idea for those who are stumped on what to get that special someone: architecture rings featuring some of the most famous landscapes across the world. Among the selections available are New York (shown here), Paris, Moscow and Archipolis. The rings are made from a variety of materials, including gold, silver, amber, cognac, gemstones, platinum and diamonds, so we're not sure these would appeal to the bargain shopper.
What do you think? Do you know anyone who would wear one? Would you?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Attend the Hot Firm Conference free!

Have you been thinking about whether your firm can send anyone to The Zweig Letter 2010 Hot Firm Conference in Washington, D.C., but still unsure if you can afford it? If so, there's a way you can head to the nation's capital for free at the end of October and enjoy the best celebration of the industry's brightest stars.

Here's what you have to do: prove that your firm has the lowest office space cost per employee by sending your total employee count and firmwide office rent cost to our new headquarters: The Zweig Letter, 320 Rollston Ave., Suite 102, Fayetteville, AR, attention Mark Zweig. Time is running out to qualify for this opportunity, as entries are due Oct. 1.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where's the next emerging market?

Fret not, firms without the wherewithal to take their operations overseas. There are still opportunities for work here in the good ol' U.S. of A., but the design and construction industry is becoming an increasingly international endeavor. There continue to be lots of ways to put your stamp on a project - public or private in China, and Libya looks like the next hotbed of activity, following in the footsteps of Dubai for a few years.

Where do you see the greatest chance of work in the next few years? Do you expect domestic activity to rebound or are you looking to foreign soil as the saving grace for your firm?

Will Gulf of Mexico ever recover?

Less than a week after the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and with the specter of the BP oil spill still looming despite the apparent end of the gushing of contaminants, the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Coast region was again at the center of the news this morning, when an offshore oil rig exploded there.

With hurricane season getting stirred up, this explosion couldn't come at a worse time for the downtrodden residents who are simply trying to rebound from two major disasters in less than five years. Will this region ever be the same?

Is there anything the environmental engineers in the crowd can suggest to stem the tide and rebuild the region?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This time, the Big Apple is the "second city"

AIA New York has launched its own architectural boat tour around Manhattan, following in the highly successful footsteps of its counterparts in Chicago, which datesback almost 30 years.

I took the Chicago tour a couple of years ago when our Hot Firm Conference was in the Windy City and was certainly impressed, as were many others on my cruise. Are there other cities where this could work?

ABI still struggling to crack 50

The American Institute of Architects' monthly gauge of design activity, the Architecture Billings Index, jumped almost two full points in July to 47.9, the second-highest score in almost two years, but remains well below 50, meaning there is still a dip in work across the industry.

“It didn’t move dramatically, but I think it is kind of back on track to the trend that we were seeing back in the first months of the year,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in an exclusive interview with The Zweig Letter.

Nevertheless, Baker says, a recovery isn’t looking as solidly in the cards as the pundits predicted earlier in the year. He expressed frustration with the up-and-down nature of the economic recovery, saying that none of his predictions of sustained recovery in the second half of 2010 have materialized.

When do you think the ABI will break 50 again? Were you predicting it would happen by now too?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bring value to clients and stop wasting time and money

During a company-wide brainstorming session this morning, ZweigWhite Chairman Ed Friedrichs, former CEO of Gensler, urged everyone in the comany to think about two main ideas in everything they do going forward: "What value are you bringing to your clients?" and "What dumb idea we've always done should we stop doing?"

Meanwhile, ZW's new VP and director of operations, Eric Howerton, who will be spearheading our greatly expanded marketing efforts, says the goal of the company should be to be distinct, desirable and dominant.

How good of a job does your firm do in these areas? What value do you bring to clients? Where are you wasting time any money? How do you stand out from the crowd in an increasingly vanilla world?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lots of changes at the new ZweigWhite

Mark Zweig offers an update on ZweigWhite's beefed-up management team:

It was 22 years ago this past July 13 that I started Mark Zweig & Associates, which later became ZweigWhite. We grew like a weed— being named twice to the Inc. 500 List of Fastest-Growing Privately Held Businesses in the U.S.— right up to the point we were acquired by a Chicago-based SBIC (Small Business Investment Corporation). I retired from active duty and moved to Arkansas to teach entrepreneurship and start my real estate redevelopment business. Our new owners merged us with a couple other companies, installed their own management, and we had some turnover. As the economy got tougher, our own performance worsened. It’s a classic story that has been told thousands of times before.

Help arrived some months back when our new parent company, Eli Research, came on the scene. After a period of observation and study, Eli Founder and CEO Greg Lindberg, an amazing entrepreneur himself, decided to make some changes. It’s been a wild six weeks or so! Here’s a quick rundown on some of the exciting happenings in our firm:

My old friend Ed Friedrichs has joined the firm as chairman. Ed is the former chief executive officer of the one of the largest and most successful and influential design firms in the world, Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm. Ed joined Gensler when the firm had 20 employees and helped lead the transformation of Gensler to a firm with 2,400 professionals worldwide. I have worked with Ed on a couple different boards of private companies and I can tell you that he is a veritable fountainhead of ides. Plus, anyone who can get that many design professionals pulling in the same direction is an amazing leader, if you ask me— and we are extremely fortunate to have him join our team.

Tracey Jeffers, MBA, CBA, CMEA, has joined the firm as head of our national business valuation practice and ZweigWhite is acquiring Tracey’s firm, ValuPath Advisors, Inc. ValuPath is a successful national valuation firm and will significantly enhance our valuation capabilities in the market. I worked with Tracey when she headed up the Small Business Development Center on the University of Arkansas campus. She is a tireless perfectionist who knows her stuff and knows how to get things done— just what our clients need!

Wendy MacColl has joined the firm as head of new product development and will serve as director of Distance Learning and Market Councils. Wendy will be working on several new innovative products for the AEC community to be launched in the coming months. I worked with Wendy (who is also a flat track motorcycle racer) when she served as the head of instructional design at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. She’s smart and her years of curriculum design experience for management education at a high level are going to be invaluable to us.

Jeff Clark has joined ZweigWhite as head of mergers and acquisitions in our Investment Banking Division. Jeff has worked for several years with ZweigWhite’s parent company, Eli Global, as an M&A consultant handling 19 successful engagements totaling over $150 million in transaction value. Before working with Eli Global, Jeff provided strategic consulting services to Syska Hennessy Group in the AEC space and for several Fortune 500 companies.

W. Hobson Hogan has joined the firm as principal in our Investment Banking Division. Hobson is a seasoned mergers and acquisitions professional with deep experience assisting AEC firms with strategy formulation and ownership transfer issues. Before joining ZweigWhite, Hobson was with FMI Capital Advisors, Inc.

I am very excited to announce that our Investment Banking Division is now offering full-service investment banking services, including a global capital markets team that can structure and place a variety of debt and equity products for our clients. We can help you raise debt and equity capital to help your business grow or complete an acquisition.

We have also expanded our advisory capabilities for acquisitions, divestitures, mergers, joint ventures, corporate restructurings, recapitalizations, spin-offs, and leveraged buyouts. ZweigWhite and its parent company, Eli Global, have extensive buy- and sell-side M&A experience to help AEC firms achieve their short- and long-term strategic objectives.

And finally, I have rejoined the firm once again on full active duty as our chief executive officer, and am working from our new office in here in beautiful and centrally located Fayetteville, Arkansas. I am really excited to be back involved with ZweigWhite in a meaningful way (and working about 80 hours a week!). We will return to the principles that allowed us to be named twice to the Inc. 500 List of Fastest-Growing Privately Held Businesses and reestablish our leadership in providing management information and advice to help make our A/E/P and environmental firm clients more successful. And we’ll have a heck of a lot of fun doing it!

If anyone has any questions about us or comments on how we could do better, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you. My cell phone number is 508-380-0469 and my e-mail address is

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is IPD a four-letter word for some A/E firm leaders?

Joao Ferreira, managing editor for ZweigWhite's newsletters group, offers up this startling tale:

While doing some research for a story I’m writing for The Zweig Letter, I found that some people in the A/E world don’t know what the acronym IPD stands for (it's integrated project delivery, for the uninitiated in the crowd), or what the concept means. Really, are some people in the design and construction space really that disconnected? Or, is this proving that IPD is some kind of a fad?

Please interject. And don't be afraid to admit that you didn't know what it was until you read it here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Best Firms in the spotlight

Today was a big day around these parts - and at your firm if you were among those chosen as one of the A/E industry's Best Firms To Work For for 2010. By now, you've heard from Marketing Coordinator Sarah Nasznic about your place on the lis, and soon some of you will be hearing from our writers about articles we plan to do leading up to the Best Firms Summit in Las Vegas in late September, when the complete rankings will be revealed, and beyond, in the Zweig HR Letter.

If you're one of the ranked firms, congratulations to you! If not, there is a lot you can learn from those who were fortunate enough to earn the distinction. Keep your eyes peeled for the articles and take their advice to heart. Who knows? Maybe your firm will be among the chosen few in 2011!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ABI inches up slightly. When will design activity increase?

The Architecture Billings Index, the monthly gauge of design activity by the American Institute of Architects offered perhaps the only glimmer of hope in a tough month, but even that good news was slight. The ABI stood at June is 46.0, up from 45.8 in May, but still below 50, meaning design activity continued to drop in that period. AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker called June’s results “disheartening.”

“I was hoping it would recover in June, but we now have a two-month soft spot,” he tells The Board Room in an exclusive interview. “We’re halfway through the year without any serious sign the design industry is recovering.”

Baker has been hearing more about the so-called double dip in the economy, meaning a second decline after a brief recovery period.

“There’s some concern the economy is reversing direction, but I’m not reading it that way,” he says. “I see it more as a period of being stalled out as we move toward a recovery. Nothing is coming easily in this recovery.”

Baker has more analysis of the June numbers and what to expect going forward in the Aug. 2 issue of The Zweig Letter.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not what we signed up for with stimulus

Massachusetts politicos are being blasted for spending a half-million dollars on signs promoting the work being done across the Bay State under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more commonly known as the $787 billion economic stimulus package. That $500,000 is about 10% of what all states have spent on signs.

This seems like frivolous spending when there are plenty of projects out there waiting to be done, and plenty of design and construction professionals waiting to do them.

The signs claim the projects are Putting America to Work, but wouldn't more people be doing more work if it weren't for all the money wasted on these signs promoting the fact that Americans are back at work?

How can you follow the leader if you don't know who it is?

Joao Ferreira, managing editor for ZweigWhite's four newsletters, says there are leadership issues at a firm near you:

A chorus of worries about who will lead the design firm of the future has increased in volume over the last few months of covering this industry. At the The Zweig Letter Hot Firm Conference last October, a panel discussion discovered that many aging owners don’t even have a leadership succession plan in place (read leadership, not ownership, which are not the same thing).

Now, at the SMPS Build Business conference in Boston, A/E guru Scott Braley tells us kind of the same story. Baby boomers, he says, haven’t invested enough on nurturing their replacements. The Gen X demographic isn’t as aggressive as the boomer generation, either, and this may create a leadership gap. Gen Ys will likely take advantage.

OK, it’s slightly confusing, but the reality in that boomers will become extinct in leadership roles in the next 10 years, and someone has to step up to the plate. Despite concerns that younger generations are more interested in flexible work hours and not necessarily in leading, some believe that we’ll be just fine. ZweigWhite founder Mark Zweig said as much during the Hot Firm event last year.

Now comes this from ZweigWhite principal John Soter: “I’m a boomer, and I think we forget that we were one end of the original ‘generation gap’. From Elvis and the Beatles to Mad magazine to sit-ins and Woodstock, we were written off as spoiled and lacking ‘work ethic.’ Well, I guess we showed them! I subscribe to the view that, given the opportunity and direction, Gen X and Y will prove boomers’ view of them completely wrong as they reinvent firms for the future, just like we did to those we followed.”

The problem, Braley argued is that boomers relished being thrown in with the lions and took charge; Gen Xers, on the other hand, don’t speak up.

So, how do you spot the next leaders and nurture them? Boomers, go get them, and Gen X and Y, speak up!

Any thoughts out from the trenches?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's up with modern architecture?

The conventional wisdom is that the design and construction industry has moved forward as technology has improved and collaboration has increased. Not so, says Chicago Sun-Times columnist Roger Ebert, who says modern architecture "has grown tiresome." Gone are the beautiful buildings, giving way to corporate behemoth that tower over the landscape just to get into the record books. In other cases, firms are so worried about the bottom line that they set creativity to the side and take the safe route.
I think there's something to that, and it's not going to get better any time soon with continued worry about the state of the economy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Celebrate the past, look ahead to the future

ZweigWhite founder Mark Zweig checks in today with a special announcement on a momentous occasion:

"It was 22 years ago that I started Mark Zweig & Associates--the firm that later became ZweigWhite. We built the firm to a twice-listed Inc. 500 Company with a mission of helping our A/E and environmental consulting firms be more successful. We did that based on practicing what we preach and by singing our own music vs. reading management books and regurgitating what the authors said. It was a successful marriage of industry focus, original research, training, and consulting, using a staff of full-time employees vs. a cadre of part-time consultants.

"I retired from the firm to pursue my interests in college-level teaching and design and development and have achieved some success with both of those endeavors. But recently, the new owners of ZweigWhite asked me to re-inject myself into the firm. While I was reluctant at first because I am already so busy, I quickly gained enthusiasm for the idea when I saw how entrepreneurial our new owners are. Last week, I just opened a new office for ZW here in Fayetteville. You are going to be hearing a lot more from us in the coming weeks and months about new people, new services, and more from ZweigWhite, and I am excited about our future!"


Lying your way to a project win?

The Boston Globe recently reported on a controversial decision by the state's highest court to allow a high school building project to remain under the auspices of a construction firm that misrepresented its credentials to get the job in the first place. Critics in the construction industry say the ruling undermines the spirit of the open, honest, public bidding process created by the Ward Commission after bid-rigging scandals in the 1970s, according to the article by John Ellement and Christine Legere.

What do you think of this ruling? How do you feel about lying to get work?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Etch A Sketch celebrates big 5-0

Today marks an historic occasion in many architects' lives: It's the day Etch A Sketch first went on sale 50 years ago. Are you or your firm doing anything to celebrate?

For me, having a typewriter as a kid launched my journalism career. Was the Etch A Sketch your gateway to the design industry? Does anyone out there still have one? If so, let's see what you can do with it. We'd love to display your best work -- and maybe you'll even win a prize for it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The company name game

There's a lot of creativity going on in the design industry these days, and that ground-breaking thinking extends to firm names. The American Express Open Forum blog looks at how 16 world-renowned companies picked their names. How did you choose yours? What's been the reaction to the name over the years? Has the name issue been a contentious one when your firm was buying or selling?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where does your state rank on stimulus spending?

The second-smallest state in the U.S. (Delaware) has also done the poorest job of spending the money it was allocated through the $787 billion economic stimulus package, according to a recent report from the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Maine, on the other hand, is the leader others should follow.

Those firms that have been aching to enter the federal market but still unable to do so, it looks like there's still some opportunity out there, if you know where to look.

What do you think of this report? What has your experience been with stimulus package-related work?

Best buildings in the past 30 years

Vanity Fair recently published a list of the best buildings of the past 30 years. As with most lists, it includes some classics and some interesting choices, as well as some you might suspect are there just to get people talking about the list. What do you think of their rankings? Is anything missing?

On a somewhat related note, The Zweig Letter is publishing its 2010 Hot Firm List in the July 12 issue. There are a lot of new faces among this year's winners, who are ranked alphabetically in the issue. The numerical rankings will be released in late August, with the conference in D.C. in late October.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Searching for business development direction

John Soter, a principal in ZweigWhite's Strategic Advisory Services group, chimes in this afternoon with his thoughts on better business development:

Hey, how many of you get this kind of business development direction?

Here’s the secret: there is no secret. The recipe consists of equal parts reach, message, and effort. Many feel like fish being asked to fly, or birds being asked to swim. You may say, "Well, some birds do swim and some fish do fly." I say, "not many!"

There is just no way around generating leads, planting seeds, uncovering and understanding needs, qualifying and avoiding getting into the weeds, nurturing the relationship through good deeds, and delivering so they succeed.

What do you think? How does your firm do its business development these days?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Architecture students going retro

Architecture students are going back to the drawing board -- literally -- as hand-drawing is once again emerging as a lesson at colleges and universities across the country. In this age of technology, it's interesting to see this return to the roots of design.

What does this say for the future of the industry? Does it have any effect on the role of BIM or IPD? Are you more likely to hire someone who can hand-draw a design or do it on a computer?

Is firm's name change simply divine?

A Big Apple design firm with more than half a century of tradition behind it has decided to change its name to reflect the new reality of the company. The former Polshek Partnership is now Ennead, a name that refers to a Greek term of nine deities in Egyptian mythology. There are nine partners at Ennead.

So, what happens if one of the partners leaves? Or they want to add another one?

What do you think of this new name, given its origins? Has your firm changed names for reasons other than a merger or acquisition? What reaction did it get?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ABI loses steam after three straight months of increases

After reaching its highest level since the start of the economic recession in late 2008, the monthly gauge of design activity by the American Institute of Architects stumbled in May, falling below its March level.

The 45.8 number means there remains a decline in design activity for the month, an issue the ABI has been dealing with for most of the recession, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker says.

Much of the drop, he tells The Board Room in an exclusive interview, is centered on worry and concern, from small firms especially, about the larger economy and how that volatility could affect the A/E space. The stock market “took a big hit” in May, largely because of panic over the economy in Europe. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill could also play a role, he says.

“Small firms are certainly a little more vulnerable, particularly in a down economy,” Baker says. “Larger firms tend to be working more on larger projects, have larger backlogs, so they don’t move around as much in terms of being concerned about things going on in the rest of the world.”

The commercial/industrial sector remains one of the bright spots in this month’s index, moving from 48.5 in April to 51.3 in May. That means that sector has jumped almost five points in just two months. Institutional work, on the other hand, slid back to 43.4 in May, making it the lowest-ranked area.

By geography, the Northeast (50.6) and Midwest (48.5) provide the most reason for an optimistic outlook, but overall the numbers were disappointing, Baker says.

“This is certainly a move in the wrong direction after three months where we picked up almost six points,” he says. “It looked like we were developing a head of steam for the last few months. I’m not really sure what’s going on.”

The economic uncertainty in May led more respondents— and more economic pundits— to revive the theory of a double-dip recession, Baker says. That would mean the economy would recover to some degree, but then quickly decline again before fully bouncing back.

“I’ve definitely heard more about that, and had that theory get more traction in the past month than I had in the previous four or five months,” Baker says. “It’s getting to the point where it’s difficult to predict exactly what’s going to happen from month to month. With manufacturing numbers going up and housing starts coming down, this is a vulnerable period in the economy, so things can change the momentum pretty quickly.”

For more on the ABI and ZweigWhite's exclusive interview with Kermit Baker, check out the June 28 issue of The Zweig Letter.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pink hotel has neighbors seeing red

With colors such as desire pink, fussy pink and deep deep pink, the Walkabout hotel in Hollywood, FL, is stirring up the ire of its beachfront community neighbors. The city is asking a group of University of Miami architecture students to help create a color palette for the city, and property owners would be able to apply for paint-only grants up to $10,000 to help improve their properties.

What do you think of the idea of a pink hotel and the attempts to mediate the controversy? Has your firm ever been involved in such a spat over a client's color choices?

Monday, June 21, 2010

LEGO reaches new heights. Can you?

For those who missed the latest feat of engineering excellence, there's a new world record holder in the arena of LEGO towers.

On a related note, we're nearing the home stretch of our deadline for our second contest here in The Board Room. Please use your creativity well in the final few days -- and win a prize!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"This place seems REALLY familiar ... I feel like I've been here before"

Although we as North Americans may find it hard to even consider using the pieces from an old stadium to assemble new digs for our favorite teams, the practice is quite common in Europe. The latest example of this "recycled stadium" approach will be on display in Vancouver this weekend, where the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League will call Empire Field their temporary home until their old home, BC Place, is ready for play in November 2011. Empire Field will then be dismantled and sent back to Switzerland, where it will surely find another team looking for short-term digs.

What do you think about this idea? Is this an idea that, like soccer (sorry, World Cup fanatics!), is only likely to take root across The Pond?

Battle of the Sexes has a new front-runner

For the first time in American history, there are more women in the workforce today than men. While we think it's too soon to call for The End of Men," as The Atlantic does, it's certainly something to consider. It might be a while before we see the scale tipped in favor of women in the A/E industry, but there are certainly many more females running their own firms, making the financial decisions or taking on other leadership roles across the design space.

What do you think about these findings? How long before the A/E industry joins the rest of the country?

Note to self: Use Post-Its to design perfect projects

There's no one who's reading this who hasn't used a Post-It note for SOMETHING in their lives. But who among us would've even considered using the sticky slips of paper to figure out how best to design a new swath of public space? Kudos to the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation for listening to the clients and doing what they wanted. Sure, this is a public project that needed the support of the people, but why can't all projects be done this way - with the client in mind?

What do you think of this approach? Will you try it in your next pitch?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Look, up in the sky! It's an award-winning building!

The much-celebrated Burj Khalifa was named this year's best tall building in the Middle East by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, joining a half-dozen other sky-scraping edifices at the top of the heap.

What do you think of this year's list? How do you feel about these sort of behemoths? Have you ever been part of building one?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A/E industry rebounding, but when will creativity return?

As watchers of the A/E industry continue to target the second half of 2010 as the time when the field will show its first notable signs of life in almost two years, there is a report on CNN featuring AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. He predicts an emphasis on substance over style and a lack of new "masterpieces" as firms focus on getting the most bang for their design buck.

What do you think of Baker's prediction? Are you seeing this in the work your firm is doing now?

Monday, June 14, 2010

The next generation of engineering firm leaders?

If you haven't started thinking about ownership transition at your firm, you should - today! For those of you who are already planning the future of your firms, though, a recent article in The New York Times by Winnie Hu might help you figure out who your engineering firm's president will be in 2050. It's never too early to start thinking about what's next in the engineering world, and several schools are doing just that. Sure, the kids can't yet spell "engineering" yet, but they figured out an effective way to keep the Big Bad Wolf from huffing and puffing and blowing a little pig's house down.

What do you think about these engineering lessons for youngsters? Any suggestions on what they should include in the curriculum?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Apparently, going green DOES cost more!

If you haven't heard yeard about the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards' plan to raise its fees an average of 20%, I guess this post makes us the bearers of bad news. The reason for the fee hike? The council is switching from a paper-based system to all-electronic. We're still struggling to understand why that means the fees should be higher, but it seems like poor timing, given the struggles across the AEC industry for the past couple of years.

What do you think? How much deeper will your firm have to dig to remain certified through NCARB?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Trump selling tubs so he won't take a bath

If you've always wanted a piece of Donald Trump in your projects, here's your chance -- well, sort of. It seems The Donald has some extra Catalina bathtubs after the wrong sizes were ordered for his Trump SoHo Hotel project. The asking price is $250 and up. We're guessing the drains will not be clogged with any of that famous Donald Trump hair, although for the price, maybe they should be!

Clearly, someone forgot to use Integrated Project Delivery! Wonder if the person who ordered the tubs was called into the board room for a little one-on-one time with the world-famous real estate mogul?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Retro-fitting: Going green saves green

If you're still running up against owners who question the validity of green building and sustainable design, particularly those with spaces to renovate in the Big Apple, soon there could be no question as to the value of going green. Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation is financing the creation of a database to track the savings by hundreds of retrofitted buildings in New York City. It's a small sample size, to be sure, but it's a start and could provide the evidence many need to be convinced green building is here to stay.

What do you think about this? What effect do you expect it to have on the green building initiative?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What should BP do?

Think you've got a great idea on how to fix the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? The Zweig Letter looked in the May 31 issue at what changes could be afoot in the business of constructing and installing these rigs, The early leader is putting a larger pipe around the broken one to control the spill.

What do you think of these ideas? Do you have a favorite? One that you would (or will) add to the list?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Does creativity help or hurt job seekers?

ZweigWhite's Strategic Advisory Services team recently received an email with the subject line "Superbowl winner loses job," in which a former A/E firm leader expressed his desire for us to help him find a new job, a function the firm does occasionally but not as a regular function anymore. The sender attached his resume and included a cover letter/press release that read:

"Most people would want to know the story behind that headline, the story of a quarterback who won the Superbowl then lost his job, a quarterback who led several last place teams to the playoffs, a quarterback who played a major role to win a franchise for his town, a quarterback who threw a touchdown pass to win the Superbowl and then lost his job because his team folded. My story as a Senior Architectural Manager has many similarities.

"My architectural career has been punctuated by a series of successes where I turned around failing branch office and studio operations and led them to success and profitability. I played a pivotal role to win a major contract for my firm with Lowe’s Home Improvement worth millions in annual billings. I joined a major A/E firm to establish a new office, won over a difficult client to become his go-to consultant for the most sensitive projects, and then lost my job when the firm closed the office. I’m like the Superbowl winner who lost his job and I’m looking for a new team!"

What do you think of this approach to finding a new job after being let go from your old position? Would you want to hire someone who took this slant on gainful employment? Does this help or hurt his chances?

Take a left onto Bank of America Road ...

The Tulsa Transportation Advisory Board has recommended a plan that would allow streets and bridges to be named by the highest bidder, according to a recent Tulsa World reprt. The logic goes: If sports arenas are fair game when it comes to corporate logos, why not the highways and by-ways of the community? The mayor is not impressed with the idea, but the fact the adviosry board has recommended it is interesting.

Is this the best way to solve the infrastructure crisis across America? What do you think of this idea? Do you think it will eventually be enacted? If so, what other parts of the country can you see adopting it?

Take two earplugs and call me in the morning

A recent article in the Boston Sunday Globe looks at how noise in hospitals can actually harm the patients who are there to recover from their ailments and what design changes can be made to help the sick feel better faster. A recent special issue of The Zweig Letter looked at the health care market from several design-related angles but didn't touch on this one.

What do you think of this notion? Is your firm in the health care market? Any ideas to cut down the clatter?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Keep those creative juices flowing!

With the long holiday weekend mere hours away, we've decided to extend the deadline for our second contest in The Board Room for another month, meaning you now have until June 25 to get inspired and put together a spectacular example of your creativity. We're also tweaking the contest a bit to help allay the concerns of some potential entrants. Our preference is still finding a creative use for your plastic bottles, cans, or other recyclables from around the office, but if you'd prefer to go a more traditional route, a la world-record card stacker Bryan Berg, that's fine too.

Finally, there is no need to send your model to us. Just take a picture and email your entry by June 25. we prefer high-resolution JPGs, but other formats will work. Enjoy your holiday weekend, and don't forget to save all those empty bottles and cans from the neighborhood barbecue for your award-winning entry!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Principals earning more, doing more?

Base salaries among firm leaders have now reached $140,000 on average, a 7% increase in just a year, according to ZweigWhite's 2010 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms. A reader who saw this eye-popping statistic in the May 17 issue of The Zweig Letter (Issue 863) wonders if it's because principals are doing more project management work these days. That's as good a reason as any for the leap, combined with a drop in annual bonuses from about $10,000 to about $3,000 among firm leaders.

What do you think is behind it? Have you found other stats like this in the survey that surprised you?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Demand-based parking meters in San Fran

San Francisco plans to install 8,300 wireless parking sensors this summer, launching a system by which the price to park will be based on the demand for spots. The goal of the pilot project, mainly funded by the federal government, is to even out parking availability, thereby reducing the need to circle while driving and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2007, San Francisco launched a pilot program that allowed drivers to pay for their spots with their cell phones rather than coins.

What do you think of this idea? Will your firm be involved? Will you try to adapt the idea elsewhere?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Growth on the horizon?

The Architecture Billings Index, the monthly gauge of design activity by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), in April reached its highest level since the economic recession began in late 2008, jumping from 46.1 in March to 48.4.
While the latest figure still reflects a decline in activity because it’s below 50, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker calls this month’s jump—and the other associated measures that team with the ABI—“pretty encouraging overall.”

“It looks to me like we’re getting closer to the bottom and things are gradually getting better,” he tells The Board Room in an exclusive interview. “It’s one more step down the road. We’re starting to see some of the pieces show up a little healthier.”

Interestingly, one of those healthy pieces is the commercial/industrial sector, which is up from 46.4 in March to 48.5 in April. That's surprising giving the recent prediction by one congressman of a "tsunami in the sector." The residential sector, on the other hand, dropped from 47.6 to 45.8, the second straight month it’s fallen.

Overall, Baker is confident that the industry as a whole will see brighter days ahead, but he doesn’t expect the bounce-back to happen as quickly as the downturn.

“The steep decline is usually pretty typical in these cycles, but we don’t always see that on the upturn,” he says. “For most firms, it’s just marginally better. It’s about more firms seeing growth than decline. At this stage, when things are moving up, it doesn’t rocket off too quickly. I don’t think the profession is going to feel a big difference when the number finally does get over 50. That will probably take a few quarters.”

For more about the Architecture Billings Index, check out the May 24 issue of The Zweig Letter.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bottled-up creativity?

Just a reminder: We're still taking entries for our second contest here in The Board Room. It's inspired by a building in Taiwan made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. We want to see your take on that, whether it's using popsicle sticks like in kindergarten or other materials around the office that might have otherwise been tossed in the recycle bin, or the trah can. We'd love to see as many entries as possible by Memorial Day! The winner will win a time-management clock that tells everyone how much time you're wasting in meetings.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's make a deal!

Our Financial Advisory Services group says the number of transactions so far in 2010 have been well below the norm. We run a list of recent transactions every month in AEC Finance News and have certainly noticed those lists are shorter than they've been before. There are a variety of theories about why that could be, ranging from the credit crunch to the idea that sellers are holding out for pre-recession prices on their post-recession firms.

What do you think? What have you seen in your buying and selling work? How has the market changed? Do you expect the pace to pick up again later in 2010? In 2011? 2012? Beyond?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bridges, roads in better shape?

A new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation suggests that more of the country's roads and bridges are in good shape than a decade ago, a premise that runs counter to the commonly held belief that our infrastructure is crumbling. About 57% of this nation's roads have "good ride quality," according to the report, up from 46% in 2000. That still leaves almost half of our roads with less that good ride quality, though, so there's plenty of room for improvement.

What do you think about this report? Is your firm involved in any road or bridge improvement projects?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don’t accept second place

Steven W. Smith, president and managing director of WSP SELLS (Briarcliff Manor, NY), a 250-person transportation and infrastructure firm, has previously wrriten in this space about firm leaders setting the tone and riding out the economic downturn. Today, he checks in with advice on winning more work:
"If you have been in this business long enough, you soon realize that you cannot win every project. In September 2009, we identified four large projects as key targets and important to win. We were fortunate to win two of those four projects and came in second on the other two. With that said, there is nothing I hate more than hearing from one of our managers we came in second, even though we did all we could do. There is no consolation prize for second place. No salaries are paid, no overhead is covered, and no profit is made!

"There is nothing worse than coming in second, no matter how many firms submitted on a project. This is especially true when it is a quality-based selection. If you come that close to victory, there is something you did not do that could have placed you over the top.

"A perfect example of this is a project we recently pursued with a $4 million fee. WSP SELLS had performed all of the studies leading up to the solicitation for final design. According to our staff, the client loved our studies and it was ours to win. We made it to the shortlist of five and the presentation stage of three firms, and then lost to a key competitor. If you asked our staff what more we could have done, they were hard-pressed to provide an answer. I knew there was a reason and upon further questioning of a key client contact, we found the answer. Our worthy competitor evaluated our studies, and proposed the exact opposite, larger-scale solution that the client said they did not want during the preliminary study phase. They took the one approach that we assumed the client had discarded earlier and beat us with it; by convincing the client they were wrong in discarding it.

"Moral of the story: second place is simply getting beat by someone thinking harder than you!"

What do you think about this? Do you feel the same way about your firm finishing second?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What do you have under there?

An architect has taken a unique approach to promoting sustainabilty by introducing a line of eco-friendly undewear. The skivvies came out just in time for Earth Day last week, and 10% of the proceeds from the sale of the unmentionables go to various non-profit organizations.

I don't imagine these designs will become part of Casual Friday attire, or at least not on the outside, but it's an interesting way to support your profession and donate to a good cause nonetheless.

What do you think of these? Have you bought any? Do you wish you thought of the idea?

Sometimes it's good to lose

How can you win when you lose? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, when you cut down on your building's energy consumption more than your fellow competitors, you're the big winner of the first National Building Competition. Fourteen buildings across the country will be pitted against each other in the contest to see which one can trim the most fat - or energy - through August. The competition is being run in the spirit of the popular NBC TV show "The Biggest Loser," which encourages overweight combatants to embrace a more healthy lifestyle.

What do you think of this idea? Who do you think will win? What is your company doing to encourage less energy consumption in its designs? Will you be putting those ideas to good use in our second  Board Room contest?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Infrastructure firm with a sense of humor

If you've always wanted to wear a goofy mustache while showing your support for a construction company, have we got a deal for you: Balfour Beatty of London is looking for its funniest fan to be part of the 2010 NAIOP Bus Tour/Trade Show. The funniest fan can head home with an iPhone and Pico iPhone Pocket Projector, so be sure to check it out if you plan to be in the Herndon, VA area on May 6.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another fun contest idea

In our previous post, we unveiled the second in what we hope will be a series of contests here in The Board Room. Today, we introduce you to The Urban Assembly School of Design's Iron Designer Challenge. The competition is based on "Iron Chef," a popular cooking show in which two experts square off and must use a secret ingredient in five dishes and complete them in an hour. You can read the rules of this challenge for yourself, but I don't expect any cooking to be involved. It sounds like a cool idea. Wish I could be a judge!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's Earth Day! Get inspired!

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, so we here in The Board Room are looking to do our part to preserve Mother Earth. To that end, and in keeping with the spirit of ingenuity and innovation we see so often in the design industry, I bring to you our second contest. First, a little background on how it was hatched:

Developer Arthur Huang of the Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development Co. recently deigned a new expo building in Taipei, Taiwan made from thousands of plastic drink bottles that have been custom-formed with honeycomb fittings to join together and form huge, high-strength, transparent walls. Huang says the project was inspired by the huge numbers of plastic bottles discarded into trash bins. Taiwan's residents are estimated to use and throw away 4.6 billion plastic bottles each year.

So, how does this relate to you? I'm so glad you asked:

We're looking for you - or your firm - to come up with a similar idea and create an actual scale model. Does your office generate a lot of empty bottles? If so, it's time to turn those babies into the inspiration for a new building. It doesn't have to be bottles - it could be anything that isn't getting used and is piling up in a corner.

Let's see what you can do. The best idea gets a Bring TIM Meeting Cost Calculator and Clock. We'll set the deadline for May 28 to get your juices flowing and ideas percolating. Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Billings show slight improvement, more to come?

The end of the first quarter of 2010 brought with it another slight bump in the monthly gauge of design activity by the American Institute of Architects, but the 46.1 number still reflects a decline in billings in March.
The AIA’s Architectural Billings Index was up from 44.8 in February, but until it reaches 50.0, it will still be a sign that the industry hasn’t yet turned the corner on the economic recession.

“It’s up a little, but right now we’re treading water,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker told ZweigWhite in an exclusive interview about the latest numbers. “We’re waiting for something to pop through. There’s really not a lot of strength in these numbers.

“I thought we’d see a little movement, but frankly I thought it would be a bit more. We’re still working our way through this, but the number for March is the highest it’s been for a year and a half,” he says.

New project inquiries made a significant jump from 52.0 in February to 58.5 in March, but Baker has discounted the rise in that number for several months, saying it hasn’t been translating into new work despite the move upward. He has said the increase is likely due to more firms reaching out for any projects they think could possibly generate work for them at a time when revenue is at a premium.

Baker believes an increase in payrolls in the larger economy could bode well for the future in terms of billings in the design industry. He continues to point to the second half of 2010 as the time when the ABI will finally crack the elusive 50.0 barrier, reflecting an increase in design activity.

“If we see a 1- to 1.5-point increase for each of the next three months, we’re right there at that 50 number so we’re on track to reach it by the middle of this year,” he says. “That bump we’re seeing in payrolls will ultimately percolate into the design sector. It’s just a question of when it happens.”

After the recession in 2001, it took about three years for the billings index to reach 50 again, Baker says, and of course that recession was not nearly as deep as the one in which we are now engulfed.

“The more new jobs there are out there, these companies are going to need more facilities,” he says. “There’s been a pretty tight correlation over time between jobs picking up and design activity, then of course you see construction pick up nine to 12 months later.”

Baker doesn’t believe the apparent glut of commercial space will slow down the design recovery, saying the vacancy rates aren’t significantly higher than they have been in the trough of previous downturns.

Don’t look for the passage of health care reform to be the answer when it comes to design activity picking up, he says.

“I really don’t see a direct connection there,” Baker says. “I haven’t heard a good persuasive argument that the sector will change very much as a result of health care reform.”

The federal economic stimulus package could help, as about half of the money in the pot for design work is expected to be distributed in 2010. Although many have criticized the $787 billion spending package as not delivering the expected results, Baker sees it in a different way.

“The money has to work its way through the economy,” he says.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reed Business Information shutting down 23 trade pubs

Reed Business Information will stop publishing almost two dozen trade publications, most of which have some connection to the AEC industry. The company will continue to publish Reed Construction Digest, but many of its other building and construction titles will be wrapping up their circulation soon after they were unable to find a buyer to keep them going.

What do you think about this development? Do you subscribe to any of the soon-to-be-shuttered titles?

Friday, April 16, 2010

On second thought ...

Famed architect Frank Gehry attempted to clarify his remarks about LEED this week, saying he's more upset about the status symbol it's become in the industry than about the concept itself. It's hard to figure out if the original comments were simply taken out of context or if Gehry had been getting pressure to retract them.

What do you think of what Gehry said -- the first time and the second time? Is there any merit to his thoughts?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coming next week: Our second Board Room contest

For those who missed out on the chance to redesign the hot dog and earn a swanky new wardrobe accompaniment for their troubles, I bring you this announcement: The Board Room will launch its second contest one week from today. Not coincidentally, that's Earth Day, so you can imagine there will be a tie-in to green building and sustainability to this contest. We'll also be putting your Building Information Modeling and Integrated Project Delivery skills to the test, so I hope you're ready for the challenge!

More details to come. Stay tuned to this space for updates.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress ...

Photo of construction worker's heroism earns Pulitzer

It's not often that the AEC industry crosses paths with the committee that hands out Pulitzer Prizes, but there are exceptions to every rule, and this year represents one of those exceptions. A photo in the Des Moines Register showing a construction worker rescuing a woman from the Des Moines River took home the honor this year. Congratulations to all involved, from the photographer to the construction worker to the woman he saved from the raging river.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Is it really a competition when the winner is hand-picked?

A so-called competition to design a new business school building at the University of South Carolina ended in controversy when the donor hand-selected Rafael Vinoly Architects as the winner of the $4 million job, canceling all other bids on the project. Vinoly was seen as a finalist, but wasn't likely to win the job. Several firms say they spent more than $100,000 preparing a bid for this work and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education has guidelines that specifically state that a donor "may not retain any explicit or implicit control over the use of a gift after acceptance by the institution."

Were you bidding on this work? What do you think of how the process was handled?

Jacobs Engineering to be sold to private equity firms?

Rumors are swirling about a possible buyout of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (Pasadena, CA), a 55,000-person technical professional consulting firm, by a private equity firm. Jacobs has received a $56-per-share takeover offer from interested parties Blackstone and Texas Pacific Group, according to Dow Jones on Friday. This will be a development that bears watching and one that could greatly shake up the industry landscape. Jacobs has remained active in the M&A marketplace, including a deal in February to acquire Jordan, Jones and Goulding, Inc. (Atlanta, GA), a 500-person civil engineering firm that is expected to strengthen Jacobs' standing in the burgeoning water and wastewater market.

What do you think about this speculation? Do you expect a deal to be done? If so, what comes next?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mobile homes with a view

Everyone hates having to move, with the biggest pet peeve being packing a bunch of boxes in one place and unpacking them in another. Well, what if there were a way for you to move but never have to pack or unpack another box? Brazilian architect Felipe Campolina has designed a concept for a residential tower comprised of portable, stackable apartment units, which he says opens up new possibilities for ways of living in the city. His design would allow owners to take their home with them when they travel.

What do you think of this idea? Do you think it will catch on? Would you want to live in one?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

You can't fight City Hall - but you can redesign it

Long maligned as one of the ugliest buildings in America, Boston City Hall could soon have a new look. Like many of these subjective lists, though, beauty (or in this case, a lack of it) is in the eye of the beholder. Could the Hub run the risk of upsetting a whole new set of critics if it redesigns its landmark edifice.

What do you think of the current building? Do any of the redesigns impress you enough to say it's time to switch things up?

Is your architecture firm a sweat shop?

All of us complain about our jobs from time to time, but when an entire profession gets the reputation of being littered with sweatshop-like firms, there's clearly a problem. Complaints about long hours and not enough pay seem to be on the rise these days across the industry.

So, what's it like at your firm? Have you seen the "sweatshop" mentality at your firm or one where you used to work? Who is to blame for the proliferation of these substandard working conditions? What should be done about them?

Frank Gehry isn't a LEED-ing man

Renowned architect Frank Gehry spoke out this week about the idea of LEED certification, saying the expense of building more sustainable buildings outweighs the benefits of this deisgn method. He said many of the certifications are given for "bogus stuff" that "really don't save energy."

What's been your experience with LEED certification and green building? Have you made it a priority at your firm?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Your board is not a congress!

It's somewhat fitting that the honor of our 100th post in The Board Room since we launched it in early November goes to ZweigWhite President and CEO Ian Rusk. After hearing from several attendees at the first Principals Academy session about the increasing politicization of boards of directors, he talks about why your firm probably needs to be more selective in who it lets join the board:
"Congress [n. kong’ gres]: a formal meeting or assembly of the representatives of different nations, constituent states, independent organizations or other groups.

"Board of Directors: A body of elected or appointed members who jointly oversee the activities of a company or organization. In a stock corporation, the board is elected by the stockholders and is the highest authority in the management of the corporation. Typical duties of boards of directors include:
· governing the organization by establishing broad policies and objectives;
· selecting, appointing, supporting and reviewing the performance of the chief executive;
· ensuring the availability of adequate financial resources;
· approving annual budgets;
· accounting to the stakeholders for the organization's performance.

[source: Wikipedia]

"In today’s political climate, I probably could not draw a more unflattering comparison, but I’m afraid to say that many firms operate their boards of directors as if they were congresses. This is a mistake and leads to board meetings that look like something you might watch on CSPAN. Note the following key difference in the above definitions: A congress consists of representatives of various groups or constituents. A board of directors consists of individuals elected by the shareholders to govern the corporation and be accountable to those same shareholders.

"In so many cases I see firms make the mistake of electing directors to “represent” offices, or disciplines, or some other operational constituent. I’ve even seen firms elect directors to represent demographic groups within the company. This has the potential to set the stage for the type of dysfunction we see in government bodies.

"Don’t get me wrong: a diversity of backgrounds and experience on your board is a very good thing, but it must be clear to all directors that their role is to represent the interests of ALL shareholders, NOT the interests of the Boise office, or the other 'junior' shareholders, or the MEP engineers.

"Invariably, a privately held firm’s board will be made up mostly, if not exclusively by members of the management team, and most of those will be on the operations side, so it can be hard for these directors to take off their Boise office manager hat and put on their shareholder representative hat.

"My strongest recommendation to firms facing this corporate governance challenge is to add one or more outside directors to their board. This should be someone that brings unique experience or perspective to the table--perhaps a retired executive from another A/E firm (ideally one larger and/or more successful than your own) or even a client organization. An attorney or financial professional might offer useful insight and perspective. Maybe a business professor from a nearby university would be a good addition to your board (just watch out for the pure academics with no real-world business experience). In all cases, you need to be careful of conflicts of interest.

"I’ve seen how board meeting dynamics change with the addition of such outside directors. Outside directors are often the people to point out the elephants in the room or confront issues that inside directors might be reluctant to. Their very presence often puts a damper on the personal squabbling and bickering that so frequently derails private company board meetings. And as you’re usually paying for their time, it provides a strong incentive to have an efficient and productive meeting."

So, what do you think? Have you lived through all-day board meetings that could have been a lot shorter if there weren't so many "special interests" involved? How does your board of directors election work?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Child care goes green at Harvard

The education about green building is starting early on the Harvard University campus. A modular day care will be used to house tykes for the next 18 months or so while their permanent quarters are built. We hope the day care providers use this as an opportunity to educate the youngsters about sustainability and the importance of extending the life of building materials. Maybe there's a future firm leader in the bunch too!

Builders grasping at straws - in a good way

Everything old is new again. In an age where space-age just isn't current enough, it seems that the use of straw as a building material is back in vogue. Not only does straw present a cost-effective alternative to brick, wood, steel, et. al., it also offers surprisingly high levels of warmth.

Has your firm explored projects with straw as a building component? What do you think of this idea?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lessons from Mr. Hooper, Mr. Spacely and Mr. Krabs

Who knew you could actually learn something about running your A/E firm from children's TV? These days, you should take your inspiration from wherever you can get it. Sure, they're all fictional characters, but just watching how Mr. Krabs (the marketing wiz), Mr. Spacely (the hothead), and Mr. Hooper (the welcoming, friendly father figure) ran their small businesses could teach you something about how you're running yours.

What kind of leader are you? What kind would your employees say you are? Are you happy with your leadership style or just unsure how to change it?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Social media at center of National Architecture Week

The American Institute of Architects is putting social media in a leading role for National Architecture Week this year. Consider this morning's announcement - posted on Facebook, no less - from Sybil Walker Barnes, the AIA's director of social media:
"We're getting ready for National Architecture Week. Won't you join us?

"This year National Architecture Week will be part of our Architecture Week 2010 initiative, what we hope will be a yearlong online conversation about design. We're kicking off this venture Sunday, April 11, through Saturday, April 17, on our Architecture Week 2010 fan page:;  Become a fan!

"With the theme 'Design Matters,' the week will feature a series of online conversations on sustainability/environment, design, economy, education, housing, transportation and health care—all designed to illustrate how design shapes everyone’s lives.

"Architecture Week 2010 will be the hub for the week's activities but we'll also include a chat on Twitter on Wednesday, April 14, at 2 p.m. EST. See;

"So get ready to connect, learn, and have fun. Hope to 'see' you during National Architecture Week."

What do you think of this approach? Will you become a fan of the AIA on Facebook? Will you join in the Twitter chat? How do you feel about the advancement of social media into the AEC industry?