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Office Renovation Soup to Nuts (but remember to brush your teeth)

Kelly
Design, Wisdom (Lessons Learned)
Ok, it’s story time.  This is a story about a dentist office renovation that is very close to my heart (and teeth).  Since I am still relatively new on the architecture scene, this little renovation was the first project that I managed from soup to nuts: from initial design meetings with the client to final walkthroughs and inspections, I was there for it all.  Here are a few of the valuable life/architecture lessons that I learned along the way: Listen to your client, and I mean REALLY listen.  In a dental office, functionality is King and the best way to ensure maximum efficiency of the finished product is to meet often with the client to make sure all their needs are met.  As designers, we tend to get crazy sometimes, but a valuable skill is the ability to check one’s ego at the door, scale back a design, and really consider what will work best for the client. Be flexible.  When the General Contractor calls you and says there is a pesky column hiding in the wall and you can’t put the window where you want to, this is no cause for panic.  Simply put on your problem-solving hat and get to work.  This is what they pay us the big bucks for: being able to come up
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Leadership According to Courtney Lynch

HBA
Wisdom (Lessons Learned)
I recently attended a Professional Woman’s Leadership Lunch Series, and took away some value insights about leadership, let me share… Being a member of management does not make you a leader. Influencing outcomes and inspiring others-now there’s a leader. Demonstrate credible performance consistently. Understand priority standards of the organization you are part of. Do you follow through on simple commitments? Empower and support big thinkers, don’t dismiss their perspectives. Listen, don’t just hear. Allow brainstorming in the true sense – no idea is a bad idea. Employ a narrow “say/do” gap. How clearly and consistently do you express intent? Can we clearly talk about what success looks like? Don’t hide expectations, be clear, help people understand, be part of the solution not part of the problem. Can you gracefully and with dignity talk about what is not working? Leadership is an under-taught skill. We are not born a leader. What is your knee-jerk reaction when you discover a problem? Instinct is to place blame. Seek to take responsibility before placing blame. Essence of leadership – where is your heart? Best leaders work to s
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Architecture Unemployment: A Reaction

HBA
Design, Wisdom (Lessons Learned)
[caption id="attachment_2718" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Study models created by an HBA employee during design studio at Virginia Tech[/caption] A recent publication from Georgetown University entitled "Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal" shed light on some harsh realities that recently graduating college students have to face.  Relevant to our profession, recently hired Architecture graduates are staring down the possibility of losing their jobs to the tune of 13.9% unemployment, the highest number in the publication.  The article rightfully notes that the effect of the collapse of the construction market is the prime culprit of the rate of unemployment among recent architecture graduates.  The NY Times took the story and ran with it.  This brings our profession into sharp focus for a soon to be college student looking for a major. While these reports are tough realities today, I don't think the unemployment rate should demean the education itself.  Going through an architecture program at any university prepares one for more than just designing buildings, though of course that's the end goal of any prospective architecture student.  An education in archit
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The Practice of Architecture from Three Perspectives

HBA
Events, Wisdom (Lessons Learned)
Recently, three of us from HBA had the privilege of speaking to a group of architecture students at Hampton University. Since students often work solo on projects with unlimited budgets, we attempted to bring a heavy dose of reality through the topic “A Day in the Life of an Architect.” The lecture was given from three different perspectives: me, a rookie intern architect, Mike Winner, HBA’s newest Principal, and Mike Molzahn, an HBA Principal with many successful years in the practice. We aimed to provide students with a glimpse into the everyday workings of a medium-sized architecture firm. As a recent graduate of Virginia Tech’s architecture program, I spoke on the importance of setting oneself apart in today’s competitive job market. I encouraged students to be memorable to potential employers, humble in their daily work, and proactive about planning for the future. Mike Winner presented the South Norfolk Library, a project currently on the boards at HBA. Throughout its lifespan, this stand-alone library which responded to its site became an interior build-out of an existing building. Mr. Winner used the unique circumstances surrounding this project to demonstra
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HBA weighs in on the Army’s move away from LEED

HBA
Sustainability/LEED®, Wisdom (Lessons Learned)
Earlier this month we read a blog on the Army's new strategy toward sustainable buildings, and the part that raised some eyebrows: it doesn't involve the USGBC's LEED Rating System. Instead, it seems that the Army is developing its own set of standards based on ASHRAE 189.1 "Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings." HBA Architect Les Murfin, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, offers this opinion piece about the whole subject of sustainable rating systems and the trend toward codified sustainable design: Is the end of the USGBC’s growing monopoly near? What the Army appears to be planning to do and the Navy’s reduced requirements for “Certified Buildings” could be the start of what I have thought would be inevitable: the demise of dominance of the United States Green Building Council. The intent of the USGBC was to promote green technology and create a healthier environment by how we select sites, construct buildings, and utilize materials and resources. I believe they have accomplished all of this. The USGBC, however, has pushed and continues to push so hard to set the ever increasing standards higher that costs will soon outweigh benefits. Business savvy d
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Networking Success

HBA
People, Wisdom (Lessons Learned)
You just never know when and how networking will pay off!  I am relatively new to networking. My networking started as Public Relations Chair for the Southeastern Virginia Mustang Club, mainly seeking donations and sponsorships for charity car shows. Shortly after I took this position, the talk of networking started at HBA Architecture & Interior Design with words of wisdom from HBA Founder, Bill Hargrove, and Director of Business Development and marketing, Candi James. One never knows how contacts with people from all walks of life will be helpful, maybe not today but eventually. I was presented with a challenge recently as Stand Up For Kids (SUFK) Director of Community Resource Development. SUFK recently lost their donated storage area where we kept donated items that help homeless kids living on the street. We were using an unfinished apartment to store items and the landlord decided it was time to finish the unit for leasing. We were given a flexible 30-day notice to vacate. SUFK started putting out the word to everyone we know for assistance. Several days passed and I mentioned our search to a coworker. She suggested mentioning the need to Candi. “Why didn’t
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