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FormIt Pro: What’s In It For You?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Free and open to all. Lunch provided by Ideate.
Registration info coming soon.

1.5 CES LUs

FormIt Pro is an intuitive surface modeler, which can be used to model conceptual designs and move the conceptual work (Masses) into Revit software for further development as a BIM project. Or, simply use FormIt Pro as an alternative to SketchUp for smoother model integration with Revit.

Use FormIt Pro to:

  • Facilitate real-time collaboration between team members while working in the Cloud
  • Perform Energy Analyses, when used in conjunction with Insight
  • Enhance Revit models, using family categories

During this presentation, we will look at options for how to use the software and review the current status of its development.

About the Presenter: 

Jim Cowan, ACI, AEC Senior Application Specialist – Jim’s extensive AEC design industry experience, Autodesk design solutions expertise, and status as an Autodesk Certified Instructor have made him a sought-after university curriculum developer, instructor, and presenter. Jim’s areas of expertise include eLearning, interoperability between solutions, and overcoming barriers to the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM). Educated in Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot–Watt University and in Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba, Jim has special focus on sustainability issues: daylight analysis, sun studies, lighting analysis, modeling buildings, and conceptual energy modeling (models with shading  devices).

Learning objectives:

After completing this program, attendees will…

  • Learn at least three ways that FormIt Pro can be used in your practice.
  • Facilitate real-time collaboration between team members while working in the cloud.
  • Perform Energy Analyses, when used in conjunction with Insight.
  • Learn at least three ways to enhance Revit models, using family categories.

COTE Happy Hour / Visioning Session

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Free and open to all. RSVP to

AIA East Bay’s Committee on the Environment is reconvening. We encourage all chapter members to attend this visioning session and help shape the future of this new group. Come prepared to share your thoughts on program ideas, discussion topics, group mission and anything else you’d like to see this year.

Design for Aging Tour: Belmont Village

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Free and open to all. Space is limited.
Click here to register.

The Northern California Design for Aging Committee tours Albany’s Belmont Village. Designed by HKIT, Belmont Village is the culmination of a collaboration begun in 2011 with UC Berkeley and the City of Albany to provide a unique housing experience for older adults in the Bay Area.

Architect as Developer / Tapered Lofts

Thursday, August 3, 2017
BYO Lunch (brown-bag lunch)
Free AIA Members / $3 Guests

1.5 CES LUs

The discussion will describe the process of a development deal from the perspective of an architect as developer. It will review the aspects that are particular to this arrangement, including advantages and disadvantages, opportunities and constraints and financial and construction components.

The role of the architect developer is unique, and differs from that of an individual that is one or the other. It presents unique challenges. It has its specific advantages and disadvantages, including financial and artistic, risk, reward, and opportunity. Ultimately, the architect developer falls along a spectrum, with each leaning toward one end, in a distinctive composition of development and architecture that works best for that individual.

Project qualities will be examined through the lens of a current project that is currently under construction. The process to date will be the primary focus, and will include the narrative from initial conception through construction.

About the Presenter:

Lida Sarvi founded ROBABEH in 2013. Her work focuses on making the most of every opportunity – design can bring quality to any situation, no matter the scale or budget. She believes that design should be built and experienced. Lida’s interest in architecture began in Tehran where she was born. She studied design in Dubai and worked on several built projects.. Her desire to explore and expand brought her to San Francisco, where she completed her Master‘s studies in Architecture.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this program, attendees will…

  1. Be introduced to the concept of architect as developer and its advantages and disadvantages.
  2. Be able to identify the project opportunities and constraints that are presented by city requirements, marketability and design process.
  3. Identify the financial components of a real estate deal including investors, partnership, investment, sweat equity and financing.
  4. Become aware of the construction and cost concerns regarding contractors bid, the low-bid and operator value add.

ArchNews July 2017

July ArchNews is out now! Click the links below to read each article:

Project Profile: Daniel M Swain, Architect
The Power of Design (and Designers): Architecture Camp with the Fam 1st Foundation
 Photosynthetic Materials Presentation Ushers In Renewed AIA East Bay COTE
Building Code Issues: Building Code and Spell Check
CoolTechStuff: Cone – Live Color Picker
Members News
Firm Profile: Ignition Architecture
Member Profile: Matthew Cortez, Assoc. AIA
Allied Member Profile:
 Mary Loumeau, Allied Member

Member News – July 2017

New Websites for Summer! 

Andrew Lee, AIA and Veronica Hinckley-Reck, AIA announce their firms’ new sites: Andrew Lee Architecture and Ignition Architecture.


Member Promotions

Kim Butt, AIA has accepted a position of Associate Principal with Carey & Co.







Gary Struthers, AIA is now a project architect at Pyatok Architecture & Urban Design.





Jeremiah Tolbert, AIA Featured

Jeremiah Tolber, AIA was featured in Beast Mode’s Father’s Day email with his two daughters.


Codes: Building Code and Spell Check

Erick Mikiten, AIA, LEED-AP

How many of you have attended a seminar on the ADA and/or California Building Code (CBC) Chapter 11 and have been bored out of your mind?

This is because a code-based approach to design is about as interesting as a spell check based approach to writing.

Think about it. We have code requirements for every element: floors, walls, roofs and everything in between. When you design those elements, do you feel satisfied with your work if it’s merely code compliant? Do you look to the building code for design inspiration Of course not.

I try to share the underlying principles of accessible design so that architects will be able to design experiences that engage and delight people, or are so seamless that people are free to focus on the wider beauty of your architecture.

Let’s talk about seamless entrance sequences. I am often called in to design or retrofit an existing building entrance. This is because when people are doing alteration to an existing building, CBC chapter 11B-Section 202.4 requires the following:

“When alterations or additions are made to existing buildings or facilities, an accessible path of travel to the specific area of alteration or addition shall be provided. The primary accessible path of travel shall include:

1. A primary entrance to the building or facility,

2. Toilet and bathing facilities serving the area,

3. Drinking fountains serving the area,

4. Public telephones serving the area, and

5. Signs”

So you start at the primary entrance. Very often, the architect or contractor is trying to connect the sidewalk level with the entrance level, so they turn to the tool prescribed by code: The Ramp. Then they start trying to carve the ramp into the stairs, along with the required landings and the whole thing quickly becomes ugly and expensive.

But wait…push the ramp out of your mind for just a minute, and look at the ground plane. Where is it closest in elevation to the building entrance? Can you connect those two points with a gentle walkway? Here’s an example where a level walkway through a former planting strip became an effortless entrance to the Berkeley YWCA, and because it wasn’t a ramp requiring handrails, the edge could become a much-used seat wall.

I can’t tell you how many times I have eliminated the need for ramps completely by constructing level or near level walkways between two points. I suspect that architects and contractors overlook these solutions so often because when one thinks about accessible level changes, our minds naturally go to the code-prescribed ramp.

So back up. Keep in mind that we’re finding architectural solutions to code accessibility, with architecture first – not the other way around. You’re better than spell check.


Kerwin Lee, Architect, CASp

Kerwin’s Comments – The key to using the code is not to just read the text, but to understand the  “intent” of the code. If you understand why the code wants something, you can be better in achieving what the code requires and creating a great design. Sometimes it requires bending the standard interpretation of what the code requires, but meeting the intent. Ask yourself what is the code trying to achieve here? Whether it is life safety or accessibility, it is the same. A lot of accessibility requirements are as simple as getting from point A to point B. As a design, we create the experience of getting from point A to point B. That should be no different for people with disabilities. The first thought is that the experience should be the same for all users, even if the physical aspects may be different. A child in a playground that is in a wheelchair may not be able to use every piece of play equipment, but should be able to experience what is happening. Being with other kids is a big part of the experience. This applies to all elements of the physical environment. The basic original intent of all accessibility requirements is to allow the people with disabilities to be a part of society: inclusion not exclusion.

The Power of Design (and Designers): Architecture Camp with the Fam 1st Foundation

By: Kurt Lavenson, AIA

I was reminded recently that the transformative power of design reaches beyond buildings and spaces. When we’re lucky, we reach hearts. This year I was introduced by AIA East Bay chapter past-president Jeremiah Tolbert, AIA to the annual Architecture Youth Camp that he helps run for the Fam 1st Foundation in Oakland. The transformation project here is building self-esteem and design interest in a group of middle school kids who are under-served in their communities. It was a week filled with inspiration, generosity and learning in both directions. I learned as much as I taught and I was reminded that being both available and in the background are some of the most valuable things we can give.

The week-long camp was based in Wurster Hall, the architecture school at UC Berkeley. Jeremiah and the mentors who lead the program span the gamut from recent Cal grads to experienced professionals. We introduced the kids to site analysis, sketch-up 3d computer modeling, physical modeling, surveying, real estate development and city planning. We even touched on local politics when an Oakland councilwoman spoke to the group during our field trip to Mosswood Park, where the students designed a replacement for the recently burned down community center. Each day was packed with information and guest speakers. Eighteen kids went from rolling their eyes to asking serious questions, building models and giving public presentations of their ideas and solutions. The mentors knew how to manage the chaos and the boundaries while encouraging the campers to be politely assertive, ask questions and explore. They also emphasized that our presence there was a vote of confidence in the kids. The youngest mentor, a 14 year old boy who had been in the program before, commuted each day by public transit from South San Francisco. His commitment was a model for us all.

The group toured the Campanile and the new sports stadium at Cal. We had a guided bus and walking tour of the Temescal and the MacArthur BART line, where the mentors wrangled an impromptu presentation from the project manager for a multi building project going up nearby. We also had low-key visits from the professional football players who sponsor the foundation. On the final day our young architects in training presented their models or their computerized 3d slideshows. The parents cheered and the mentors were proud. The kids glowed. They had tasted the power of design and the power of ideas well expressed.

Site Analysis of Mosswood Park

Learning Sketch-Up 3d Modeling

Walking tour in the Temescal neighborhood

Making models for the new rec center design

In the top of the Campanile at UC Berkeley

At Mosswood Park, where the community center burned down

CoolTechStuff: Cone – Live Color Picker

Larry Mortimer, AIA

A few years ago I purchased a gadget called Pantone Color Cue that I thought was pretty cool.  It could scan any color and it would give me the Pantone and RGB equivalents. The problem with it was to take a reading you needed to be right on the sample (fine for graphic artists but not always good for architects).  Also the interface was not very good, and it was bit pricy (a discontinued version sells for around $350 and a new model goes for over $600). Cone is an iOS app by Kushagra Agarwal that does everything Color Cue did but with more style and for much less money.

Samples of Screen 1

What Does It Do: Cone uses your iOS device’s camera to scan anything (I mean anything and from any distance) and it gives you the equivalent Hex, RGB or Pantone color.

Screen 2

What does it cost: $1.99

How Does it Work: Simply place the cursor circle over any part of the image on your iOS device and see a real-time sample of the color, a color name, and Hex color at the bottom of the screen (see Screen 1 samples).  To save the color simply tap the color sample and swipe up from the bottom to see a new screen with all saved colors (see Screen 2).  In the new screen you can tap on any saved color to see a third screen showing a range of lighter & darker versions of the selected color plus it’s Hex, and RGB values and the two closest Pantone colors (see Screen 3).

Screen 3

Conclusion: What I really love about this app is it’s simple interface (no need to read a manual here) and if my iPhone’s in my pocket the app already with me.  Also I like that you can be close to the sample target or be hundreds of feet away and still capture a color.

The only drawback I see to this app is that it only works on an iOS device.  The only Android app I found that seems to be similar to Cone is Color Picker by Ratonera, Inc.  If anyone has used Color Picker or knows of a similar Android app, please let me know.

More Info:

Photosynthetic Materials Presentation Ushers In Renewed AIA East Bay Committee On The Environment (COTE)

Bristol, UK Architect Craig White, RIBA of White Design gave a dynamic presentation to AIA East Bay members on May 4th, laying a broad-ranging and persuasive argument toward “sustainable carbon-banking bio-based material systems for the circular economy.” Their work has evolved from ModCell panelized straw bale walls to Coobio, to innovative collective financing for housing in Bristol.

Craig’s presentation was courtesy of the California Straw Building Association (CASBA) who featured him as Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Straw Building Conference that same weekend.  He also spoke at the Department of Art + Architecture at the University of San Francisco.

Philip Luo, AIA, invited attendees of Craig’s AIA East Bay talk to reconvene on June 22nd for a COTE Happy Hour, at which over a dozen members generated a good number of ideas to focus on. Among them:

  • contributing monthly articles to ArchNews
  • participation in the chapter design awards
  • assisting with pre-review of sustainability supplements
  • hosting design seminars on Embodied Carbon, Drawdown, Biophillic Design, etc.
  • featuring subconsultants with expertise in efficiency and sustainability
  • generating a list of top ten low carbon to-dos and tools for project analysis
  • partnering with local and national organizations
  • reaching a broader audience, and
  • branding AIA East Bay as the greenest chapter in the US

We note that our chapter is home to many firms with national recognition for their COTE and other award-winning work, along with many companies and nonprofits creating a better world located within our territory (Healthy Building Network, Green Science Policy Institute, Watershed Materials and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, to name just a few).  AIA East Bay members Larry Stain, FAIA and David Arkin, AIA are respective chairs of the Reuse and Renewable Materials task forces of the Embodied Carbon Network, with many others in the East Bay community participating.

Seventy-five AIA East Bay members are COTE subscribers and we invite all others to join us and follow both the local and national knowledge communities.  Contact AIA East Bay staff if you need assistance adding yourself to COTE and look forward to future articles and reports from other AIA East Bay COTE members.

By David Arkin, AIA – Arkin Tilt Architects

Pictured is the Nucleus Centre at Hayesfield Girls School in Bristol, UK by White Design.  The ModCell straw bale wall panels were assembled with the students at a ‘flying factory’; each wall panel sequesters over 3,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide gas; pargetting of the lime plaster finish contributes to this unique and beautiful design.