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Posts from the ‘Small Firm Forum’ Category

Annual Small Firm Forum Luncheon

Thursday, December 3, 2015
Cost: $22; $27 after November 30. Click here to RSVP.

What have we done!  Horror Stories of 2015.

This month the Small Firm Forum celebrates that we survived another year despite the challenges of our own making.  Regale your friends with your near death experiences, and other daily tragedies in the life of an architect, or even worse, contractor.  You need schadenfreude?  Have we got a lunch for you!

And maybe we have a  prize for you too!  Best story wins $25 gift certificate at Builder’s Booksource.


Please RSVP by noon on December 2nd.

Catered by Miraglia Catering

Small Firm Forum Annual Luncheon Menu:
salad:  spinach, red leaf, mandarin oranges and almonds with honey lime vinaigrette
seasonal vegetable platter:  zucchini, eggplant, carrots, yellow squash, portabello mushrooms, tomato, and onion
oven roasted new potatoes with garlic and rosemary
for carnivores:  grilled lemon-rosemary chicken breasts & sirloin tips (sautéed strips of beef with demiglace ,garlic, mushrooms, and red wine)
for vegivores:  stuffed portabello mushroom with grilled zucchini, yellow squash, roma tomato, sweet red and jalapeño peppers, black beans and cilantro (vegan)

red & white wine, sparking water, cookies

New Approaches with Solar Thermal, Radiant, Combination DHW and Space Heating Systems

a Small Firm Forum

Thursday, November 5, 2015                       
Noon-1:30 PM
Free AIA Members; $3 Guests
Please RSVP


John Grose will discuss new approaches to solar thermal and radiant heat systems.  These systems combine domestic hot water and space heating systems.  One solar collector is connected to a dual water tank which is gas fired and solar heated.  He will educate us on budget conscious and deluxe alternatives for this wet mechanical system.  He will address the Solar for California Homes program.

John Grose’s presentation will be an overview and detailed discussion regarding high efficiency hot water, both Tank and Tankless.  How to apply Solar thermal to domestic hot water heating systems and hydronic space heating systems in as simple and cost effective means as possible.  What is available on the market?  Which mechanical systems will help you achieve your Net Zero Energy Homes?  Hydronic heating and cooling. He will review tradeoffs between various types of systems and advancements so you the designer can make your best possible decision.

About the Presenter

John Grose is the President of Sensible Technologies, Inc. (STI), graduated from U.C. Davis in 1981 with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics.  He immediately entered the solar thermal and energy conservation industry and worked on every level, including 8 years as a service and repair technician, throughout the greater bay area, repairing thousands of solar and hydronic heating systems.  In 1997 he became a principal at STI, dba, JTG/Muir, manufacturer’s representatives in High Efficiency Hydronic heating equipment and Solar Thermal Systems.  Today he enjoys sharing his industry knowledge from a financial, code, mechanical and hands on “what works” approach.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this program participants will

  • be able to describe one new technology for domestic hot water systems
  • be able to conceptually address building systems for a performance calculation for energy code compliance
  • be able to state three options for radiant cooling
  • be able to describe three options for achieving net zero energy performance in their projects.


Aluminum Windows & Title 24 Energy Compliance Session

a Small Firm Forum

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Noon – 1:30pm

Free AIA members; $3 Guests   Please RSVP for room location


Host: Alex Bergtraun, AIA

In July 2014 the California Energy Commission implemented new standards for Title24 – Part6. These more stringent requirements significantly impacted residential energy compliance, the building envelope, and window/door requirements.

This discussion is an opportunity to learn from two specialists with “in the trenches” experience in energy compliance – a window manufacturer and energy-consultant.

We will cover high-performance product specifications, Title 24 “do’s and don’ts”, relative cost/benefit of upgraded systems, and who to rely on for good information.

Jeremy Drucker (Blomberg Windows) and David Knight (Monterey Energy Group) have recently collaborated on a number of difficult Title24 projects – working through complex solutions to elegant architectural designs. Jeremy and David will come together for a conversation about the difficulties of Title 24 compliance, the need for energy-efficient systems, and the path forward in this new regulatory environment.

About the Presenters:

David Knight founded Monterey Energy Group in 1982.  Since then, he has designed over 6,000 residential mechanical systems and performed over 18,000 energy efficiency compliance reports. David’s main areas of expertise are designing radiant space conditioning systems, solar energy systems, interpreting the State energy code, and general energy-efficiency.

Jeremy Drucker is part of the new ownership at Blomberg Window Systems, a well-respected company with 58 years of aluminum window experience. His background in residential architecture, construction, and development contributes to his user-focused understanding of the market. Blomberg Windows currently manufactures one of the most energy-efficient systems in domestic production, the T450N window system.

Learning Objectives

  • Fenestration Details: Understanding LowE coatings, thermally-controlled window and doors, glazing options, etc.
  • Title 24 Calculations: the thermal-envelope, advanced HVAC systems, setting priorities.
  • Title 24 Requirements: NFRC-certification, 3rd-party testing, on-site inspections.
  • Tips and Tricks: “These go to 11?!” Blomberg T450N outperforms, radical HVAC systems, closed-cell spray-foam insulation, etc.’s Mission to Eradicate Lawns

Thursday, September 3, 2015
Free for AIA members / $3 for non-members
Brown bag lunch (BYO lunch)

1.5 CES LUs

Host: Maggie Maiers, AIA

Come join us as we hear from representatives of and others on their mission to organize communities around converting water intensive lawns to drought resistant planting. The forum will include local success stories.

How to Act Like an Eagle in Legal Matters Pertaining to Your Architecture Practice

a Small Firm Forum

Thursday, August 6, 2015




Architects face a wide array of different potential legal liabilities in their practice. In this Small Firm Forum hosted by Linda Randolph, AIA, attorney Jerome Pandell will walk you through some of the obvious legal minefields to avoid in terms of drafting contracts, managing client relationships, and shielding yourself from becoming a named defendant.

About the presenter: 

Jerome Pandell, Esq. of Pandell Law Firm Inc., specializes in Architectural Law and Construction and Design Law. He was anointed as a Northern California Rising Star in 2012 by Super Lawyers, an organization that rates outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

The Philosophies of Drawing: Small Firm Forum

Thursday June 4, 2015
Noon – 1:30pm

Free for AIA members / $3 for non-members
Brown bag lunch (BYO lunch)

1.5 CES LUs

Hosts: Maggie Maiers, AIA & Donald Wardlaw, AIA

A characteristic and attractive freedom of small firm architects, is the freedom to choose to express our intent via our drawings in the manner we find most comfortable and/or effective.  This may contrast with the stricter client driven documents requirements that larger firms must contend with.

Our June program will explore, via the urge to share, the many ways we express our intentions via our drawings.  The ways in which we express our intentions are normally closely linked to what we believe we should say and what we believe we should not say.  The ways we express our intent are also strongly influenced by the technological evolution of the tools we work with, and our reaction to those tools.  Some of us may choose to adopt the latest cutting edge technology, and others may judge it not worthy.

Please bring your thoughts, your biases, and if you feel inspired to do so, examples of how you are expressing your intent in your drawings.  Once in a while, silence is not golden.

Learning Objectives:

  1.  Gain an updated perspective on the philosophies small firm architects adopt or reject in choosing their tools for the creation of their drawings.
  1.  Learn what other small firms see as priorities in their strategies for their drawing communications.
  1.   Learn what technical tools are found especially useful in the creation of architectural drawings among small firms.
  1.  Gain a perspective on the trends of graphic communication in small firm practice.







In Your Hands: Concrete Ways To Win Creative Projects

A Small Firm Forum Presentation

Thursday, May 14, 2015
Cost: Free AIA Members/$3 Guests

1.5 CES LUs

Host: Andus Brandt

Join Fu-Tung Cheng of CHENG Desigas he traces the evolution of his design work and demonstrates examples of how architects can play directly with concrete and concrete forms with their own hands — and discover new ways of scaling up and channeling that experience to clients and contractors/sub-contractors.

He will cover a range concrete mix designs, from basic to high performance, that he has utilized and will show examples of some of the applications used in homes. 

Fu-Tung will also talk about some of his successes and failures as a product designer.

About the Presenter

Fu-Tung Cheng, CHENG Design. Fu-Tung is the founder of CHENG Concrete, CHENG Products and CHENG Design. He is a designer, best-selling author and speaker — known for his sophisticated design, use of concrete as a finish material and product designs. His boutique fabrication shop has produced concrete products for his design clients, other architects and designers for over 20 years. Fu-Tung has trained over 5,000 contractors in concrete countertop making in addition to the fundamentals of good kitchen design.

CHENG Design’s House 6 is an AIA East Bay 2008 Exceptional Residential: Bay Area Design Awards Winner. Matthew Millman, Photographer.


Plumbing Today: People, Our Planet and Water

A Small Firm Forum

Thursday, March 5, 2015
Jack London Kitchen & Bath Gallery, 2500 Embarcadero St. Unit F, Oakland, CA 94606
Free and Open to All. Lunch will be provided by Jack London Kitchen & Bath so please CLICK HERE to RSVP
You can also RSVP by calling 510/464 3600.


Host: Italo Calpestri, AIA

This presentation will provide an insight into water efficiency and the role of sustainable plumbing. We’ll also discuss testing and standards, environmental technologies, product transparency and contributions to LEED certification.

About the Presenter

Ted Howell, Midwestern Sales Company. Ted is a technical support and sales representative for Western Sales Co., the Northern California representative agency for TOTO. He has received extensive plumbing and code training, including as a certified Journey Level plumbing contractor for over 20 years and through IAPMO, ICBO, and PHCC. He has had extensive experience with the Uniform Plumbing Code and the California Plumbing Code, including in the areas of ADA and CalGreen compliance. Throughout his career he has also provided plumbing and code presentations to plumbers, sales professionals, architects, designers, and engineers.

Learning Objectives

After attending this presentation attendees will be able to:

1.  Define ‘water efficiency’.
2. Explain why additional testing may be needed beyond that required to meet the WaterSense specification for toilets.
3. Distinguish between reducing the volume of water used in a building and reducing flow rates.
4. Select technologies for use in designing bathrooms which contribute toward LEED points and meet long-term sustainability goals.

The Wonders of Residential LED Lighting

a Small Firm Forum

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Free AIA Members/$3 Guests. Open to All.

1.5 CES LUs

Host: Alex Bergtraun, AIA

The variety of architectural grade lighting solutions available to designers, installers, home and business owners is limited only by their imagination.
Here is our opportunity to discuss together with an in-house product specialist the array of possibilities and issues of LED strip lighting, color temperature, the meaning of CRI, RGB color manipulation, and the variety of dimming possibilities available.

We will cover product specification, space needs for the various components of a system including its drivers and light element types and sizes.

Our presenter intends to also allow ample time for Q&A as well!

About the Presenter

Naomi Turrentine, Elemental LED: Naomi is the Marketing Director for Elemental LED lighting Co. in Emeryville and with the ever-increasing demand for the LED technology she has experienced firsthand the meteoric rise of quality and the capabilities of LED lighting solutions for architectural problem solving. Naomi is a UC Davis grad and has been at Elemental LED for the past 7 years.

Learning Objectives

1. Learn the many benefits of using LED lighting for a variety of applications in residential projects, new and remodel.
2. Learn what components need to be accounted for spatially in the designing of an LED Lighting layout including the various dimmer types and lighting approaches that can be combined for a blended ambient, area and task lighting.
3. Learn the flexibility LED lighting design provides in coping with the latest Title 24 requirements.
4. Understand more fully how color rendition is translated into LED CRI and Color Temperature for various residential projects.

Small Firm Forum: I Am an Architect

Annual Show and Tell

Thursday, January 8, 2015
Free for AIA members / $3 for non-members
Brown bag lunch (BYO lunch)

1.5 CES LUs


Host: Donald Wardlaw, AIA

Program Description:

This month three of our own will share their work with us.

Andus Brandt, Architect
Blackbird Designs

I am an architect because….

I continue my practice as a small firm architect for many reasons. Here are three: for one thing, I like what I do for the most part, so why quit? For another, my family needs financial support. And the third, I have a real passion for Aikido, a martial art that teaches non-violent defense and is a path to compassion.

Richard Morrison
Architect-Interior Designer

I am an historical architect because….

By the eighth grade I realized that the architect who lived next door had the coolest profession of any of the adults I knew. I was actually picking my freshman high school courses with the intent of getting into architecture school.

I still think architecture is pretty cool, but in residential practice, sometimes clients and contractors don’t value architects as much as they should. I’m highly interested in finding ways for residential architects to define value for our clients beyond “good design”, and using leading-edge technology and procedures to support and maximize small firm revenue generation. (Ultimately, we should be better paid! And have more fun!) I expect to share some provocative ideas about this with the group.

G. Barry Wagner, Architect

I am an architect because….

I like making things that delight the eye, require technical and physical talent to execute, and make folks go “wow.” This may be a piece of furniture, a chicken feeding station, a pocket door, a house…it hardly matters.
Solving problems seems to keep me out of trouble creating problems.

I’ll show some photos of an accessory structure that I recently completed that includes my my office, a garage/workshop, and a guest studio.
Learning Objectives:

At the end of this program, attendees will…

1. Gain insight into the variety of service niches other small firms are exploiting.
2. Learn how other small firms juggle design, client needs and business realities.
3. Gain insight into the important relationship between inner drive and rewarding work.
4. Gain a useful perspective that ties one’s own challenges to those others face and master.