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Posts from the ‘Small Firm Forum’ Category

NFPA-13D: Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems

a Small Firm Forum

Thursday, June 2, 2016
Free AIA Members / $3 for Guests; BYO Lunch

1.5 CES LUs

SFF Host:  Andus Brandt, Architect

Presenter Dave Margolin joined Leigh Marymor Plumbing as an apprentice plumber in 1982.  Rising through the ranks, he has become a master craftsman in wet piping, including fire sprinklers and hydronics.  He supervises complex projects, including the recent gut and remodel of the fire and plumbing system in a condo at 333 Bush Street, San Francisco. Join Dave and the Small Firm Forum in a discussion surrounding NFPA-13D residential fire sprinkler systems.

The program will address the following questions:

  1.  What is the NFPA-13D fire sprinkler system and what are its major components?
  2.  What is involved in the pre-construction and permit phase of a 13D system?
  3.  What is a 13D “combined system”and how does it interrelate with the domestic plumbing system?
  4.  What are the common piping materials, their constraints and advantages.
  5.  What are the options for sprinkler head types?
  6.  What are the common considerations for head placement?
  7.  What tests and inspections are required, and when do they take place?

Learning Objectives:

  1.  Learn at least four key requirements of the fire sprinkler codes.
  1.  Identify which types of projects can utilize domestic water systems for fire sprinklers.
  1. Learn what to look for when selecting sprinkler heads and determine their location.
  1. Learn how to identify fire sprinkler design issues during the pre-construction phase of the work.

Ready or Not, Here it Comes…Retirement!

a Small Firm Forum Panel Discussion

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Free AIA members / $3 Guests
Brown bag lunch (BYO lunch)

1.5 CES LUs

SFF Hosts:  Linda Randolph AIA and Maggie Maiers AIA

Michael Coleman, AIA, Andre Ptaszynski, AIA, Harry Jacobs, AIA, Larry Mortimer, AIA, Maggie Maiers, AIA and Linda Randolph, AIA will share retirement pitfalls and pleasures with you on such subjects as passing the baton, slamming the door, what to put in the trash,  looking for wealth in all the right places, laying out your legacy for those who follow and the joys of travel freedom.

Learning Objectives:

After attending this forum, attendees will…

  1.  Understand their responsibilities in keeping documents and records when they retire.
  1.  Learn at least three ways architectural practices are valued in the marketplace.
  1. Learn at least three arguments for and against continuing practicing beyond “normal” retirement age.
  1. Gain insight into the rewards of being a retired architect.


Water Smart Design – Integrating Building and Landscape

a Small Firm Forum

Thursday, April 7, 2016
Free AIA Members; $3 Guests
Brown bag lunch (BYO Lunch)

1.5 CES LUs

Host:  Alexandra Odabachian, Architect

Due to the recent drought in California, we have all become acutely aware of the scarcity of one of our most precious resources: water. El Nino has replenished the Northern California reservoirs for now but what can we do as architects and planners to participate in its conservation and responsible use? From rainwater catchment and grey water systems, how can we successfully incorporate the management of water into our projects? Geoff Holton, architect and Jeni Webber, landscape architect  give an integrated presentation on water conservation told through examples of completed projects and works-in-progress.

About the Presenters: 

Jeni Webber specializes in well-crafted residential and commercial landscape designs, as
well as participatory-process educational environments. Working with ecologic principles, her firm encourages awareness of our limited resources and the importance of creating and living within our environmental means. Through their work she encourage their clients to develop a more intimate and joyful connection to, understanding of and appreciation for the dynamic socioecological environment surrounding us.

Geoffrey Holton is a licensed architect and has practiced architecture in Northern California for nearly three decades, starting his small firm, Geoffrey Holton and Associates (GHA), in 1996. Geoff has taught architecture extensively at the university level and is a Build-It-Green Certified Green Building Professional, and a LEED and ARCSA accredited professional. GHA’s work has included a wide range of project types, as well as landscape planning, site design and master planning with an emphasis throughout on the many facets of building sustainably.

Learning Objectives:

  1.  Learn at least three benefits of creatively incorporating water conservation measures into architectural practice.
  2. Gain an understanding of different ways to manage water onsite while creating beautiful landscapes.
  3. Learn what the fundamental characteristics of grey water systems and on-site storm water retention are.
  4.  Learn at least two ways to use ecological principles as a part of the design process.

Tour of StopWaste’s LEED Platinum Building



a Small Firm Forum Excursion

Thursday, March 3, 2016
Free AIA Members / $3 Guests
Brown bag lunch (BYO Lunch)
Location: 1537 Webster Street, Oakland

Host: Maggie Maiers, AIA
Tour Guide: Wes Sullens

1.5 CES LUs

StopWaste will open their LEED Platinum office building for a complete tour lead by Wes Sullen, Manager of Green Building Policy and Advocacy. Originally built in 1927, StopWaste’s building was purchased and fully renovated in 2007 with the help of architect Thomas Towey. When completed, it surpassed the initial goal of LEED Silver. Highlights of this tour will include learning about StopWaste’s mission, witnessing specific green building and Bay Friendly Lanscaping practices, hearing about the challenges of renovating a circa 1920’s structure and learning how the real use energy numbers relate to the designed numbers.

The Small Firm Forum will meet at the chapter office and at 12:15, walk together to the StopWaste Office in Downtown Oakland. There is no lunch planned at the tour destination, but the chapter office will be open all morning until departure if you wish to eat before.

About the Presenter:

Wes Sullens is the Manager of Technical Policy and Advocacy for the Northern California local government agency StopWaste. Wes works on regional energy and green building codes and standards advocacy, recycling and materials management program and standards and green building legislation.

Learning Objectives:

After attending this presentation, attendees will…

  1. List at least three elements which led to the building exceeding California’s building energy efficiency code by 40 percent.
  2. List at least three green building materials used in the LEED building that resulted in a healthier workplace.
  3. Be able to compare the energy and resource use and healthy building practices design goal to nine years of actual use.
  4. Identify elements of the Bay-friendly, environmental landscaping.

The Joy of Accounting: Small Firm Forum

a Small Firm Forum

Thursday, February 4, 2016
Free AIA Members; $3 Guests
Brown bag lunch (BYO lunch)

1.5  CES LUs

Host:  Donald Wardlaw AIA

The February program will explore, via the urge to share, the many ways we manage the accounting challenges of small firm practice.  How do we tame this side of our practice so that the rest of our practice remains viable?

Are we all managing our job and office accounting with the same tools, the same methods?  That seems unlikely. If there is a smarter and more efficient way, would that interest us?  Likely yes. This month we will look at these questions and any others you bring:

Do we run separate systems for job and company accounting?

Has our accounting method evolved with time?

What have we learned about accounting that we did not know when we began our practice?

Who is responsible, you, a bookkeeper or your CPA?

How much time is required each month for company bookkeeping?

How much time is needed for client billing?

Are we using post-its, spreadsheets or dedicated accounting software?

Are we concerned about banking security and if so, what are we doing about it?

If there are employees, what access do they have to the accounting system?

Are we using the accounting system to track employee hours on a daily basis?

Income and expense, or double entry?


Learning Objectives:

By the end of the presentation, attendees will…

1.  Gain perspective on the accounting methods and systems used by other small firms.

2.  Learn how accounting methods can be improved by seeing how other architects manage job accounting and client billing.

3. Learn what accounting software tools other architects are using and each program’s strengths and weaknesses.

4. See how to reduce time spent on accounting to allow more time for billable tasks.


Annual Show & Tell

a Small Firm Forum Program

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Free AIA members/$3 Guests; bring your lunch.

1.5 CES LUs

For this year’s Annual Show and Tell, we are pleased to bring you three women in architecture to discuss their work and share their insight on the industry.

About the Presenters:

Alexandra Odabachian has practiced architecture in the Bay Area since 1997, and will present slides of her work and life. Her work-to-date has consisted of residential remodels, additions, new structure as well as light commercial work.  She strives to infuse each project with order and beauty and to create better connections between building and site.  Along with work images, she will show influential photos from her travels and childhood in Beirut.

Tasha Leverette and Ariella Granett, AIA are two representatives from the Oakland firm Gyroscope, Inc. Gyroscope’s mission is to design learning environments that provide value for children, families and communities. “We specialize in museums, libraries, learning gardens and other cultural institutions. As architects of learning environments, we encounter some unusual challenges like designing a giant, ADA accessible “Hawks Nest” amidst a small grove of towering live oaks, creating an art installation to activate an entry courtyard at a museum or designing a three-story erupting volcano that sits within a 8,400-gallon fresh water tank to be explored by ROV’s. Whatever the challenge, our approach to creative problem-solving, out-of-the-box thinking and a can-do attitude is what keeps our architecture-trained staff (as well as the structural and MEP consultants we work with) energized and engaged.”

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this presentation, attendees will…

  1.  Be able to identify a variety of service niches for small firms.
  1. State three ways small firms juggle design, client needs and business realities.
  1. Establish new creative strategies and methods for staying motivated.
  1.  List three ways one’s cultural and physical surroundings may inform our work for more creative solutions.


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.