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Posts from the ‘Small Firm Forum’ Category

Berkeley Lighting: Small Firm Forum Tour

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Free AIA Members / $3 Guests. Space is limited.
Location: Berkeley Lighting Company, 1623 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley

This event is sold out, click here to be added to the waitlist.

Join the Small Firm Forum for a presentation at Berkeley Lighting. Learn about: smart switches, setting lighting scenes, and controlling them on smart devices from anywhere in the world. Lighting types (LED, fluorescent, incandescent) and dimmer compatibility. New Title 24 lighting criteria for residential indoor and outdoor lighting. LED color temperatures and CRI (Color Rendering Index). LED undercabinet lighting, 12V vs. 120V differences and installation requirements.  Recessed lighting photometrics, lumen output, coverage/spread, and color temperatures. 

Lunch provided by Berkeley Lighting.

Learning Objectives:

After the program with Berkeley Lighting the participants will…

  1. Be knowledgeable of specifying lighting controls with smart switches.
  2. Be knowledgeable of various dimmer types and dimmer compatibility requirements for various luminaires (LED, Fluorescent, Incandescent).
  3. Be knowledgeable of new Title 24 residential lighting requirements for both indoor and outdoor lighting..
  4. Gain an overview of some LED applications such as 12V and 120V undercabinet lighting, and recessed lighting photometrics/spread. Also, gain an overview of LED characteristics such as color temperature, color rendering index, and lumen output.

Acoustical Design for Residential Projects

Thursday, February 1, 2018
Free AIA Members / $3 Guests
BYO Lunch (brown-bag lunch)


The impact of sound and noise on human well-being is well documented, and yet acoustical design is often ignored by both design schools and design practitioners, unless the code requires it is addressed. Residential renovation and new construction projects both offer opportunities to address acoustics and greatly improve user experience. This presentation will offer guidance to both greater understanding of the acoustical issues and design solutions.

About the Presenter:

Nick Krause of Krause Acoustics is a Berkeley trained engineer and has provided acoustical design consulting to California building owners, developers, and architects for over 20 years, primarily for residential and mixed use projects.  His studies report on environmental noise assessment, room acoustics treatments, machinery noise reduction, and other sound-related issues.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about the impact of sound on building users, the field of acoustical design, and current codes impacting residential projects.
  2. Learn to identify potential sources of sound in a given residential project, and to identify the “treatment” areas (exterior, interior, room), along with gaining an understanding of the tangible impacts of addressing acoustics in design.
  1. Gain an understanding of the construction elements and assemblies that can be modified to address acoustical issues.
  2. Learn about the project management impacts of addressing acoustical issues, including integration with other work, working with an acoustical consultant, impact on project sequencing, and construction cost.

Small Firm Forum: Annual Show and Tell

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Free AIA Members / $3 Guests

1.5 CES LUs

SFF Host: Donald Wardlaw, AIA

This month Maggie Maiers, Alice Cheng and Gregory True will share some of their work with us.

Maggie Maiers, AIA: Maggie Maiers, AIA feels very fortunate to have stumbled across a profession that blended many of her interests.  She didn’t identify Architecture as a possible profession until the middle of her first year of college.  She grew up in San Francisco, attended public school and got her degree at UC Berkeley.  She worked for three East Bay firms for a total of 14 years, then started working on her own in 1995.  Since working on her own she is stunned to realize she has completed 152 projects in 21 years.  The projects ranged from residential remodels, additions and two new residences, all in the East Bay.  Maggie stopped taking new work in 2016 and has completely removed herself from any architectural practice.  She would like to share some of her work and influences today.

Alice Cheng, Architect: Growing up, I was fortunate to have a calligrapher/poet father and musician/dressmaker mother.  I wanted to be a painter and architect from an early age.  I realized halfway through college that the two majors conflict and that I must make a choice.

Big bold design gestures are intriguing but being pragmatic can be gratifying.  I like to design things that matter, for ordinary people who really need the help.  I think design should be pleasing, and the process end with a good story or a memorable experience.  Much like a theatrical performance, or a sweet note played on a 100-year-old french cello, it leaves you feeling warm but not clear as to how or why.

Three times I thought to expand my education, but the founding principal of my old firm talked me out of it.  He convinced me that traveling around the world will be more enjoyable and educational, so I listened and began my journeys. Travel, photography, sketching, and playing my cello have become my creative outlets.  Architecture is a means to satisfy my analytical, spatial problem-solving interest, but no longer my creative outlet as I had once hoped.  Greg True is a kindred spirit, and together we have great fun working through the challenges, one project at a time.

Gregory True, Architect: I was asking Roger Larson, an architect whom I admired greatly, to write me a letter of recommendation to help me get into grad school.  We were sitting around his dinner table nursing a glass of wine and talking about the idea’s pros and cons.  His wife Janice came out from the kitchen drying her hands with a dish towel.  She scolded, “Roger, your’re not trying hard enough to talk him out of it.  Remember, we LIKE Greg.  Don’t let him do it to himself!”

In spite of this attempt to dissuade me, I did eventually became an architect. My career synthesizes many influences from my life’s experiences, including the time I spent in the Art Dept at UC Davis, and my many years as a builder/contractor.  Collaboration is key to the design process and how I work.  Alice and I first worked together in 2002, when we were both at ELS.  We started arguing right from the start, and were off to a great start.  We continue to challenge and inspire one another in our collaborations.

Learning Objectives:

  1.  Gain insight into a 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.



Small Firm Forum 2017 Luncheon

Thursday, December 7, 2017
$15 First Registrant / $10 Friend
Please click here to register by noon, Thursday, December 5, 2017

SFF Host: Jerri Holan, FAIA                              

Bring a friend for a discounted price to our annual Small Firm Forum luncheon and enjoy a Mediterranean holiday feast! Show off your favorite project for a chance to win our annual Builder’s Booksource Gift Certificate.  Submit no more than two slides to when you register and be prepared to share why it’s a small-firm project. And have fun sharing your Lego (and team) skills for special holiday treats.


How to Get Paid on Time

Thursday, November 2, 2017
Free AIA Members / $3 Guests
BYO Lunch (brown-bag lunch)

1.5 CES LUs

SFF Host: Deborah Lane, Architect

This Small Firms Forum is dedicated to billing, from contract negotiation to receiving payment:  What works and what doesn’t work. Topics include:

How do you decide what and how much to bill (your contract fee for service)?:

  1. Do you bill by the hour, by the job or both?
  2. How do you determine the amount of time a job will take? Does the time you thought you’d spend increase or decrease?
  3. Do you collect additional fees if the job takes more time than you anticipated?
  4. What kind of clauses do you have in your contract for unanticipated changes in work such as increased building permit submittal requirements etc.?

What system(s) do you use to bill?

  1. Are there specific times of the month or specific intervals that work best?
  2. How close after billing do you require payment?

Do you get paid on time?

  1. How soon after billing do you required payment?
  2. If a client doesn’t pay on time, what steps do you take.

If you have no issues with charging clients and getting paid on time, please come and let the rest of us in on your secrets! Please Note: All should be mindful that AIA is restrained by court decision, from discussing specific hourly rates or percentages.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this program, attendees will…

  1. Learn how other architects weigh the benefits of hourly vs. fixed fee contracts.
  2. Learn techniques to manage additions to the work which are outside of the original scope.
  3. Develop a perspective on the range of billing intervals used by small firm architects.
  4. Learn some of the ways late or refused payments can be managed.


Going Electric: A Roundtable Discussion

A Small Firm Forum Program

Thursday, October 5, 2017

No Registration Required. BYO Lunch (brown-bag lunch)
Free AIA Members / $3 Guests

1.5 CES LUs


  • Moderator: Mercedes Corbell, AIA, Architect
  • Dan Johnson, Sustainability Architect Beyond Efficiency, Berkeley
  • Colin Swan, Skytech Solar
  • Larry Guistino, CEO, A1 Sun
  • Michael McCutcheon, Allied Member, McCutcheon Construction, Berkeley
  • Nancy Malone, AIA, Architect, Siegel and Strain Architects, Emeryville

Amid the urgency to reduce our culture’s carbon footprint that damages our planet’s atmosphere and contributes to rising sea level and dramatic climate events, architects have a unique opportunity to contribute to a solution. Building by building, we can shift away from natural gas* and toward electrically powered buildings. Our buildings can serve as “batteries” powered by the sun, for our cars. Imagine the transformation in our cities, towns and roads.

At the same time, architects have to deal with seemingly constant code and regulations changes, the challenges of delivering projects well, and for some, the added challenge of running a business. There’s never enough time in the day. We will provide information, inspiration and resources for further learning at this roundtable discussion among local experts.

*Natural Gas: burning natural gas releases gases into the air, mainly carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Additionally, the destructive side effects of natural gas occur before it even makes it to the pipes that carry it to users; it’s in the most commonly used and economical method of extracting natural gas, known as “fracking.”

Learning Objectives:

After completing this program, attendees will…

  1. Learn about going electric and how it relates to California 2030, Architecture 2030 and carbon neutrality.
  2. Be able to list at least three reasons to go electric and how to get started.
  3. Learn about the associated costs (construction and soft costs) and which experts might be involved during design and construction.
  4. Identify the role of Solar PV (private and community) in going electric.

New Parking Policies and Housing Opportunities

A Small Firm Forum Program

Thursday, September 7, 2017
Free AIA members / $3 guests
Brown-bag lunch (BYO lunch)

1.5 CES

Throughout the East Bay, City Councils are approving sharp reductions to residential parking requirements, which advocates say make it less expensive to develop housing and transforms the urban realm to be more pedestrian oriented and walkable.  The changes reduce the amount of parking required for residential and commercial buildings throughout the area, with the largest reductions concentrated in areas closest to major transit hubs, such as downtown Oakland or at BART stations. In those areas, the new regulations reduce the required parking to zero and instead set a cap on the maximum amount of parking allowed. This session explores embracing new mobility, new parking regulations and the positive impacts they are having on market rate residential and affordable housing development opportunities in the East Bay.

About the Presenter:

Steve Line is a Director at VIA Architecture in Oakland.  He is interested in the applicability of transit-oriented development (TOD) principles for aligning urban development with housing affordability and more sustainable and livable cities.

Learning Objectives

After completing this program, attendees will…

  1. Learn how changing parking regulations effect urban residential projects in the East Bay.
  2. Understand the principals of right sized parking and our ability to build more affordable housing.
  3. Understanding how new technology (e.g. smart parking) is creating new development opportunities.
  4. Become knowledgeable on what resources and strategies are available for developing innovative alternatives for on-site parking.

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.

New Products To Rev Up Your Engines

A Small Firm Forum Program

Thursday, July 6, 2017

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


Share finds from your own practice. There are some very exciting things out there. We all need to periodically recharge our practices with new products that address changing codes, new technology, and client needs. Learn about things that will make our lives easier, be better for the environment and add pizzazz to our designs.  We all need to have a wider selection of products to choose from when filling out the green checklists.

About the Host:

Linda Randolph, AIA is a residential architect in Fremont.  She is a long time member of AIA East Bay and a co-chair of the Small Firm Forum.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this program, attendees will…

  1. Learn about 120-line voltage, dimmable indoor and outdoor LED lighting systems with a 50,000 hour life.
  2. Be able to identify drains that comply with ADA standards and make roll-in showers easier to retrofit for aging-in-place projects.
  3. Learn at least two ways in which recycled plastic ocean debris is being used in construction.
  4. Learn about a fire-rated OSB sheathing that makes installation of fire-rated walls easier and less expensive.

The Changing Rules for Accessory Dwelling Units

Thursday, June 1, 2017

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

1.5 CES LUs

SFF Host: Andus H. Brandt, Architect

This will be a round-table discussion on the changing rules regarding Accessory Dwelling Units, the official term for “Granny-Flats” and “In-Law Units.” Many architects in the area now have varying experiences, both good and bad, around these new rules. It’s time we share our newfound wisdom with each other!

Our discussion on “Accessory Dwelling Units in the East Bay” will roughly cover issues in eight categories:
1) Off- Street Parking

2) Public Transportation

3) Conversion of Existing Buildings

4) Setbacks

5) Floor Area

6) Roof and Wall Heights

7) “Efficiency Unit” requirements for small spaces

8) Other

The last category is a catch-all for issues the participants want to bring to the table. Much of the discussion will be about the parameters set by local planning departments, but this is not the only tack.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this program, attendees will…

  1. Learn the range of local requirements for ADUs.
  2. Gain a perspective of unexpected challenges other architects have faced in building ADUs.
  3. Develop a broader knowledge of successful ADU solutions.
  4. Learn about pending ADU requirement changes.