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Posts from the ‘Small Firm Forum’ Category

Fire and Sound Assemblies: Small Firm Forum

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Brown Bag Lunch (BYO Lunch)
Free for AIA Members / $3 Guests

1.5 CES LUs

The UL Fire Resistance Directory and the various sound assembly resources tend to intimidate professionals. Focusing on the UL Directory, we hope to make these resources easy to understand and apply while avoiding the common mistakes that have led to litigation.

Fire, Smoke, Heat and Sound Assemblies – Components of a safe and livable environment.
Fire and sound assemblies are like a transmission in your car. If one part is missing or assembled incorrectly, the car won’t run.  The UL manual tends to intimidate professionals and mistakes are made. Focusing primarily on the UL Fire Resistance Manual, this presentation is intended to explain and simplify the selection of fire and sound assemblies and illustrate common mistakes that have led to litigation.

About the Presenter:

Dennis Reilly, Architect/Structural Engineer (President of Reilly & Company & POSTEN Engineering Systems) has designed projects ranging from housing to hospitals and has provided forensic investigation services on projects ranging from housing to justice centers. 

Learning Objectives:

After this presentation, attendees will…

  1.  Have an understanding of the UL Fire Resistance Directory, its organization, components (fire, temperature, smoke, walls, floors, roofs, cladding, penetrations, etc.) and limitations.
  2. Identify at least three common issues related to Sound Assemblies.
  3. Know common mistakes (constructibility, coordination with consultants, application, installation, etc) that have led to litigation.
  4. Removed the intimidation factor in selecting and specifying fire and sound assemblies.


Sculpting Architectural Space with Light: Small Firm Forum

Thursday, June 7, 2018
Free AIA Members / $3 Nonmembers
Lunch will be provided by Apparatus Design; Click here to register.

1.5 CES LUs

Sculpting Architectural Space with Light gives designers fluency in LED lighting technology by demonstrating the use of LED products in residential applications. Product demonstrations will be used to clearly illustrate design and engineering innovation, quality of light concerns, and the lighting layers that enhance architectural spaces. After the training there will be a question and answer session and an opportunity to see the products and discuss how they can optimized for your projects.

We will discuss updates in architectural lighting technology and how they impact your current projects. Designers will learn how to guide clients towards informed decisions about LED lighting as the result of their increased understanding of quality of light and required to make design projects 100% successful.

The extensive research conducted in preparing the Innovators in LED Lighting presentation provides practical guidance for specifiers to gain fluency in LED Lighting technology.

About the Presenters:

Therese Lahaie is an independent consultant who connects lighting designers and manufacturers with LED lighting solutions. She serves as program advisor for the light & architecture conference Lightspace California and as juror for the architectural lighting competition 40under40 North America. Therese also has an active career as an artist working in the medium of light.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the four lighting layers needed to make the spaces you design look three-dimensional.
  2. Identify the benefits of color-tunable LED lighting for residential applications.
  3. Be able to list the ways that color temperature or degrees Kelvin and CRI color rendering index improves the final design project.
  4. Identify the biggest technical challenges for LED lighting manufacturers and how are these challenges addressed.

John Lewis Architectural Glass Studio Tour

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Free AIA Members / $3 Guests
Location: John Lewis Studio, 10229 Pearmain Street, Oakland
Click here to register.

1.5 CES LUs

Join the Small Firm Forum for an inspiring tour and large-scale demonstration at John Lewis Architectural Glass Studios. The studio has created a diverse collection of cast glass sculptures, decorative vessels, and one of a kind tables, benches, and pedestals.

John Lewis Glass has been producing the finest architectural cast glass since 1969 when John Lewis opened his studio in Oakland, California. Since then, the studio has created a diverse collection of cast glass sculptures, art glass bowls, decorative vessels, and one-of-a-kind tables, benches, and pedestals. Today, the studio continues to push the envelope at executing the vision of architects, landscape architects, and designers worldwide.

John Lewis Glass collaborates on site-specific architectural projects and special commissions, incorporating its hand-crafted cast glass into immense and unique sculptural and functional designs in a variety of environments. JLG also works with interior and landscape designers to execute unique furniture and functional cast glass designs that add distinction and value to projects. From a pool-side bench to flights of glass stair treads to custom-coated countertops, the applications for cast glass are endless. Limited-edition art glass pieces can also be commissioned as originally designed or custom tailored to harmonize with specific installations.

About the Studio:

John Lewis Glass has been producing the finest architectural cast glass since 1969 when John Lewis opened his studio in Oakland, California. Since then, the studio has created a diverse collection of cast glass sculptures, art glass bowls, decorative vessels, and one-of-a-kind tables and benches.

Learning Objectives: 

After completing this program, attendees will…

  1. See how cast glass is made and how it can be used creatively in their own projects.
  2. Learn about the many potential applications of cast glass.
  3. Learn about the strength, durability, and functionality of cast glass.
  4. Be able to list advantages of cast glass over other cast materials.

Feng Shui and Architecture

A Small Firm Forum

Thursday, April 5, 2018
Free AIA Members / $3 Guests
Brown-bag lunch (BYO lunch)

1.5 CES LUs

Hosted by Rebecca Friedberg.

What is Feng Shui and how does it relate to our role as architects? Core concepts and demystification of the Feng Shui Bagua map, five elements theory, placement, enhancing interiors with Feng Shui design and examples of design approaches that have strong and weak Feng Shui will be discussed.

Please join us for a fun and content rich discussion with Michele Duffy, BTB M.F.S. who will share many obvious and nuanced design principles that infuse architecture and real estate across the globe. Within a contextual framework of what Feng Shui is and what it is not; core concepts and demystification of the feng shui Bagua map; & other relevant topics of Land Form Feng Shui and architecture, five elements theory, placement, enhancing interiors with Feng Shui design and examples of design approaches that have strong Feng Shui and those that are counter productive will be discussed.

About the Presenter:

Shui Master Michele Duffy studied under the Buddhist Tibetan Bon lineage of Grandmaster Lin Yun and his students, Dr. Edgar Sung and Stephen Post, Ph.D. In practice for 18 years, Michele brings her expertise in land form Feng Shui, real estate Feng Shui, geomancy, Taoism, mysticism, astrology, & five element theory to her professional practice. Michele’s passion is for sharing her skills and knowledge to facilitate others understanding of the art & science of feng shui, and in shifting their personal environments to open the way for new possibilities. Michele also offers annual empowerment charts which combine traditional Chinese Astrology & the I CHING.

Learning Objectives:

1. Gain and understanding of the Feng Shui Bagua map.
2. Have a working knowledge of Feng Shui for 21st century clients.
3. Gain an understanding of how Feng Shui might inform architectural and interior design.
4. Become familiar with Feng Shui vocabulary terms and core concepts.

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.