Ownership [Transition] in the Entrepreneurial Era of Gen X

Ownership [Transition]

in the Entrepreneurial Era of Gen X

July 16th    6-8pm
AIA East Bay Offices
1405 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612

From going solo midcareer, to moving up the ranks to strategically merging with another firm – how are entrepreneurial firm owners leading their architecture practice? Are they delivering traditional design services, or are they exploring other venues in professional services to meet and exceed their client’s needs?

Hear from Abraham Jayson, Dong Kim and Lisa Wai, principals in architecture and interior design firms, about their trajectories from designers to owners, about how their firms respond to changing skills, talents, interests, and perceptions, the culture [and values] of their organizations and their position on diversity and inclusion.

The panel will also discuss how technology enables a digital [at points virtual] practice; how leadership coaching & mentorship replenish the pipeline for design and architecture talent; and the role of small firms and small businesses as incubators for design innovation, intercultural intelligence, equitable practices, and resilience.

Learning Objectives

  1. Upon completion, participant will be able to evaluate the role of entrepreneurship in an architecture practice as an incubator for design innovation and critical thinking
  2. Upon completion, participant will be able to apply best practices from entrepreneurship to their own career path
  3. Upon completion, participant will be able to evaluate their suitability for a particular ownership path
  4. Upon completion, participant will be able to appreciate the economic, social and cultural impacts of small firms and small business, particularly at the local level

Elisabeth Sporer, AIA | CIC; SO-arch, Principal

Architect, business strategy consultant and leadership coach Elisabeth Sporer, AIA, CIC, will moderate. Her multi-faceted professional experience spans design and architecture to business strategy, business operations and practice management in her native Germany and in the US for firms such as EHDD, SMWM and STUDIOS, among others. She holds a Master of Science in Advanced Architecture Design from Columbia University in New York, as well as a Master and Bachelor of Architecture, both from TU Berlin and is an Adjunct Professor [Professional Practice] at the California College of Arts in San Francisco.


Abraham Jayson, AIA; Jayson, Principal

Abraham Jayson founded Jayson Architecture in 2017 after honing his skills for a decade in small and midsized firms in the Bay Area and holds an MArch degree from the University of Colorado in Denver. Jayson Architecture is a 4 person design focused firm founded in 2017, located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.  Abraham states: “We believe architecture is both a passion and profession. It is the alchemy of form, light, space, and people. We design places of inspiration for people to live, learn, work, and play.  Successful design demands an attention to detail, without losing sight of the larger principles and goals of a project.  We seek to achieve a balance of pragmatism and idealism, to design places that satisfy budget and schedule, address new technology, communicate their purpose, and better their communities.”


Lisa Wai, IIDA; shelterwerk, Principal      

Lisa Wai joined Shelterwerk in 2015 by merging her interior design firm with Heather Sanders-Jacob’s residential practice after a decade’s career in commercial interiors within midsized and large firms in SF. Shelterwerk’s office has 6 staff and is located on the top floor of the Tribune Tower in downtown Oakland. Lisa’s work is dedicated to being a good listener and she works closely with clients to design environments that are a reflection of their identity and culture. While embracing the positive impacts that current trends can have on a design, her primary focus is on the timeless marrying of beauty and function. Lisa hails from the Midwest, graduating from Harrington College of Design with a BFA in Interior Design. She began her career in Chicago and relocated to the SF Bay Area in 2006.


Dong Kim, AIA; Byrens Kim Design Works, Principal

Dong Kim started working with Dave Byrens as an intern while in architecture school. He joined Byren’s office fulltime in 1998 once he finished his BA in architecture at UC Berkeley. In 2009 he became the   principal / owner of   Byrens   Kim   Design Works after a decade of close collaboration with and training by Dave Byrens. BKDW’s office has 10 staff and is located in West Oakland’s warehouse district. As adjunct faculty at Chabot College Dong advanced his research and lifelong interest to improve the profession.  At BKDW he is able to continue his practice through research in latest technological advancements and innovations. His practice embraces quantitative design implementation with the intent to generate measurable results – and has a focus on social justice and public benefit.