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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

EQxD Quarter 3 - Charting Your Path

Our next quarterly topic will be a timely discussion about "Charting Your Path", which spans several related areas influencing talent retention. These include - professional satisfaction, aspirations for career progression and professional development, the likelihood of burnout vs. engagement, work/life flexibility and caregiving.

The expression "work–life balance" was first used in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s to describe the balance between an individual's work and personal life.[5] In the United States, this phrase was first used in 1986. Well, it's 2017 and in 30+ years that this term has been referenced, mis-used, and over-used; the quest for a harmonious state of equilibrium between our life and work remains illusive.  Moreover, Work/Life balance - the control and separation of the two sides has become disingenuous given the rapid evolution of technology and connectivity that has blurred the lines of where and how traditional work is being done. 

In the context of equitable practice, the concept of "Charting Your Path" expands the discussion beyond reactionary approaches into channeling our ability to be proactive in problem solving. The key findings from the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey reveal Career Dynamics and Pinch Points that could pose challenges in your career. By understanding the factors that influence career success, we can explore the skills needed to "prepare and pivot" when difficulties arise. We will also discuss strategies for self-assessment to chart your progress (career mapping) and for being self-aware of how that relates to your personal and professional goals. Finally, we will share active ways to discuss adopting equitable practices in the workplace to minimize barriers and maximize the potential success for all professionals.

The subtopics of this quarter will include:

  • Paying your Dues - Challenges for early career professionals experience in the first 5 years
  • Caregiving - Whether caring for children or others, what are the impacts of reduced workhours?
  • Work/Life Flexibility - Within the Work/Life Dichotomy, how do we reconcile meaningful work and the need for personal restoration?

This week, please join us on, Thursday August 17th at AIASF from 6pm-8pm for our 3rd EQxD “U” Workshop "Charting Your Career Path: Creating a Roadmap for Success", where we will explore the many possible ways to conceptualize meaningful work that does not come at the cost of our personal health, wellness, and happiness. Panelists, Jill Bergman AIA of HDR Inc., and Lilian Asperin, AIA of WRNS will share how they set goals for navigating career goals, pivots and unexpected transitions with graphic mapping tools to guide key decisions.  They will also guide participants in reflecting on their own approach, how it is working for them and re-evaluate areas needing improvement.



I’m prejudiced. So are you.

There. I said it. Boom.

By Sharon Portnoy, AIA

But, wait, you’re thinking. Me? How could I be prejudiced? I’m a well-educated, forward-thinking Bay Area resident, a member of an historically persecuted minority, and a card-carrying member of the ACLU! Heck, my formative years were spent memorizing the soundtrack of “Free to Be, You and Me!” I’m not prejudiced! Like so many others who are speaking, marching, writing, dialing, and donating, I feel deep in in my bones that now, more than ever, we must work urgently to promote values of equity, diversity and inclusion in actions large and small, revolutionary and incremental. But to do this, we must recognize bias not just in what’s outrageous, but in what is ordinary.

Let me explain. Overt examples of racism, sexism, homophobia and many other and -isms and -phobias are easy to see, to name, and to call out. We all know that it’s wrong to discriminate against people based on their age, ethnicity, or gender-identity, and we can institute policies to protect against these abuses. But have you ever, just for a split-second, assumed that the man in hospital scrubs was a doctor, and been brought up short when it turned out that he was a nurse? This is an example of implicit bias, one of many that were exposed, explained and examined last week at the Equity by Design workshop on Implicit Bias at AIA SF. Implicit bias is the invisible lens through which we see the world, the unconscious assumptions we make based on what we’ve absorbed from our culture over the years, and sometimes over generations. It’s the water we swim in, the air we breathe.


The workshop began with a series of slides designed to expose the often-misguided snap judgements and assumptions we make based on appearances. Who knew that the guy who looked like a nightclub bouncer, all biceps and tattoos, was actually the mayor of a Pennsylvania steel town? Or that the respectable looking gentleman in a white lab coat who could have passed for Marcus Welby, M.D., was actually a notorious fraud? We learned, in case after case, just how much unconscious prejudice we all carry with us. I, for one, am quick to name and point out bias when I see it in others, but it’s considerably more challenging to recognize and confront it in myself.

The indefatigable Rosa Sheng, a founder of Equity by Design and one of the workshop’s organizers, explained the brain science behind implicit bias, and Julia Mandell, the organizer of the 2016 EQxD Symposium, asked probing questions of four remarkable panelists, each of whom has channeled their understanding of and experience with implicit bias into the work they do. After a short break, we worked in smaller groups to practice identifying and naming implicit bias in a variety of scenarios and to propose solutions and strategies for correcting it.

In a world where everyone is shouting, #EQxDisrupt Implicit Bias Workshop's thoughtful conversation was both a welcome respite and an energizing forum. Each of us in the audience was there to learn about implicit bias so that we can work towards building a more equitable workplace in architecture and allied fields. It was encouraging to learn, both from the panelists and from our group work, just how much can be done to address implicit bias. Small gestures, like asking instead of assuming, or pausing to examine one’s own bias before reacting to a situation can go a long way to build awareness and to promote understanding of oneself and others. Approaching clients and co-workers with an attitude of openness, curiosity, and genuine interest are habits of mind that can and should be cultivated. To learn more about implicit bias and to test and uncover some of  your own implicit biases, check out the links below.

and stay tuned for more resources from Equity by Design.

#EQxDisruptBias : EQxD "U" Workshop #1 Disrupting Implicit Bias on 2/8

Disrupting Implicit Bias: Workshop Summary (#EQxDisruptBias)

About the Workshop:

Everyone has implicit bias. We develop our biases through our environment, the people we engage with, and the culture we grow up in. These interactions shape the expectations we have for ourselves, colleagues, and even potential clients. Thus, bias can have a major impact on the design process and desired outcomes in our profession. Additionally, reflecting on our own “Bias Blind Spot” is critical to building empathy and foster a culture of open communication. We will explore implicit bias in design and practice through research and storytelling. We will examine our “Bias Blind Spots” in small groups, and share resources to increase our awareness of bias in our workplace and foster strategies for tangible change.

Workshop Format:

Rosa Sheng, AIA will provide a brief intro on Implicit Bias to frame the discussion. 2017 EQxD Co-Chair Julia Mandell, AIA will be the moderator of the panel with a fresh roster of panelists to provide diverse insights on how to Disrupt Implicit Bias in their work. Afterwards, workshop attendees will break out into small groups for an exercise to rethink how we approach bias in our daily interactions at work, home, in our communities and beyond.


Meet the Panelists for #EQxDisruptBias

Helen Bronston - Associate and Architecture Discipline Lead at SmithGroupJJR

Helen_Bronston_P8472_HI_RES - crop for AIA EQxD.JPG

Helen serves as Director of Architecture for the San Francisco office of SmithGroupJJR, where she is an associate.  Raised in Wisconsin, she holds a BA in Anthropology from Yale, and an MArch from Harvard, where she was awarded the AIA Adams Medal. Over her 26-year career she has worked exclusively for non-profit educational, healthcare, and governmental organizations, for that is where she has felt she can do the most good for the greatest number of people. She is currently serving on the board of directors for Joan’s House, a newly-forming shelter for transgender women who have been incarcerated. Her experience transitioning gender as an architect was profiled in the San Francisco Business Times on 12 June 2015. Unable to leave school behind, Helen is also very slowly writing a PhD dissertation in History of Architecture at UC Berkeley.


Sandra Vivanco - Principal, A+D, Architecture+Design

Sandra is founding principal of A+D, Architecture+Design, a San Francisco firm characterized by design excellence as well as innovative community-based processes. Published widely, Vivanco is sought as a Latino cultural expert with profound knowledge of modern art and architecture in Latin America. A Professor of Architecture and Diversity Studies at CCA, she is a Mission resident, an avid dancer, a mother of two public school graduates and is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.


Michael D. Thomas, Esq. - Associate, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Michael is an Associate with the global law firm Ogletree Deakins in their San Francisco office.  He represents employers in all aspects of employment law.  He also works with employers on diversity and pay equity issues.  Michael has studied mindfulness, meditation and yoga with a focus on healing and self-regulation.  Recent publications include “Preventing Workplace Violence by Examining Trauma and the NFL” which incorporates mindfulness, meditation and body awareness in preventing workplace violence, and “How Employers Can Root Out the Influence of Unconscious Bias in Compensation Decisions.”  Recent speaking engagements include: Inclusion 2.0, “Intergenerational Trauma, Diversity and Inclusion;” Tech Inclusion Conference, “Awakening to Inclusion;” Association of Corporate Counsel event at Google, “Best Practices for Promoting Fair Pay;” Kaiser, Continuing Legal Education, “Implicit Bias” panel and lecturer, Berkley School of Law, “Mindfulness to Disrupt Suffering and Bias.”  He has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a J.D. from Boston College.


Ming Thompson, AIA - Principal, Atelier Cho Thompson

Ming is a principal of Atelier Cho Thompson, a San Francisco-based design and concept firm, engaged in the art of architecture, interiors, graphics, brand strategy, furniture, installations, and exhibition design. Ming and her partner Christina Yoo formed their firm with an aim to transcend the conventional boundaries between these disciplines, resulting in a richness borne of the cross-pollination of ideas and strategies from across this spectrum of design. Ming studied architecture at Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has worked for large and small firms around the globe.  As a practicing architect, Ming is focused on bettering human experience through design; she insists that good design must occur at all scales, from the building to the furniture to the logo, and everything in between.  Outside of architecture, Ming serves on the Board of Trustees of the Yale-China Association and the Alumnae Council of The Madeira School, and teaches at the California College of the Arts.


Panel Moderator

Julia V. Mandell, AIA - Architect at Wilson Associates

Julia is an experienced architect and planner with broad project experience in architecture, urban design, and landscape design. Currently designer and project manager at Wilson Associates, a design/build/development firm in Oakland, Julia’s recent work focuses on innovative commercial and residential projects that serve as urban catalysts. Julia is also very involved with AIASF’s Equity by Design, serving as the group’s 2017 Co-Chair. Previously, Julia worked for four years with SWA Group on large-scale urban design and landscape work in China and Houston, Texas. She received her Master of Architecture from Rice University and her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Columbia University.


Implicit Bias 101 Presentation

Rosa T. Sheng, AIA - Senior Associate, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, AIASF 2018 President-Elect

Rosa is an architect with over 23 years experience, that has led a variety of award-winning and internationally acclaimed projects, from the aesthetically minimal, highly technical development of the glass structures for Apple’s original high-profile retail stores, to the innovative and sustainable LEED NC Gold–certified Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College in Oakland, California. As founding chair of Equity by Design and President-Elect 2018 of AIA San Francisco, Rosa has led Equity in Architecture Surveys in both 2014 and 2016, authored AIA National Resolution 15-1 in 2015, and served on the Equity in Architecture Commission in 2016. She has presented nationally and abroad including Boston, New York, Lisbon, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Equity by Design has been featured in Architect Magazine, Architectural Record, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TEDxPhiladelphia and KQED/NPR.

EQxD "U" - Quarterly Topics for Equitable Practice

by Julia V. Mandell, AIA - AIASF Equity by Design Co-Chair

Throughout 2017 Equity by Design will explore four quarterly topics from the Equity in Architecture Survey through in-depth workshops, blog posts, twitter chats and other activities. These interrelated pursuits will allow us to develop a deeper understanding and gain the knowledge we need to take action for each area of focus.  

  • Winter: Disrupting Bias - January thru March
  • Spring: Articulating Values - April thru June
  • Summer: Charting Your Path - July thru September
  • Fall: Designing Culture - October thru December  


Winter: Disrupting Bias

 Graphic by Rosa Sheng, AIA

Graphic by Rosa Sheng, AIA

Disrupting Bias is our lead topic for 2017. We’ll kick off with the 1st EqxD “U” Workshop of the year at AIASF on February 8th 6-8pm, Disrupting Implicit Bias. Everyone has implicit bias. We develop our biases through our environment, the people we engage with, and the culture we grow up in. These interactions shape the expectations we have for ourselves, colleagues, and even potential clients. Thus, bias can have a major impact on the design process and desired outcomes in our profession. Additionally, reflecting on our own “Bias Blind Spot” is critical to building empathy and foster a culture of open communication. We’ll learn about the unconscious biases we all carry and techniques we can use to disrupt our own assumptions about others. A diverse panel of advocates will reflect on their own experiences on both sides of bias and discuss strategies for change.

In the next few months on the blog we’ll explore survey findings in Pay Equity, the Glass Ceiling and feature Inspire% stories related to how people have overcome the challenges of bias. A twitter #EQXDChat will allow participants to reflect on bias through multiple points of view.


Spring: Articulating Values

In the spring we’ll investigate how Articulating Values in our profession and communities. We will put those values into action in every day practice and strategic ways. In April, at the 2nd EQxD “U” Workshop, “Becoming a Change Agent”, we’ll learn how to put our values into action and shift the status quo. A panel of change agents will share tools and techniques that go from identifying a problem to making a lasting impact. Then we’ll put our new skills into practice in a hands-on workshop activity,  

Concurrently, we’ll gain an understanding on the blog of survey data relevant to our theme in areas like Education, Licensure, and explorations Beyond Architecture. We’ll also read about strategies for equitable practice that allow firms to articulate their values and turn those values into action.


Summer: Charting Your Path

 Mapping Exercise #EQXDM3 WorkLife Break Out

Mapping Exercise #EQXDM3 WorkLife Break Out

During the summer our attention will turn to Charting Your Path and some serious thinking about how we as individuals organize our lives to succeed both personally and within the profession. The 3rd EQxD “U” Workshop "Graphing the Work-Life Equation", will explore the many possible ways to conceptualize the relationship between our work and personal lives.  Panelists will share how they set goals for navigating work/life flexibility or integration and the strategies they’ve adopted. They will also guide participants in reflecting on their own approach, how it is working for them and re-evaluate areas needing improvement.

Our survey investigations will explore relevant EQiA 2016 Survey findings in Paying Dues, Work-Life, and Working Caregivers. A twitter #EQXDChat will give us a chance to discuss work-life strategies with our friends and allies nationally and internationally.


Fall: Designing Culture

 Culture with Intent Symposium Break Out Matrices Board

Culture with Intent Symposium Break Out Matrices Board

As the days get shorter again we’ll shift our focus to Designing Culture and spend some time thinking about how we can create culture that fosters creativity, design thinking and inclusivity. Our 4th and last EQxD “U” Workshop "Culture With Intent", will offer a chance to examine the firm culture where we work and how we can participate in shaping it. Along with a panel of experts, we’ll evaluate office culture in relation to our personal values, address any incongruities, and develop strategies to affect positive outcomes.

EQIA 2016 Survey findings in areas like Finding the Right Fit and Professional Development will help us gain a greater understanding of how culture affects career success. We’ll also get a chance to put our Design Culture ideas into action every day through the execution of related #EQxDActions.

If you are interested in participating or contributing to Equity by Design? Please check the blog and calendar or sign up to volunteer.

SAVE THE DATE! #EQXDHack17 @ A'17 in Orlando

EQxDHackathon: Architecture And the Era of Connections 4/26/17 @ A'17 (aka. AIA National Convention) in Orlando, FL  1-5pm

If you are attending A'17 in Orlando 4/26-4/29, please be sure to join us for the 3rd installment of the much talked about and game-changing workshop at the Conference on Architecture (Formerly known as - AIA National Convention). 

When you register, please pick WE304 as a pre-convention workshop and note that our program is held on WEDNESDAY 4/26/17 from 1-5pm which is the day before the A'17 starts.

EQxDHack17 Scholarships will be available this year for Students, Emerging Professionals, and Newly Licensed Architects! Stay Tuned for How to Register!

Winning the lottery, requires buying a ticket

“You can’t win the lottery, if you don’t buy a ticket”.
— Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.

At the AIA Women's Leadership Summit in Seattle, there was advocacy; taking action to drive positive change for equitable practice and representation. Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq., in her presentation about leading the campaign to nominate Julia Morgan for the AIA Gold Medal summed it up pretty well; "You can't win the lottery, if you don't buy a ticket". 

That message was already on our minds prior to the summit and in early discussions with the WIA/Equity Alliance Group of the AIA Diversity & Inclusion Council.  There was the discussion that AIA National Convention in the past has been lacking educational programs that addressed equitable practice and overall diverse representation on the panels groups. Applying the theory that you have to "Be in it, to win it", we asked everyone to submit an AIA Convention seminar or workshop program during the call for proposals earlier this summer. There were 10 proposals submitted with 2 phases of peer review. At each phase, there was great collaboration and strategic thinking about panelists for each program to increase the strength of the individual submissions. We are happy to report that 7 out of the 10 have been accepted as AIA convention programs for 2016 in Philadelphia!

Here are the 7 and their respective abstracts of each program for your reference:

  1. EQxD Hackathon : Architecture And...The Era of Connections
  2. EQxD What's Flex Got to Do with Success
  3. EQxD Negotiation is your Power Tool
  4. Establishing the Business Case for Women in architecture
  5. Moving the Needle: Achieving Equity starts with Architecture Schools
  6. Attract, Engage, Retain, Promote: Recommendations for Equitable Practices in Architecture
  7. Future Firm Culture: Defining a Path to Success

Here are the abstracts of each program for your reference:

EQxD Hackathon : Architecture And...The Era of Connections

One of the most unique and talked about ½ Day Pre-Convention Workshops is back! Join us for a new EQxD Hackathon this year. In Architecture AND the Era of Connection, we will explore the intersection of Design and Tech with a diverse panel of industry leaders and entrepreneurs to explore the practice innovations and future opportunities related to the business of Architecture in the new digital economy. The second half of the workshop will feature the popular "mini-Hackathon" format for groups to explore and develop a real plan of action that will have positive impact on the profession. (What is a Hackathon?) Very similar in format to a design charrette, this rapid prototyping format will leverage your Design Thinking skills to propose actionable initiatives and best practices for innovating equitable practice and exploring future business models for the profession. (Submitted by Rosa Sheng, AIA)


Equity by Design: Win-Win Strategies for Work/Life Flexibility

Establishing a healthy integration between work and life positively impacts business bottom lines by: providing access to a wider talent pool; increasing employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity; and reducing costly employee turnover. Meanwhile, the architectural profession commonly demands long, and often unpredictable, hours spent in the office. In this panel discussion, we will explore successful strategies for both firm leaders and employees to develop infrastructure that promotes and rewards results over the “Culture of Busy”. (Submitted by Lilian Asperin-Clyman, AIA)


Equity by Design: Negotiation is your Power Tool

According to the 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey, negotiation skills are sorely lacking in our profession. The survey found that less than 35% of all respondents, regardless of gender, negotiated their current salaries. Those who had negotiated salary increases experienced similar rates of self-reported success, and successful negotiators of both genders made more money on average than their non-negotiating counterparts. Successful negotiation is a well-honed skill that requires a deep understanding of all the potential factors that influence positive outcomes. At this session, we will discuss and learn strategies for achieving success in negotiations. (Submitted by Lilian Asperin-Clyman, AIA)


Establishing the Business Case for Women in architecture

This seminar begins with trends of women in architectural school, practice, and leadership positions. We will then identify root causes of what holds women back, or causes them to leave the profession; explore the business case for integrating women into leadership positions; and define actionable items firms can implement to raise women into leadership roles. Panelists will discuss personal experiences with attaining leadership roles, overcoming barriers, and views on the importance of women in a thriving practice.(Submitted by Amy Kalar, AIA)


Moving the Needle: Achieving Equity starts with Architecture Schools

The number of women and minorities attending architecture school has steadily increased, yet the comparable percentage of professors, department heads, heads of schools and deans of colleges that are women or minorities has not increased in years. Come hear from several Deans and Department Heads that have broken through this barrier as they describe what it means to their university, to their students and to the architectural profession. (Submitted by Nicole Dress, AIA)


Attract, Engage, Retain, Promote: Recommendations for Equitable Practices in Architecture

While women graduate with architecture degrees at a rate equal to men, they still make up only 20% of practicing architects; and today’s emerging professionals, regardless of gender, demand new approaches to work-life integration and career development. This session uses research-based recommendations and tools developed by Iowa Women in Architecture to help firms attract, retain, and nurture diverse talent pools, and to aid individuals as they move through their own career paths. (Submitted by Ann Sobiech Munson, AIA)


Future Firm Culture: Defining a Path to Success

Every architect is seeking a good firm culture that nurtures personal and professional success. But defining the necessary ingredients for a positive firm culture can be elusive. How do you as an individual influence the mood and energy of your firm? Your success and happiness as a professional may depend on your thoughtful decision to join a firm that best fits you culturally as well as your skills. ((Submitted by Nicole Martineau, AIA)

In the months to come prior to AIA National Convention, we will continue to engage, promote and advocate for attending these seminars and workshops to move the needle towards equitable practice. This will include documentation of the events and providing the best information to participants prior to and after events as we continue to build a network of champions for change.

If you have an approved program at AIA National Convention that is focused on the topic of equitable practice that is not represented here, please let us know and we will add you to the list of workshops and seminars.


Why you should attend AIA SF NEXT Conference Nov 12 + 13

by Rosa Sheng, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

In 3 weeks, AIA SF is hosting the "NEXT" Conference on November 12 & 13th in San Francisco. What is NEXT? And THAT is precisely the question the event will be addressing. 

The word “revolution” is especially apt today. Now, more than ever, the world is changing. How people design and make things is not just evolving, but being completely disrupted again. We’re on the cusp of a new (and very real) revolution: It’s the “Era of Connection.”

How will people design and make things in the future? It’s helpful to take a look at the past in order to understand the major changes that are on the horizon.
— Phil Bernstein, FAIA for "Line, Shape, Space" by Autodesk

Coming off of the last EQxD "U" Workshop: Architecture And... we had in-depth conversations about debunking the myths of traditional practice while exploring meaning and influence through the lens of 4 distinct multidisciplinary practitioners. 

The AIA SF NEXT Conference is a unique opportunity to extend and expand the conversation about how the professional practice of Architecture will need to adapt to the needs of our rapidly changing society that is affected by advancements in technology, transitions in commerce and availability of land and natural resources.

Day 1 will feature a Placemaking Deep Dive on November 12th at the Exploratorium, which is a continuation of the highly successful Placemaking Summit that occurred earlier this year.  The day includes interactive panel sessions and networking opportunities with leaders in the Placemaking movement; Urban planners, Professors, Government Agencies, and Activists.

  • Rethinking Space, Place, and Our Built Environment
  • PLACEMAKING / Stabilizing Neighborhoods
  • Urban Placemaking: Views from the Academy and Practice

Day 2 will begin with "The New Frontiers of Design", a keynote presentation from Paola Antonelli, curator of MOMA New York. The remainder of the day will feature 12 insightful seminar options within 3 tracks: Design, Business and Technology with 50+ diverse speakers including Architects, Engineers, Scientists, Urban Planners, City of SF Supervisor, Sustainability Experts, and Software Developers, and Entrepreneurs. For the full schedule of seminars, you can visit the website. Some noteworthy titles include: 

Based on Equity by Design's successful workshop Negotiation is your Power Tool,  I will be co-presenting a 60 minute workshop Innovative Negotiation: The Art and Science of Making the Deal at 2:30pm with Elizabeth Tippin, Esq., general counsel for design professional firms and Joan Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Hastings and author of several publications and journal articles on women's advancement in the workplace.

There will also be the AIA SF Annual Member's Business Meeting and Party on Friday Evening from 6-9pm (which is free for AIA SF Members). It will be a great opportunity to continue the conversation of how we can better engage, advocate, and promote the profession beyond Architects in the "Era of Connections". 

So in summary, here are the reasons why you should attend the AIASF Next Conference




EQxD Architecture And... Entrepreneur Robert Yuen

an interview by Susan Kolber

On 10/22 EQxD will be hosting our final workshop of the year EQxD U Workshop 4: Architecture And... at AIA SF. As architecture has become increasingly dynamic with shifting economies, technology, and environments,  entrepreneurs within the field are discovering innovative ways to create and inspire our built environment. Leading up to our workshop EQxD will be highlighting insights from our exciting “Architecture And…” panelists. Robert Yuen (RY) founder and president of Section Cut, a website providing curated design resources, shares his experience and passion for curated design information in the age of information overload, Section Cut’s vision and team dynamics,  leveraging the many skill sets of architects, and exciting trends in robotics and construction.

 Robert Yuen, founder of Section Cut, will be speaking 10/22 on EQxD Architecture And... panel. 

Robert Yuen, founder of Section Cut, will be speaking 10/22 on EQxD Architecture And... panel. 

Has the culture of innovation in San Francisco and the Bay Area influenced your pursuit in non traditional architecture practices?
(RY) It’s part of my personal nature, I like things that are on the fringe. Being around San Francisco, being around the culture of startups, being around a lot of new innovation did push me harder to execute on Section Cut.

Have you pursued tech funding to grow Section Cut?
(RY) Absolutely, we are currently about to start our first seed round. It was important to me to prove that Section Cut was a worthwhile endeavor which is why we did not seek funding at the very beginning. It was in our best interest to prove the concept first, grow our user base, and now seek funding as we are ready to fuel the growth.

Can you explain the Section Cut's team dynamics and processes, how do you decide content? How often is the team virtually meeting/ corresponding? What is your favorite Section Cut Podcast?
(RY) At Section Cut we are a team of four, and we all have very specific responsibilities. All content comes from my partner and co-founder Dan Weissman, and his official title is Director of Content. He not only facilitates all of the scheduling of content, but also production. [Check out the Section Cut team here

The project itself started in 2012 right after my post graduate degree at the University of Michigan. From the beginning we knew that Section Cut would be a remote project where all the partners would not be in the same location. We have had mandatory meetings twice a week on  Wednesday evenings and Sunday evenings. We’ve been doing that since 2012. We have tried a lot of different management software, because one of the biggest hurdles of running a virtual office is staying organized. It’s really important because we don’t sit next to each other. We don’t have those small chats to remind, to prod ourselves on what we need to do.  Staying organized and transparent has always been a top priority to run Section Cut smoothly.

One of my favorite of the Section Cut Podcasts is an interview of Malcolm McCullough. He was a professor of mine at University of Michigan and is an extraordinarily intelligent man. The interview is great, not only because he is a great instructor, but the interview itself has a lot to do with why Section Cut exists and speaks to our purpose. He talks about information glut, and the need for curatorial information as a designer and architect, so we can make better cities by being better curators and better builders.

Consulting is an attractive pursuit for architect entrepreneurs. Can you go into more detail on what you consult on and how you developed those skills? 
(RY)  I fell upon consulting based on necessity--I wanted more time on Section Cut. It was hard to work on Section Cut as a project while being fully employed at a firm. I naturally moved into consulting as a way to buy me time. Once you start thinking about the other skill sets that can be of use, there is a lot an architect can offer from branding exercises, marketing exercises, critiquing informational packages...there is a lot you can do! I’ve worked in many arenas, but I’ve fell back into mostly client representation. A lot of clients don’t understand architecture or the construction administration phase. The clients are in the middle of their house being renovated, the architects are proposing things, and the clients want another opinion to validate their architect. The clients may not have the experience to really understand if they are making the right decision. I can usually come in and fill in the gaps, vouching that the opinion of the architect is good or not good. A lot of clients want to learn more about architecture, but they're usually on a tight schedule, architects are on a tight schedule, so I can fill in as an information provider and direct the client if they have questions.

You have extensive knowledge and experience with robotics and 3D printing, what new technologies excite you? Can you provide a few examples of how you think robotics, scanning, 3D printing, will change architecture and construction/
 (RY) I think what's most exciting to me is what’s in the realm of robotics, and to be more precise:  robotics in the field of construction, less so in architecture. Robotics in the more traditional sense, like robotic arms in the automotive industry, have around for a long time. Right now, the cost of labor is still very low, so it's still hard to justify the use of expensive robotics in construction. However, it’s only a matter of time when the cost of technology will continue to drop and the cost of labor will go up. I think a lot of the interesting work architects are doing now with automation, with robotics, with digital fabrication, with digital technologies is not that new, the technology has actually been around. In most cases architects are repurposing. I think in general the history of architecture has been that way, usually innovation happens in the health industry, or engineering and the sciences, architecture finds ways to repurpose technology.

Two cool robotic projects include:

1. There is an interesting project in the Netherlands where Autodesk and robot company
MX3D are completely 3-D printing a bridge It will a great proof of concept when it’s complete and not just an academic research project.

2. ICD/ITKE 2015 Pavilion at the University of Stuttgart

Robert Yuen

Founder and CEO, Section Cut, RYRD

Robert Yuen is the co-founder and CEO of Section Cut and founder of RYRD (Robert Yuen Research + Design). Trained as an architect, Robert’s design practice has developed over 6 years into a dual focus on architectural services and web-based entrepreneurship. Robert earned his March from the University of Michigan, as well as an MS in Architecture specialized in the use of digital technologies with industrial multi-axis robotics. Robert is currently focused on Section Cut, a web-based community committed to empowering designers and demystifying design culture to the larger public. SC is a crowd-sourced, curated collection of design resources and objects with an educational agenda.

Don't Miss EQxD "U" Workshop 4 ! Architecture AND...Exploring Meaning & Influence by way of Multidisciplinary Practice.

Thursday, October 22, 2015 from 6pm - 8:30pm @AIASF 130 Sutter St, San Francisco

We will explore alternate models of practice that expand the avenues of influence for architects. More than 50% of all respondents to the 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey stated that they were dissatisfied with their current job situation. A large number responded that they were interested in alternative career paths. Rather than leave architecture behind completely - and have the profession lose ever more talent to other fields - how we can cultivate expansive multidisciplinary practices that are innovative, exploratory, and meaningful? 

The workshop will feature four professionals who have taken their work beyond the traditional boundaries of the field. After a review of key survey findings on the topic we will hear from the panelists about their paths, entrepreneurial thinking, and lessons learned in a question and answer session. This will be followed by design thinking exercises to guide us in thinking freely and widely about our career futures and the new kinds of practices we can create. Gain the courage and knowledge to turn your interests and ideas into a new work reality at our workshop!

10/22/15 Architecture AND… Workshop Agenda
Networking & Refreshments 6pm - 6:15pm
Introductions/Welcome 6:15 - 6:25pm
Panel Discussion 6:25 - 7:15pm
Break/Transition 7:15 - 7:20pm
Design Thinking Exercises 7:20 - 8:10pm
Conclusions 8:10 - 8:30pm