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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 Curated Collection for A'17 Orlando - What's in it for me?

By Rosa Sheng, AIA

Why should I attend A'17 AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando?

I have been in many conversations the last few months with Architects, AIA Members, and the AEC community at large on this very question. There have been many critiques about the "EVENT" (formerly known as the "AIA Convention" nearly since it's original inception). The Keynote line up has been inconsistent from year to year and most recently under scrutiny for the sequence and representation of presenters. The continuing education programs are still predominately driven vendor content at the prime hours of the event while member authored seminars are relegated to the earliest and latest slots of the day. The Expo floor itself is an overwhelming scale of products, services, and more programming - at times bordering on information overload. 

At a point where there are many conferences and learning opportunities to attend, what is the value proposition for AIA members and professionals working in the built environment to attend A'17? In short many have asked, What's in it for me?

Equity by Design Convention Programs - Year 3

I have attended a few "AIA Conventions" in my early professional career. They weren't memorable, except for perhaps a few Keynote speakers that I was interested in hearing; or keeping up with my continuing education in a "one stop shop" mode; or perhaps experiencing the architecture/urban design of the host city.

However, in recent years, since the formation of Equity by Design, the AIA annual gathering has transformed into an entirely different opportunity with greater meaning and intent. We realized that in order to get our message out to a greater audience about Equity's importance to the future of Architecture, we needed to be present and engaged with members in a physical setting. We saw the need, so we submitted continuing education workshops and seminars with content of relevance to today's member needs at multiple levels. The AIA National (former Convention) Conference became a unique opportunity to interact with fellow members about the issues that mattered the most - talent retention, engagement vs. burnout, work/life flexibility, transparent promotion/pay equity, and leadership training - discovering new ways to think about the future of practice in Architecture, and develop a supporting "tribe" of like minded champions to support their professional goals while discovering their personal passions.

We are very excited that for the 3rd year in a row, Equity by Design will be hosting programming at the A'17 Conference on Architecture in Orlando. See below for the 3 official program opportunities to join us in conversation about equitable practice.

(WE304) EQxD Hackathon: Architecture and the Era of Connection

4/26/2017   1:00 PM - 5:00 PM   Room W207C  (**Additional fee beyond general registration)

2016 EQxD Hackathon 

2016 EQxD Hackathon 

One of the most unique and talked-about pre-conference workshops, we have developed a reputation within the Conference for developing a game changing learning experience that has yet to be rivaled.  In it's third year, we celebrate the chance to tinker, ideate and hack at the intersection of design, technology, and equitable practice. We have also fine tuned our "UX" aka User Experience by engaging with the teams before during and after the event to make it the best participant engagement event at A'17 - Conference on Architecture. After the event, please join us for the Post-Hack Happy Hour where we will recap the event and announce the winners! Click here for more info

ARCHITECT LIVE - Interview w/ Equity by Design - EXPO HALL

4/27/2017   3:30 PM - 4:00 PM - EXPO HALL - ARCHITECT BOOTH



Special Interview w/ Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning and Matrices Panel - Architect Live (#3863) in the exhibit hall is set up to be provocative, interactive educational programming with the energy and the format of a live talk show studio. The segments are exciting and fast-paced, at a maximum of 30 minutes long. We publish the schedule to all attendees so that they can come view as a live audience. Expo Pass/Registration to attend. In addition, the content is streamed live on and any presentation materials will be published there as well. And after it’s streamlined, the interview will be hosted on the ARCHITECT site in the video gallery.

(FR306) Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning, and Matrices in Action 

4/28/2017   3:30 PM - 4:30 PM    Room W307B

Equity is the ethos of our work. It is the ability to recognize differences and provide fair access to opportunities. At this session, we'll review the results of the most comprehensive research on equity in architecture. You'll leave with strategies that promote equity via professional development and grassroots organizational change. As you'll see, it's in your firm's best interest. 
Equitable practice promotes the recruitment and retention of the most diverse talent while also building stronger, successful, sustainable practices. Using findings from AIA San Francisco's (AIASF's) 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey, you'll develop targeted strategies for promoting equity at various career milestones. 



"There are too many seminars and I can't find the one's that I find meaningful or relevant to my career development."

To help solve this challenge last year, we also encouraged other members in our equity "tribe" to submit programs to address equitable practice. This year, to shorten your search, we went a step further, search through the ENTIRE schedule and expanded the EQxD Curated Collection of programs to those we viewed as having relevance to our larger discussion about equity's impact on design and the built environment. We are please to share our picks for A'17 if you have yet to decide on what you will attend.

(WE110) Creating Impact as a Citizen Architect

4/26/2017   8:00 AM - 12:00 PM (**Additional fee beyond general registration)

The impact architects can have on community leadership is immeasurable, from providing insight into community planning and architectural review to introducing and influencing critical legislation. This skills-based training workshop will help you become a better citizen architect through collaboration, innovation, and shared resources in a highly interactive setting. A powerful keynote on the "Impact of Public Dialogue as Citizen Architects" as well as a panel discussion and peer-to-peer breakout groups will inspire you to head back to your community and make substantial, effective contributions.

(TH107) Design for Well-being: Holistic Approaches to Homelessness

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

As US cities struggle to serve and house homeless individuals and families, San Francisco has led the way in providing innovative solutions. The architect's role is at the core of this effort, demonstrating design's impact in bringing about positive social change. Join us for this seminar to hear from representatives of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, who will discuss progressive public policy strategies. Plus, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and David Baker Architects will share their award-winning design responses. 

(TH109) Shaping Communities Through Design Review Committees

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Whether you take a prominent place at the table or work quietly in the background, your role in shaping communities extends beyond any individual project. In this session, you'll explore the ins and outs of serving on design review committees, commissions, and boards. 

AIA has long supported and celebrated the work of "citizen architects." Such positions, handled well, offer you the chance to connect with the community and promote your knowledge and expertise. 

Join this discussion of best practices and learn how to secure opportunities for a rewarding experience. 

(TH114) Reinventing Public Housing

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

The deplorable living conditions found in 22 San Francisco public housing developments are a consequence of neglected maintenance, a lack of supportive services, and flaws in design. The San Francisco Housing Authority's radical response—selling off its housing stock to private developers and housing providers—offers lessons and opportunities for architects and designers. Under the action taken through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rental Assistance Demonstration program, buyers will maintain the properties as permanent low-income housing. Join us for this seminar to examine the rehabilitation, redesign, and infill of basic community facilities necessary to support healthy community life.

NEW! (TH201) Pro Series: Solutions by Design: Architecture as a Catalyst for Social Change

4/27/2017   2:30 PM - 4:00 PM      Room W304B

How does architecture impact the social fabric of our communities?  How can architecture be a catalyst for solving community challenges, driving social change, or creating engagement and progress?  How does equity in design impact communities?  A high-powered panel of architects who are pushing the boundaries in these and other areas of social and cultural concern discuss how architecture and architects can affect the social structure of communities across the globe and have measurable and practical effects on the way we live and interact with society. Join Rosa Sheng, AIA who will moderate a Keynoter speakers and practitioners who are making positive change in their projects and practice.


(TH202) Blind Spots: Multisensory Placemaking for the Blind and Visually Impaired

4/27/2017   2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

How can we design delightful architecture that doesn't presume or privilege sight? What are best practices for design that appropriately address the visual and nonvisual needs of the blind and visually impaired? Explore how you can go beyond mere compliance with ADA codes to address the opportunities—not just the challenges—of the visually impaired. Using the new 40,000 GSF LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco as an example, this session will address issues related to acoustics, lighting, and technology. You'll also explore general strategies for visual and non-visual design. While complying with ADA codes is necessary, you have the opportunity to produce designs that are not overtly adaptive or condescending. By attending this session, you'll discover how to give all users of your spaces—particularly the blind and visually impaired—a sense of delight. 

(TH213) Architecture for a More Sustainable Africa

4/27/2017   2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

The human population explosion: crisis or opportunity? The numbers are stark, with two billion additional urban inhabitants expected by 2030. The fast-growing cities of Africa, Asia, and Latin America will feel the greatest impact. In this session, you'll see how architecture can improve the social, environmental, and economic well-being of these cities. You'll examine projects including Niger's Dandaji Library, a building with an adaptive reuse design featured in AIA's 2016 Emerging Professionals Exhibit. You'll also see architecture acting as a vehicle for sustainable development and prosperity when it emphasizes affordability, local materials, good governance, and community engagement. Join your colleagues for an inspiring discussion of architecture at its best, as we strive to build a better world for future generations.

(TH312) Women in Green and Why Diversity for Design Matters

4/27/2017   4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

This spring marks the 10-year anniversary of a pivotal publication: Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design. What did it tell us—and what have we learned in the years since? A decade ago, the study's authors explored how and why women were leading in sustainable design more than in the field generally. Now, we'll examine the status of diversity in design, the role of sustainability, and firms' efforts to build more-diverse practices that are relevant to the work of the future. Hear from one of the authors, other leaders in the field, and your own peers and colleagues as we discuss a topic that remains timely and relevant to all of our work.

(FR106) Engaging a Diverse Workforce: Supporting Employees Living with Disability

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Our profession is at its best when it reflects society's full diversity. People with disabilities make up a significant percentage of our population and contribute to our field's innovation and success. Are firms taking the right steps to support these employees? In this seminar, you'll join a discussion about effective ways firms can promote inclusion and support differently-abled professionals . You'll hear from a panel of differently-abled colleagues, and learn how simple strategies like flexible schedules and attention to mobility issues can make a tremendous difference to your peers'—and your practice's—success. 

(FR109) Designing Environments for Low Vision: Tools & Techniques 

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Low vision is becoming an increasingly prominent design concern in America—one that presents architects with opportunities and responsibilities. In this interactive session, you'll examine best practices and big failures, and even participate in some problem-solving, as you learn the latest tools and strategies. An architect, lighting engineer, and optometrist from the NIBS Low Vision Design Committee will share state-of-the-art techniques you can apply in your work. With low vision already affecting 17 million people in this country's aging population, your practice is sure to benefit from their insights.

(FR110) The Art of Community Engagement: Lessons from the Frontlines

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Contentious public projects exist everywhere. The disgruntled citizen or outspoken neighborhood group can strike fear in the heart of clients that aren't prepared to confront conflict. As a design professional, you're charged with finding consensus among increasingly diverse user groups. What fundamental strategies can you employ to overcome stakeholder resistance and foster a deeper sense of trust and community cohesion? Join us for this panel discussion to learn about researching your community audience, finding the community champions, leveraging media, and other valuable tricks of the trade.

(FR112) What Architects Need to Know About Disasters and Risk Reduction

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Why do buildings fail during natural disasters and what will the future of architecture look like in the face of increasing risk? After 10 years of disaster response and recovery nationwide, the AIA Disaster Assistance Program is sharing emerging research and personal lessons from the third edition of the AIA Handbook for Disaster Assistance. Join us for this seminar to hear from those who've seen first-hand why buildings fail, how risk is increasing, the impacts of land use and building codes, and more. Stories from the field will convey a changing landscape for the practice—the impact of natural hazards and the pitfalls and opportunities in practice and community engagement.

(FR319) Relieving the Stress of Pediatric Emergency Care

4/28/2017   3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

A trip to the emergency room is stressful for anyone, particularly children. How can architects help ease a child's mind by making the experience less tense and chaotic? One firm found a way, partnering with a health care institution and its Family Advisory Council for an innovative pro bono project. The result? An interactive multimedia tool that helps familiarize kids with the hospital environment. Join us to hear how the participants stretched their skills to enhance and promote well-being among our community's most vulnerable members—and consider how you might do the same.

(FR406) Improving the City: Designing an Active Streetscape in Affordable Housing

4/28/2017   5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

What's one of the more significant opportunities overlooked in the design of high-density, affordable housing? It's staring us in the face—right there on the ground floor. The commercial ground floor can make a big difference in creating vibrant neighborhoods that serve residents, businesses, and cities. In this seminar, a cross-disciplinary team of architects and engineers will present key findings of their work with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development along with the Design Trust for Public Spaces. With this conversation, you'll hear directly from the team and client behind the newly published "Design Guidelines for Ground Floor Retail." Take a front-row seat and learn to put their tools to work for you

(SA106) Engage, Train, and Retain: Cultivating Leaders

4/29/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Nurturing new talent is crucial to a firm's long-term success. How do you retain that talent and develop emerging professionals into AEC industry leaders? In this session, you'll hear from colleagues with a proven record of success. Join us to analyze how three programs—representing architecture, engineering, and construction firms—elevate emerging professionals and collaborate across the AEC industry. Through case studies and candid conversations, you'll learn very specific strategies for building a leadership culture that meets the changing needs of new talent in your firm's specific setting. 

2016 EQxD Hackathon Jurors: Working with the “A” Team

An Interview by Lilian Asperin Clyman with Anthony Gold and Frances Choun

It always takes me a while to get over the post conference hangover. I attribute this to the introvert in me, the massive input of information jammed in my head, and the desire to sift through it all to find those few transformational insights that will shape how I think, what I understand and what I look forward to in the future – the “So What?”.

“I've probably attended close to 100 conferences over my career - in pretty much every role: attendee, demonstrator, panelist, organizer, sponsor, and keynote speaker - across several industries including tech, financial services, and healthcare. Rarely have I felt the combination of energy, passion, creativity, and optimism that I felt at the EQxD Hackathon event (workshop and award presentation - aka "happy hour"). Not only did the event bring together a diverse group of people with a common mission to positively impact the future of architectural practices, but it created instant bonds that I suspect will have far greater (and lasting) impact than imagined. It was an honor for me to present to this group, but an even greater joy to interact with so many wonderful people.”

-Anthony Gold, 2016 Equity by Design Hackathon Juror

On a recent afternoon, I gathered with my EQxD jury cohorts Anthony Gold (ROAR for GOOD) and Frances Choun (McCarthy Building Companies) to reflect on the 2016 Hackathon experience. I was listening closely for insights from two leaders who represent that ever so helpful, candid, relevant, and third party point of view.


  • What surprised you most about the Hackathon?
  • What did you find most memorable about the winning scheme?
  • When you wore the hat as juror, what were you aiming to sharpen the focus on?
  • What advice do you have for the participants post Hackathon?
  • Which aspect of the experience will you cherish the most?
  • Conversely, which is the area of greatest improvement we can consider for the future?


The 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey revealed that a majority of respondents define satisfaction in the workplace as: engaging in projects of significance, working with a positive, talented, collaborative group (the “A” team), and having work/life flexibility. What’s interesting is that, Anthony and Frances also agree that the “A” team is the X factor. Let’s unpack this.


“A” Teams elevate themselves.

The Hackathon teams bonded very quickly around great ideas, demonstrated exceptional ability to read one another but also drew out the best from each other, and maintained buzz by being focused and engaged in the present.


 “A” Teams work towards a there-there.

The Hackathon teams drilled down into what is “sticky” and therefore relevant. They “took on” topics that span industries and generations. It takes courage to not only name the knots that need to be untied, but to seek to capture a viable idea that can be deployed to create impact.


 “A” Teams know how and when to pivot.

The Hackathon teams got it. It’s a journey that requires you to think on your feet, draw on your passion, and be authentic, all while navigating a minefield. In other words, an A team with a B idea trumps an A idea with a B team, simply for the fact that execution matters far more than the idea. Yes, the idea needs to be good enough to address a market meet/opportunity, but only “A” teams have the insight, passion, and willingness to adjust course and continually drive toward a successful outcome.


“A” Teams prioritize.

The Hackathon teams embraced the pace. This meant that they needed to figure out how to track action towards progress: by effectively editing along the way, communicating internally, knowing when to ask for clarifications (or help!), and acknowledging that there is a benefit from healthy hierarchy.


So what?

Cheers to the infectious nature of hackathons. Hooray for those who are the early adopters. Woo Hoo to trusting your intuition and sometimes just showing up to see where it takes you (and who you may meet along the way). And, Amen to being inspired and inspiring.  

“Process innovation is much needed in our profession to address the fundamental structural challenges of resources and equity. The Hackathon was the right medicine to for these ills, mixing a healthy combination of business strategy, new ideas and equitable participation of everyone in the practice of architecture. In both tone and result it was the sort of project we really need and should continue in the future.”

- Phil Bernstein, FAIA, Autodesk

This blog post concludes our 2016 Equity by Design Hackathon Blog Series.  See you next year!

Special Thanks to our EQxD Hackathon 2016 Sponsors!

How can Architects demystify the built environment?

2016 EQxD Hackathon Reflections from Jason Campbell, Associate AIA, Shawna Hammon, AIA and Karen Bala, AIA (with Jan Harmon and Lisa Bates).

It’s safe to say, AIA conventions are highly stimulating, nearing on overwhelming. There’s an existing urban fabric, in which 25,000 architects and designers are immersed for a three day period. Goals include learning and gathering as much information and resources as possible regarding your professional practice interests. Perhaps you like to keep your plan tailored, selecting a few key moments of educational opportunity. However, you still need to navigate a city’s wealth of activity.

Fortunately, those involved in the Equity by Design 2016 Hackathon, left this session with a refreshing and enriching experience; one which created the right frame of reference for the days to come. And most importantly, a license to take on the pertinent issues we face in our field and everyday life. Arriving at this point was extremely fun, yet really difficult.

Imagine standing around a white board with presumably nice and respectful individuals. You know very little about them beyond a general understanding of your divergent backgrounds. In a very short amount of time, you will be asked to identify, personal and professional commonalities, a common problem of interest in the field, and of course, a compelling and innovative process and solution to the problem.


Here lies one of the fundamental principles of equitable and diverse thought, the more backgrounds and experiences you bring to the table, the more fruitful your results will be.

“It all began with the egg exercise where we discovered our similarities and our uniqueness.  Our group enjoys reading and drinking wine – often at the same time.  We are all leaders in our communities with a consciousness for time (we all had watches on).  Perhaps most surprising was all the overlapping places we have travelled – New York City, Paris, London, Zurich, Munich and Rome – that is one well-travelled group!  But our uniqueness as individuals equally created a richness within our group.  Jan worked on a chicken ranch, Karen has taught English in Tokyo, Lisa recently lived in Shanghai, Jason enjoys not owning a car and biking to work, and I was a finalist in a global skyscraper competition.

– Shawna Hammon


Prior to the intensive group session, we tuned in for a panel discussion. Innovators and entrepreneurs took the stage and gave us a glimpse into their creative path and past experiences. They also happened to be our judges for our tailored pitch later in the afternoon.



Our Problem

How can we, as architects, demystify the built environment?

“Designers need to position themselves in their communities to help mediate, educate, and listen to the concerns of those around them. We need to demonstrate that design is valuable and accessible, and that our field is not exclusive; it simply takes the right lens to translate, comprehend, and respond to current events.

– F. Jason Campbell

Our Solution

We pitched an app which, when coupled with a phone’s camera will create a reference tool for designers and DIY practitioners to learn more about the spaces we all inhabit. This will be an accessible means to create awareness and, in turn, make us more conscious of the actions that facilitate our existence.

This app would allow anyone to take a picture of a building or a detail, and with that single image and keywords or hashtags, one could learn more about the design team involved on the project, historical precedent or reference, similar products, similar materials, or even molecular composition.  We all have different areas of interest, and if we can identify the common thread between these areas, we can create an outlet to learn about something new.

Demystifying Architecture Pitch - Jason Campbell, Lisa Bate, Jan Harmon, Shawna Hammon, AIA and Karen Bala, AIA

Demystifying Architecture Pitch - Jason Campbell, Lisa Bate, Jan Harmon, Shawna Hammon, AIA and Karen Bala, AIA


We’ve distilled a few major points from the kick off panel discussion, and the intensive design session:

  • What’s the worst that can happen?
  • Passion will drive you.
  • Finance - bootstrap and start small.
  • You can’t control everything – resilience.
  • At times, you will need to create your own equity.

“People from different parts of the globe came together with so many shared professional experiences. We can tackle difficult issues prevalent in our profession, and move the needle by simply (although the experience feels hard), gathering with a group of simultaneously like-minded and diverse individuals.”

– Karen Bala, AIA


AGORA APP: A Modern Day Forum for Architectural Practice

EQxD Hackathon 2016 Team 3 - A Shared Experience by Julia Mandell,AIA, Hilary Barlow,AIA, Amy Kalar,AIA, and Obi Okolo.

Teams listen to Anthony Gold for tips on delivering the Pitch.

Teams listen to Anthony Gold for tips on delivering the Pitch.

Accidental chance and random table selection brought the Agora team together at the Equity by Design Hackathon event at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention 2016 in Philadelphia.  Comprised of three architects and one serial entrepreneur, creativity was bound to emerge from table four.  Julia Mandell, Hilary Barlow, Obi Okolo, and Amy Kalar quickly progressed from a group of multidisciplinary strangers from across the country to team AGORA when asked to hack a challenge and propose a solution.

Choosing a problem in architecture practice to focus on and ‘hack’ was overwhelming at first. There seemed to be an endless amount of options and approaches we could have taken.

As we brainstormed, no idea was off limits or incorrect.  In fact, the more open we were, the more we were able to feed off each other and generate provocative ideas.  We quickly learned not to be afraid to ask why or think outside of the box.  After exploring many different ideas in rapid succession, we realized an underlying theme to our thoughts: EGO.  

In all the ideas our different knowledge bases generated, we all agreed on one thing: there is a lack of accountability for architects within our profession today— Architects are only accountable to themselves.  There is a sense within the profession that architects know best, that we are the only ones who have access to elite knowledge about design. This contributes to a disconnect between architects (who are typically thought of as the “Old White Guys”) who currently dominate the profession and a more diverse public. There is also a disconnect within the profession, between that same demographic  and the younger, more diverse generation that is the future of the profession.

Many post-it notes later, we found our solution: AGORA—the New Building Information Modeling.  Essentially a mash-up of yelp, geolocation, and cloud-based building information modeling, AGORA is a feedback software application that would link public comments on buildings to spatial tags within existing buildings. Tags would also provide information on the people and processes that had produced the building. And advanced design could also include a virtual reality component - you could read the comments and the process information in the building by scanning the tags with virtual reality goggles.

By creating public engagement through feedback and social building, AGORA would hold architects accountable by the public. This would create an accessible feedback system for users that would contribute to the development of future buildings and increase public engagement.  Simultaneously, AGORA would gather user feedback for professional use in the design of similar programs/sites/materialities and engage the public in the design process.

Letting go of specifics and practicalities during the Hackathon allowed us to think unconventionally and hone in on a missing element within the profession. The fast-pace structure forced us to confidently choose something and run with it.  As Julia stated, “the hackathon was a great reminder of the power of moving fast to get ideas out.  The tight structure pushed us to move through the process.”  One of the greatest challenges was distilling our idea into a cohesive and convincing argument within three minutes.  We needed to condense all of our talking, brainstorming, and hacking into a clear and concise pitch that would win over the judges. Amy’s personal story on mother’s rooms and the need for public feedback on buildings helped us to connect with the audience and judges on a personal level.

AGORA Team Pitch: Amy Kalar, AIA, Julia Mandell, AIA, Hilary Barlow,AIA and Obi Okolo

AGORA Team Pitch: Amy Kalar, AIA, Julia Mandell, AIA, Hilary Barlow,AIA and Obi Okolo

At the start we had no idea what our end result would be and it was fascinating to see how far and quickly we were able to develop our broad idea of ‘EGO’ into AGORA.  We started as four strangers but left the Hackathon as team AGORA, a team passionate about agency and engagement.

And after the Hackathon, Agora Team member, Amy Kalar, AIA and blogger of Archimom.Com shared some great news as an outcome for Agora App!

"Well, it turns out someone from SXSW Eco heard the pitch for our idea and asked us to submit our idea for their Place by Design Competition. Really the Hackathon could be an entire post by itself (and if we are a finalist for SXSW Eco, it certainly will be!)"                

- Amy Kalar, AIA via 


2016 EQxD Hackathon Recap Team 1: SWIPE RIGHT! with

A Brief by Daniel Teed, with reflections from Kelly Duignan, Carlos Velazquez, Tara Imani, AIA and Raya Ani, AIA

The Equity by Design 2016 Hackathon was one of the most empowering and perspective-expanding experiences of my architectural life. The lofty goals of the 4 hour session slowly emerged as the afternoon progressed. Beginning with presentations by design-oriented innovators, I, along with the other 24 session attendees, learned from the experts about ways to recognize problems and find solutions. We were challenged to “confront the status quo,” “Know the rules so we can break them.,” and were told, “Don’t think about your limitations – think about the possibilities.” Inspirational one-liners poured out of the presenters as they described their journeys. We also heard from Anthony Gold on how to perfect a presentation. This first hour of the workshop effectively riled us up for what was ahead.

Team 1 in Ideation -     Carlos Velazquez, Kelly Duignan, Raya Ani,   Daniel Teed and Tara Imani, AIA

Team 1 in Ideation -  Carlos Velazquez, Kelly Duignan, Raya Ani, Daniel Teed and Tara Imani, AIA

Then, dispersed into groups, we were challenged to identify a problem, create a solution, and present to a jury. The next 2 hours were a whirlwind of brainstorming, collaboration, and building off of the experiences and skills of our groupmates. Charged with identifying a large-scale problem related to architecture, our group of designers, architects, and innovators struggled to land on one topic. We debated the problems facing students as they exited universities and entered the workforce. We discussed the limitations in software that created large learning curves for new employees and for seasoned architects alike. Finally, after touching on several different topics, we focused on the immense barriers to re-entry that most women face when attempting to re-enter the architectural profession after taking time off to start a family.


Brainstorming with strangers was never so exciting. For me, the EQxD Hackathon was a really important exercise in learning when to stop, evaluate your work, make a decision and move on.  We talked a lot about bridging the gap between architectural education and the profession.  We listed ways to connect people and opportunities, and explored if there were ways of measuring particular skills and strengths.  Our solution was ‘’ - a website for people in the world of architecture to connect, collaborate and strengthen each other.”            

Kelly Duignan


“It seems (useful to have) a Survival Guide or Mapbook of sorts to help navigate architecture careers - a crash course to help us re-tool and equip (including such curricula as REVIT, Sketchup, office culture/trends, email management, portfolio creation, and how to maintain a cutting edge portfolio).”

Tara Imani, AIA



With ever-evolving software, a need to stay relevant, and a pressure for all employees to be “billable,” it is currently very difficult for people who have taken a leave of absence from the field of architecture to find a firm willing to help them transition back into the profession. Our team proposed developing an online “matchmaker” that would pair employers with potential employees. Employers who were looking for part time or short-term work could create a profile and list what they were looking for and what they were willing to pay. Potential employees who desired to ease back into the profession would also create a profile listing their skills, availability, needs, and desired compensation. Employers and potential employees who had matching profiles would then be connected with each other for the potential of an interview.


"I believe this type of collaboration is our future. This event was definitely a highlight of the conference. I appreciated the speakers cutting to the point and sharing the invaluable knowledge they have garnered. The team format challenged us to step outside our comfort zones and be part of a team that has no past or future, only the present.  It somehow forces our egos to take a back seat to the creative process. Seamless interaction between all disciplines required to accomplish a single goal would be a masterpiece."

Carlos G. Velazquez


"After listening to panelists and fueled with inspiration from their powerful stories, we were off to hack.  I kept in mind the following things: trust your intuition, failures do not equal failures - failures are opportunities, speak up.  Our task was simple!  We were challenged to identify a problem in architecture and propose a solution."

Kelly Duignan


We presented our problem and solution to the jury in the form of a skit at the end of the 2 hour brainstorming session. Four other groups presented after us, tackling issues such as public architectural education, architecture detail libraries, user experiences of buildings, and intra-office employee management. Overall, the topics were unrestricted and broad. The solutions were innovative and future-focused. The energy of the afternoon was unparalleled. It opened my eyes, helping me envision a future unhindered by current problems in our profession, and helped me look past limitations to the possibilities.


“It was awesome to see what other groups came up with.  At the happy hour that followed, everyone agreed that we could have kept going.  Imagine the possibilities if we had even more time to disrupt and hack.  I left the session feeling truly energized and excited by all the others that were at the session, and looking forward to carrying a hacker’s mindset with me everywhere I go.            

Kelly Duignan


“What all 5 teams accomplished in 4 hours was inspiring to say the least. Taking different people in every aspect of life and to see the creativity that was generated gives hope. Hope that despite all the challenges we face in this life we can always come together and solve problems that at first appear larger than life. Looking forward to my next Hackathon :). “

Carlos G. Velazquez


"It is quite exciting when you see different ideas coming together into one idea. It emerges out of the space we create as a group that organically starts to shape and take form. It is all about that power of creation and being connected to others. We collectively and collaboratively found a solution within a process that supported the success of all team members. It's like a match made in heaven - to carry the spirit of a hacker is a value that I will take with me whether in my role as a founder and design Director of RAW-NYC Architects or as my role as the future President of American Institute of Architects- Middle East Chapter."

Raya Ani, AIA






2016 EQxD Hackathon Recap: Team 2 Hack "Where in the World...?"

Team 2 Reflections by A.L. Hu, Braham Berg, & Brie Smith

Conceptual Sketch for "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Building?"

Conceptual Sketch for "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Building?"

The 2016 AIA National Convention promised an exciting program of events (featuring keynotes lectures by Neri Oxman and Rem Koolhaas; and access to intriguing Philadelphia venues); yet, the hands-on nature of the engaging Equity by Design Hackathon was the session that resonated with me most from the Convention experience.

The Convention promised a progressive agenda – geared towards “restructuring” the field and organization towards the future; yet, the Hackathon, in its second year, arguably better addresses this restructuring in practice, and can be wider utilized within the architectural profession in spearheading innovative ideas and change.
— Braham Berg

Entering the AIA Convention, the Hackathon was shrouded in mystery and we all went into the session not knowing how things would turnout, but hoping for the best. At its core, the Hackathon is a condensed iteration of the entire design-architectural process. Except, whereas designers have weeks, months, even years to develop their ideas, Hackathon participants have only a few hours. It culminates in a short pitch. Any storytelling tool is fair game.

Rem Koolhaas mentioned in his keynote that architecture moves too slowly to be able to adapt to rapidly changing day-to-day of our World. As a timely and relevant alternative, the Hackathon integrates design and entrepreneurship savvy. In this framework, we, as designers, were encouraged to challenge ourselves in expediting a “design” process we’ve become accustomed to extending (ex. late nights and working on weekends). Through this experience, in the short interval we had to ideate and develop our concept, each group proposed feasible, innovative, alternative solutions, ranging from a work place management – social network (FIM), to an interactive public engagement metric gauge (AGORA), to an educational virtual platform exposing children to the architectural practice, process, and monuments (WHERE IN THE WORLD IS CARMEN SANDIEGO BUILDING?)



I appreciated and enjoyed the ‘ice breaker’ exercise — a sheet with one drawn circle. Inside we were tasked to find at least three similarities we had in common, and outside the circle, identify three characteristics and experiences which were unique to each of us. It was a thankful evolution from answering a checklist of labels. With our first attempt at finding a shared experience, we learned that assumptions weren’t absolute, and challenged ourselves to dig deeper. Did we have similar educations? Or education levels? Did we play musical instruments? Have siblings? Have children? What do we like about architecture? How do we feel about Drumph? We identified a dozen unexpected commonalities before we moved onto our uniqueness. By that point, each unique quality was celebrated and shared with stories and explanations. When given the option to move around the room and join a new team, none of us did. Somehow fifteen minutes of populating our circle built enough of a bond we were excited to continue the conversation. For me, equality in design means moving beyond those preconceived notions and working together to celebrate the unexpected and collaborate on a shared goal.
— Brie Smith, AIA


Our general task was to design an open-ended product that addressed a defined problem, expressed in a statement, “within the architecture field, related to the architecture field, and outside of the architecture field.”

Team 2: (clockwise) Brie Smith, AIA, A.L. Hu, Braham Berg, Sylvia Kwan, FAIA, and Despina Stratigakos

Team 2: (clockwise) Brie Smith, AIA, A.L. Hu, Braham Berg, Sylvia Kwan, FAIA, and Despina Stratigakos

We had a diverse team spanning nationwide, consisting of AL Hu, a graduate student at Columbia University GSAPP (New York, NY); Brie Smith, a professor at Arizona State University and practitioner with a focus on participatory design (Phoenix, AZ); Sylvia Kwan, Principal of Henmi Kwan and former “Survivor” TV show contestant (San Francisco, CA); and Despina Stratigakos, an architectural historian and professor at SUNY Buffalo (Buffalo, NY). I’m a student at the Tulane University School of Architecture (New Orleans, LA) interested in the intersection of architecture, real estate development, and social entrepreneurship.



Our team’s general consensus was to address an issue outside of the profession. Our central themes we hoped to address centered on 1.) perception and 2.) education. In our discussion, we agreed that the public lacks a clear understanding of the architectural profession. The few media portrayals, such as Howard Rourke, do not accurately portray the tasks and responsibilities architects have. On the flip side, some professionals and students channel their inner Rourke-complexities, which does little to de-mystify our profession to the public.

We believe that introducing architecture earlier on in pre-educational, primary and secondary school curriculum was vastly important, and thus could result in a greater awareness and authenticity of architectural practice to a larger populace, particularly targeting young girls.

The Hackathon had a challenging timeline for deliverable tasks. Our group struggled with creating a definitive problem statement because we set out trying to solve two large issues. We worked backwards – sharing extended personal stories to the issues we deemed important to address.

In typical architecture school fashion, our product, vision, and pitch came together in the end. We delivered a coherent pitch, based on personal experience and stories we shared throughout the process. We paired our pitch with a series of quick graphics illustrating the platform adaptation.


We pitched a game called “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Building?”, a dynamic and fun way to foster appreciation and awareness for the history and process of architecture in children and teenagers. Through role playing, solving puzzles, and taking on construction projects, game players develop their knowledge of the valuable role architects play in constructing the built environment, especially in the context of climate change. “Where in the World” seeks to change the next generation’s perception of architects and to empower children to pursue architecture as a career.  




During our pitch, we stressed the importance of expanding the scope and reach of architectural education to include non-architects. After all, everyone is a student of architecture and space in one way or another as all we navigate in three dimensions and seek shelter in buildings.

TEAM 2 PITCH - A.L. Hu, Sylvia Kwan, Brie Smith, Despina Stratigakos, & Braham Berg

TEAM 2 PITCH - A.L. Hu, Sylvia Kwan, Brie Smith, Despina Stratigakos, & Braham Berg

And perhaps the education of architects needs to be broadened as well. As a current student who is deeply entrenched in academia and a young practitioner who is keenly aware of many of the profession’s shortcomings, I believe “hacking” and pitching are important skills that expand the scope and reach of architects. Connecting with others on a personal level through storytelling boosts our designs and ideas from mere aesthetics and logistics to a compelling idea that’s part of a larger narrative. The way that we frame our ideas is as important as the idea itself, and that framework is something that should be part of the design process. As architects, we are constantly pitching ourselves and our work for interpretation and valuation by clients and society at large. To change the way we are perceived, we need to think outside of the box and re-design the narrative of our profession--the change begins with us.  



I arrived in Philadelphia for the AIA Convention not knowing what to expect. The AIA Convention is at once similar to and the polar opposite of graduate school: keynotes, panels, workshops, and networking happy hours centered around architecture are educational and inspiring, but they’re rooted in the practicalities of practice rather than concept and theory. I am grateful that Equity by Design Hackathon was my first experience at the convention because I was reminded that an architectural education is more than just endless production and sleepless nights. Architects need skills beyond drawing and construction knowledge to make connections, make change, and solve problems in the built environment and beyond.

Because of our diverse backgrounds, my teammates and I had radically different ideas as we brainstormed for a problem to solve. While Silvia and Brie brought significant amounts of experience in practice and teaching to the table, Despina offered a depth of historical context and Braham shared his experiences as a student in New Orleans. I lamented the low pay offered to interns and the lack of transparency in regards to salary, experiences that I had chalked up to an unfortunate industry standard that frequently appears in other design professions.

My teammates and I quickly realized that the larger issue at hand is that the way architects are perceived and portrayed in society needs to change
— A.L. Hu

Special Thanks to our EQxD Hackathon 2016 Sponsors!

Meet the 2016 Equity by Design Hackathon Winners - "F.I.M."

Meet the 2016 Equity by Design Hackathon Winners!

A collaboration by Jayshree Shah, Jonathan Meadows, Rachel Williams and Ryan Orr

TEAM 4 - "F.I.M." Ryan Orr, Rachel Williams, Jayshree Shah and Jonathan Meadows

TEAM 4 - "F.I.M." Ryan Orr, Rachel Williams, Jayshree Shah and Jonathan Meadows

On May 18, 2016, four enthusiasts found themselves together at the Equity by Design Hackathon, an AIA Philadelphia pre-Convention workshop. All were strangers to each other, one was a returning hacker, and the other three were embracing the spirit of adventure. Fast forward to Happy Hour, and this team is being cheered by the crowds as the Winner of the Hackathon. Learn more about their experience, in their own words!



We had an interesting ice-breaker that indirectly informed some of our brainstorming. The "inside the egg or outside the egg" icebreaker made us think of things we had in common (i.e. skillsets) vs. what we did not (i.e. things that set us apart).

The afternoon kicked off with an icebreaker session in order to get to know the individuals sitting our table and start the dialog between us. An egg shape was drawn on a white board, and we wrote our commonalities inside the circle, and our individualities outside of it. We found it to be difficult, because we are all more alike than we originally thought. It was a great exercise to get us all talking and comfortable with each other.


The icebreaker completed, a group of panelists  Phil Bernstein, FAIA; Yasmine Mustafa; Robert Yuen; and Rosa Sheng, AIA;  moderated by Lilian Asperin Clyman , AIA -  presented ways in which they identified problems within their field and their strategies to solve them. We were then launched with the same task: in just a few hours, our team was to define a problem, craft a solution, a pitch it to a group of “venture capitalists” - our team of jurors (Franches Choun from McCarthy Building Company, Anthony Gold from ROAR for Good and Lilian Asperin Clyman from WRNS Studio).

Coming from different backgrounds, our team began by outlining challenges we have experienced within the architectural profession. We made a long list: Virtual reality; desire but inability to share skills/gain new skills; lack of forum for providing or receiving input across all projects; advancing our professional careers; and the all too common challenge that many of us are working on project roles that are uninteresting to us or not within our expertise. It was interesting how we all quickly gravitated toward similar topics.



It seemed we only held onto the directions lightly. When directed to decide what category our problem and solution would be in (architecture/architecture+tech/outside architecture), our consensus was that problems in one area are often solved by solutions in another.

The team felt that the ability to share skills (especially if you are new to a firm), provide feedback (at any level within the profession) and develop a method to assign project roles, would be essential to any architectural firm.

Once we began to refine our problem statement, we had a visceral reaction to it as a real problem within the industry. We translated these into questions to help us sync up and clarify the issues we were enthusiastic to hack together.



  • How often are firms able to leverage the right skill sets for a certain project?
  • How can you best share your passions (resume) and contribute your skills?
  • Have you ever felt you were not compatible with a particular role or project at work?



We had all experienced a similar disappointment.  

“When seeking a new position within a firm, an aspiring employee will create a resume to document their skills, experiences, expertise, and interests. A lot of time on the part of the individual is spent to create this resume, and by the hiring staff to select the right applicant for the position. However, after the hire has been made, the resume is discarded and that information is often not disseminated, meaning that project managers, other principals, and the rest of the staff knows nothing about the new employee, and it is often intimidating to speak out for your own skills and interests in the new environment. This creates a profound disconnect between the hiring process and the integration of the employee into the workplace. “

-Jonathan Meadows

As our group began to list multiple issues regarding architecture, we looked to see if any of these issues could be combined and tackled by the same solution. So we outlined how we could get our arms around our “hack”.



Just as architects are really good at developing a BIM model and using analysis tools to study a project and find the best problem-solving solutions, we need to look within our own firms / practices to manage our talent better and more efficiently. Another way of looking at it is digitally modeling a firm environment (people, resources, etc) and using the data in a smart way to serve the firm's needs. i.e. FIM: Firm Information Management.


First an evaluation and method of implementation within different firms would be necessary to properly develop to tool for each organizations use.  The tool, from an employee perspective, focuses on self-development and enrichment, while the employer driven design evolves into a management system.


The ultimate solution, F.I.M. (Firm Information Management), would create an individual profile for each employee to put forth those skills that make us unique to the places we work, but all towards the common goal of putting forth our best efforts in the office as a whole.



The management system provides an outlook of the firm - similar to architectural BIM models. The system is modular and allows for flexibility in its operation. An employee has an avenue through to provide a contribution, even when not assigned to a specific project, which can help in both exercising existing skills and also in developing or broadcasting an interest in new skills.



Each employee within the firm creates a user profile to record their unique skills, project experience, and interests through keywords. This user profile can also harvest data from project work and ratings on comments to keep skills and experience up to date.

Each project manager creates a project profile to record their projects’ unique problems or skills required. Open questions can also be highlighted to seek input from the entire firm.



The algorithm can then provide project managers with team members who are a good fit for their project, with a high percentage of skills matching. The algorithm can also notify employees when there are projects seeking their skills, or open questions that may interest them.


Better design * Happier clients * Happier employees * Equitable voices for all within the company * Professional development * Team optimization * Skill-sharing * Confidence builder * Molding your role * Crowdsource wisdom - efficient knowledge transfer * etc.


We can measure reductions in the under-utilization of staff and allow for management to take advantage of developing or placing the right skillsets on certain tasks or projects. We will find effective ways to match people with projects in the office through a platform internal to a company. And, we will leverage knowledge and experience by sharing information and solutions in a transparent method.



We considered the stated evaluation criteria: relevance to Equity by Design, User Experience, Impact, and Pitch.

F.I.M Team Pitch to Jurors

F.I.M Team Pitch to Jurors

The first teams to present set the bar for quality of the pitch and inspired us to aim high. All of the teams had great ideas and were tough competition. As the fourth of five teams, we got up to present. Jayshree did a magnificent job of setting the tone for the presentation and providing an energy and enthusiasm that we were all able to feed off and carry through the proposal. The story of our solution went well. We survived! Actually, we did better than survive. It came out great! Much better than we had ever planned.



We want to speak about equity gained for all individuals within a firm, whether new to the firm or a partner. These are just a few of the outcomes that would bring joy to our day-to-day experience: Experiencing an collaborative culture * Sharing skillsets without fear of being overshadowed * Voicing your knowledge and experience across all projects within a firm * Providing input even on a small scale for potentially large impact * Requesting to learn a skill * Requesting to work on certain project/project type because it is meaningful * Enhancing your career path * Contributing to the on-boarding or re-integration process * etc.


Envisioning F.I.M. further - it will go beyond architecture.


We were surprised to win, to say the least. (Ha absolutely!) And once we sat back down, we all had a look of astonishment that it went as well as it did.

What did we learn from this?

Risk - Looking for those low risk situations and just going for it. Seeing what change can become of it.

Pitch - Learning to use the story and structure to connect with an audience, even introverts can learn to pitch.

Prototype - The value of trying something as a tool to communicate the intent as well as to work out bugs.

Teamwork - Using complementary skills to develop better solutions than any of us alone could make.

Special Thanks to our EQxD Hackathon 2016 Sponsors!




EQxD Recap #AIACon16 - "PhilAIAdelphia Architect Ninja Warriors"

by Rosa T. Sheng, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

This year's AIA National Convention in Philadelphia was memorable in so many ways and inspired us to IMAGINE the future of Architecture with new energy, new ways of approaching challenges and taking action to improve our profession. Philadelphia holds a dear place in my heart; my first city after graduating from Architecture School, my first job, first apartment, and the place I developed my voice and professional identity.  And last year, I was fortunate to participate in TEDxPhiladelphia "And Justice for All" in 2015, where I shared my TEDx talk "Why Equity in Architecture Matters" to an audience of 1200 about the value of architecture in our daily lives. 

PhilAIAdelphia Ninja Warriors - "Architect Style"

Not sure if everyone had a full convention itinerary, but given the amount of choices provided for convention programs, tours, expo floor activities and related networking events, the whole week felt like the architect's version of American Ninja Warriors. While I was really excited that Philadelphia is such a walkable city with the Convention Center located in the heart of a thriving urban center, (which meant less time commute time between convention activities, hotel, tours and networking events) getting to the right place at the right time required both mental focus and physical stamina. In some cases there was added complexity of events overlapping or completely being double booked. In the course of week, I am sure that I (and many of you) clocked more than 10,000 steps. But even with the busy hectic pace (as in life), sometimes you have to remember to slow down, stop and take a look around. Some of the most memorable moments at convention occurred during those intentional pauses. 

Innovators, Disrupters & Risk Takers

Julia Louis Dreyfus, Neri Oxman and Rem Koolhaas resulted in a trifecta of Keynotes about Innovators, Disrupters, and Risk Takers.  While one could say that Julia Louis Dreyfus interview with Terry Gross had nothing to do with Architecture, there were compelling life lessons in her stories about career progression that struck a chord about having conviction to drive a meaningful career by taking risks and finding your own voice. Neri Oxman's talk on how "Biology Is Key To Unlocking The Future Of Design" was captivating. There was a lot of positive feedback from attendees that had mentioned their brains had been "stretched, twisted and stretched some more." And finally Rem Koolhaas' conversation with Mohsen Mostafavi on how "Architecture has a serious problem today in that people who are not alike don't communicate." Rem continued is role as provocateur in postulating that Architecture's greatest value in the future may not even be architecture given the rapid disruption of technology and advancements in fabrication and Silicon Valley's influence on business.

Innovating Architecture starts with the Perfect Pitch

In line with the keynote speakers' spirit of innovation, disruption and risk taking, EQxD hosted the 2nd Hackathon pre-convention workshop following its debut last year in Atlanta. Channeling the spirit and tech mindset of "hacking" from Silicon Valley WE315 EQxDHackathon - Architecture And the Era of Connections asked the participants to leverage design thinking skills to define a challenge in architecture practice and propose a solution. In the next 2 weeks, we will be featuring our post-hack blog series with contributions from our panelists, our jurors and each of teams "elevator pitch" of their business plans. You can get a sense of the event from the "Storify" recap so you can view the top tweets from the event. Wanda Lau of ARCHITECT Magazine also provides a great summary of the event. Notably, we had TEDxPhiladelphia Alumni and Tech Entrepreneurs lead an invigorating panel discussion on the the experience of taking risks in forging new paths. 

Equitable Practice Seminars - Curated Collection

Based on a discussion at AIA Women's Leadership Summit in Seattle regarding the general lack of AIA Convention seminars on equitable practice and low representation women and people of color on panels, we had encouraged groups around the nation to submit seminars for consideration. Out of 11 proposals, 7 were selected and many of them had high attendee counts between 100 to 200. 

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

Equity Jeopardy: Learn the Lexicon

The AIA National Diversity and Inclusion Council launched a new initiative to spread awareness about equitable practice issues in architecture with a game that plays similar to Jeopardy, the TV trivia game show. The game is meant to be a fun way to start the conversation about equity, diversity, inclusion in the workplace while also giving colleagues an opportunity to understand that the words we use may have different meanings to others depending on their background. The game was introduced at the Town Hall convention booth with visitors of all walks interested in getting a copy to share. The council will further develop the game based on feedback and provide a distributable version in the near future.

Learning from Robert Venturi & Denise Scott Brown -AIA 2016 Gold Medal Recipients

And finally, we were witnesses to the most auspicious occasion of the convention - the celebration of dynamic duo Robert & Denise for their lifetime contributions to the Institute, Architecture and Urban Planning. They were also the first pair to receive recognition of the true collaborative spirit of the profession; which has been long perceived and awarded as an individual's lone achievement of creative expression and execution in the built environment. Personally, I can't help but think of Denise as the embodiment of Melinda Mae from the Shel Silverstein poem who ate her whale! Well there is certainly more than enough whale to go around, so let's all commit to grabbing our forks and getting others to come to the table so it doesn't take another 89 years to attain our goals.