Course Descriptions & Presenters 2022

Session 1 (9:15 – 10:45 AM); 1.5 CEU each


1. Equity in Architecture

Tiffany Castagno, CEPHR; Victoria Acevedo, NOMA; Melanie Buzgan-Dower, AIA, RDCollab; Milagros Pereyra-Rojas, LASA; Richard Snipe, URA; Bethany Yoder, AIA, Perkins Eastman

AIA Pittsburgh’s EDI Community will conduct a panel, moderated by Tiffany Castagno of CEPHR Consulting, reviewing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the professional practice of architecture within Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. The panel aims to educate and discuss these topics and how they relate to clients’ needs, project work, firm cultures, and the industry’s pathways to licensure. The EDI Community will share data, resources, and key terms and definitions, using the AIA Guides for Equitable Practice as a foundational document to steer the conversation.


2. Blueprint for Better: How to Engage Others in the Value of Good Design (HSW)

Lena Andrews, ACTION-Housing; Amanda Markovic, AIA, GBBN; F. Jeffrey Murray, FAIA, Cannon Design

Our city and region are undergoing rapid physical change. There is an urgency to be thoughtful and strategic about the impact that new development and design choices can have on the health and well-being of our communities. AIA Pittsburgh’s design advocacy initiative, Blueprint for Better, wants more people in our region talking about meaningful design and understanding that design choice directly impact quality of life issues. We seek to spark conversations, dispel design myths, share research and data, inform decision-makers, and challenge our own profession to advocate for meaningful design.

Join this active dialogue to:

  • Learn simple, impactful messages about why design matters
  • Shape conversations to engage different audiences
  • Be inspired to become a Design Advocate.


3. Green Light to Green Investments: Key Ingredients to Great Building Performance (HSW)

Stefani Danes FAIA, LEED AP, CMU; Donny Walker, PE, RCDD, Newcomb & Boyd; Craig Stevenson, MBA, MS-MIS, AUROS Group; Trudy Van Kirk, DES

Building owners and developers have been burned too often by predictions of energy efficiencies and environmental benefits that did not materialize—yet Sustainable Development Goals are still a top priority. The use of data science and network convergence practices at the outset can provide visibility, accountability, and long-term cost control. This session will demonstrate the necessary principles to achieve success in smart construction projects.


4. Returning to the Office (Fully In-Person, Fully Remote, Hybrid)

Dan Adamkski, JLL Commercial Real Estate; Jennifer Askey, AIA, Perkins Eastman; Steve Stefancin, Steelcase

What are clients looking for in office space in the current market? What are some ways design and work practices can facilitate productive and healthy work settings? How might architectural offices accommodate collaboration and varied work schedules in a COVID and post-COVID reality? Panelists will offer their insights and expertise on how the office environment is evolving.


Session 2 (11:00 – 12:30 PM); 1.5 CEU each


1. How Smart Buildings Enable True Sustainability (The Pattern Language of Sustainable Buildings) (HSW)

Ernie Sota, SOTA Construction Services; Philip Ford, SOTA Construction; Galen Staengl, Staengl Engineering; Rick Avon, Avon Design Group

The Emerald Hills Retirement Residence Net Zero project is a 52,000 sq.ft. affordable and comfortable senior housing development in Verona, PA. Join the design, mechanical/ electrical/ plumbing / engineering and building team to learn about their work creating what will be one of the largest net zero buildings in Pennsylvania.


2. Oh the Places Architects Go: A Discussion on Progressing Your Career

Jeffrey Wetzel, AIA, AE7; Robert Tuñon, AIA, Rothschild Doyno Collaborative; Brenna Martin-Shaffer, AIA, Gensler; Greg Coni, AIA, GBBN

Sometimes a career path is easily paved, other times it is met with potholes and detours. Join a panel of design professionals to understand more about what the transition from “emerging” to “mid-career” professional looked like for them, and how to use this insight as a tool to develop your own path. The panel will speak candidly about the winds and turns they took to advance their career, the challenges they faced, and the professional opportunities and extracurricular activities that proved invaluable to their success. Come prepared with questions to ask the moderated panel, and look forward to networking before and after the discussion.


3. Evolving Legal Trends and Risk Management Considerations for an Uncertain Economy

Mike Cremonese, Burke Cromer Cremonese; Paula Selvaggio, Oswald Companies; Nicola Mangino AXA LX

All business endeavors involve risk and require risk management. Contracts are important to establish the legal parameters for a project and need to be crafted and understood in the context of past legal precedent and an ever-changing economic world. This course will cover:

  • Recent trends and evolving law concerning design professional liability and its defenses.
  • Professional negligence type claims, including evolving theories of negligence and protection through legal defenses, contractual language and insurance
  • Risks and how to manage risk attendant to an uncertain economy flowing from supply chain issues and inflationary events.
  • Key contract provisions to fairly allocate risk to the parties best able to control the risk.


4. Preserving Pittsburgh and Historic Properties

Jessica Stuck, AIA, Landmarks SGA; Sarah Quinn, City of Pittsburgh; William Callahan, PA SHPO

Preservation connects people to their cultural and geographic roots, and supports key values like diversity, identity, and sustainability. Working with an historic property, or within one of the City of Pittsburgh’s historic districts, requires an understanding of the overall preservation framework: the key goals, roles, regulatory process, and design requirements between the respective governing authorities and the architect. Representatives of the City of Pittsburgh’s Preservation Office and the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) will explore the above topics and their sometimes overlapping roles. The intent of the Secretary of Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, necessary to achieve a successful preservation project, will also be explained.


Session 3 (2:15 – 3:15 PM); 1 CEU each


1. The Current and Future State of Rural Healthcare (HSW)

Dr. David Tupponce, President, Grove City Hospital; Kip Beals, Chief Wellness Officer, Butler Health System; Kelly Hiett, CESO

Rural healthcare facilities face unique challenges at the best of times and even more extreme challenges during widespread health crises. The session will focus on the challenges currently faced in designing dynamic environments for the rural healthcare setting and how judicious planning and design can anticipate and mitigate foreseeable challenges to future rural healthcare delivery systems.


2. Demystifying Advocacy: Going from Fear to Fearless

Stephen Swarney, J.D., AIA Pennsylvania; Chip Desmone, AIA, NCARB, LEED-AP, Desmone Architects

Do you care about issues and developments that touch our built environment but don’t know how to take that passion into action? Learn how to advocate for any issue from two of the most accomplished advocates in our state: Executive Director of AIA Pennsylvania, Stephen Swarney,  and former Regional Representative to AIA National, Chip Desmone, AIA. Develop skills as an advocate to have your voice heard as a citizen architect and to show the value of the profession. In this session you will learn how:

  • Anyone can be an advocate and there are a wide range of ways to advocate.
  • To move an idea into action.
  • To identify your audience and hone your message.


3. Addressing Climate Change with an Equity Lens (Planning for a Just Transition): A Conversation with Pittsburgh City Planning (HSW)

Karen Abrams, City of Pittsburgh; Ose Akinlotan, City of Pittsburgh; Flore Marion, City of Pittsburgh

Join City of Pittsburgh planning officials, including new Department Director Karen Abrams, for a conversation focusing on how the City’s climate action initiatives can impact the social equity of our city and region. Learn how the City’s sustainability efforts will be evolving and how architects can support these next steps.


4. Mass Timber Re-Imagined  (HSW)

Kirsten Clemens, AIA, LEED AP, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

Mass timber – also called tall timber or heavy timber – is gaining in national popularity as a growing number of owners, architects and city officials look to this approach to capture carbon in their new buildings. Mass timber construction uses multiple layers of wood combined to create a sturdy and robust building panel and has been a construction method in Europe since the 1990s. While this approach may feel new in our region, it likely won’t be for long. Significant mass timber buildings are completed or under construction in nearby Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Washington, DC.

Southwestern PA is well-positioned to explore opportunities in mass timber from both a construction and forestry sector perspective. The Pittsburgh metro offers a region of people dedicated to craft and with a history in manufacturing; innovation and technologies such as robotics are regional competencies; and our state contain a significant number of hardwood forests. Join this session to learn more about the many benefits of mass timber.


Session 4 (3:45 – 4:45 PM); 1 CEU each


1. The Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan – Building-related Recommendations and GHG Reduction Strategies (HSW)

Marc Mondor, AIA, LEED Fellow, USGBC Faculty, WELL AP, evolveEA; A. Stevens Krug, AIA, PE, LEEDap, AEE Fellow, Krug Architects

Building on last year’s PA Climate Action Plan session, we will discuss the exciting building-related recommendations and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategies of the 2021 Plan. We will present the background, context, and process of the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan, as well as its implications for the next decades.  The session will cover:

  • Context: strategies, priorities, examples of recent legislation, and proposed policy
  • Tools: potential tax credits, funding strategies for project financial stacks and triple bottom line implications of the strategies in the Plan.
  • Implications: building code impacts, electrification of buildings, low-carbon steel, renewables, embodied carbon, procurement policy and adaptive reuse incentives.
  • Design approaches: useful and applicable energy efficiency and healthy building design strategies.


2. Mindfulness: More Than Just an App (HSW)

Stephanie Romero, Awaken Pittsburgh

For many, mindfulness – a form of meditation in which you focus on what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment – looks like a simple practice to clear one’s mind and destress while listening to an app. However, research shows that only 7% of people continue to use their downloaded wellness apps. We need to go beyond the app to gain mindfulness benefits, such as decreased stress and burnout and increased health and wellbeing. Join Dr. Stephanie Romero from Awaken Pittsburgh as she shares her own journey with mindfulness and how it increases our wellbeing and ability to engage in compassionate and kind relationships with ourselves and others. This presentation will also include a brief mindfulness practice to illustrate the power of being fully present and non-judging in our daily lives.


3. Show Me the Materials: Supply Chain Disruptions

Rory Leightner, 84 Lumber; Phil Linton, Rycon; Rick Funk, Gunton 

Over the past few years, supply chain disruptions have had a significant impact on the feasibility and timelines of construction projects. This panel discussion will:

  • Address various building material product areas affected by supply and demand issues.
  • Explore the ultimate effect on these products’ cost and availability, and the need to identify alternative products.


4. Conversation with a Building Code Official: A Brief History and Details for the Latest Code Change (HSW)

Bruce Graff, Codesys 

In January 2022 Pennsylvania adopted the most up-to-date accessibility standards for new and existing construction as established by the 2021 International Building Code and the 2021 International Existing Building Code accessibility provisions. This session will:

  • Explain significant changes to the Commonwealth accessibility code for 2022.
  • Offer ways to improve communications between architects and the professionals responsible for the safe and effective construction of structures and buildings in Pennsylvania.


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