CoTE Measures for Design Excellence Education Series

By Posted on March 23, 2021

The Framework for Design Excellence seeks to enable architects to make progress toward a zero carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment. The 10 principles of good design in the Framework are meant to be thoughtfully considered by designer and client at the initiation of every project and incorporated into the work as appropriate to the project scope. It is intended to be accessible and relevant for every architect, every client, and every project, regardless of size, typology, or aspiration.

AIA Pittsburgh’s Committee on The Environment (CoTE) has partnered with the Design Pittsburgh Committee to organize 3 seminars that will demonstrate the importance of these measures and their continued application for 2021 Design Award submissions. Join us for the following sessions on Design Excellence, with measures grouped in 3 categories:

People: March 25th
Design for Equitable Communities, Well-Being, & Economy
Place: April 29th
Design for Integration, Change, & Discovery
Planet: May 27th
Design for Energy, Resources, Water, & Ecosystems

Performance measures will be covered in each session.

Time:  4PM – 6PM
1.5 HSW CEU’s Each

Individual Sessions:  $10 – Member/ $15 – Non-Member
Register for all 3:  $25 – Member/ $40 – Non-Member

Register here.


First Session: PEOPLE

Thursday, March 25th
Measures covered: Design for Equitable Communities, Well-Being, & Economy

The COTE’s Framework for Design Excellence Education Series kicked off with its first session: PEOPLE . The focus: how architects can use the Framework to highlight the sustainability strengths of their projects, envision and design a new generation of buildings, and develop a new way of talking about the work they are already doing.

A slate of impressive and passionate presenters introduced the first three design measures: Design for Equitable Communities, Well-Being, and Economy. Using Sharpsburg’s transformation to a more accessible, welcoming, and community-focused space as an example, Brittany Reno, highlighted that when working on a building in a place that already exists, it shouldn’t just be in that place, but a part of it. Pete Jefferson, demonstrated how architects can integrate wellness strategies directly into the mission and purpose of their projects and what types of questions should be asked early on in the planning and design to ensure well-being is prioritized. Cat Wick, AIA, emphasized both how the decisions that people make directly affect the economy and how the economy in turn affects people. She detailed a number of ways that a focus on sustainability can save money, resources, and time in the long-term.

Meet the speakers:

Brittany Reno is the council president of Sharpsburg Borough and executive director of Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization. Reno has been active in Sharpsburg’s equitable revitalization efforts since moving to the community in 2013. Passionate about community planning and engagement, she has worked with neighbors to plan projects to improve the quality of life in Sharpsburg since she founded Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization in 2014 and became its full-time executive director in 2016. Prior to working in Sharpsburg, Reno completed two terms of service in the AmeriCorps Public Allies program, through which she worked with Allegheny County youth aging out of the foster care system. She then worked to support nonprofit programming for people with disabilities, youth, and veterans by coordinating fundraising efforts for Goodwill of Southwestern PA. Reno is the former chair of CONNECT (the Congress of Neighboring Communities), a current board officer of the Tri-COG Land Bank, and a current board member of the Cooper-Siegel Community Library system. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied Media & Professional Communications with a concentration in Corporate & Community Relations, and is currently pursuing a Master of Sustainability degree with a focus on sustainable urban and community planning at Chatham University.

Pete Jefferson is a Principal and Building Science Practice Leader at BranchPattern. He works with clients to help them achieve a vision where buildings are human-centered, environmentally sensitive, and mission-driven. This includes a portfolio of projects across the country that have achieved LEED-Platinum, Net-Zero Energy, WELL, and Fitwel certifications. His experience includes developing many of the sustainability strategies for the Pikes Peak Summit Complex, scheduled to open in May 2021. This stands as the highest elevation construction project in North America and is attempting to become the first full Living Building Challenge certified project in the continent’s coldest climate. While he’s a licensed mechanical engineer, Pete often gets confused for being an architect – though mostly by other engineers. In addition to his collaboration with architects on projects, he has been a speaker numerous times for both the AIA+2030 Series and Architecture 2030 programs. For the last 10 years, Pete has also helped develop resources for the “Zero Energy Schools Accelerator Program”, a collaboration between the Department of Energy, ASHRAE, and AIA to provide tools that increase the adoption of net-zero energy schools across the United States.

Catherine Wick is a project architect at IKM architects, with a focus in healthcare architecture. She is co-leader of the IKM sustainability cohort, which forwards IKM’s commitment to high performing building design. Cat is currently a member of the AIA Pittsburgh Board of Directors, and has been a member of the Pittsburgh CoTE for several years. She was previously chair of the Green Building Alliance Emerging Professionals Committee.

This first enlightening segment of the COTE Education Series set a high bar for the next 7 Design Measures being covered. You definitely don’t want to miss the next two sessions!

View the recording of PEOPLE here.

Second Session: PLACE

Thursday, April 29th
Measures covered: Design for Discovery, Change, & Integration

The AIA Pittsburgh CoTE Education Series continued with its second seminar: PLACE. A panel of experts addressed the next 3 design measures in the Framework for Design Excellence – Design for Integration, Discovery, and Change – and spoke to how focusing on these measures impacts a building’s connection to its site, occupants, and future.

With the help of real life examples from Phipps Conservatory’s Brad Clauss and moderation by Drew Armstrong, Assoc. AIA, speakers Marco Virgili, AIA, Erica Cochran, Assoc. AIA, and Joshua Lee, AIA, answered the questions:
– What makes a project one that people will fight to preserve?
– How can a design process foster long-term relationships to ensure that design intentions are realized and improved over time?
– How can a project be designed to adapt to future needs?

Meet the speakers:

Drew Armstrong, Assoc. AIA, PhD, is the Director of Architectural Studies and an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in Architecture & Modernization. Christopher Drew Armstrong’s work investigates approaches to observation and the experience of art and architecture in the 18th and 19th centuries. He is especially interested in the construction of the ‘self’ and how this concept shapes the relationship of the individual to temporal and spatial phenomena.

Erica Cochran Hameen, Ph.D., NOMA, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP is an architectural designer and Assistant Professor at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture (CMU SoA). She serves as Track Co-Chair of the Master of Science in Architecture–Engineering–Construction Management (MSAECM) program, Track Chair of the PhD of Architecture–Engineering–Construction Management program, and Track Chair of the Doctor of Design (DDes). Erica is also the Co-Director of the Center for Building Performance & Diagnostics (CBPD).

Joshua D. Lee, AIA, PhD, NCARB, LEED-AP, is an Assistant Professor in the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture, and serves as the Track Co-Chair for the Master of Science in Architecture–Engineering–Construction Management (MSAECM) program. His research interests include sustainable design, adaptable architecture, systems-based architecture, public interest design, post-occupancy evaluation, educational facilities, and qualitative and computational analysis of architectural language.

Marco Virgili, AIA, Project Architect, MCF Architects

Brad Clauss has worked at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as a Senior Facilities Project Manager since October of 2019, having responsibility for the development and oversight of all large scale capital projects.   Prior to that Brad worked in the healthcare industry for the Johnson & Johnson Companies for 20 years in a range of facilities, sustainability, and energy management roles.

Adam Haas, Interpretive Programs Manager, Phipps Conservatory

View the recording of PLACE here.

Third Session: PLANET

Thursday, May 27th
Measures covered: Design for Ecosystems, Water, Energy & Resources

The CoTE Education Series concluded with its third seminar, PLANET. A panel of experts addressed the final 4 design measures in the Framework for Design Excellence – Design for Ecosystems, Water, Energy, and Resources.

With the help of moderation by Fred Watts, AIA, speakers Patricia Culley, AIA, Ian Cook, AIA, Craig Stevenson, Alex Co, and Brad Clauss explored how good design does the following:​

  • mutually benefits human and nonhuman inhabitants.
  • conserves and improves the quality of water as a precious resource
  • reduces energy use while improving building performance, function, comfort, and enjoyment
  • achieves durable, safe projects with an equitable, sustainable supply chain to minimize possible negative impacts to the planet.

Meet the speakers:

Fred Watts, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, QA/QC Architecture. IKM Architecture

Patricia Culley, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, Associate Principal, BCJ Architects

Ian Cook, AIA, LEED AP, EcoDistricts AP, LFA Building Rating Systems Manager, evolveEA

Craig Stevenson, MBA, MS-MIS, CPHC Co-founder, The AUROS Group

Alex Co, LFA, LEED AP ID+C, GPRO: O&M, Manager, Research, LPC + Declare International Living Futures Institute

View the recording of PLANET here.

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