From the Firms – October 31, 2012

Brian Skripac, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BC+C, Director of Digital Practice at Astorino, delivered a presentation entitled “Social Media in Architecture” at the 2012 Annual TAP Conference – the meeting of the AIA Technology in Architectural Practice Knowledge Community – that explored social media as a transformative method of communication all too often dismissed by architects.  Skripac holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Ohio State University, and currently serves as a Leadership Team member for the AIA TAP Knowledge Community at the national level. Mascaro Construction Company, LP is the recipient of the 2012 American Business Ethics Award (ABEA) in the midsized company category. This national award from the Foundation for Financial Service Providers (FSP) recognizes companies...

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Observations… and A Few Suggestions

An inside look at the jurying process

By Anne J. Swager, Hon. AIA Posted on October 10, 2012

Many years ago, I was tortured for a number of months by an architect who insisted we had to standardize the graphic presentation of the notebooks that everyone submitted for design awards.  He was convinced and remained so, no matter what I said, that the jury members would be unduly influenced by a flashy graphic presentation.  I never saw any evidence of that then anymore than I see it now. I had another architect tell one of his employees that if I didn’t like a project I could influence the jury to not give an award.  Again not true.  Juries are extremely independent. While I am flattered that anyone would think I have that much power, even if that was...

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From the Firms – August 31, 2012

Astorino has added three more designs to its list of LEED® certified projects, bringing the firm’s number of LEED certified projects up to 21 (2 Platinum, 7 Gold, 10 Silver, and 2 Certified), totaling over 5 million sf and $1.65 billion in construction cost. Paramount Senior Living at Peters Township was awarded LEED Silver certification by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). The three-story personal care home includes 96 living units, central and private dining rooms, a commercial kitchen, administrative offices, activity rooms, a dementia care unit and nurses’ stations.The project attained all pre-requisites and 55 points under the LEED-NC v2009 Rating System. The Palm Beach State College Technical Education Center in Belle Glade, FL has achieved a LEED Platinum...

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AIA BIM/Digital Practice Document Update

AIA National asks for your feedback

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has changed the way the construction industry interacts and communicates internally. Project plans have moved beyond two-dimensional design to multi-dimensional models that have parametric capabilities. The American Institute of Architects has commenced an effort to evaluate the continued development and adoption of BIM and the impact it has on contracts. As part of this effort, AIA is updating its BIM and Digital Practice documents for use on construction projects involving digital data or BIM, and have made the updated documents available for public comment. The feedback received will help to deliver the most relevant and complete documents possible. During this unique opportunity, the draft documents are available for review through the AIA Contract Documents website. After...

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From the Firms – July 31, 2012

Carl Bolton, AIA has announced the creation of his new architectural practice, Carlton Bolton Design LLC.  The firm will focus on light commercial, retail, interiors, and residential projects, as well as graphic design services. The office of Fernsler Architecture, LLC is pleased to announce its expansion with the addition of Nate Hutchinson as partner and director of design having begun July 1st of this year. The firm is now known as Fernsler Hutchinson Architecture, LLC.  Nathan Hutchinson has over 18 years of experience as a design architect and project manager.  He has expertise in renovations and new construction of office buildings, healthcare facilities, educational, industrial, single family, and multi-family residential and retail projects. Hutchinson grew up in the State College...

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Book Review

Road Signs

Another young architect takes a less traditional path

By Sean Sheffler, AIA, LEED AP Posted on July 30, 2012

Much has been made in recent years over the graying of the profession, and how the AIA must find a way to engage and encourage younger professionals in order to rejuvenate architectural practice.  The Baby Boomers are expected to begin retiring in droves; projections for the next ten years have shown that for every one Gen-Y member that enters the workforce, as many as five Boomers will leave it, taking their knowledge and experience with them.  In other words, the size of our workforce – and its collective knowledge – is shrinking dramatically.  The AIA has dubbed this “the Associate Crisis,” as if identifying the problem and giving it a name will somehow lead to a solution.  Eric Cesal’s plight...

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The Art of Experimentation

Where art and architecture meet

By Deborah Knox Posted on July 20, 2012

Experimentation is an essential part of the design process, but is it a secret activity carried out by a team of designers huddled in the studio, or an open process, supported by the client? What makes the magic happen? Ultimately it can happen either way. Ideally it incorporates a little bit of both. EXPERIMENTATION AND VISION Known for his wildly imaginative designs, Burt Hill’s James O’Toole, Assoc. AIA may be best known for the steelworkers sculpture at the Hot Metal Bridge and the two dinosaurs he designed for Dino Days a few years ago — the “Tonkasaurus” and the winged Da Vinci T-Rex, sponsored by his former employer Astorino. His experimentation and creativity comes from an emotional place deep inside....

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Bypassing Architects? Confronting Change in the Information Age

By Mark Dietrick, AIA, LEED AP Posted on July 18, 2012

Several weeks ago, the New York Times published an article that highlighted computer programs that can help owners bypass architects and questioned the wisdom of such an approach.  While our first reaction as architects to this concept and many of the ideas represented in the article is likely absolute abhorrence — architecture is a process that only trained architects may orchestrate — I have spent the last couple of weeks pondering what we can learn from this story and generally what it might mean to be an architect in the information age that is radically transforming our world. Most importantly, I don’t think we can simply ignore it and pass it off as just a small percentage of “DIYers” and...

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From the Firms – June 29, 2012

Astorino was recently named as one of the nation’s leading architectural and engineering firms by Engineering News-Record (ENR). The publication ranked Astorino at 433 among the country’s Top 500 design firms for 2012. The top 500 companies are ranked according to revenue for design services performed in 2011. Signs of the recession’s end can be seen in ENR’s Top 500 list. Taken as a group, the firms had overall design revenue of $85.06 billion in 2011, up 6.6%, from $79.82 billion in 2010. This uptick is reflected in Astorino’s improved ranking, from 499 in the previous year to its current placement at 433. The survey marks the first time in three years that the Top 500 experienced revenue growth for...

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From the Firms – May 18, 2012

Peter Rempe has joined the Pittsburgh office of Allen & Shariff Engineering, LLC. Astorino has created a new executive management team in which Louis P. Astorino has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer; Timothy Powers, AIA is now President of Architecture; John Francona, LEED AP assumes an expanded role as Senior Vice President – Architecture to include Senior Vice President – Marketing; and Michael Brennan strengthens his role from Senior Vice President – Structural Engineering to Senior Vice President – Project Management.  The firm has also won a Citation of Merit in Regional & Urban Design from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Pennsylvania for the design of “Pittsburgh’s Tribute to Children” honoring Fred Rogers.  Additionally, the  Astorino-designed Children’s Hospital...

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