Paul R. Hollenbeck, AIA
In the next few paragraphs, I would like to share my reflections from attendance at this year’s AIA Grassroots Conference in Washington, D.C. and to update all again on the Strategic Initiatives shared in my January message. However, before I do either, I would like to share my experiences from the Associates Retreat recently held in Cincinnati. The event was facilitated by Brian McAlexander, Assoc. AIA, our AIA Ohio Associate Director, and attended by over 25 Associate or AIAS Members from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
First, I was impressed so many young members gave up a Friday and part of a weekend to learn more about AIA, to offer important input regarding a possible statewide design competition to showcase our young members’ commitment to sustainability and affordable housing, and to share stories of their professional challenges and opportunities. However, I was equally impressed by John Rademacher, AIA, Alan Warner, AIA, and Terry Welker, AIA, who shared their passion for governmental advocacy, sustainable design, and the importance of AIA to build connections and community. Their individual messages truly touched the attendees.
Despite our tough economy, AIA Grassroots was one of the best attended ever and the OVR was represented by over 45 members. AIA provided us ample information and prepared us well for our Congressional visits. Our meetings with representatives from the offices of Senators Brown and Voinovich were engaging, a bit spirited, and fairly candid. However, when the day was done, unfortunately, it appears it was still too much politics as usual. While our message of building better and more sustainably resonated, our other message of the importance of bipartisan support clearly was not heard.
After The Hill visits, memorable moments of the conference were, for me, a bit few and far between. Highlights included the AIA 2010 candidate stump speeches, including our own John Rogers, AIA, ACHA, who made an articulate and convincing case for his run for AIA Treasurer; the session which provided inspiration for our AIA Ohio Grassroots in May; and the solace, although depressing, sharing stories of doom and gloom from all over our country as architectural firms big and small struggle with the current economy.
Now, updates on our Strategic Planning Initiatives identified in 2008:
- Media Consultant: The Executive Committee recently had a very informed discussion with Sarah Mills Bacha, who has provided consultant services to AIA Columbus for many years. Sarah suggested a number of ways a media consultant might be helpful on a statewide basis, where such efforts would probably not make sense, and the growing power of the digital world. Sarah agreed to share an example of an RFP that might be used to solicit media consultant services and Jud Kline, AIA, Bruce Sekanick, AIA, Steve Shinn, AIA, and Kate Brunswick all agreed to continue this exploration with the goal of making a decision in time to possibly implement this initiative in 2010, if not sooner.
- AIA Ohio Website: Fortunately, AIA has already begun to launch portions of their revamped Website and, therefore, the AIA Ohio Board is optimistic upgrades can begin very soon. Improving this important communication tools remains one of our top priorities.
- Communication with the Four Schools of Architecture: The agenda for the AIA Ohio Board Meeting with the four Schools of Architecture has been refined for our March 13th meeting at the University of Cincinnati. The Board’s goal is to come out of this meeting with some clear action steps that will hopefully enhance communication with the Administration and faculty across the state on a more consistent basis.
- Advocacy: As you will likely read in David Field’s newsletter/article, our activities at the State House remain relatively quiet. However, it is never a bad time to make connections at the local level so when support is needed bridges have already begun to be built.
- Honors Program: Bob Loversidge, FAIA, of Columbus, with the assistance of Kate Brunswick, have reviewed the Gold Medal and Gold Medal Firm Award process and criteria for the Honors Program. Their suggestions were reviewed by the AIA Executive Committee and will be incorporated into this year’s program with the goal of increasing participation and the quality of submittals.
- COTE/HFH Statewide Design Competition: As I mentioned at the beginning, the competition continues to be developed under the guidance of Joshua Lloyd, Associate AIA of Columbus. It is still the AIA Ohio Board’s goal to support a statewide design competition that can meet our objective of reaching out more effectively to our Associate Members without being a burden to the local Components and culminate with highly visible and meaningful recognition at the Regional Convention in October 2009.
- Budget: The AIA Ohio Board continues to closely monitor income and expenses at the start of this fiscal year. Early indications on the income side are that dues may reduce by between 5% and 10%, although it is still too early to know for sure. However, I will say for sure that we are continuing to closely monitor the situation and have already reduced some expenses and will continue to look for other possible areas of reduction. The good news is AIA Ohio remains financially strong, with significant reserves, which give us flexibility to not compromise quality services and programs.
- AIA Ohio Road Show: Bruce Sekanick, AIA, and I continue to make every effort to visit all seven Components in 2009. We are currently scheduled for Toledo on March 10th, Dayton on April 9th, and Cincinnati on April 14th. We continue to collect input, look for common threads, and share our findings with the entire AIA Ohio Board
By David W. Field, CAE, Hon. AIA
AIA Ohio Executive Vice President
State Legislators May Take Up Architectural Issues this Spring
The 128th Ohio General Assembly has been seated and organized into committees… the House under Democrat control; the Senate under Republican. They’re focused upon Governor Strickland’s proposed two-year state budget, Democrats pushing and Republicans opposing it believing proposed new program spending (primarily in Education and Health Care) is unsustainable in future years without hefty tax increases (to fill the gap left in the out years when federal bail-out funds disappear).
Architectural issues aren’t expected until late spring following an anticipated report from the Construction Reform Panel formed at the behest of Governor Strickland.
Who’s in Charge?
House Democrats selected Rep. Armond Budish (Beachwood) as Speaker of the House, Rep. Matt Szollosi (Toledo) – Speaker Pro Tempore, Rep. Jennifer Garrison (Marietta) –Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard (Columbus) – Assistant Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Jay Goyal (Mansfield) – Majority Whip and Rep. Allan Sayre (Dover) – Assistant Majority Whip.
House Republicans selected Rep. Bill Batchelder (Medina) as Minority Leader, Rep. Louis Blessing (Cincinnati) – Assistant Minority Leader, Rep. John Adams (Sidney) – Minority Whip and Rep-Elect Kris Jordan (Delaware) – Assistant Minority Whip.
Senate Republicans kept Sen. Bill Harris (Ashland) as Senate President and selected Sen. Tom Niehaus (New Richmond) – President Pro Tempore, Sen. Keith Faber (Celina) – Majority Floor Leader, Sen. Mark Wagoner (Toledo) – Majority Whip.
Senate Democrats selected Sen. Capri Cafaro (Hubbard) – Minority Leader, . Shirley Smith (Cleveland) – Assistant Minority Leader, Sen. Ray Miller (Columbus) – Minority Whip and Sen. Jason Wilson (Columbiana) – Assistant Minority Whip.
The top issue for 2009 is Ohio’s economic future. Current economic conditions already have forced Ohio to cut or scale back programs, implement hiring freezes and delay projects. Governor Strickland petitioned and has received the federal government “bail out” money that will be used to fund unemployment, Medicaid and construction projects designed to put people to work quickly.
State officials believe the state’s financial condition is the worst it’s been in over 40 years. Any new programs are likely to be shelved as lawmakers focus on essential state services. Even high-priority programs could get pinched. In this dire fiscal climate, flat funding may be considered a victory.
Architectural Issues: Legislative issues directly affecting architects likely will be delayed while legislators tackle these recession-related issues. However, the seeds of design/construction issues are already being sewn by the Construction Reform Panel Governor Strickland has established to conduct a broad review of the State’s design and construction practices and to identify opportunities for improvement. A wide group of construction related organizations have been invited to participate.
Representing the architects is past AIA-Ohio President, Regional Director and current AIA Treasurer, Hal Munger, FAIA, Toledo. Hal has worked with the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) on projects and area universities his entire career and more recently with the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC). He currently chairs the AIA Building & Headquarters Renewal Committee that is using an Integrated Project Delivery system. He has also been part of previous industry discussions on multi-prime/single prime and CM at risk.
According to Rick Hickman, Assistant Director, DAS, “construction reform is Ohio’s commitment to increase quality, reduce costs and employ the latest technology and techniques for building design and construction for Ohio’s public construction projects.”
The Panel is specifically charged with conducting a thorough review of the current design and construction laws and practices and comparing this information with both public and private sector best practices. Construction reform presents the State’s opportunity to improve the construction process to improve quality and save taxpayer money while providing for fair competition, transparency and accountability. This effort to overhaul the State’s construction system is expected to result in legislative recommendations that will provide a road map for advancing Ohio’s construction practices.
Energy: Governor Strickland has been looking for solutions to a host of energy challenges and integrating renewable energy (generated by wind, solar, geothermal and biomass) with existing energy resources. He sees renewable energy as having many benefits, such as encouraging local job growth and economic development; reducing the volatility of energy prices; and meeting new growing energy needs without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Transportation and Infrastructure: The continuing gap between transportation needs and available funds is the key transportation issue for 2009. Revenues for transportation at all levels of government continue to flatten or diminish. Maintaining crumbling infrastructure, fighting congestion and meeting burgeoning demand for public transportation is straining transportation budgets. Gas tax receipts, the mainstay of transportation for the last 50 years, no longer meet Ohio’s growing needs due to inflation, less driving and more fuel-efficient vehicles. To keep pace, some states will consider raising the state gas tax and/or motor vehicle fees.
If the first test of budget cooperation between the Strickland administration and Ohio House Republicans is a harbinger of things to come, the road ahead looks rough indeed. The House narrowly passed the Governor’s Transportation Budget with only Democratic support. Republicans voted “no.”
Higher Education Affordability: Higher education funding issues will occupy much of the legislature’s time. Fewer dollars are available to hold increasing costs in check putting additional strain on already high tuition rates. Higher education is often one of the first areas to be cut during tough fiscal times. In response, state universities and colleges typically tend to raise tuition to make up for these lost revenues, which is an additional financial burden on families.
Health Costs and Reform: Health costs keep rising at the same time that state budgets are in trouble. An immediate challenge for Ohio legislators will be to maintain and retool current health programs, especially Medicaid and diverse Strickland programs aimed at covering more of the uninsured. As the numbers of unemployed increase, Medicaid rolls will grow. Legislators face competing demands such as helping those without health insurance coverage, investing in prevention and wellness, and adopting health information technology such as exchangeable electronic medical records and “e” prescribing.
Unemployment: Ohio’s ranks among the states’ highest unemployment rates as it continues to transition away from a manufacturing economy. Unemployment continue to rise and Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund is experiencing a shortfall due to an increase in claims for unemployment benefits and a decrease in revenue from payroll taxes. Ohio has less than three months of reserves on hand to pay unemployment benefits. Federal “bail out” money will fund immediate needs.
Bernardo Fort-Brescia presents at COSI, Columbus
Melissa Vitteri Sieg, Assoc. AIA, LEEP AP
Anshen + Allen, Columbus
On February 17th at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, The Builders Exchange of Central Ohio and The Ohio State University School of Architecture hosted a presentation by renowned architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia. Mr. Fort-Brescia was one of the founding partners of Arquitectonica in 1977. The attendees had the unique chance to participate in the presentation of the new Franklin County courthouse by the architect himself.
The $105 million facility will be a state-of-the-art courthouse in downtown Columbus. It will replace the existing 1970’s Hall of Justice. With 300,000 square feet and 7 stories of glass walls, the building better facilitates the programming necessities of the county staff and the public. Fort-Brescia says that the aspects of monumentality were explored while trying to bring the building down to scale. As is the case with origami art, he adds, solid walls fold around transparent glazing to define the shape of the building. This proposed facility had two more design options which were discussed at COSI. DesignGroup of Columbus is the prime architectural contractor for development of all programming and construction documents; while Arquitectonica is the signature architect for the project design. The project broke ground on July 3rd 2007 and it is scheduled to be completed by early 2010.
Presentation attendees were also given the chance to explore other works of Arquitectonica from around the globe. The list was long, but the charismatic Bernardo Fort-Brescia tried to sum it up in the allotted time. Among the other projects discussed, there was a Federal Courthouse in Miami, Performing Arts Center in Florida, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Menara Karya in Indonesia, Microsoft Europe and Microsoft France headquarters in France, Microsoft Asia in Honk Kong, Convention Centers in Manila, Atlanta and Miami, master planning projects in Abu Dhabi and New York, mixed-use developments in Prague and Hong Kong, a residential project in downtown San Francisco, and a Las Vegas casino.
This presentation was part of Ohio Construction Conference 2009 by the Builders Exchange of Central Ohio and the Lecture Series by The OSU Knowlton School of Architecture.
Melissa Vitteri Sieg, Assoc. AIA, LEEP AP is an architectural designer at Anshen + Allen, Columbus office.
AIA Ohio Happenings and Events – Are You In the Know?
Deadlines – The AIA Ohio Honor Award Submissions will be due on May 22. The Gold Medal and Gold Medal Firm Awards are the highest honors bestowed by AIA Ohio. Submission information can be found online at http://www.aiaohio.org (click on Awards). Maybe you know someone or maybe you ARE someone who deserves this recognition. New to the process this year: no more binders! In an effort to help control costs and encourage submissions, AIA Ohio has decided to require electronic submissions for the 2009 Honor Awards. Check out the submission criteria and plan to have your submission in by the May 22 deadline.
Speaking of Awards – the AIA Ohio Design Awards Call for Entries will be posted and sent in early April, with a deadline of July 1, 2009. The submittals will be juried and all awards will be recognized at the Awards Banquet on Friday, Oct. 2, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The New AIA Ohio State Grassroots – Typically AIA Ohio conducts a State Grassroots program for the leadership of AIA Ohio and all Ohio local components. But 2009 is shaping up to be anything but a typical year so AIA Ohio President-Elect Bruce Sekanick, AIA, has decided to revamp this program. AIA Ohio will offer a one day series of workshops addressing two tracks: Leadership and How To Survive in Difficult Economic Times. Several sessions will be geared toward architects who have lost their jobs or fear that this might happen to them. Workshop topics for these students, Architects and Associates include: Resume Preparation and How to Interview and I’ve Been Laid Off (or I’m About To Be)…Now What? The Leadership Track will include sessions titled: Leadership in the AIA – What Can I Do and What Can It Do for Me? and Leading an AIA Component Through Tough Economic Times. In addition, there will be a dynamic keynote speaker and a panel discussion titled, Firms that Survive. The day-long event will take place on Friday, May 15, at the Renaissance Hotel in Downtown Columbus, and it will be offered at no charge to ALL AIA Ohio members, and any Architecture students who would like to attend. Watch aiaohio.org, and your email In Box, for more information.
AIA Ohio Regional Convention – Every four years, AIA Ohio joins with the two other components in our region, AIA Kentucky and AIA Indiana, and plans a Regional Convention. The last Regional Convention took place in 2005 in Indianapolis, and was a major success. This year, the Regional Convention will take place Oct. 1-3, at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Kentucky. Keynote speaker Antoine Predock, FAIA, is excited about coming to the Ohio Valley Region. The Hofbrau Haus in Newport will be the site for the always-popular Icebreaker Reception. The Awards Banquet will take place across the river in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium. Alumni receptions, tours and educational offerings are all being planned. Visit www.aiaohio.org/convention regularly to stay up to date on Convention offerings. At this time, you’ll find the AIA Ohio Valley Region Convention Call for Papers posted there.
The Word of the Day: Advocacy – Over 50 people from the AIA Ohio Valley Region descended upon Washington and were joined by over 700 peers from around the country for AIA’s Annual Grassroots Event. Leadership from local components visited with members of the U.S. House of Representatives while AIA Ohio executive committee members and local Presidents-elect went to the offices of Ohio’s two Senators to convey AIA’s issues.
AIA Ohio representatives met with Jonathan McCraken, Aide to Senator Sherrod Brown, during the AIA National Grassroots. Seen here left to right are: Pete Macrae, AIA; Bruce Sekanick, AIA; Jonathan McCraken; Gary Kayne, AIA; Paul Hollenbeck, AIA; Brian McAlexander, Assoc. AIA and Brandilyn Fry, AIA.
More Information – AIA Ohio is planning to revamp http://www.aiaohio.org/, as time and budget allow, in order to offer members a more user-friendly and practical web site. But in the meantime, you can still go there to find information on the OVR Convention, local component links, membership, awards, and legislative issues.