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Tri-States Small Firm Symposium (Day 2)

November 10, 2022 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

 2022 Small Firm Symposium: “Embracing Change, Innovating for the Future”
Dates are Thursday, November 3 & Thursday, November 10
Times Detailed Below

Hosted by AIA New York State, AIA New Jersey, and AIA Pennsylvania, the Small Firm Symposium (SFS) is a two-day virtual program packed with information and resources for small

Keynote Speakers
Dr. Lawrence Chatters, Executive Associate AD for Strategic Initiatives at the University of Nebraska, teaches you how to navigate challenges along with strategies to help decrease stress.
Courtney Stanley, President of Courtney Stanley Consulting, provides strategies on how to own your mic drop moment.
Education Station
Sky Factory presents on “The Restorative Impact of Perceived Open Space” where you explore the impact of interior environments on human performance and wellness.
Our sessions cover areas including sustainable design, small firm best practices, marketing, technology and leadership strategies that embrace change and innovate for the future.


Schedule of Events
Thursday, November 10

OUTSPOKEN: Owning Your Mic Drop Moment
Courtney Stanley
Do you wish you spoke up more during meetings, in boardrooms, at networking events or even in your annual review? Do you wish you had the courage to outwardly disagree with others? Do you want to feel seen and heard? So many people leave jobs, relationships, business ventures, and conversations feeling that if they had offered feedback, shared their ideas or verbalized their value, they would have achieved more. The truth is… they’re right! This keynote will empower you to get curious about what holds you back from speaking up, teach you how to build confidence in uncomfortable moments, create a culture of positive outspokenness, and understand the power of owning your story, your voice, and your opportunity to change the game.

10:15am-11:45am Education Sessions
Embracing Change: Adopting Passive House Design Principles at a Small Firm
Jordan Parnass, AIA, Principal, Circular
What happens when a small firm decides to go all-in on Passive House design principals? High performance design is not only the future but is completely achievable today for projects of all scales and typologies in all climate zones.  Learn how one firm was able to leverage staff training and changes to their design philosophy to gain access to a variety of different clients and project types. Your firm should embrace the opportunities presented by sustainable design and not see ever-tightening energy code requirements as an obstacle to practice. This presentation will describe the challenges and benefits of embracing Passive House design for projects.

Disruptive Small Firm Practices: Innovative Modules for Expanding Services
Marc Manack, AIA, Principal, SILO AR+D
Chris Baribeau, AIA, Principal, Modus Studio
Jonathan Jackson, Partner, WSDIA (WeShouldDoItAll)
Robert Maschke, FAIA, Founding Principal, Robert Maschke Architects
Explore innovative ideas for expanding a small firm’s services beyond the traditional scope of services. A disruptive innovation helps create a new market and value network. In this course, three  professionals will demonstrate how firms can utilize these innovations to expand into more sustainable and resilient business models beyond traditional architecture, apply tools to re- conceptualize your firm’s expanded service offerings and determine how expanded service integrate with current business models.  The course will end with a brainstorming session, giving participants energy and ideas for innovative ways to start your own disruptive practice.

Shifting from Reactive to Proactive Marketing
Katie Alessi, Marketing Director & Founder, Trifecta Collaborative
Kelly Donahue, Communications Director & Founder, Trifecta Collaborative
If you are like many firms in our industry, most of your marketing activities can be summarized in one word – REACTIVE. RFP, proposal, interview – rinse and repeat. It can be a vicious cycle. You might think this is how it is supposed to be and that not pursuing every opportunity available can actually be a detriment to your business. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Participants will be introduced to a new way of approaching your marketing efforts during this interactive session. You will discover proven strategies and tips for moving the needle from being a REACTIVE firm to a PROACTIVE powerhouse. Additionally, you will explore tactics for fully leveraging your marketing, promotions, and business development activities. You will leave armed with ideas for enabling your firm to allocate the right resources to support new behaviors that ultimately serve the growth of your practice and get you noticed and recognized in the region and industry. This session brings various perspectives to this topic: a veteran industry marketer and communications professional with large and small firm experience and success.

11:45am-12:15pm Lunch Break
12:20pm-1:50pm Education Sessions
Firm Roundtable: Rising Strategies for Practice Innovation
Stacy Keller, AIA, Senior Project Manager, InSite Consulting Architects
Mike Elliott, AIA, Architect/Lead Designer, Kluber Inc.
Amy Slattery, AIA, Founder & CEO, Odimo LLC
Brad Lukanic, AIA, CEO, Cannon Design
Are you a firm leader looking to connect with peers? Pair up with colleagues for this roundtable discussion on business models. An experienced facilitator will take you through topics including how the profession is creating alternative services, innovative delivery systems, and technology utilization, and managing the talent pool. You’ll also debate how the profession is leveraging the risk/reward relationships and customary legal structure. This enlightening practicum is intended to provide thoughtful considerations and connections.

Lessons Learned for Small Firms that Want to Become Bigger Firms
Daniel Heuberger, AIA, Principal, Dattner Architects
Dattner Architects’ journey from a small, sole practitioner office to a 125 person partnership offers some lessons learned about how to cope with change, but actually embrace it as an integral part of practice. While we are no longer a small firm, we continue to refer to our roots in small practice and constantly reflect about what we learned along the way.  The demands on small firms are enormous compared to their resources and can be challenging for the traditional sole practitioner or small-scale partnership model. The competition for talent and experienced staff is significant; capital costs continually rise with the increasing sophistication of software and hardware, and as the regulatory environment and construction practices evolve, the potential risks to architects evolve and increase. Our presentation will use our own experience to describe how small firms can thrive and grow in an environment where the pace of change accelerates from year to year. It will focus on three aspects of our transition from small to larger firm:

  •  How we navigated the line between innovation and early adoption and minimizing our risk with expensive new technologies and software and how we to integrate those technologies with
    professional practice.
  • How we look at transition as a permanent condition not just a set of actions. We will share our experience changing from a sole practitioner office to a third generation of partners.
  • Learn strategies for diversification. Diversity of work is good for all firms, but difficult for smaller firms to manage. Our diversification between public and private work and a variety of sectors has carried us through several economic cycles. We will focus on our early management of project diversity and opportunities at small scale which subsequently permitted our firm to grow and thrive as a larger firm.

Maintaining Design Integrity with Data-Driven Decision Making
Patrick Chopson, AIA, Chief Product Manager, cove.tool
The AEC industry remains a major sector accounting for nearly 40% of the carbon emissions. Jurisdictions globally are confronting climate change and recognizing that building decarbonization is an important component in their efforts. As a result, the efficiency requirements have tightened aggressively over the last 3 years with multiple countries, states, and cities adopting a net zero energy code. Achieving these targets require efficient collaboration between the architects, engineers, other team members and quickly accessible, accurate data to drive design decisions.  The AEC software market is highly fragmented. Solutions are typically designed for a specific task or user and not optimized for the pace of the project, posing a challenge to collaboration and  communication across disciplines. This causes unexpected costs and delays that make it difficult for firms to make every project high-performing and sustainable.  This session will showcase how data-driven design and technology can facilitate teamwork and maintain a project’s integrity. Building performance platforms can be leveraged to automate and centralize all the  different building simulations and analyses run through different design phases like energy, daylighting, water, carbon, cost, and load modeling. Using automation for codes, finding sustainable solutions balancing cost and data, along with easy collaboration can help speed up the design workflow and benefit the project budget.  Various business benefits of adopting sustainability in the design workflow will also be discussed. It will help them reach par with average and large-scale firms and get at the top of their game with high quality data and reports backing their designs.  Larger scale firms can achieve the new energy targets and emerging challenges by adopting multiple expensive software, and hiring specialists for various analyses like daylight, carbon, energy. While the former can afford such amenities and quickly adapt to these, smaller firms are often struggling to even consider adding another complexity and investment to their design workflow. This session will provide insights into the current challenges, benefits of adopting sustainability in the design workflow and majorly introduce data-driven design and automation as a solution to grow businesses. Learning more about user-friendly building performance technology, and removing the requirement to buy multiple software, will enable small firms to integrate sustainability into their projects. It will bring them up to par with large-scale firms and get at the top of their game with high-quality data and reports backing their designs.


November 10, 2022
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Event Categories:




Tri-States AIA PA, AIA NY and AIA NJ