Volume 1, No. 15 - December 7, 2007
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BLAST - News and Notes from AIA Northern Virginia

Carter + Burton Architecture, P.L.C.
The Shenandoah Retreat, by Carter + Burton Architecture (more info)
In This Issue

Architectural Billings Index Update

Communications Volunteers Needed

Publication Opportunity

Best Practices

Scanning the Horizon

Featured Project:
  The Shenandoah Retreat


Featured Sponsor:
  LeMay Erickson Architects

Visit the AIA Northern Virginia Website

Architecture Billings Index Moves Up Following 2-Month Downturn Conditions Improve as Pressure from Lending Market Eases

For the 5th straight month, the November 21 Wall Street Journal featured the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) in the Property Report page in the Marketplace section.

After consecutive months of declining conditions, the ABI has rebounded and is up just over two points compared to its previous mark. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI shows an approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.

The AIA reported the October ABI rating was 53.2, up from 51.1 in September (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings), and inquiries for new projects was 58.1. Regional averages varied - Midwest (53.3), Northeast (52.3), South (51.6), West (48.4) - as did various building sectors - commercial/industrial (55.1), institutional (52.5), mixed practice (52.3), multi-family residential (47.0).

The ABI is derived from a monthly "Work-on-the-Boards" survey and produced by the AIA Economics & Market Research Group. Based on a comparison of data compiled since the survey's inception in 1995 with figures from the Department of Commerce on Construction Put in Place, the findings amount to a leading economic indicator that provides an approximately nine to twelve month glimpse into the future of nonresidential construction activity. The diffusion indexes contained in the full report are derived from a monthly survey sent to a panel of AIA member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended. According to the proportion of respondents choosing each option, a score is generated, which represents an index value for each month.

Communications Committee Seeking Volunteers

The Chapter is seeking a number of contributors to join the Communications Committee. We hope that by including many voices, we can seek out the issues that are of interest to the membership, reflect information and news back, and spread the work out to respect the volunteer nature of our organization. If you have interest, please contact Carol Rickard-Brideau, AIA at (703) 908-4503.This is a great opportunity to get involved in the Chapter! It's been an exciting year for the committee; this is the final issue of our inaugural volume of the e-newsletter BLAST, and a new newsletter format was recently released. There are still many chances for new committee members to contribute as we continue to develop these outlets.

The Washingtonian Magazine Publication Opportunity

The Washingtonian Magazine is doing a piece on Architects and Where They Live for the March issue. They are looking for architects who live in abodes they have either designed themselves or have restored/remodeled extensively. They already have several contemporary candidates and are looking for some more traditional styles - but are interested in all fabulous examples, regardless of style. To submit your house, e-mail Gretchen Cook at gc20009@yahoo.com.

Keeping Current with Business Trends and Best Practices
By Bruce Bland, Project Manager, AIA Professional Practice

As a benefit of membership, you have a steady source of current business information available to you through the AIA Practice Management Knowledge Community. Their electronic periodical, PM Digest, includes relevant articles from experts in the field to help you with your business. Guest editors supply content and thematic direction of the Digest articles. Each quarterly Digest has at least one article that focuses on the AIA Practice Management Knowledge Community's main focus areas.

Here's the schedule for 2008:
Winter 2008 - Quality Management, Charles Nelson, AIA, FRAIA, PSMJ Resources Melbourne
Spring 2008 - Leadership, Robert P. Smith, AIA, LEED AP, CMMI
Summer 2008 - Human Resources, Meg Brown, Perkins + Will
Fall 2008 - Contracts, Andrew Yanoviak, AIA, Environmental Systems Planning & Design Consultants
Winter 2009 - Outsourcing, Bob Vanech and Paul Fielding, CADFORCE

No matter what your interest - from building performance to entertainment architecture - there's a Knowledge Community where you can share what you're passionate about in your profession, collaborate with peers on best practice and tools, stay competitive on relevant and compelling issues, and inspire and be inspired by others. AIA members may join any of the many Knowledge Communities through the AIA website. Log in and select "Add/Modify Knowledge Communities."

Scanning the Horizon
As your firm is finalizing business plans for 2008, the AIA has a report that offers help in reading the economy, markets, and trends that can be invaluable. AIA staff worked with outside consultants to compile the comprehensive 2007 Environmental Scan - a close examination of the past and present to help anticipate the future. This data-rich resource is offered as a free, members-only benefit for use in your business planning.

It is a thought-provoking document, placing the profession firmly in context and providing many insights that can guide your practice, the AIA, and the profession in the months and years ahead. Information in this report looks at political, economic, social/cultural, environmental, technological, design and construction, professional, and association/non-profit issues and trends to identify how they will impact architects, architecture firms and the Institute.

The Environmental Scan may be downloaded from the AIA website at www.aia.org/econ_reports.

Once you have reviewed the document, the AIA is interested in your feedback. What do you think of it? How will you use it? What sources of information would you recommend for future scans? What trends are occurring in your market that could affect the profession? Send your thoughts to enviroscan@aia.org.

Featured Project

The Shenandoah Retreat
Warren County, VA
Carter + Burton Architecture, P.L.C.

The Shenandoah Retreat sits on a steep ledge with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Two scientists built this weekend house as a respite from the city for family and friends. It is nestled with the site creating interstitial spaces that link with the natural setting. The concrete tower and entry bridge separate the public from private spaces, while an open plan creates a minimalist aesthetic that blends inside and out. Built-in furniture provides efficient use of space, and closet walls on the north side with movable art panels provide a thermal buffer. A screened porch pavilion, built-in concrete grill center and custom concrete spa anchor the edges of the exterior spaces. Energy savings come from a passive-solar design, a geothermal heat pump, radiant floor heating and a SIPs envelope which provides a thin roof profile. This Ecomodern house blends regional craft and universal technologies to their limits. Art featured in the house by Jonathan Feldschuh.

Carter + Burton Architecture, P.L.C.

Carter + Burton Architecture, P.L.C.


December 10 - AIA Northern Virginia Board Meeting
4:30p-6:00p, at the Chapter House, 205 South Patrick Street, Alexandria. For additional information, contact the Chapter House at aianova@aianova.org.

December 13 - 2006 International Building Code: Architectural Applications for Designers
8:15a-4:00p, at PSA-Dewberry, 8401 Arlington Boulevard, Fairfax. Organized by the Virginia Society AIA and AIA Northern Virginia Chapter. ICC Instructor, John M. Gibson, Jr., MCP, CBO, CPCA, and CFI will address the critical concepts of the 2006 IBC and issues that are the basis for many design and plan review decisions. Registration for AIA members $170; $200 non members. Deadline for registration is 5:00p, December 10. Registration fee includes the International Code Council workshop manual, breakfast and lunch, and on site parking. 6 AIA/CES HSW LUs. Additional information and registration form available at www.aiava.org and click on Education or contact Jim Walker at jwalker@aiava.org (804) 237-1777.

December 14 - Small Firms Roundtable
Noon-1:00p, at the Chapter House, 205 S Patrick Street, Alexandria. The December meeting of the Small Firms Roundtable will be an "architects only" session with the discussion focused on how we "manage" our clients. Participants should attend the meeting prepared to share an anecdote about how they dealt with a difficult client or situation. Hosting a roundtable meeting without an invited guest is new for our group but, hopefully, this meeting will prove to be beneficial to those who attend, helping to foster a sense of community so that those of us practicing in small firms can feel comfortable calling upon our colleagues whenever we need to seek advice or assistance.

1 AIA/CES LU available. $5 per person to cover pizza and drinks. For reservations, please call (703) 549-9747 or email reservations@aianova.org. For more information about the Small Firms Roundtable, contact Matt Guenther at mguenther@gc-a.com.

January 11, 2008 - Architecture In the Schools Exhibit
6:30p-8:00p, at Virginia Tech's Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, 1001 Prince Street, Alexandria. The exhibit will showcase projects from Hoffman Boston Elementary School in Arlington, Lorien Wood Elementary School in Vienna, Mount Vernon Woods Elementary School in Alexandria, Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria and Washington Lee High School in Arlington. The AIS program is organized by AIA Northern Virginia, the Washington Chapter AIA and the Washington Architectural Foundation. Questions? Contact the Chapter House at aianova@aianova.org or (703) 549-9747.

January 14 - AIA Northern Virginia Board Meeting
4:30p-6:00p, at the Chapter House, 205 South Patrick Street, Alexandria. For additional information, contact the Chapter House at aianova@aianova.org.

January 16 - AIA Northern Virginia Lunch Series: IBC 2006
Noon-1:00p, at the Chapter House, 205 South Patrick Street, Alexandria. This program will review significant changes in the 2006 edition of the International Building Code (IBC). After attending this session, participants will be able to identify the significant changes in the 2006 IBC, determine under what conditions these changes are applicable and recognize the impact of these changes on building design features. 1 AIA/CES HSW LU. Free. Registration required. To register, contact the Chapter House at reservations@aianova.org or (703) 549-9747.

Featured Sponsor

2007: A Year of Design Recognition
LeMay Erickson Architects
Platinum Sponsor

The recent selection of LeMay Erickson Architects by the Virginia Society of the AIA for a 2007 Design Merit Award for Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church reflects the firm's continued dedication to design excellence. Our Lady of Good Counsel recently also won national recognition with the Brick in Architecture 2007 Best in Class award for Houses of Worship, presented by the Brick Industry Association. These awards follow recognition by Fairfax County's 2007 Exceptional Design Program with an Honor Award for Vienna Presbyterian Church and a Merit Award for Clifton Presbyterian Church.

LeMay Erickson Architects, founded in 1986, is a 25 person Reston-based firm that specializes in religious, public safety, and commercial / mixed-use projects.

Please visit our website www.lemayerickson.com for further information about the firm.
LeMay Erickson Architects