Historic Preservation Tax Credit Bill on Governor’s Desk

in: Advocacy / 0 Comments


Legislation to create a California tax credit for work performed on historic buildings is sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting his decision. You can help by sending Governor Jerry Brown a message encouraging him to sign this important bill into law.

The bill, AB 1999, is jointly sponsored by the California Preservation Foundation and the AIA California Council. It would have California join the federal government and 35 other states in offering a tax credit to encourage developers and owners to make improvements to these historically important buildings and make them relevant components of our communities.

AB 1999 creates a 20% tax credit for work performed on these buildings. Some buildings would be eligible for a 25% tax credit (for example, if they are a part of an affordable housing project or in a transit-oriented development).

For more information on AB 1999, please read the coalition letter sent to Governor Brown.

There still is time to send Governor Brown a message urging him to sign AB 1999 into law, but it must be done this week. If you would like to, please follow these steps:

  • Send him a message using the Governor’s online comment form
  • Go to https://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php
  • Select “Have Comment”
  • Under “Please Chose Your Subject” scroll down to AB 1999
  • After pressing “Continue”, select the “Pro” button and enter comments urging him to sign AB 1999; if you are comfortable doing so, please enter comments on the importance of these buildings to our communities.

And, as always, if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section below.


Helpful Energy Resource Site

in: AIACC / 2 Comments

The AIACC came across this very helpful resource and we wanted to share it with the members. Along with all the information, research and links, one can also find a plethora of training and events. Browse through the site when you have a moment and see what we mean.


Vocal Criticism Be Warned

in: Important Issues / 0 Comments

members in the news-580

This op-ed piece was written by member Stuart Magruder, AIA, LEED, who stepped up to actively participate in public policy and when he questioned motives, felt rather marginalized.  We thought it important to publish because there is a level of government accountability to be addressed, and if you feel so inclined, a petition has been started to have Magruder reinstated. The petition is for all concerned citizens and does not depend on locale.

Stuart Magruder, AIA

Stuart Magruder, AIA, LEED

For the last two years, I’ve had the privilege of serving pro bono on the Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee (BOC), a body charged with ensuring that public bond funds used by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are used to provide the infrastructure to educate the City’s youth.  The District has been the beneficiary of the largest municipal bond fund program in the history of the United States, totaling some $20.5 billion to date.   Busing, year round calendars, and serious overcrowding have been almost eliminated throughout the District as a result of the bonds.

With these major accomplishments behind it and close to $7B of the $20.5B remaining, LAUSD has diverted infrastructure bond funds to a poorly designed and poorly executed technology initiative: one iPad for every student, K through 12.  The price tag for this initiative: $1.1B.

From the beginning, I have been a vocal and consistent critic of the program as it was clear to me that the District had not designed the initiative well.  Rather than starting with a pilot program to figure out what works and what doesn’t, the District planned to provide every student – some 600,000 – with an iPad.  And they planned to do it over the course of a year or so.  The teaching core was not consulted in any meaningful way, to say nothing of training the teachers that have to manage the devices.  Countless missteps along the way have occurred from paying for “content” (otherwise known as a “textbook”) that is not finished and is not being used; to not supplying keyboards; to numerous missteps around privacy and student data.

Nominated for a second two-year term by the AIA Los Angeles Chapter, the District’s Board Of Education, in a split vote, rejected my re-nomination.  This action violates the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between LAUSD and the BOC.  Per the MOU the District is compelled to approve the AIA|LA nomination – 12 of the 15 slots on the BOC are held above meddling by the District with an ensured appointee.

The reason for my nomination’s rejection is solely due to my criticism of the technology initiative.  Buying tablet computers with Bond funds is bad enough but moving to silence a critic of the effort is scary for our democracy.  When our politicians waste taxpayer funds and attempt to put themselves above reproach, we, the citizens, must resist.  Help me keep LAUSD honest.  Sign the petition and let the AIA|LA know their support of my re-nomination is vital.

For further insight, click here.


In Passing: John O. Merrill Jr., FAIA

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The following was sent courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Architect John O. Merrill Jr., FAIA, the son of the founder of SOM died April 25 at his home in Tiburon, California. He was 90 years old. Merrill was the Partner in Charge of many of SOM’s widely regarded projects including the Mauna Kea hotel in Hawaii; the Oakland Stadium and Coliseum; the 52-story Bank of America building in San Francisco; and the Weyerhauser corporate headquarters in Tacoma, WA.

During his 40-year career at SOM, Merrill had a significant impact not only on the firm, but on some of the most celebrated architecture of the 20th century. In the late 1960’s, Merrill, with frequent collaborator and SOM Design Partner Charles Bassett, oversaw the five story stepped back headquarters for Weyerhauser Corporation. Decades before the notion of green roofs and trends in office layouts, this building’s sloped terraces were each planted with lush greenery. Floor to ceiling windows run completely uninterrupted along each level, blurring the boundary between outside and in.

“With John’s leadership, SOM brought an approach to integrated design that hadn’t been seen before on the West Coast,” said SOM Managing Partner Gene Schnair, FAIA. “John’s focus and insistence on design excellence deeply influence our practice.”

Merrill began his career with SOM in San Francisco in 1949. In 1952 he took over the leadership of the firm’s then office in Portland, Oregon and in the following eight years established the basis of the firm’s stellar reputation in the Pacific Northwest. He quickly rose to the level of Associate in the firm (1953) and then Associate Partner (1954). He was elected as a Partner in 1957 and served as a senior Managing Partner of the firm until his retirement in 1989. In addition to his important contribution to the firm’s West Coast practice, he worked internationally in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia, Russia and France. Along the way he was elevated to the level of Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, of which he served as President of the San Francisco chapter in 1976.

His influence reached far beyond the firm. In fact, he was instrumental in achieving AIA San Francisco’s Affirmative Action Plan for Women in Architecture. And he was elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Art Institute when that 75-year old, 800-student institution was near collapse due to student unrest and financial problems. Merrill instituted student and faculty reforms as well as fund raising efforts that saved this cultural asset.


2013 Academy of Emerging Professional Award Recipients Announced

in: Press Room/Releases / 0 Comments

American Institute of Architects AEP honors top young leaders and mentors.

The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC), is proud to notify the public about the results from the Academy of Emerging Professionals recent awards program. Not only have the best and the brightest minds been recognized, but those who support architects in the early stages of their career. The 2nd annual awards program jury deliberated and announced the following 2013 award recipients:

Chapter Award:
AIA Pasadena & Foothill. This chapter has an inclusive approach to Emerging Professionals, resulting in engagement from the community as well as the design arena.

Firm Mentorship Award: Lionakis, a firm known to actively connect the Emerging Professionals within the organization to a wide range of resources to enrich development and further enhance the architecture arena and society as a whole. With firms in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Hawaii, they are able to touch a wide range of up and coming architects and mentor them along the path to success.

Student Leader Award:
Keko AlRamah. She has demonstrated an early commitment to her profession and contributions and achievements have already been observed in her community. She currently attends West Valley College in Saratoga.

Educator Award: Gary McGavin, AIA Jurors agreed McGavin embodies the idea that architectural success is enhanced when one sees the calling as part of a well-rounded life, and imparts this on his students. He is on faculty at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona.

Associate Award: Haley Gipe, Assoc. AIA. Jurors noted there is not a single aspect of associate activities connected to AIA that she has not touched on a national scale and all should look forward to her contributions in the future. Gipe is an intern at Darden Architects in Fresno.

Young Architect Award:
Brian Crilly, AIA and Britt Lindberg, AIA LEED AP. Both have been noted for their creative solutions and innovative thinking. Crilly is credited for his contributions with a conference all should be attending—the Now Next Future. Many are looking forward to see how Lindberg continues to contribute to the leadership within the field of Architecture in the future. Crilly is an architect at Lionakis, Sacramento. Lindberg is a project architect at Gensler in San Francisco

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Shannon Calder, at 916.642.1718, or scalder@aiacc.org.


Rio Vision Meets R/UDAT

in: Important Issues / 1 Comment
Humphrey the Whale

Humphrey the Whale. Illustration courtesy of Nick Gaston

In 1985 and then again in 1990, Humphrey the Humpback Whale, deviated from his Pacific Ocean migration path and found himself 60 miles inland of the coast of San Francisco near the city of Rio Vista. Because his wayward journeys (and the ensuing successful rescues) made national headlines, you may have heard of this place: population 7,563.

Do not be deceived by the modest number of citizens: this small Delta community is mighty. Very recently, a group of citizens rallied to rise above predicaments such as a near-municipal fiscal collapse in 2009, by composing a well-written application (Rio Vision). They were awarded the help of a Regional Urban Design Assistance Team (R/UDAT). R/UDATs are sought out by the communities themselves. They can help assist with responding to issues such as unfocused growth, gridlock, crime, loss of identity.

The primary purpose of the R/UDAT process is to essentially help communities become more livable. Since 1967, these teams have assisted more than 150 areas by coming in, assessing the problems and providing solutions in the form of executive summaries—summaries which do not read as instruction manuals, but rather a list of recommendations with detailed analytics as to why. Rio Vista is the latest community to receive one such summary.

Direct issues were discussed, analyzed and faced. Take Rio Vista’s waterfront and downtown for example. According to Rio Vision’s request : “The downtown has a 1950’s undisturbed look and feel … buildings have facades that obscure the charming brickwork … some buildings look dated. Storefronts have little curb appeal.” Also, the community has “a charming but lackluster core city and waterfront.” In direct answer to this, the R/UDAT explicitly stated the downtown and waterfront should not be considered two different areas but rather the “Waterfront will catalyze down town through downtown expansion, restaurants that help provide access to the river, dense housing to build downtown’s critical mass, built around public space.” (p. 2)

Because Rio Vista was armed and prepared with an already established vision, the process went that much smoother. “Rio Vista had a lot of enthusiasm built up, so we hit the ground running. This was a very ideal case for us,” said Erin Simmons, Director of the AIA Center for Communities by Design.

Rio Vista Bridge. Illustration courtesy Nick Gaston

Rio Vista Bridge. Illustration courtesy of Nick Gaston

Architect and member of the Rio Vision steering committee, Mark McTeer, AIA, was skeptical upon entry of this project as momentum on situations such as these do have a tendency to fade. But that was not the case. “I could hardly believe what they were achieving and for the first time in almost a decade, people were starting to talk and dream again. Everything seemed rooted in optimism.”

The R/UDAT team consisted of nine professionals from across the country. 10 college students from the San Francisco and Sacramento area also joined in. Consumnes River College student Daniel Christman, AIAS, (and AIACC’s Student Director North), happened to be one. “It was a great opportunity to observe how design professionals analyze a community in need.” But the attendees and participants were not limited to the experts. 50 community members attended the targeted focus groups and 350 citizens attended a Town Hall meeting. Once assembled, several action-packed days (and nights) were spent coming up with suggestions and solutions. There were short-term goals set, (p.77), as well as long-term. Some basic ideas and objectives: calm Highway 12; (see the “road diet” section, p. 9 -31), and to build a viable business community in the downtown area by revitalizing and creating a stronger identity.

According to McTeer, there are now more volunteers and potential projects and Rio Vision is planning on accommodating them. Simmons said about the experience, “This is what a project can be.”

The fire was ignited, but the passion to start this adaptation of the community was already in place. McTeer articulately wrote of the value of the process coupled with the value of the people: “… The change in attitude oddly reminds me of a scene from The Wizard of Oz. Nine professionals flew in and drew back the curtains and with a little faith and encouragement, granted a struggling community something they had all along: brains, courage, and heart.”

Brains, Heart, Courage. Illustration courtesy Nick Gaston

Brains, Heart, Courage. Illustration courtesy of Nick Gaston

Maybe Humphrey knew something we didn’t. Perhaps he felt the spirit of this place and its people and wanted to take a swim in some freshwater to check it out. Let’s hope, for his sake, he doesn’t return again. But humans from all locales are absolutely welcome to visit. For communities in need some insight and assistance, may Rio Vision serve as inspiration.

Read the full report here. If anyone is interested in a live, first-person account, they may want to consider attending AIA East Bay’s event Wed., Apr. 30. Three members from the Rio Vision steering committee will be presenting. Visit the AIA East Bay website for information and registration.


Avoiding White Space and Other Distractions

in: Notes From the 2nd Floor / 1 Comment

In this issue we continue the discussion of AIA fostering a culture of firm services and benefits that enhance the prosperity of the profession. Admittedly, achieving this objective is much easier said than done. So, where do we start?


Paul W. Welch, Jr., Hon. AIA

We begin by clearly identifying expected outcomes:

  • an educated profession well prepared to meet the environmental and economic challenges of a shrinking planet;
  • architectural firms that have the necessary tools and resources to prosper in an evolving profession and growing unpredictable marketplace;
  • an aggressive outreach campaign that engages the public towards a greater understanding and appreciation of architects, architecture, and the contributions of design to the human experience;
  • and an AIA that vigorously participates in local, regional, and national conversations regarding design and construction.

Understandably, to be successful, these ambitious objectives require discipline and focus at all three levels of the AIA.

AIA, within the framework of the Practice and Prosperity Initiative, has begun the journey. Underway is a major effort to clearly identify the programs and activities that contribute to a culture of firm services. The inquiry is not confined to the Design and Practice Department. The research is being conducted Institute-wide and will identify the activities in all the AIA’s programs, activities, committees, and task forces. Ultimately, the inventory will include firm benefits and services being provided by state and local AIA components. Once the survey is complete, a thorough review and validation of the findings will prioritize valued services, and ascertain programs and activities that have outlived their usefulness.

While the validation process is underway, commensurate efforts will identify “white space,” or issues, problems, and/or opportunities for member services that are not currently being addressed. This effort will require additional surveys and discussions with architectural firms of all sizes. Once these white spaces have been identified, they will be prioritized before moving to operational planning and budgeting to ensure the AIA has targeted those items that have the highest positive impact on the firms and the members.

This exploratory effort at cataloging existing and needed firm service and benefits will contribute considerably to expanded member communications and efforts to enhance public and client messaging. If we are serious about changing the conversation about design and construction and elevating the value of design while empowering emerging professions, we must not be distracted by the noise of adversity and conflict, but, instead, be willing to stand up for what we believe in.

I fully appreciate that The Practice and Prosperity Initiative, within the context of Repositioning, represents a different paradigm of resourcing our firms and our members to meet the challenges of the post-recession economy and an unpredictable and volatile marketplace. However, we must be bold, courageous, and innovative, if we are to reposition the AIA to be an active participant at the leading edge of practice.

To be truly valuable to members, especially the emerging professionals, the AIA has to focus resources in order to earn a reputation as an organization that doesn’t follow, but leads. In the past, with the best intentions, our incremental efforts to accommodate myriad demands has resulted in AIA spreading itself much too thin, with far too many competing priorities. Our challenge is to target with laser-like accuracy those services, and only those services, that leverage our finite resources to best advance the value of the organization and the members it serves. Prosperity is a consequence of good business practices. As firms prosper, our members will benefit, and society will experience first -hand how design influences the livability of our communities.

In the words Albert Einstein:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and forgotten the gift.”

Money and resource allocation is the cutting edge of organizational policy. In other words, if we are truly committed to repositioning the architect in the marketplace and elevating the contributions of design, we need to “put our money where our mouth is.”

What are your thoughts? I look forward to hearing from you.


Mr. Malinowski Goes to Washington

in: Industry News / 0 Comments

members in the news-580

“Wood is being rediscovered; wood is being reinvented.”
–Michael F. Malinowski, AIA


Michael F. Malinowski, AIA

Sometimes there is more than one way to think through a predicament; more than one solution to be considered. For example, the public often views timber as a precious resource in danger of disappearing. But what if this isn’t the case? What if sustainable harvested would was a medium and therefore a way to increase the employment rate? What if building with wood actually reduced greenhouse gas emissions?

These quandaries were discussed at the White House Rural Council Workshop, Building with Wood: Jobs and the Environment, presented on Mar. 18. Among the presenters invited was California’s own Michael Malinowski, AIA.

According to a press release distributed by the US Forest Service, the idea is to “support sustainable forestry and buffer reduce [sic] greenhouse gas emissions.”

To this effect, The Agriculture Department (USDA) announced a $1 million program to promote wood as a sustainable material in order to boost rural economies. In addition, another $1 million is being used to set up a design competition. The intent is to “demonstrate the architectural and commercial viability of using sustainable wood products in high-rise construction,” according to a USDA press release.

Malinowski, President of Applied Architecture, Inc., presented on the use of timber in architecture. His platform revolved around the narrative of a situation where his switching to wood on a project received very positive results. His account included video and slides, one of which powerfully and simply read: “Wood is being Re-discovered; Wood is being Reinvented.” Malinowski was also able to provide evidence via surveys of innovations regarding wood use that are currently transpiring. “It happened I was one of the three invited jurors for the Canadian Wood Design Awards program – juried in Ottawa, Canada this last December – so I had a ready access to an amazing breadth of work and the firms who are at the leading edge of this innovation in design and application.”

Malinowski received solid feedback on his presentation, as well as an announcement from the AIA Grassroots podium announcing that a member presented to the White House Rural Council. (Even though the event didn’t technically transpire at the White House. Snow prevented the original date and place. As Malinowski said, “It turned out the government was shut down on Monday due to a snow storm; the event was moved to Tuesday at the USDA headquarters on the National Mall – not quite as heady as the original location – but still an event where there were two senior people from the white house speaking, followed with an address by the Secretary of Agriculture.”)

If the mission of this symposium is to consider wood as a sustainable resource and for it to be more widely adopted, no one better to speak than an architect with the research and the experience to back it up. It is from these sorts of presentations which not only the profession learns, but the public as well.

Additional Resources:


School Design Excellence

in: Awards / 1 Comment

2014 Leroy Greene On Feb. 25 in Sacramento, Calif., CASH (The Coalition for Adequate School Housing), in partnership with AIACC, announced the recipients of the 2014 Leroy F. Green Design + Planning Awards. Selected by a distinguished panel of jurors, representing educators and design professionals, these awards recognized new, modernized, and specialty facility projects throughout California.



Award of Excellence
Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan
Irvine Unified School District
Irvine Unified School District
LPA, Inc.


Award of Excellence

Paramount High School
Paramount Unified School District
LPA, Inc.

Mills High School Theater & Gymnasium Complex
San Mateo Union High School District
Quattrocchi Kwok Architects LLP

Award of Honor

Arroyo Viejo Child Development Center
Oakland Unified School District
Dougherty + Dougherty Architects, LLP

Award of Merit

Placer County Office of Education
Seavey Center
Placer County Office of Education
Williams + Paddon Architects


Award of Excellence
Hillcrest High School
Alvord Unified School District
HMC Architects

Pioneer School
Delano Union School District
HMC Architects

La Escuelita Elementary School + District Programs (KDOL Studio/ District IT Center/Community Health Center)
Oakland Unified School District
MVE Institutional, Inc.

Award of Honor
Richard N. Slawson
Southeast Educational Center
Los Angeles Unified School District

Granite Hills High School
Grossmont Union High School District
Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke


Award of Honor
Fremont High School Expansion
Los Angeles Unified School District
LPA, Inc.

The AIACC congratulates each of these recipients on successful projects as they provide school districts with a glimpse of how a well-designed facility can enhance the learning environments for California’s public school students. The AIACC believes good design in public school facilities enhances the learning, development, and behavior of the students and positively affects educational outcomes.