Tag: DSA

AIACC Responds to Governor Brown’s Request to Find the Next State Architect – 6/13/11

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A strong State Architect is critical to the future economic success of California. Whether you are engaged in the school construction process or not, the State Architect is a vital participant in rebuilding the state’s economy as we seek to provide jobs, improve our worn out infrastructure, house our growing population and preserving our natural resources.

Recent investigations into the seismic safety and delivery of California’s schools coupled with the current economic climate have raised interest by the Brown Administration in addressing key issues facing the Division of the State Architect (DSA). As part of our ongoing advocacy efforts on behalf of the profession, the AIACC has invested significant time and resources in developing a vision for a reinvigorated DSA. At the core of this new model is a collaborative approach, bringing together all the parties involved in the design and construction industry, facilitating a cooperative response to the critical issues effecting California. However, this is just one step in creating a more effective agency; critical to its success is a strong leader.

Governor Brown is taking a personal interest in the next State Architect and has asked the AIACC to nominate candidates for consideration. The Administration is looking for diverse candidates (ethnicity, gender and geographically (Northern and Southern California) and someone who is a visionary; a creative thinker who seeks creative solutions to our built environment related problems.

The AIACC has established a task group to vet candidates for consideration. They have also developed the following list of attributes, qualifications, and qualities and believe the ideal candidate for the position of California State Architect must possess:

  • A strong leader (a hands-on, make it happen person)
  • Politically astute (understands the role and responsibilities of both the position of State Architect, and the Division of the State Architect)
  • Problem solver (recognizes issues and finds ways for improvement and/or change, visionary)
  • Possess the ability to work within the current system (finds ways to improve it using what already exists, and not be openly critical)
  • Has an ability to collaboratively work with people
  • Exudes confidence
  • Be open and transparent
  • Knowledgeable on the social aspects of environmental and energy issues

We know this is a tall order for anyone to fill, and while many Californians are frustrated with the sometimes onerous, bureaucratic nature of government, the AIACC is working on your behalf to offer solutions and ensure architects are part of the dialogue. The AIACC stands ready to assist the next State Architect and the Administration in solving the complex problems facing our state and your investment in the AIACC has made this possible.

Questions regarding DSA or this process? Contact Kurt Cooknick, Assoc. AIA, Director of Regulatory Affairs

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AIA Los Angeles Challenges DSA to Consider Alternatives for School Construction – 6/16/11

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Acting California State Architect Howard “Chip” Smith met with AIA members to address their individual and collective concerns regarding the Division of the State Architect (DSA) and opportunities to streamline the school construction process in California.

Many DSA related issues were discussed, the most significant being plan check and the possibility of making changes to DSA’s current role in the plan checking and certification of public K-12 schools. Suggestions included allowing Architects of Record to self-certify public K-12 school projects at the end of construction; allowing DSA to delegate plan check functions to local building departments for selected K-12 districts, and the possibility for a “tiered DSA process” that streamlines review for small projects.

Efforts to outsource plan review for structural, mechanical, and electrical disciplines currently are employed by the DSA, however there have been calls to extend this to approval responsibility as well. Last year the Schwarzenegger Administration introduced SB 1227 (Runner) which, if passed, would have transferred the authority to review and approve school construction projects to local building departments. It was the Administration’s contention that transferring the duties of the DSA to local building departments would “improve government efficiency and expedite plan review and approval of school construction projects.” Just prior to its first hearing, SB 1227 was canceled at the request of author and the bill was subsequently dropped. The AIACC opposed this bill as members felt it would have created building plan approval chaos and confusion, given the multiple jurisdictions across California and within single school districts (LAUSD has 22 building departments within its district boundaries).

Another significant issue discussed was the inability of architectural firms not currently involved in the design of public schools – but active in the designing of private schools – getting listed for RFQ’s. This has been attributed to the complications associated with DSA’s approval process and a public school district’s desire to hire architectural firms that can navigate the DSA process. It was pointed during the discussion that this barrier to firms is also a barrier to districts in that it precludes them from access to cutting edge educationally integrated design.

While there were no immediate solutions to these issues, the dialog is now open and future discussions are being planned for. Do you have other issues with DSA or recommendations?

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The Impact of Regulatory Agencies on the Practice of Architecture

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Often times the term “Regulations”, makes people cringe. But in the practice of architecture, regulations play a critical role ensuring the public’s health, safety and welfare. The efforts of the AIACC Regulatory Affairs programs are essential to the profession of architecture, not only in providing members with a voice, but also enabling them to be a participant in how regulations impact the profession. In order to strengthen member’s participation, a newly formed State Agency Liaison Committee (SALC) has been developed with the goal of monitoring and maintaining direct AIACC member contact with California State Agencies that have a direct impact on the practice of architecture. The new SALC team will bring forward the proposed slate of Agencies each year for review and approval by the AIACC Executive Committee. Four annual meetings are proposed to be conducted via conference calls with specific topics to be discussed on each meeting agenda. This newly formed team includes 15 AIACC members who are assigned to maintain contact and build relationships with specific agencies and work with the VP of Regulation and Practice to establish these bridges. Paul Schroeder, AIA, Vice President of Regulation and Practice, is looking forward to the impactful results this new structure will provide for the AIACC, as well as the profession at large. He has been active in AIACC leadership for several years, and has worked diligently to organize this new liaison team.

Schroeder states the liaisons will work with AIACC staff and the individual agencies in tackling specific issues related to each organization. Agencies like the California Architects’ Board, (CAB). Efforts will work toward improving the enforcement of unlicensed practice, and address possible changes to the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), as well as improve the profession’s knowledge and understanding of disability access regulations through continuing education. Efforts to address the Academy of Emerging Professionals and Intern Development Program issues will continue as well.

In addition to working with CAB, the identified individual liaisons will work with many other agencies such as Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), in analyzing the California healthcare infrastructure and in facilitating development of sustained capacity for communities to address local healthcare issues. The AIACC will participate in program activities and policy decisions affecting healthcare facilities, and work with OSHPD to identify issues of concern, and address the identified issues with the Capitol Forum Healthcare Group.

SALC will also work with the Division of State Architect (DSA) in providing oversight for K-12 schools, community colleges and various other state-owned facilities, becoming more involved in issues of significance to the profession such as building codes, access compliance, plan review, education, and much more, as well as reviewing CASp programs to ensure they are performing as it was intended to, and places no additional burden on the profession. Also, in working with the Department of General Services (DGS), the SALC team will identify issues of concern and foster constructive discussion on issues of mutual interest such as sustainability, procurement, and contract language.

In addition, The Office of Emergency Services (OES) relationship will now be enhanced by the implementation of the SALC team in maintaining communication to better provide members education and training assistance, improving architect’s ability to effectively respond to disasters as they occur. The California Department of Water Resources liaison will review the carrying out of the work of the FloodSafe California programs, partnering with local, regional, and state offices in creating sustainable integrated flood management and emergency response systems throughout California.

This is just a partial list of some of the agencies the SALC team will be working with. For a complete list of agencies, please contact Kurt Cooknick, Director Regulation and Practice at AIACC.

Many other goals exist for the Regulation and Practice programs as well. Not only for those with the new SALC group, but also in working with the DSA the next 13 months in helping to restructure the division, as well as to put forth a viable candidate for appointment as the next State Architect. Schroeder states, “We will also continue our efforts in working toward unifying the sustainability codes; International Green Codes; CalGreen Codes; and develop local chapter workshops with the needed information AIACC members need.”

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The AIACC Announces the Release of Whitepaper Regarding Possible Restructure of Division of the State Architect (DSA)

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Maximizing California’s Resources: Recommendations for a Stronger
Design and Construction Industry

Sacramento, CA- March 17, 2011 — In furthering past efforts to actively engage State Government in helping find ways to be more effective and efficient, The American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC) has published a whitepaper; Maximizing California’s Resources: Recommendations for a Stronger Design and Construction Industry. It presents a comprehensive vision which includes specific recommendations for building a stronger DSA, furthering the role and relevancy of the State Architect in California’s government. The whitepaper is intended to be a first-step toward assisting state government leaders in addressing the myriad of issues regarding planning, design, and construction affecting the quality of life for California’s citizens and its economy.

As a consequence of California’s current budget crisis, and the cuts the state is facing, which in turn will affect programs and services that benefit our communities, efficiency and effectiveness in the built environment has never been more important.

Architectural design has the inherent ability to solve problems that are physical, as well as social and economic. Without direct internal access to government decision makers, the AIACC cannot affect the transformations needed that ultimately effect the greater community at large. Transformations such as new delivery methods that are more efficient and cost effective, designs that go beyond sustainable, and post occupancy evaluation tools that impact future designs for better building performance, are key to our goal for a preferred future. Former State Architects, as well as architectural practitioners, involved in the development of this white paper, recently stated the value of its contents.

“The AIACC has shown responsible leadership in preparing this important, and much needed set of recommendations for maximizing effective utilization of the State’s design and construction resources for the benefit of California’s citizens.” Barry Wasserman, FAIA, Former California State Architect 1978 – 1983.

“I am pleased to endorse the efforts of the AIACC in producing this important white paper. The fragmentation of the State’s design and construction process over the years has increased costs to California taxpayers through over regulation and burdensome duplication of services. There is no single trusted advisor for the Governor, or the legislature, to acquire accurate advice for the industry. Now that the State of California is facing unprecedented infrastructure, budget and environmental issues, the time has come to consolidate design and construction into one entity and restore the Division of the State Architect to the role it held during the previous Brown Administration.” Paul Neel, FAIA, CDS, Former California State Architect 1989 – 1991.

“I applaud and support the AIACC’s efforts to strengthen and reinvigorate the role of the State Architect. Architecture, and its positive impact on society, reflects the values of our State. By restoring the role of the State Architect to one of leadership and prominence, we are expressing pride and an elevated standard for our public buildings and an optimistic outlook toward California’s future.” Steve Newsom, AIA, LEED AP.

This whitepaper offers some important suggestions that if considered and implemented could make a marked difference in the quality and cost effectiveness of planning, design, and construction services for future state funded and supported projects – and in many ways the future of the profession itself. Visit AIACC.org to review the whitepaper.

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AIACC Responds to DSA Issues

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The AIACC responds to recent issues regarding the Division of the State Architect (DSA) and the growing number of public schools that are being occupied without the documentation the DSA uses to determine a constructed project complies with the codes and regulations governing school construction, attesting to their safety.

The members of the American Institute of Architects, California Council (AIACC), are deeply committed to public safety and to the design and construction of schools that are safe for children and teachers, and can withstand an earthquake; we should expect no less. However, a growing number of public schools are being occupied without the closeout process documentation the Division of the State Architect (DSA) uses to determine that a constructed project complies with the codes and regulations governing school construction – attesting to their safety. While this is serious, it should not surprise anyone involved in meeting the demands of California’s public school construction process. Beginning in the late 1980’s, meeting the unprecedented demand for schools was greatly complicated by the 90’s recession and the consequences the recession had on the DSA’s resources. The economy improved; however, the DSA still faced hiring freezes, an inability to authorize overtime, furloughs, and other Governor’s Executive Orders further reducing and reallocating staff resources. Before long, demand for new schools and more classrooms quickly outpaced needed regulatory resources. The impact on DSA’s workload was not adequately anticipated (at the height of the demand, there was a reported average of one new K-12 school being occupied every day). Consequently, the inventory of non-certified, occupied schools expanded as the growing demand for plan review assumed priority.

For several months, reducing the inventory of uncertified projects and improving the certification process has been the subject of collaborative efforts by a number of individuals and organizations, including DSA and the architectural profession. While the lack of certification does not immediately translate into unsafe buildings or students being at risk, uncertified buildings should be carefully scrutinized to ensure that the lack of appropriate project documentation is not masking something more serious. It is important to note that although a building may be deemed uncertified, it was constructed using plans that were designed by licensed professionals, and were approved by the DSA plan check process.

The Field Act has long demonstrated its contributions to safeguarding essential service buildings and California schools. However, times have changed; design and construction methods, and materials have changed as well. The architectural profession is committed to working with the DSA and other stakeholders in response to the changes in project delivery, innovations in student education, and the development of facilities that educate emerging generations.

The lull in the economy provides a timely opportunity to thoroughly review the rules, regulations, and entitlement procedures that govern the design and construction of California school facilities. It also provides a window of opportunity to reorganize and revitalize the leadership and charter of the DSA in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Therefore, the AIACC recently published a policy paper, Maximizing California’s Resources: Recommendations for a Stronger Design and Construction Industry.” This paper discusses the role of design and construction as a critical economic engine in California and describes how a repurposed California State Architect, and supporting DSA, can provide the needed vision and leadership necessary for a preferred future for California and its citizens.

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AIACC Makes Recommendations to Foster a Stronger DSA

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AIA California Council, AIACC, Architecture Profession, California Department of General Services, California Government, Division of State Architect, DSA, Future of Architects, Governor, K-12 Schools, Legislature, State Architect, whitepaper

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Horace Mann Elementary School - 2004 Design Award Winner - Architect Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners

The AIACC believes that as a consequence of external budgetary pressures and as a result of its limited role as overseer in the development of K-12 schools, the Division of the State Architect (DSA) has never been in greater danger of either having its current functions diminished or the office as we know it completely eliminated.

Many, if not most of us, have taken for granted the role of the State Architect and have assumed that the person in that position was serving as a trusted advisor to the Governor and the Legislature on all things related to the design and construction industry. This may have been true in the past but it is certainly not the current situation, and we fear the dialogue may be absolved further.

As much as we believe in the importance and need for an architectural voice within state government, we also recognize the power of design to transform and the value of design to deal with our state’s current challenges. Design has the inherent ability to solve problems that are not only physical but also social and economic. Without direct internal access to government decision makers we cannot bring the transformations taking place in our practices to the greater community. Transformations such as new delivery methods that are more efficient and cost effective, designs that go beyond sustainable, and post occupancy evaluation tools that inform future designs regarding both building and human performance to name a few.

In response to these concerns, the Council has brought together our profession’s thought leaders to help research and inform the future of the DSA. This has culminated in the following whitepaper: Maximizing California’s Resources: Recommendations for a Stronger Design and Construction Industry. This paper presents a “comprehensive vision” with specific recommendations toward building a stronger DSA, and furthering the role and relevancy of our State Architect in California government. The whitepaper offers some important suggestions that if considered and implemented could make a marked difference in the quality and cost effectiveness of planning, design, and construction services for future state funded and supported projects – and in many ways the future of the profession itself.

Do you agree with this vision?

Consolidation of the State’s construction related functions under the Division of the State Architect as a single agency responsible for policy and planning of the built environment, oversight of the design and construction industry, and leadership in environmental sustainability.

We hope that this will be the beginning of a dialogue and not the end of an era; please feel free participate by soliciting your comments below.

Camino Nuevo High School - 2007 Design Award Winner - Architect Daly Genik

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DSA: Focus of Online Investigation – Architects Could be Affected

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It has come to our attention that California Watch, an online, self-described, “Independent, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting”, will be circulating articles to local media outlets focused on seismic safety, outlining a series of failures by state regulators, school officials and inspectors over lax enforcement of the Field Act.

The allegations of failure to enforce the Field Act, are in regard to provisions related to the requirements of AB 300 and the number of uncertified projects (buildings lacking Field Act certification) as required by the Division of the State Architect’s (DSA) Closeout and Project Certification process.

California Watch has made these stories available to local media outlets for the stated purpose that “After reading these stories, reporters at other media outlets may want to dig deeper into their local schools.”

Because the potential exists that these articles may also be critical of architects and the profession, we would be remiss in our responsibility to the profession, and naïve in our estimation of the issue, if we did not share this information with you.

The AIACC wants to ensure that its members are prepared for local press inquiries, which we believe are likely. For further information, or to speak to the AIACC regarding this issue, please contact Kurt Cooknick, Assoc. AIA, Director of Regulation and Practice, or call (916) 642-1706.

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