Tag: DSA

The Office of the State Architect: An Update

in: Government Affairs / 2 Comments

Chet Widom, FAIA was appointed as California’s 19th State Architect on January 1, 2012. During the interview process, Governor Brown charged Chet with a complex design problem: to redesign state government. Governor Brown was adamant that reform needs to occur within DSA to elevate the state as a leader in design and construction; and Chet as State Architect is the person to lead that effort.

It’s been a busy first quarter for Chet, navigating the various California state agencies, meeting all of the stakeholders, and identifying the important issues. While anyone who works with DSA knows there are a myriad of immediate challenges facing DSA – from improving the problems surrounding disabled access, to project close out, to the ever-present “bin time” for project review, to name a few – Chet is positioning himself to identify a strategic plan for DSA as a visionary organization, a leader in issues affecting the built environment in California, and a partner to those utilizing its services.

One of the important first steps has been to identify available resources. To that end, the AIACC is pleased to announce Bob Chase, AIA has been appointed by Governor Brown as the Deputy State Architect. Bob will make an excellent “right-hand” to the State Architect as they work toward improving the DSA and the services it provides.

Bob has a strong background as both an architect and a building official; which will serve him well as DSA struggles to improve its plan review and approval service to California’s more than 2000 public school districts.

Prior to his appointment by Governor Brown, Bob most recently served as acting chief building official for the City of Stockton since 2011. He also was the chief building official for the County of Sacramento beginning in 2009, and chief building official for the City of Sacramento from 2006 to 2009. In addition to his public service as a building official, Bob also was a partner at LPA/Sacramento Architects and prior to that a managing principal at Nadel Architects, and the director of design at Leidenfrost Horowitz and Associates.

The AIACC wishes Bob well as he and Chet and all the DSA staff work hard to improve the DSA. If you have any issues regarding DSA or recommendations, please let me know.


Crucial Opportunity: Weigh-In on the 2013 CBC Accessibility Provisions

in: Government Affairs / 37 Comments

Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, Ed Roberts Campus, photo by Tim Griffith

The AIACC has the timely but limited chance to shape the accessibility provisions of the 2013 California Building Code. As you are aware, accessibility compliance is one of the thorniest problems we face as practitioners. The Division of the State Architect (DSA) is seeking input on the format of these provisions, which will shape architectural practice in California for years to come, affecting how we make and defend our design decisions. It will, as well, have a significant effect on California’s national standing in current and future access code development.

To assist in the preparation of our response to the DSA, the Council has sought the guidance of three recognized subject matter experts (SME’s) in the area of state and federal access code development: Steve Winkel, FAIA, Jay Whisenant, AIA, and Kerwin Lee, AIA. Their recommendation will be presented to the AIACC Executive Committee for its final decision as the official position of the AIACC.

Your input is crucial, as well. We encourage you to reach out to the DSA directly with your thoughts, using the Stakeholder Input Form they have provided and copying your response to Kurt Cooknick, Assoc. AIA, Director of Regulation and Practice for the AIACC; and to share those thoughts with your colleagues in the Comment thread below.

This is the opportunity for us to engage in—and improve—an area of the practice that has bedeviled us for years, but time is short: responses are due at DSA by 15 February 2012.

The DSA has identified three options, which are summarized and discussed below. The DSA Discussion Paper is available in full here.

  • Option 1 – Current California Provisions – Continuation of current California provisions replacing the IBC Chapter 11 in its entirety, amended to implement State statutory mandates and to be consistent with the 2010 ADA Standards.
  • Option 2 – IBC Chapter 11 Provisions: Replacement of the current California provisions with the IBC Chapter 11 language and reference standard (ICC A117.1 – 2009), amended to implement State statutory mandates and for consistency with the 2010 ADA Standards.
  • Option 3 – 2010 ADA Standards: Replacement of the current California provisions with the federal 2010 ADA Standards amended to implement State statutory mandates.

A discussion of each option is presented below.

Option 1 – Current California Provisions
The CBC uses the IBC as its model code, which is tailored to California’s unique requirements with State Agency Amendments and adopted by the Building Standards Commission (BSC). However, in the area of accessibility the IBC’s provisions have typically been completely replaced with unique California language proposed by various State agencies and approved by the BSC. In essence California has historically developed its own “model” accessibility code with most provisions carried forward to subsequent editions as State amendments during the triennial code adoption process.

This would involve carrying forward the existing CBC Chapter 11B with revisions to the current language to ensure that the accessibility requirements are no less stringent than the revised federal requirements and to implement State statutory mandates. The 2013 CBC accessibility provisions would continue to be California amendments in their entirety.

Option 2 – IBC Chapter 11 Provisions

The IBC utilizes its Chapter 11 for accessibility scoping requirements, and a separately published reference standard, ICC/ANSI A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, for its technical guidelines. Scoping requirements indicate when, where or how many of something is required, and the technical guidelines indicate how compliance is achieved. The scoping provisions of IBC Chapter 11 are developed and approved through an open hearing and consensus process by the International Code Council (ICC) utilizing ICC voting members comprised of code enforcement and fire officials. The technical standards and guidelines within ICC/ANSI A117.1 are developed through an open hearing and consensus process supervised utilizing an accredited committee for approval.

Option 2 would require deletion of the current Chapter 11 B language, adoption of the IBC Chapter 11 model code language with California amendments to comply with the new federal design standards, implement State legislative mandates and retain unique California provisions that remain relevant and beneficial.

Option 3 – 2010 ADA Standards
The United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) published revised regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010. These regulations adopted revised enforceable accessibility standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Beginning March 15, 2012, compliance with the 2010 Standards will be required for applicable new construction and alterations nationwide.

A goal in revising the federal regulations was to make the design guidelines more consistent with model building codes and industry standards in order to facilitate compliance. The revisions were coordinated extensively with model code groups and standard-setting bodies so that differences could be reconciled. In particular, the Access Board sought to harmonize the guidelines with the International Building Code (IBC) and access standards issued through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). While the ADA is federal law focused on the civil rights of people with disabilities for equal access, a number of States have used it as a model code upon which their state level building code provisions for accessibility are based.

Option 3 would require deletion of the current Chapter 11 B language, adoption of the federal 2010 ADA Standards as model code language with California amendments to implement State statutory mandates and retain unique California provisions that remain relevant and beneficial.


What Does the AIACC Do For Me?

in: AIACC / 0 Comments

As a member of the AIA, you receive benefits at the local, state, and national levels. It is probably easy for you to quantify what you received from your local chapter…but maybe it is more challenging to relate to the work in Sacramento on your behalf. Rest assured, the AIACC isn’t resting on past accomplishments…2012 promises to be a busy year as we work to advance the value of design, reclaim the role of architect as “trusted advisor” and look forward. Through proactive advocacy initiatives, new and innovative programs, and increased communications, we are actively engaged in positioning architects to be successful. Check out the 2012 Operating Plan for specific details.

Below are five important things the AIACC did for you as a member in 2011:

  1. We created a vision for the Division of the State Architect (DSA) which will allow the State of California to assume a leadership role in the thoughtful development of the built environment.

    What does this mean to me as a member?
    At the highest level of California state government, the AIACC is actively advocating for architects and architecture and the important role design plays in helping solve challenges facing California.

  2. We sponsored legislation, AB 560, which was signed into law by Governor Brown. AB 560 extends the sunset date on the law that allows architectural firms to be organized as Limited Liability Partnerships by seven years, and it does not increase the amount of professional liability insurance architectural LLPs must carry.

    What does this mean to me as a member?
    This law continues to allow architects diversity in how they choose to set up their corporate structure for practice.
    We increased opportunities for member engagement on the website and through social media outlets.

  3. What does this mean to me as a member?
    With all the changes in technology and all the options available to connect to various groups, it is vital to maintain connections within the profession, to build communities, and to stay engaged during these challenging times. Follow us on Twitter at #aiacc.
    We increased online continuing education. In addition to providing online courses to help architects fulfill their CE requirements for licensure, for the first time we also filmed the presentations from MDC, which are available at www.aecknowledge.com
  4. What does this mean to me as a member?
    We provide low cost, high-quality continuing education when you are ready for it – 24/7/365.
  5. The AIACC held the first Architectural Education Summit. This initiative brought together a diverse group of stakeholders for a strategic planning session, which resulted in a five-year initiative to bridge the gap between architectural education and practice within California.

    What does this mean to me as a member?
    Your professional organization is concerned about the apparent disconnect between what is taught in architecture school and what is needed in practice. Further, the decline in licensees and the lack of new architects entering the profession is of great concern; during this summit, these issues were discussed as part of the larger initiative to ensure the health of the profession.


Acting State Architect Howard “Chip” Smith Recognized for his Leadership

in: Advocacy Issues / 0 Comments

At the recent AIACC Awards and Installation Celebration, Acting California State Architect Howard “Chip” Smith was recognized for his distinguished service to the citizens of California and the design and construction community. For the past 15 months, Chip faced a multitude of challenges worsened by a difficult economy and a highly politicized environment. His leadership, dedication, and perseverance have enabled the Division of the State Architect (DSA) to continue to address and resolve complex issues and concerns surrounding the design, approval, and construction of public schools.

The AIACC is heavily vested in the discussions about a renewed DSA, the appointment of a strong state architect, and the DSA’s role in the renewal of California as a leader in the thoughtful development of the built environment. During his tenure, Chip has proven to be an ally of the profession, sharing the AIACC’s interest in the facilitation of collaboration and the constructive engagement of the design and construction community toward the shared goal of providing stability to the DSA and leadership to the office.


AIACC Members Monitor the Community College Chancellor’s Office

in: AIACC / 0 Comments

The AIA California Council keeps a constant, watchful eye on issues that affect the practice of architecture and the built environment, and it has a successful track record for effectiveness in advocacy on behalf of the profession. AIACC’s strength and ability to protect and promote our profession comes directly from our members. Through members of the State Action Liaison Committee (SALC), we monitor and maintain direct contact with California State Agencies that have direct or indirect impact on the practice of architecture. This is the first in a series of updates from one of the 13 agencies we monitor on your behalf.

California Community College Chancellor’s Office
The College Finance and Facilities Planning Division oversees the formulation of policies that determine the distribution of local assistance and capital outlay funds for the 72 community college districts. They oversee the construction and remodeling of new buildings and centers, and they use web-based tools to assess facilities, coordinate planning, and evaluate and manage projects efficiently. Doug Patterson, AIA, SALC liaision recently met with Fred Harris, Assistant Vice Chancelor, to identify issues of concern and opportunities for collaboration with the architectural profession.

Project Close-out with DSA – how can AIACC assist the CCCCO, the 72 Community College Districts, and their members to support and advance DSA project closeout activities?

Statewide Education Bond
$37B is needed for California’s Community Colleges over the next 10 years based on a facilities “needs” analysis. How can the AIACC support the next Statewide Education Bond measure?

Coordination with CCFC – California Community College Facilities Coalition

This is an organizational structure designed to utilize public/private partnerships to advance advocacy efforts for facilities issues and provide critical information and services to community college districts and their business partners on facility matters. How can the AIACC improve collaboration with the CCFC?

New Technology / Innovation
FUSION is a web-based suite of tools to support the integrated management and reporting on California community college facilities throughout the state. This approach allows for a consistent, standardized approach used by all college districts and for improved efficiency for the districts as well as the California Community College System.

There are also other issues of concern to the profession including updating the California Building Code with amendments and opportunities to coordinate with public utilities to increase incentives for energy efficient design.


The Search for the Next State Architect Continues

in: Government Affairs / 3 Comments
AIA California Council, AIACC, Appointments Unit, architects, Division of the State Architect, DSA, Governor Brown

Parallel with its efforts to strengthen and elevate the purpose of the Division of the State Architect, The AIACC seeks to strengthen the next State Architect’s role in design and construction and is working with the Brown Administration to make it a reality.

As stated in the AIACC’s whitepaper, Maximizing California’s Resources: Recommendations for a Stronger Design and Construction Industry, in order to help build the State’s economy, provide needed jobs, improve our worn infrastructure, house our growing population, and preserve our natural resources, The AIA California Council urges the Administration to 1) Appoint a strong State Architect with vision, to lead the renewed organization insightfully, vigorously, and effectively and 2) Consolidate the State’s construction related functions under the Division of the State Architect as a single, efficient agency, responsible for policy and planning for the built environment, oversight of the design and construction industry, and leadership in sustainability. This renewed State Architect will once again serve as a trusted advisor to the Governor, a resource for the Legislature, and a leader of the profession, bringing architects’ knowledge and skills to bear on the complex challenges facing the state.

The AIACC is working with the Administration’s Appointments Unit to provide candidates for consideration. Through the work of the State Architect Selection Recommendation Task Group and the Executive Committee, the AIACC has advanced four candidates to Governor Brown for consideration for appointment.

During conversations with the Governor’s Appointment’s Unit the AIACC was given the following as criteria for its search efforts:

  • The Governor wants ethnic, gender, and geographic (north and South state representation) diversity
  • Candidates must be a visionary on energy and sustainability issues, and a leader. They must possess and understanding of DSA’s purpose, and be politically astute.

The Governor has expressed a personal interest in the position and as such will conduct the interviews personally. Thus, the timeline for this appointment is dependent upon the Governor’s schedule and priorities. We will keep the membership informed on any developments that arise regarding this important appointment.


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

in: From AIACC Members / 0 Comments

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


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

in: AIACC / 1 Comment

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?