Tuesday, October 6, 2015

September 2015 - Community Activism

Photo Credit:  Andy Moon, 2015 ELP Co-Chair

Our September session for 2015 AIA Emerging Leaders Program was held at The Nasher Sculpture Center in downtown Dallas.
Before our scheduled panelists began, Diego Barrera, AIA gave us a quick overview of the ACE Mentor Program and how we could get involved as mentors. The mission of the program is to enlighten high school students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering and construction.
After Mr. Barrera’s presentation, we began to discuss September's topic, Community Activism, and we had two great community forces on hand for discussion. Our distinguished panelists were Patrick Kennedy, CNU AICP, urban planner and partner at Space Between Design Studio and prominent founder of the Coalition for a New Dallas, a political action committee, and Daron Babcock, founder of Bonton Farms, where the collective efforts of the last two ELP classes have been focused on designing the infrastructure of the working urban farm in South Dallas. Not only did we have these two inspirational leaders right in front of us, Daron brought Patrick Wright, a fellow resident of the Bonton Community.  All three gentlemen inspired us by describing how their forces for change within the community began, and how the grassroots nature of their efforts eventually won over widespread support for their initiatives.
Mr. Kennedy's efforts focused on his work with the Coalition for A New Dallas, a local PAC whose charge is to better inform community leaders and members of the prospects of implementing sound transportation and urban design principles in a broader regional framework.  Chiefly, the group's mission was to redirect TxDOT's efforts towards the rebuilding of the I-345 elevated viaduct that bifurcates Downtown Dallas and the Deep Ellum/East Dallas area towards a more sustainable and progressive model that replaces the aging viaduct with an at-grade boulevard and opens up land for development between Downtown and Deep Ellum, as well as, more importantly, removing the psychological barrier that the elevated freeway present to groups vying to bridge the disparate areas into a more cohesive Dallas.  Currently, the PAC's initiative is to engage political and civic leaders in moving the alternative vision for I-345 forward.
Mr. Babcock and Mr. Wright offered up their stories behind Bonton Farms in South Dallas, and how their lives were transformed from ones with [admittedly] little meaning to ones championing the great cause of offering up solutions for the "food desert" problems that plague low-income neighborhoods like Bonton, and addressing the broader problems of reducing crime, recidivism and drugs that plague these areas and refocusing on these with efforts that encourage and reward hard work and instilling community pride and cohesion and a path out of hopelessness.

Beyond sharing their stories, a fruitful discussion was had after their initial introduction.  Much appreciation goes out to these gentlemen for sharing some of their time and wisdom with us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

April 2015 - Architectural Leadership

Our April session for 2015 AIA Emerging Leaders Program was held at The Trinity Trust offices in the Design District on the 17th of the month. 

Once the panel discussions started, there were discussions ranging from personal leadership style to fashion accessories to the future of Dallas.  Our distinguished panelists, Linda McMahon with TREC, Bob Meckfessel with DSGN, and Rick del Monte with Beck shared their viewpoints, anecdotes, wit and wisdom in a series of pre-arranged and spontaneous questions.  (Thanks again Linda, Bob & Rick – We really enjoyed all of your insights!)

 After a quick break, the next portion of our session hosted by Pete dealt with discussions on the Adaptor-Innovator spectrum.  Assessments were taken and copious amounts of simple addition rendered us into three score groupings.  Soon after we found ourselves under Pete’s conductor-like control; arranged and re-arranged based on our scores in the main lobby space of The Trinity Trust.  It was an interesting change of pace to work in some movement into the session since the panelist discussions had been so intense and cerebral.  
Nearing the end of our time and feeling slightly dizzy from all of the arranging, we ended our session with a few well deserved beverages on the patio at Meddlesome Moth conveniently located a few blocks away.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

March 2015 - Architectural Advocacy

After February’s session with Mr. Walt Humann reminded us of the role architects can play towards benefiting the community, March’s session was to show us the role architects can play towards the benefiting the profession as a whole.
                We met this month in the Design District at the ALA showroom and where joined by Michael Malone and Bob Borson for a spirited panel discussion. As current TxA President, Michael stressed the importance in the knowledge of the legislative workings in our State’s capital and how these directly impact the profession. And not just the architectural profession, he stressed the impact a current bill to diminish the interior-designer license could have on the license of architects. Michael showed us the direct connection to the capital’s discussions with the bill to preserve Texas’ historic state capitals and how that equals work for architectural offices. He also pointed out the role organizations, such as Texas Society of Architects and AIA Dallas, play in advocating for architects on the legislative level with organizing events such as Advocacy Day.
                As creator and primary contributor to the popular blog “Life of an Architect,” Bob stressed the importance in advocating architecture to the public. His underlying message was that the more informed the public is as to what architects do the more the role of architects are called upon. He encouraged us to each to start our own means of communicating our profession to the public.
                After the panel discussion and Q&A the class was joined by Pete DeLisle for another inspiring leadership counseling session. This month Pete covered the different levels of knowledge and experience we will encounter throughout our careers. This recognition of other’s (and ourselves’) level of capacity and understanding is a vital for communication will those that may be earlier in their career than yourself, or later in their career.
                We wrapped March’s session with the discussion on this year’s class project. In a nearly unanimous vote we decided to continue the Emerging Leaders Program’s history with the Bonton Farm-Works program. With the help of Habitat for Humanity this year’s class will help design and construct the caretakers’ unit so that the farm can have an on-sight caretaker, as well as space for education demonstration. It is going to be a quick and hectic schedule…should be fun.

-Ryan Thomason

Monday, March 2, 2015

2015 - The Architect and Community Leadership

After our day long workshop in January our class was excited to meet up again at Page, and check in with the class and kick off our discussions for our class community project. The ELP class welcomed our first guest speaker Mr. Walt Humann, a well-recognized individual in the DFW area not only for his business but also his public service efforts. As the 2015 class ramps up we will begin our selection for the class community project with which we will volunteer our time, talents, and knowledge in an effort to better the community where we live and work. Mr. Humann shared with us a case study of a highly successful endeavor he has been working on, the Jubilee Community Center, and he was able to share the triumphs and challenges faced as their team worked tirelessly to make this public service project a reality. He stressed to the class the importance of being involved in our communities and staying involved, something which I know inspired me personally and I felt like it strongly resonated with the class as well.


Going around the room, Walt took the time to ask each of us what our thoughts were on the future and what we felt were going to be challenges we would face in the future. As architects many, if not all, of us feel a social responsibility to improve the fabric of the built environment in which we live and work. We all enjoyed the opportunity to hear Walt’s experiences, and then also to have a brief Q&A session with him at the end to inquire about his thoughts, opinions on current issues in the DFW area.

After class we all met up at the Woolworth for happy hour where we could "let our hair down", share with each other some of our current experiences at work, and socialize about the class discussion in a more casual setting. Having the opportunity for open and honest peer discussions about class, work, and life are one of the things I am looking forward too most with our class.

-Kelly Knowlton

Friday, October 17, 2014

The 2014 Class Project: Bonton Urban Farm

Just ten minutes from our work place is one of the most underserved and isolated neighborhoods in Dallas.  Its infant mortality rate and crime rate are among the highest in the state. Bonton, with its physical isolation and concentration of poverty is literally dying from being undernourished. Malnutrition is virtually unavoidable as there is no grocery store or basic health services in the neighborhood.

The ELP Class of 2014 met with Bonton Farm-Works leadership starting in April to assist building sustainable food systems in this impoverished community.

The mission of Bonton Farm-Works is to create a replicable model to foster food sustainability through access to healthy, local organic foods, and education. Various innovative urban gardening methods will be used to create a micro-farm where the local community can come to learn to build one and to have access to food that can be harvested there.

Partnered with Manhattan Construction and Kimley-Horn, the Class is designing the plan layout for Bonton Farms which includes greenhouses, a water collection system, animal husbandry facilities, and a training center/caretakers quarter. The Class has also put together a marketing brochure that will be used to raise money.

Seeing the Bonton Farm-Works in operation and learning about the community has been inspiring experience for the Class. Here’s how you can find more about the Works.

Be a part of impacting change!

Cha-Hyung Hunt, FKP Architects

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ELP September 2014 Class

This past week, the Emerging Leaders Program welcomed guest speaker John Crawford of Downtown Dallas Inc.  Our session met downtown, at the newly remodeled One Dallas Center [ODC] - headquarters building for HKS Architects.  This aging skyscraper, originally designed by I.M. Pei, was until recently nearly abandoned, and had fallen into disrepair  However, since the remodeling effort, ODC has become an impressive example of the revitalization of the Central Business District as downtown’s commercial and residential growth continues to explode.  Considering the surroundings of this month’s session, there was no more fitting speaker to present than John Crawford, one of the key individuals responsible for the resurgence of Downtown Dallas.
John is the president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. [DDI], which is a non-profit firm championing the transformation of downtown Dallas into a vibrant, urban center.  During his tenure as the CEO of DDI, the downtown residential population has grown by over 50%.  This has been accompanied by corresponding increases in retail absorption, construction of new parks, and new multi-modal thoroughfares. 

John spoke with the ELP group at length about what it takes to become an influential leader within the community, and the characteristics he viewed as vital.  Most importantly, he stressed the necessity of building a network of relationships with every engagement or endeavor along the way.  He also emphasized the importance of selecting organizational involvement based first and foremost on personal interests and satisfaction.  He also gave an interesting perspective on volunteering ones ‘sweat equity’ and not merely one’s wallet. Immediately following his talk, a lively discussion ensued.  John entertained our questions about the future of Dallas’ growth, including his stance on several controversial topics such as the parking/transit situation for new Downtown developments, and the proposed tear-down of I-345.
After Mr. Crawford’s lecture, we filled ourselves with fried pies from Bakers Ribs, and were treated to another excellent leadership counseling session by Pete DeLisle. This month Pete covered: reactions and solutions to threat perception, and tips on how to flourish in high-pressure situations.  After the session the leaders and a few sponsors gathered for happy hour at The Library in the Woolworth.  If you have not been here yet – I strongly recommend you go…it’s how I imagine Ron Burgundy’s apartment from Anchorman to be: Leather-bound books and rich mahogany abound.  Needless to say it’s a great venue for a cocktail! 

Last week’s session was characteristic of the level of quality we have enjoyed at each of our monthly sessions.  Informative and engaging guest speakers paired with fantastic leadership insight from Pete has made ELP a highly successful platform for crafting the future leadership of our profession.  As this year’s ELP class begins to wind I would like to extend thanks from all of 2014’s class to AIA Dallas, as well as the sponsorship from our respective firms that have allowed us to participate.

-Paul Ferrer | HKS Inc

Friday, September 19, 2014

Class of 2013 - Promise House - Construction Update

Ten months ago the 2013 class held its final class session and graduation ceremony. At that point, we had raised over ten thousand dollars, and were still diligently working to finish construction documents for the new shelter space at Promise House. Through hard work, dedication, and help from some great partners in the industry (Beck and Balfour Beatty), the end is in sight!
September 8, 2014 marked a major milestone stone for Promise House, as interior construction officially began on the build out of additional shelter space for their teen center.
In just 5 short days, the 1,600 sf space had stud walls in place, and electrical work started. Day 9, electrical and plumbing was moving ahead full speed. Inspections for framing are next on the list, and should happen next week. This means drywall can start being installed next.
All duct work, air handlers, furnaces, and heat pumps are all in place - I hear the AC will be turned on today if all goes well! Plumbing is in and tied to the risers, and sprinkler heads are being relocated as this is written.
Next week, we should have rooms that actually start to look like rooms - equipped with drywall and lighting! After that, the space should be on the home stretch. Add some finishes, a little paint, furniture, and Promise House will have the additional space they need to house more teens.
The shelter will house 10 new beds for teens between the ages of 18-22, who have had a hard time getting on their feet and need a little help, support, and guidance in order to lead successful lives. If you would like to contribute to a great cause, please visit http://promisehouse.org/how-to-help/ 
Please check back for updated pictures of the space.

contributed by Shannon Carpenter, AIA
Thanks to Lee Ellis at Promise House for providing pictures and updates