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 
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

Monday, August 4, 2014

Class of 2013-2014 Project Update

It was about 6 months ago when we said the group was close to having construction documents complete. At that time, our goal was to have the newly built shelter space completed by the end of summer. Well, it's still summer and we are so very close to our goal. We might be a couple months off from that original goal, but we sure are close to providing the much needed additional shelter space for Promise House.

As of right now, this is where we stand:
1. We have a signed and sealed drawing set - which is in the process of getting permitted
2. The project is FULLY funded. Thank you to the 2013 Emerging Leaders Class, Promise House and their donors, Community Beer Company, and all the wonderful in-kind donations/labor we have received.
3. Thank you to Balfour Beatty for joining as our General Contractor, and for lining up sub contractors, materials, and much more.
4. Construction is READY to start..... soon!

The end is in sight! Special thanks to the following people for going the extra mile to make this project a reality.
- Lee Ellis and the Promise House Crew
- Rick Walker and Beck
- Katie Humphries and Balfour Beatty

We cannot wait to complete this project and share images of the final product! More importantly, we are excited to help Promise House expand their facilities in order to have continued success helping local children in need.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

ELP June 2014 Class

Some days after our June ELP class I was driving across the DFW to a client meeting and was listening to Think on KERA. That episode was titled “Failing Up” and was a discussion with Ryan Holiday on his new book "The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs." The discussion covered failure, growth, and resilience through the lens of one’s life.

Numerous class discussion have focused on the positives of failure and how failure can foster leadership within a person. However, if our conversations have focused on the micro (two steps forward one step back), the conversation on with Holiday revolved around the macro. Success and leadership are not the result of a single event or reaction to an event. One who is branded a hero or leader resulting from a courageous action or an event developed the traits required to succeed and lead over their lifetime. Hesitation or action is not a result of the situation but the person.

The events which lead to the creation of a leader are not fate but choice. The person who hesitated failed to react because of years of decisions which did not prepare them for action. And though not much at the beginning, years and decades of planning for failure gave the person who acted a lifelong catalog of possibilities through which he/she is able to sort and splice for decisions and actions. During several classes, Pete has mentioned that when a systemic failure occurs the one ultimately responsible is the one who should have foreseen the failure. A successful leader will be constantly preparing for failure and constantly preparing to respond.

Let us all learn to fail with style.