Three takes on innovation at ArchEx 2023 in November 

Everyone knows what innovation means, but ask ten people to offer a definition and you’ll get nearly as many versions. Technology will surely be a common thread, since it has come to be almost synonymous with the “i” word, but its root—novus—means new, which is a much broader dragnet for architects when they think about making claims about their innovative design or processes.

Architecture Exchange East (Nov. 1-3) has doubled down on what’s new about innovation with sessions about connectivity, technological or otherwise. Here are three takes on a contested word that you’ll want to check out if you’re also interested in doubling down on your firm’s future.

This year, Manoj Dalaya, FAIA, co-founder and president of KGD Architecture (and subject of an Inform interview last year), will talk about connecting a complicated program and stringent security requirements for the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) in Arlington with the need to create an open and modern workplace. The result? A luminous office that offers a range of open and secure work environments. For a place built on secrets, the IDA is a remarkably airy and welcoming place. Michele Amt, AIA who directs VMDO’s sustainability efforts, has another take on innovation—how to transform both the culture and practice of her firm to embrace what she calls “radical transparency,” align design decisions with sustainability goals, and leverage data to advance project outcomes. (She was also part of a roundup earlier this year of impressions published by Inform on Architecture 2030’s CARE calculator for carbon savings.) 

Speaking of digital tools, this wouldn’t be a preview of sessions on innovation without a word about technology. T.J. Meehan, VP of Technology Solutions for CADD Microsystems, will be on-hand at ArchEx this year to talk about what’s beyond your BIM workflow using Revit and how to meet client needs for facilities management—long after the punch list has been completed and the backbone of a project’s promise to, say, reduce operational carbon or be generally efficient. Best of all, says Meehan, it’s a revenue stream you can consider, not to mention a value-add for the project.

Innovation comes in lots of flavors, and this is far from an exhaustive account of what’s on tap at ArchEx this year. Find out more about these sessions and others, and register today for ArchEx.

Michelle Amt, AIA: Radical Transparency (Or, How To Transform the Industry And Your Practice)
Thinking about signing on to the 2030 Commitment but you’re nervous about hitting the target on schedule? Have you been reporting for a few years but you can’t seem to move the needle on your percent reduction? Wondering how you compare to others in the same boat? Join us for a deep dive on how the 2030 Commitment can transform how you practice—even if you’re not hitting your targets–with VMDO Architects. Through their embrace of radical transparency, this session will shed light on how this forward-thinking firm leverages tools like the AIA’s Design Data Exchange (DDX) to align design decisions with sustainability goals, setting   new standards for accountability and industry transformation. Learn about the challenges and benefits of this approach, and discover how it’s reshaping VMDO’s firm culture, enhancing their projects’ impact, and charting a more sustainable future for architectural design.

Manoj Dalaya, FAIA: Connection, Cognitions, And Balance Through Design
What is the importance of a connected and engaging workplace from the owner’s perspective in a hybrid setting? How can the architect lead the dialogue between the Owner and Consultants to shape a modern workplace? This is a case study of a new headquarters serving 1000 employees for the Institute for Defense Analyses. The client answers the most challenging U.S. security and science policy questions with objective analysis which is technical, and data-driven. The focus on art, lighting, and wellness is a counterpoint to the data-driven, high-security culture, providing relief and amplifying the capacity of the employees to achieve their mission.

T.J. Meehan: Additional Revenue Streams For Your Firm From A BIM Process
As a firm, you need to constantly stay ahead of your competition by providing more value. If you have already adopted a BIM workflow using Revit, there are several services you could provide to meet their needs. More and more owners are utilizing the models generated during design to manage their facilities, so how can you – with little more effort – provide models that assist owners with their FM goals and do so without fundamentally changing your business structure or requiring large investments in staff or technology. We will review specific steps you can take with your models and related processes to help owners meet their FM goals and how you may be able to not only add value to help set yourself apart from your competition, but also how you may be able to monetize these services.

Carbon modeling workshop focuses on skill-building and decarbonizing your projects

There’s a lot of talk about decarbonization out there—and for good reason. It’s widely agreed to be an effective strategy to reduce the embodied and operational carbon footprint of our design and building activities. Embodied carbon, in particular, is a hard nut to crack because—as all architects know all too well—the number of variables in a project’s timeline is formidable. For the uninitiated, it’s calculated as “global warming potential” (or GWP) and expressed in equivalent units of carbon dioxide (CO2e), which we can quantify during a life cycle assessment (LCA) that involves environmental product declarations (EPDs). 

If you read that paragraph and took a minute to catch your breath, you’re not alone. 

But, AIA Central Virginia Technology in Architectural Practice Committee (TAP) and AIA Virginia’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) has your back. On Monday, Aug. 28, head over to the office of Grimm + Parker Architects in Charlottesville (lunch will be provided) and join a blue ribbon group of experts for the Embodied Carbon Modeling Workshop. For 90 minutes, you’ll have a laptop pre-loaded with Revit, TallyLCA, Tally CAT and Autodesk Insight Tech Preview and you’ll be able to test-drive an embodied carbon assessment in a demo project. The focus is on you and by the end of it, you’ll be able to return to your office and begin the process of reducing embodied carbon in your projects. Registration is open.

Don’t miss this chance to make a change in your work—and inspire others. Decarbonization takes all of us.

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