Thoughts on Hiring an EDI Consultant

Paul R. Battaglia, AIA, a principal at Clark Nexsen and the current chair of the AIA Virginia J.E.D.I. Committee recently interviewed fellow J.E.D.I. committee member Mia Gilliam, Assoc AIA, who is also the chairperson of the DEI Resource Group (DEIRG) at Wiley|Wilson about the firm’s experience selecting and hiring a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) consultant. The firm has retained the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), based in Richmond, Va., to assist in their efforts.

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Architecture Billings Index Slows but Remains Strong

Architecture firms reported increasing demand for design services in May, according to the latest Architecture Billings Index report released June 22, 2022, by The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The ABI score for May was 53.5. While this score is down from April’s score of 56.5, it still indicates very strong business conditions overall (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings from the prior month). Also in May, both the new project inquiries and design contracts indexes expanded, posting scores of 63.9 and 56.9 respectively. 

“The strength in design activity over the past three months has produced a broader base of gains. The Northeast region and Institutional sector have struggled with slow billings activity, but now have posted consecutive months of positive scores.” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “With the improvement in inquiries and new design projects, demand for design services will likely remain high for the next several months, despite strong economic headwinds.”

Key ABI highlights for May include:

  • Regional averages: West (59.3); Midwest (56.8); South (52.3); Northeast (51.4)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (57.7); mixed practice (56.2); multi-family residential (54.5); institutional (51.7)

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers. To learn more about recent economic developments impacting design and construction, visit AIA’s website.

Restoring Curved Stained Glass Windows

When Virginia Commonwealth University decided to embark on a rehabilitation of the Scott House, it was evident that the stained glass windows of the ornate Breakfast Room would require specialized repairs.  The deflection of the glass was to the point of physically separating from the metal matrix that joins the pieces of glass, known as cames, posing a threat to the physical integrity of the windows.  Adding a layer of complexity to the challenge was the fact that each window was curved and the cames were zinc, not the typical lead.

The Scott House, completed in 1911, was designed by Noland & Baskervill Architects for Frederic W. Scott and his family.  The impressive residence of over 18,000 sf includes a particularly ornamental copper-clad Breakfast Room (the Conservatory on original plans).  The one-story structure includes domed apses to the south and east with casement windows incorporating clear and textured glass with stained glass garlands of ivy on opalescent glass.

A detailed condition assessment with recommendations and specifications was carried out by Richmond stained and leaded glass conservator, Scott Taylor, to establish the scope of repairs early on.  Significant deflection was evident on all the windows, stressing solder joints and enabling the glass panes to separate from the cames.  This not only enabled water infiltration, but threatened the structural integrity of the windows.  It was determined that a 100% restoration of the zinc matrix was required in the areas of the clear and textured glass.  A limited amount of broken glass was also identified for replacement, but the painted ivy sections were to be minimally treated and left intact.

Wayne Cain of Cain Architectural Art Glass completed the restoration work, starting with the careful removal of each window and transportation of them to his studio in Bremo Bluff, Virginia.  Prior to disassembly, a vellum rubbing was made of each window and then each piece of glass was removed one by one and placed on the templates to ensure reinstallation into their exact positions.  Reproduction glass was sourced for broken or incompatible replacement glass elements and the ivy garland features were removed whole. 

All glass to be reinstalled was carefully cleaned and then reassembled in its original locations with any reproduction pieces into a new zinc matrix.  A custom substrate matching the original curve was constructed as a working bed.  Reinforcement bars were added at continuous horizontal locations on the exterior in order to provide additional support, while remaining visually unobtrusive.  The wood sashes were restored and the windows were reinstalled in their original locations.   In order to provide increased thermal performance as well as protect the historic windows, custom curved glass exterior panels were added as a final improvement.  

The final result retained the original character of the windows and allows them to fully complement the architectural beauty of the restored Breakfast Room.  The added structural support and custom exterior curved glass provide additional protection to ensure the windows survive for future generations to enjoy.

Reprinted with permission from GH&A and author Susan Reed, AIA. This post originally appeared in Preservation Spotlight: Restoring Restoring Curved Stained Glass Windows.

Blooming Building Exposition Adds Five Pavilions to UVa

Five temporary pavilions have been constructed at the University of Virginia that uniquely address how design and function can respond to contemporary needs. They’re part of the Biomaterials Building Exposition, curated by Katie MacDonald, AIA, and Kyle Schumann, principals of After Architecture and instructors at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. They’re also part of an important global research effort to decarbonize design and construction with the use of rapidly renewable materials, which many experts see as advantageous to reducing embodied carbon and reducing the costs associated with climate positive design.

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Practice, the Academy, and Experiential Learning

The evolving speed and dynamics of the workplace have diminished the ideal of the three-year architecture internship. The intent of the traditional office interface was to provide a bridge between education and the profession for young students entering practice. Graduates are now increasingly expected to be operational upon graduation. Seeking alternatives, the Center for Design Research in the School of Architecture + Design at Virginia Tech and Payette, the 2019 AIA Firm of the Year, have created an immersive practice, design, and research experience. The Nexus studio embeds ten students within the day-to-day workings of the office.

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