Newsletter | May/Jun 2013Volume 41:3 | Search
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A Resolution to Modify OWA Name to OWDPby Suzan Swabacker | Print | Email
Several nights ago I spoke with an OWA member. One of our newest, best and brightest to be exact. Her phone call reminded me that a few things about the OWA need to be re-evaluated after 40 years. For example: younger members think the OWA logo is outdated. The logo is part of the bigger issues we need to be talking about however: namely, discrimination within our design profession.
I am strongly advocating for a name change to OWA. Currently the official name for the OWA is OWA+DP: The Organization of Women Architects and Design Professionals. I believe the distinction between the design professions has so blurred over the recent years that it is far more fitting and proper to call ourselves ODP, Organization of Design Professionals. We would welcome all new members without putting them into a hierarchy with Architects on top, followed by other design types. It is myopic for a professional organization dedicated to supporting its members to differentiate between landscape architects, interior designers, planners, signage creators, spec writers and architects unless one is hiring or applying for a job and then specific tasks become important to the person hiring you.
What do DESIGNERS do? According to Wikipedia:
“The designer's work is a creative process performed almost always in conjunction with other specialists. The success of this process depends fully on the combination of the analytical powers, systematic specialist skills and aesthetic awareness of the designer and his/her sense of style and holistic approach. The goal of such work is to fulfill the needs and wishes of both the end-user and the immediate customer as regards function, content and appearance. The designer's efforts to create added value for the end-user also boost the immediate customer's profitability and growth. “ (http://www.svid.se/English/About-design/Designers/)
Currently several OWA members have expressed views that they prefer young architects join. The “welcome wagon” is not being rolled out for other design professions. However, I proffer that architects are a dying breed. To be even more blunt, for those architects who weren’t getting laid off in 2009, they were watching their fellow designers close up shop or get bought out “by the big boys.” Well, all except the interior designers. To quote a principal from HDR in Boston in 2009: “The future looks bleak for architects. However, interior design cannot be done by firms overseas. By its very nature interior design is homegrown. U.S. owners cannot use overseas firms. The interior design profession will keep growing whereas architects could be an endangered species.” This comment resulted from an informational interview that I require from students taking my college classes. Needless to say I found the comments provocative and thought-provoking.
In case you haven’t paid attention, it appears that virtually all CD work is being done outside the U.S. for firms with > 30 people. Here are 2 specific stories:
Story 1: a relative works for a 250+ general construction company that performs commercial construction. Both he and I have worked independently on hotels over our career. We know hospitality well. For his latest project in Southern California, a new 118-room hotel, the architects turned over drawings to the general contractor that were so poorly completed it was causing major cost increases and time delays to the hotel construction. The Owner was not happy. The solution? The General Contractor offered to have the CDs re-done overseas. Six weeks, 60 sheets later, the drawings were completed and sent from India. The cost? $11,000. For 60 sheets of architectural drawings and details! The result? The G/C now offers “free” CD documents to potential clients.
Now days Owners only have to pay the architects thru DD. The Owner gets a real deal for the completion of permit drawings. Design firms cannot exist, much less grow, on DD alone. Oh yes, and the G/C’s younger staff can assist with BIM as well. No architects need apply.
Story 2: We have just completed the interiors for a large fitness center run by the U.S. Navy. First, all designers should know that government work has been “D-B” (Design-Build) for nearly 20 years. This means it is “one-stop-shop”, supposedly lower risk for the government. Who runs the show? The general contractor. This practice has resulted in the general contractor hiring the designers for thousands of projects. Not only is the G/C focused on the bottom line, the reality is that he can build whatever the heck he wants to build. Fewer architects are being hired with the D-B process. The designers the G/C can’t ignore, though, are the interior designers.
Let’s go back to the resolution. Besides showing specific job skills on resumes for different specialties, why would we want to promote architects at the expense of other designers? I love being a part of the OWA. The camaraderie over the years has sustained me through good times and bad, as the saying goes. I have lifelong best friends. I have long wanted more successful members to donate more and leave a legacy to the OWA similar to an “endowed chair” at a university . Given the current temperament, however, the snobbery that is often displayed by we architects to other non-architects, I suspect that the OWA will die out with the baby-boomers unless we make a fundamental change to our membership. A change, such as modifying the name to be more inclusive, not less.
Members, can we not promote an organization for those who do not have an architecture degree? We are all trying to make a living doing something we love which relates to building buildings. Architects are an endangered species. Building permits allow engineers and architects to sign drawings. This is our lone protection. We need to morph into a newer/broader design group. A good start would be to modify our name to ODP, Organization of Design Professionals. This could be accomplished in October at the annual business meeting.
I look forward to an open dialogue over the next few months.
Kickoff to the Mentoring Program June 11by Eliza Hart, ed. | Print | Email
The Steering Committee invites you to participate in our June meeting to kick off the 2013-2104 Mentoring Program!
Time: Tues June 11th, 2013 starting at 6:00PM
Location: Tandus Flooring Showroom (San Francisco)
750 Battery Street, Suite 150, San Francisco, CA 94111
(Parking is available in the building at $2.50 per 20 minutes. Street parking is also available.)
We will be launching the Mentoring Program at this Kick-off Event. You will be able to meet with mentors and mentees and select whom you would like to be paired with for the year. Refreshments are included, and we will start the night with our keynote speaker: Antonya Williams, LEED AP BD+C, Assistant Project Manager from McCarthy Construction.
Members, Please RSVP here by Friday, June 6th so that we can reserve you a spot in the program and match you with the best fit. Note that participants who do not attend the kick-off event can participate, but may not get their first choice. Also review the Mentor Mentee Guidelines prior to attending the meeting.
Please note: There will be a $10 fee for members to attend this event and a $20 fee for non-members. If non-members join OWA then the event fee will be waived.
Read more about the program here.
Announcing the OWA Annual Retreatby Janet Crane | Print | Email
OWA Sponsors AIA's Missing 32% Seriesby Eliza Hart, ed. | Print | Email
OWA is on Facebookby Eliza Hart, ed. | Print | Email
NOMA Celebrates its 40th year tooby Wendy Bertrand | Print | Email
Leslie Allen: Buckelew Art Show and Fundraiserby Leslie Allen | Print | Email
Growing a Small Firm: Elevating the Role of Womenby Eliza Hart, ed. | Print | Email
Online continuing education program AEC Knowledge along with AIA SF presents a panel discussion on "Growing a Small Firm: Elevating the Role of Women"
San Francisco Architect Mark Cavanero has hosted a series at AIA SF for the past few months. In March, the topic was Women in Architecture. This is a link to the program as it was recorded by AEC Knowledge for people who missed it and would like AIA credit.
The link to the video is here.
OWA Book Circle: Lean in by Sheryl Sandbergby Wendy Bertrand | Print | Email
An Invitation: Are you LEANING IN??? Could you lean more???
All OWA members and friends are invited by the OWA Book Circle to read Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. This short read brings to the front simmering topics about the workplace, the family and the level of our personal ambition.
These issues are very much part of our mission in OWA and it will surely trigger a lively and informative exchange, and perhaps ideas for organizational action could surface.
Everyone is invited to participate in the discussion of LEAN IN on Thursday November 7, 2013 at 6 pm hosted by OWA member Susan Aitken:
Time: November 7, 2013 at 6pm
Location: Hamilton + Aitken Architects
525 Brannan Street #400
San Francisco, CA 94107
LEAN IN is available at most bookstores or you may borrow it from the OWA Book Circle Library collection at Hamilton & Aitken, attention Albert Ho for check out or by contacting Wendy Bertrand who will put you on the waiting list to read one of the 4 copies now circulating.
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