2020 | First Quarter Edition
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As we continue to look further into this new year, our chapter continues to grow and progress by leaps and bounds. This is in no small part due to the tireless efforts of your Board of Directors and supporting sections and committees. I would like to personally thank all of those individuals that give of their time and personal talents to help make this a better AIA Arkansas Chapter. 
I would also like to thank Brent Stevenson Associates, our Executive Director Brent Stevenson and his dedicated staff. It is under their guidance and daily support of our organization that we have been able to thrive as an organization.
Your slate of officers this year includes Secretary Patty Opitz, AIA , Treasurer Craig Boone, AIA , Vice President Jonathan Opitz, AIA , Past-President Lori Yazwinski-Santa Rita, AIA , and myself serving as this year’s president. I feel sincerely blessed to be a small part of such a talented group of individuals serving in leadership roles to help direct your Board of Directors. In addition, I would like to thank Lori for her dedication these last four years as an officer of this board and her wonderful leadership. We remain dedicated to fulfilling the mission of AIA Arkansas – to develop, promote and sustain the practice and practitioners of architecture.
Though planning in our organization never stops, our Board of Directors convened for the first time this year at the Big Cedar Lodge Conference Center on Jan. 17-18 for our annual planning retreat. It was during this retreat that we welcomed new members to our board, inducted new officers and set forth goals for the coming year. Some of the major endeavors for this year include the implementation of a new convention co-chair position, re-development of our Allied Program and re-igniting our PAC. 
In addition, we will be working towards the development of a new Strategic Plan that we will develop in the month of July to set the tone for our organization for the next several years. You may have seen a membership survey circulating from our AIA Arkansas office. I highly encourage each and every one of you to participate in this survey. Our board works very diligently to make this an organization that works for its membership, and this survey opens that line of communication to tell us what is most important to those we serve. Your input helps drive our organization in the right direction.
Taking this one step further, the participants involved at our section level and through our many committees are the stream of continued communication between the board and our membership. I would like to simply encourage everyone to plug in somewhere if possible. I have found that being willing to serve in some capacity makes us all better and more cohesive as a group.
I would also like to take this opportunity to ask you to give toward your PAC (Political Action Committee). Our profession experiences new threats every year. Through the diligent efforts of Michael Lejong AIA, LEED AP BD+C and our Legislative Committee , we are constantly made aware of bills that work to marginalize our profession and efforts. Through the watchful eyes of BSA and our Legislative Committee, we are kept well-informed of all matters that threaten our future as a profession. I want to assure you that investment in your PAC is a very direct investment in your practices and profession.
De-licensing efforts and a changing construction industry are just a couple of the areas of the unknown that we face each and every day. We need to work hard to revitalize our PAC and give our hard-working committees the resources to reach our state representatives and legislators so they know what is most important to us. We must make our position known that we are a tremendous asset to our communities and are tasked with the position of protecting the health, safety and welfare of society in the built environment.
Nine delegates from across the state met on February 19-21 in New Orleans at the National Grassroots Conference . Jonathan Opitz, Patty Opitz, Katherine Lashley, Nate Deason, Steven Baker, and myself attended leadership development classes and engaged with other components during our Gulf States meeting. Leadership classes included development in areas of diversity, inclusion, environmental stewardship and economic development.   
Our annual AIA Arkansas State Convention will be held at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Hot Springs, October 21-23. Patty Opitz is serving this year as convention chair. She is leading a dedicated convention committee in developing what promises to be one of our best conventions yet. Patty’s leadership efforts have set the tone for our committee and membership to chin the bar to do our part in making this event even greater. Our state convention remains a vital opportunity in our year where we can showcase our broad talent, discuss our ever changing profession and highlight our many wonderful and diverse membership and Allieds.
I am very humbled to serve as your 2020 AIA Arkansas President and fortunate to be able to work with such a wonderful group of individuals that make up our Board of Directors. Seeing the energy and tenacity of your representatives in leadership is an inspiring sight.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve.
Kyle Cook, AIA
2020 AIA Arkansas President
Brackett-Krennerich Architects
Marlon Blackwell Awarded 2020 AIA Gold Medal
Marlon Blackwell’s many honors include being named one of the "30 Most Admired Educators" in 2015 by  DesignIntelligence  magazine. Photo by Mark Jackson
Marlon Blackwell , a distinguished professor at the University of Arkansas, will be awarded the 2020 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects . Joining the ranks of noted architects from around the world, Blackwell is the second architect practicing and teaching in Arkansas to be awarded the Gold Medal since the program began in 1907.
The Gold Medal is the AIA's highest annual honor, recognizing individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. 
Blackwell, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, holds the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the U of A, where he has taught since 1992.
He will receive the AIA Gold Medal 30 years after Fay Jones, FAIA, was accorded the same honor in 1990. Jones, an Arkansas native, was a longtime professor and founding dean of the Fay Jones School as well as a member of the first class of architecture students.
"Throughout his career, Marlon Blackwell has created inspiring architecture, transforming often limited resources into designs that celebrate each place and heighten all of our horizons," said Robert Ivy , executive vice president and chief executive officer of the AIA, and the author of the AIA monograph  Fay Jones . "Like former AIA Gold Medalist Fay Jones, Marlon Blackwell reminds us that powerful architecture can take place outside the traditional centers of media and fashion."
Blackwell was named a Ford Fellow by United States Artists in 2014. His body of work was recognized with the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2016, and he was selected as the William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence at the American Academy in Rome in 2018. He also was inducted into the National Academy of Design in 2018 and received the E. Fay Jones Gold Medal from AIA Arkansas in 2017.
"Too often, it is said, 'A prophet is without honor in his own country,'" said Dean Peter MacKeith , dean and professor of architecture at the Fay Jones School, "but this recognition of Marlon Blackwell definitively accords him a deserved place in architecture culture. For our school, he is a valued colleague and faculty leader, and for the state and nation, he is a distinguished representative and ambassador. Yet in these roles, Marlon is distinguished as much by his generosity and humaneness, as he is by his talent in design and his commitment to buildings and places." 
MAHG Architect Selected For National AIA Leadership Academy
MAHG Architecture Principal and Architect Michael Lejong has been named to the AIA’s inaugural leadership development program – the AIA Leadership Academy . Only 20 candidates were selected nationwide by the American Institute of Architects for their good standing, demonstration of leadership and wide-ranging experience working in the architecture industry.

The AIA Leadership Academy is a premier business and leadership program designed for architects poised for the next level of accomplishment in firm, professional and community leadership. The three-year program teaches critical skills necessary to grow business, lead change and innovation, empower and engage people, and create immediate impact. Sessions include knowledge-based lectures, facilitated exercises, panel discussions, small- and large-group activities, success labs, and best-practice forums led by business experts, firm leaders and renowned coaches.

“I believe that all of the experiences that I have gained through AIA – locally, statewide, regionally and nationally – have carried forward to represent my profession and my community,” Lejong said. “AIA has given me the skills and knowledge necessary to become a better leader, and more importantly it has provided opportunities to give back in ways that are continually utilizing my education and talents.” 
WER Architects/Planners
Announces New Associates
Benjamin Gregory, AIA
Aaron Sanderson, AIA, LEED AP
WER Architects/Planners is pleased to announce that architects Benjamin Gregory, AIA, and Aaron Sanderson, AIA, LEED AP, have been named as Associates at the firm.

“Ben and Aaron have both been an integral part of the WER design team, leading projects and mentoring younger staff since they joined the team,” said David Sargent, AIA, WER Architects/Planners CEO . “We are thrilled that they are moving into an official leadership role at the firm and look forward to the continued energy, passion and creativity that they both bring to the office and embed in their work on a daily basis.”

Ben joined WER in 2018. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Maryland and a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia where he was a 2013 William R. Kenan Fellow at the School of Architecture. After graduation, he spent time in Philadelphia working for an architecture firm on several nationwide institutional projects.

A strong interest in woodworking, a keen sense of economy and efficiency in design, and a sensitivity to the intersections of the constructed and natural environments all influence his approach to the practice of architecture. Since joining WER Ben has been the project architect on the Delta Dental Corporate Office Expansion and Renovation, Hospice Home Health Corporate Offices and the Baseball Performance Center at the University of Arkansas.
Aaron joined WER in 2016 from Columbia, Mo. Born out of his family’s experience in the construction trades, Aaron has a strong penchant for the practical, detail side of architecture. Working in a smaller firm setting in Missouri lent itself to Aaron taking on a great diversity in roles and helped him acquire a unique perspective of the management tasks required, from the big picture overview down to the day-to-day details.

He is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Architecture. He was a part of the winning team of the Historic American Building Survey Charles E. Peterson Prize for the Samuel G. Wiener House (HABS LA-1362) published in the Library of Congress and has been a part of the team for numerous AIA design awards. Since joining WER, Aaron has worked on the new 265,000-square-foot Jacksonville High School, UAMS Regional Programs West Family Clinic and the new Joe T. Robinson Middle School and Indoor Practice Facility. 
AIA's Robert Ivy issues guidance for architecture firms...

Robert Ivy, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has penned a letter to AIA members offering advice and resources for how firms and individuals can navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

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AIA National's SFx Meeting Held in NW Arkansas
AIA National’s Small Firm Exchange’s (SFx) Annual Meeting was recently held March 2-4 in Northwest Arkansas. Representative from each of the AIA’s 19 regions, one international representative and AIA staff met at the Amazeum to discuss issues facing small firms and to strategize our objectives for 2020.

Seventy-seven percent of all firms in the country have fewer than 10 employees, meeting the small firm definition, and about 30 percent of AIA members work in small firms. The SFx Member Group’s mission is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing within small firms, promote leadership and professional development in small firms, plus facilitate and support small firm networks.      

On Monday, Marlon Blackwell spoke to the SFx Executive Committee meeting and shared insights about finding success as a small firm. His firm’s success story is featured in a new book titled Small Firm Success: How Small Firms Can Thrive in an Age of Acceleration by James P. Cramer and Scott Simpson.

On Tuesday afternoon, SFx regional representatives enjoyed a short bus ride and an inspirational tour of Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs by the owner Jim Reed’s son. One of the regional reps stated that “this (visiting Thorncrown) made the entire trip to Arkansas worth it.” Arkansas is a small state with many small firms. The quality of work produced by these small firms is something for all of us to be proud of. 

The regional representatives of the SFx want to express our gratitude to the Scott Family Amazeum, the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, AIA Gold Medalist Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, AIA Arkansas Past President Lori Yazwinski Santa-Rita, Past President David McKee and Thorncrown Chapel staff for their gracious use of their facilities and resources during our visit.

More information on the resources related to these interests is available to members on the AIA’s website www.aia.org under the Topics > Member groups tab.

Additional small-firm practice resources can be found here:

Visit AIAU Small Firm Series ! We have worked with AIAU to collect its top small firm continuing education sessions into one easy location on their website. Check it out!
SFx continues to seek feedback on its Business Plan Beta Template for Small Architectural Firms . Aspects of marketing, virtual practice and small firm practice finances are being added. The results of the SFx/SPD/CRAN survey can be found here: Business Models for Small Architectural Firms

Michael Lejong, AIA, LEED AP DB+C
2020 National Small Firm Exchange Chair
Gulf States Regional Representative
Advocating for Careers in Architecture

Interested in helping AIAAR advocate for architecture careers among students? Committee volunteers want to help members that interact with K-12 classrooms, especially for Career Days, by providing them with support and materials. As we are now...

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FREE Courses to support your practice from AIAU

Free AIAU courses for AIA members We're in the midst of a pandemic and the business environment is rapidly changing. Many of our members are already feeling the impact. To help you navigate these uncertain times, we're making some of AIAU's best...

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Gold Allied Members
Ken Estes
Jason Roach
Silver Allied Members
Chad Bowie
Madalyn Strickland
Chris Handley
Blue Allied Members
Anderson Murphy Hopkins
Archway Graphic Designs
Bernhard TME
Brown Engineers
CDI Contractors
Coreslab Structures
Crow Group
East Harding
Georgia Pacific Gypsum LLC
HP Engineering
JE Allen Company
KI/Glen Jones & Associates
Mays Maune McWard
Powers of Arkansas
Premier Lighting Group
Schluter Systems

Basic Allied Members
Engineering Consultants
Hillyer Architectural Products
Hydco, Inc.
Johnson Architectural Systems
Tatum-Smith Welcher Engineers

UA Fay Jones School of Architecture
Board Selects Architects For Timberlands Center
The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees has approved Grafton Architects , based in Dublin, Ireland, in partnership with Modus Studio of Fayetteville as the project team for the planned Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation . Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders of Grafton Architects, were recently named the 2020 recipients of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, an award known internationally as architecture's highest honor. 
This planned center, part of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design , will be located on the northeast corner of the university's Windgate Art and Design District, along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in south Fayetteville. This campus district houses existing and proposed buildings for the School of Art and University Libraries. The new applied research center will serve as the epicenter for the Fay Jones School's multiple timber and wood design initiatives, house the school's existing and expanding design-build program and fabrication technologies laboratories, and serve as the new home to the school's emerging graduate program in timber and wood design.

"We are delighted and honored by this opportunity to work with Grafton Architects and the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design," said Chris Baribeau , principal at Modus Studio. "This is a unique opportunity to see the possibilities of an innovative wood building through an international lens while lending our Ozark perspective. Our passion for craft in architecture and making will serve our University of Arkansas students, faculty and staff for years to come."
Fay Jones School Faculty Members
Recognized in Awards Program
Three University of Arkansas faculty members have been recognized with national accolades by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in its 2019-2020 Architectural Education Awards program.
Stephen Luoni , director of the U of A Community Design Center, is one of five educators selected this year to receive the 2020 ACSA Distinguished Professor Award. This award is intended "to recognize individuals that have had a positive, stimulating, and nurturing influence upon students over an extended period of time and/or teaching which inspired a generation of students who themselves have contributed to the advancement of architecture," according to the association's website.
Stephen Luoni, professor and director of the UACDC, is an Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor.
Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless were selected for an honorable mention in the 2020 ACSA Faculty Design Award category for their Salvage Swings project. This award "recognizes work that advances the reflective nature of practice and teaching by encouraging outstanding work in architecture and related environmental design fields as a critical endeavor," according to the website.
Luoni, Colangelo and Sharpless are all faculty members in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.

"The Fay Jones School's faculty continue to distinguish themselves in every design discipline, in both the academy and in practice," said Peter MacKeith , dean of the school. "These ACSA recognitions to professor Luoni – a faculty member at the zenith of his career – and professors Sharpless and Colangelo – faculty members at the onset of their promising careers – outline a department of architecture faculty of range and depth, whose ambition is matched by their talent. The school congratulates them on their accomplishments and this national recognition."

Luoni is a Distinguished Professor and the Steven L. Anderson Chair in Architecture and Urban Studies in the Fay Jones School. In 2003, he joined the U of A faculty and became director of the Community Design Center , which is an outreach program of the school.
American Institute of Architects
Arkansas Chapter

318 S. Pulaski Street
Little Rock, AR 72201