2019 | First Quarter Edition
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As we look toward the new year, AIA Arkansas has many volunteers on its board and throughout the state who are tirelessly working on behalf of the profession. I am thankful for everyone’s dedication and excited to be working alongside such talented individuals.

This year’s officers include Craig Boone as secretary, Jonathon Opitz as treasurer, Kyle Cook as vice president, Randy Palculict as past president and me as president. We are committed to fulfilling the mission of AIA Arkansas – to develop, promote and sustain the practice and practitioners of Arkansas through a focus on advocacy, inclusion and education.

The year is already off to a busy start with the board of directors meeting in January for our annual planning retreat. We welcomed several new members and reinforced the goals of the strategic plan. The board is hoping to get input from you, our members, to help inform the organization as we analyze our strengths and weaknesses.

This will guide us on how the AIA Arkansas should evolve to face all the different challenges the profession encounters and fulfill the needs of our growing membership. We also continue to offer our members the opportunity to participate on many different committees, in legislative and education events, state convention and local networking activities.

On March 6-8, AIA Arkansas sent six delegates from across the state to the National Grassroots Conference in Washington, D.C. Brandon Bibby, Todd Welch, Jonathon Opitz, Matt Poe, Kyle Cook and I had productive visits with our congressional leaders and their staffs. Nationally, 605 AIA members participated from 48 states and held 474 meetings in the House and Senate on a single day.

This year, the AIA focused on energy tax credits and school safety. EE-QIP would amend the federal tax code to incentivize the use of energy efficient technologies in existing buildings to allow improvements to the building envelope and internal systems. With buildings contributing nearly 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, this tax credit could improve our environment and help with building operating costs.

School safety is a very timely issue and the AIA can help be a resource with a design-centered approach. We have asked our government representatives to consider creating a clearing house for best practices in school security, and to allow grant money to be used towards design services in these instances. To learn more about these issues and other ways the institute is advocating on behalf of the profession, go to aia.org and follow the advocacy tab.

During Grassroots, our delegates also had the privilege of attending several workshops and presentations designed to educate board members on how to be more effective leaders. Subjects included strategic planning, advocacy, K-12 education and architects as government leaders.

The 2019 Arkansas convention will be held in Little Rock this year from October 16-19. Design Award entries are due by April 12, so be sure to save both of those dates. Craig Boone, our convention chair, has been working with Perfect World Inc. on making our convention the best yet! We are all excited to see the array of programs and new attractions the convention committee has planned for us. It is always a wonderful opportunity to visit with colleagues and showcase the amazing design talent from our state. More information to come as planning continues, so stay tuned.

As we continue into 2019, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in the role as AIA Arkansas president and honored to work alongside all our volunteers. I’m excited by the initiatives we are involved in under the direction of Brent Stevenson and the help of Jackie Strickland. We are privileged to have such passionate individuals continue to make the organization stronger.
Lori Yazwinski Santa-Rita, AIA, LEED AP
Jennings + Santa-Rita Architects, PLLC
Patty Opitz Receives National AIA Young Architect Award

Little Rock, AR., February 15, 2019 - Patty Opitz, AIA, a senior associate and licensed architect at Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, has been honored with the Young Architect Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). She is just one...

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Blackwell Firm Wins National Honor
For Memphis' Shelby Farms Park
The Shelby Farms Park project in Memphis, a collaboration between Marlon Blackwell Architects and James Corner Field Operations, has earned a 2019 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects – the highest national award given for architecture and design.
It was one of four projects honored in the Regional and Urban Design category, which recognizes the best in urban design, regional and city planning and community development. Marlon Blackwell Architects worked closely with James Corner Field Operations, a renowned New York City-based landscape architect firm, to develop seven structures within the 195-acre Heart of the Park at Shelby Farms Park.
“We used a holistic approach – both architecture and site design informing one another at the highest level,” Blackwell said. “The award is indicative of the collaboration.”
Blackwell is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He is the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture and a Distinguished Professor in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas. His professional firm is based in Fayetteville.
Shelby Farms Park is a 4,500-acre park on the west side of Memphis – an area more than five times the size of Central Park in New York City. Located on the site of a former penal farm, the park comprises expanses of open prairie and the Heart of the Park, which opened in 2016.
James Corner Field Operations developed the master plan for the park and this core area, centered on the 80-acre Hyde Lake. Marlon Blackwell Architects designed the ensemble of buildings and structures that knit the area together – a visitor center, a restaurant and event center, a stage pavilion, picnic pavilions and a boathouse. The area serves as a hub for outdoor recreation and gathers a wide range of people around the shared amenities.
“This is a transformative project, not only for the park but for Memphis – expanding their access to outdoor recreation and reflecting the socio-economic diversity of the region,” Blackwell said.
 “The honor underscores the point that the contribution we architects make to our clients and the public is not only a matter of single buildings, but also how those buildings relate to one another and create the infrastructure for community and civilization,” William J. Bates, 2019 AIA president, wrote in his awards letter to Blackwell. “Your project, Shelby Farms Park, is a shining example of these very contributions.”
The winning projects in this year’s AIA awards program will be exhibited in June at the annual convention in Las Vegas and published in   Architect   magazine.
Preserve Arkansas Honors Two Hot Springs Architects

Preserve Arkansas, the statewide nonprofit advocate for historic preservation, honored the recipients of the 2018 Arkansas Preservation Awards on Jan. 25 at the historic Albert Pike Memorial Temple in Little Rock. Named for Preserve Arkansas'...

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JDa Firm Celebrates Expansion Anniversary  
JohnsonDanforth & Associates (JDa) is proud to announce that we recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of expanding our client services to include architectural design. Since then our design division has been privileged to secure a combination of 10 private sector and government agency contracts to provide both design phase and construction phase services for our clients. Our design team currently has projects totaling over $20M in estimated costs of construction, and we are expecting several more contract awards in the coming months.
Somewhere Studio's Project Selected For City of Dreams...

Charles Sharpless, a new AIA Arkansas member, shares this news. He and Jessica Colangelo are partners in the architecture firm Somewhere Studio and professors at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas. Their ...

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Overturf Elected President of Arkadelphia Chamber
Mark Overturf, AIA, of Twin Rivers Architecture was recently named president of the Arkadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce for 2019.

The Arkadelphia Area Chamber of Commerce is a business-driven leadership organization responsible for fostering the economic growth and development of the Arkadelphia area, to ensure that business, industry and education may operate profitably, and to enhance the learning opportunities and quality of life for every citizen.
Lejong Elected 2020 Chair Of National Small Firm Exchange

Michael Lejong, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, was unanimously elected as the 2020 chair of the AIA National Small Firm Exchange during its annual meeting held in Washington, D.C., at the AIA Headquarters Octagon on Feb. 4-6. He was appointed to the Small...

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NW Section Plans Variety of Events
It is an exciting time in Northwest Arkansas. The region is booming and Arkansas firms are showing off their talent, on projects large and small, both on their own and partnering with out-of-state firms.

In 2019, our chapter is focused on providing quality opportunities for our members to socialize, learn and serve our community. We have a variety of events in Northwest Arkansas, hosted by the section, the Emerging Professionals (EP) and Women in Architecture/Diversity Committee (WIA), in conjunction with various sponsors and Allied members.

With the frantic pace of most firms in our current boom times, our goal is to facilitate great events that allow our members to step out of the daily grind. We encourage everyone to take a break from eating lunch at your desks … enjoy eating at a local restaurant while earning CEUs, courtesy of our knowledgeable Allied members.

Take a break from your own project that has consumed your life for months and come check out your fellow members' projects on a Hard Hat Tour or Completed Project Tour. Enjoy a drink and have some fun at a social event, like our annual Baggo and Bowling tournaments or Tap Room Tour. Looking to use your skills and knowledge to serve the community? Get involved in mentoring with the AIAS chapter at the UofA. Join our WIA team for Habitat for Humanity's Women Build week in May, or organize your own event for a cause you care about.

In order to not overburden inboxes more than they already are, we have streamlined our communications. Members now receive just one or two emails about upcoming events. Be sure to "like" us on Facebook or check out our Eventbrite page to keep up with current happenings. You can also contact us if you have an event or news that you would like to share with your fellow architects.

Interested in being more involved with your local nwaAIA chapter? Do you ever think, "I wish our chapter would do __________?" Do you want to work closely with other passionate professionals? Join our leadership team! Email aianorthwestarkansas@gmail.com for more information.

With the dedication and participation of our leadership and members, 2019 will be an incredible year.
"If you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together."

Sincerely, Anne Hamilton, NW Section Chair 2019
Architects Haven’t Been a Target
During This Legislative Session
As the 92nd General Assembly winds down, the state Legislature has made quick progress on the two remaining executive priorities of transformation and transportation. 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law Senate Bill 336 that increases fuel taxes on gas and diesel fuel at the wholesale level and ups registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles. SB336 is intended to raise $92 million in additional revenue for highway maintenance that will be coupled with the $290 million projected to be raised if Arkansas voters make the current ½-cent sales tax for highways permanent in the 2020 election.

The government transformation bill, House Bill 1763, passed the House 82-0 with 18 recording not voting or present votes. This bill receives the “heaviest lift bill of the session award” consisting of 2,049 pages. SB1763 has moved on to the Senate and has been referred to the State Agencies & Governmental Affairs Committee.

Although our Legislative Committee has been actively monitoring the over 2,000 separate pieces of legislation this session, architects, so far, have not been an active target. Several bills have cleaned up language in State Procurement Laws and have changed competitive bidding thresholds. Our committee did come out against SB281, a bill that requires persons performing work under a state contract to verify the number of hours worked on a computer. Not only did we feel like installing a third-party monitoring software could potentially damage our systems security but also computer usage in the “creative process” is NOT the same as keystrokes in the data entry field that can more easily be verified.

AIA Arkansas did take a supportive stance on SB145, a bill designed to amend certain definitions under the Arkansas Renewable Energy Act. This bill contained elements that enhanced the current net meeting structure in our state as it relates to solar power generation and will benefit our state in the creation of clean sustainable sources of energy. This bill was signed by the governor and is now Act 464. Our committee has remained relatively neutral on all other bills that we have been closely watching throughout this legislative session. In most cases, we have been able to work directly with the legislators to modify or suggest language in the bills that can have a positive impact for our profession.

As the session comes to a close, the Legislative Committee will stay vigilant and continue to monitor any legislation that lawmakers may be attempt to speed through the process. If you have any comments or concerns please feel free to email me at mlejong@mahgarch.com .

Respectfully Submitted,

Michael L. Lejong, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
AIA Arkansas, Legislative Committee Chair
Grassroots 2019: Beyond Local Leadership: A Knowledge...

Grassroots 2019 - AIA leadership summit - Washington D.C. - 03.05.2019 - 03.10.2019 Beyond Local Leadership: A Knowledge Adventure Year after year the Arkansas chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) aims to accelerate the...

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Time to take advantage of an outstanding opportunity to showcase your designs through the AIA Arkansas Design Awards Program.

DEADLINE TO ENTER: Friday, April 12th.

Information regarding presentation submission will be sent out after the April 12th deadline. The project’s will be submitted electronically through our website, you will have until Friday, May 31st to upload your project.

Each project entered will be on display at the 2019 AIA Arkansas State Convention in Little Rock, AR. At which time, they will be viewed and potentially selected for the MEMBERS’ CHOICE AWARD by your peers in the design community.
Take a moment and consider who you believe should receive this type of recognition and submit your nominations to AIA Arkansas via the links below. Nominations must be submitted by a member of the association. The deadline for all award nominations is April 19, 2019.

Click below for more information and submit your nomination.
Chapter Awards

AIA Arkansas has four awards that are eligible to present each year. Three are for design professionals; the E. Fay Jones Gold Medal Award, the Dick Savage Memorial Award and the Emerging Professional Award. Our fourth award is for anyone that...

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A Few Ways You Can Help
Greetings from your AIA Arkansas PR Committee! Our group has member volunteers from across the state, in varied stages of an architectural career, from firms big and small. By enhancing communication about membership opportunities for learning and community engagement and about the value of architects, our focus is on both AIA members and our public.

A few approaches we have discussed include the use of technology to improve awareness and communication as well as supporting member outreach in Arkansas schools. Are you asking yourself, "How can I get involved"? Here are a few ways you can help. 

  • If you have an active social media presence in your firm, tag the AIA AR Facebook page. If you have an appropriate news item to share, share it. 
  • If you are active in visiting schools for career days or STEM presentations, or would like to be, let us know. Or, perhaps you are willing to share presentation tips or content to help others get started. We are working on a master list with resource ideas to better handle inquiries that come directly to AIA AR from schools and to make expanding outreach manageable. Our AIA AR Emerging Professional and Diversity Committees have this on their radar, too. Let's all work together to share about architecture and design with state youth.
  • We are addressing website additions that may be of interest to our clients. Your input and ideas are encouraged, please email comments on this topic to Jackie. She will share them with the PR Committee (please include PR in the subject line). 

A part of why we are involved is to have the privilege to support the practice of architecture through AIA and to network within our community of inspiring practitioners. Thanks and have a great year!

2019 AIA AR Board PR Committee: Lisa, Nate, Galen, Thomas and Jonathan

Lisa Knemeyer Skiles, AIA
Registered Architect, LEED AP for Homes
Skiles Architect, PA
Have an interest in either the Diversity Committee or the Women in Architecture (WIA)?   
Our goal for each is simple: to support diversity and women in Architecture throughout all career stages, from education, to licensure and practice, to retirement. This group aims to provide professional mentoring, educational resources, social networking, and leadership support to any Architect or Associate who is interested in promoting the profession’s recognition of the increased need for diversity and inclusion.
We want to make sure everyone is being notified of our events! Make sure you are included on our email list by sending an email to diversity@aiaar.org
Alessi Keyes Construction Company Has New Ownership

Alessi Keyes Construction Company, celebrating it's Twenty-Fifth year in business, announces a new ownership and management group. Jimmy Alessi, a 48 year construction veteran will serve as Chairman & CEO; Bob Butler, 23 years in the industry, is the new President and Charley Dawson, 22 years in construction is Vice President. They will serve on the corporation's new Board of Directors. With their Corporate Headquarters located in North Little Rock, Alessi Keyes Construction provides full service professional construction services to clients throughout Arkansas and neighboring states.

Established in 1993 by founders Cloud Keyes and Jimmy Alessi, the company delivers its services across all commercial markets through General Contracting, Design-Build and Construction Management methods. Cloud Keyes recently retired after a 50-year career in construction culminating with his induction into the Arkansas Construction Hall of Fame last April.
Head Promoted to Partner at MCE

Steven Head, PE, the department head for MCE’s Geotechnical Engineering Department, has been promoted to partner. Head, who works in the company’s Fayetteville office, manages both the in-house construction materials testing laboratory and geotechnical engineering division and oversees all construction inspection services for the company. He has been with MCE for seven years and is in charge of the performance scheduling of testing, special inspections and subsurface drilling operations.
Head graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He is licensed in Arkansas and Oklahoma, has served as the Northwest Arkansas Branch president and vice president for the American Society of Civil Engineers, was named a 2016 Emerging Leader by the American Council of Engineering Companies and was also named one of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 for 2018.

Some of the more notable projects Head has worked on while with MCE have included numerous UofA projects, including the Stadium Drive Residence Halls; the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport’s new parking deck; the Texarkana Regional Airport’s new terminal facility, parallel taxiway and apron; and Arkansas Children’s Hospital-Northwest. 

To contact Steven, email shead@mce.us.com or call 479-443-2377.
UA Fay Jones School of Architecture News
Fay Jones School Alumni, Design Supporters Honored...

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - For the third year, the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas honored several individuals who have made contributions to the school, university and culture of design with Awards for...

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American Institute of Architects
Arkansas Chapter

318 S. Pulaski Street
Little Rock, AR 72201