Webinar Recap: Magic in the Middle

AIA Colorado resumed its online webinar series with the recent webinar, “Magic in the Middle: Fostering Mid-Career Talent,” covering: 1) architectural leadership development, 2) emerging talent retention, and 3) tips on how to navigate one’s architectural career. 

The AIA Colorado Business of Architecture Knowledge Community fostered the conversation about engaging the talent in mid-career architects and how firms benefit from transparent firm goal setting and career mapping.

No matter where one is at in their career, this information is invaluable. Every firm is most likely having these conversations—for the past several years. The workforce template became very fluid after COVID, with expanded virtual work-from-home or work digitally from another region in our state, nation, or world.  

All options are on the table. The Great Resignation could be something else—a realignment or recommitment in a firm. Leadership, communication, and opportunities unpack the way ahead, and AIA Colorado is with you every step of the way to ensure you and your firm have the resources to advance your leadership goals.

The webinar featured insights from the following panelists:

  • Joy Spatz, AIA, Director of Interiors, MOA Architecture, Denver
  • Sarah Broughton, FAIA, Principal, Rowland + Broughton Architecture / Urban Design / Interior Design, and AIA Colorado President-Elect
  • Adam Harding, AIA, Partner, Roth Sheppard Architects, 2021 AIA Young Architects Award Recipient
  • Host: Amanda Christianson, AIA, Chair of the AIA Colorado Business of Architecture Knowledge Committee and Director of Architecture with Work Shop – Colorado.
  • Moderator: Francesca Zucchi, AIA, member of the AIA Colorado Business of Architecture Knowledge Committee, 2022 CKLDP Scholar, and architect with Semple Brown Design

Following are takeaways by topic from the Magic in the Middle webinar:

Leadership Development 

Panelists recommended using internal and external assets to provide a diversified approach to leadership development. PSMJ A/E/C Training was highly recommended as an external source, while in-house training should focus on mentorship and the business of architecture (marketing, law, insurance, and communications, etc.). Vary the dynamics with group and 1-to-1 discussions, both informal and formal. Level up your team! These training tactics will change the way a new architect designer approaches architecture.  

Be a Mid-Career Firm Leader

As Broughton said, “Get curious! Ask questions of leaders who make decisions.” Map out a career based on these conversations and remember that there’s no one correct approach. Lean on your firm’s values and legacy, while embracing authenticity. Be yourself! Do not expect to be fast-tracked by leadership or tapped on the shoulder. Show initiative and be patient, yet persistent. Share short- and long-term career goals with leadership. Serve in others’ organizations, as well.” AIA Colorado is a wonderful place to start serving and building a network to assist in career understanding and mapping.

Professional Traits that Stand Out

Sage advice according to Spatz: “Look out for others. Give your time to help one another’s achievements. Celebrate the success of another individuals.” Understand the me vs. we principle. The long road is the collective, i.e., “we!” brings people together. Foster community and culture in your firm. Develop the knowledge of who you are. Understand who others are, as well. This confidence of understanding oneself and others will help down the road.     

Checking on Growth

“Set goals that are measurable on a quarterly and yearly basis,” said Harding. “Check these metrics often, and have smaller goals to reach big, audacious goals.” Share your goal with leaders. Don’t rely on your firm to track your goals. And bring those goals into reviews. Broughton echoed, “We all need each other right now. It is perfect timing for this conversation. The world is moving really fast.” In this environment, consider what two items need to be removed from someone’s plate.

Balance Career and Talent Retention

AIA Colorado CEO Mike Waldinger started this conversation, “The move up or move out mentality begins early in the career of architects.” Said Harding, “Leaders: Have conversations with employees and discuss goals and needs. Be your advocate.” 

Most businesses are changing, but leadership will carry your firm through its ups and downs. Is your baton ready to pass?

As Waldinger closed, “Anyone who has an interest or current role in organizational leadership needs to be an organizational anthropologist. A firm’s identity is made up of two matched pairs of attributes: market presence and production capability. These are the table stakes.” He continued, “What separates the really great firms is pairing with cultural ethos and architect models. Whether you intend to set those architect models or not, they will be there in a firm.”

AIA Colorado shares your purpose and continues to educate and inform its members to build a better community, membership and firm.

An Intro to the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program

Mentorship and professional development with emerging professionals is invaluable—a must. AIA Colorado is grateful to provide its emerging professionals a pathway in career development while honoring the legacy and contributions of the late Christopher Shawn Kelley, AIA, a Washington, D.C.-area rising star who passed away suddenly in 2012.

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) started in Washington, D.C. in 2013 and expanded to Colorado in 2016 by way of AIA Colorado President Rachael Johnson, AIA. Johnson is a CKLDP founding member and a scholar of the 2014-15 D.C. class. She saw, firsthand, the benefits for members and architectural firms. With great vision, Johnson influenced AIA Colorado to be the first expansion location for the CKLDP.

In 2021, 16 emerging professionals were selected as CKLDP Scholars. An emerging professional is defined as someone who has graduated from college with an architecture degree and is not yet licensed or within 10 years of receiving their professional license.

Apply soon if you meet the aforementioned criteria and want to expand your architectural horizon in 2022. Applications are due by December 6, and a detailed application timeline is below.

CKLDP applicants need to submit four different items: 1) a written application, 2) a recommendation, 3) your resume, and 4) a short-answer form. A fifth item, the Tuition Assistance Form, is optional.

A unique and fun aspect of each year is every class of scholars collaborates and plans out the details for their upcoming schedule. Speakers, topics, and locations are defined by the scholars themselves. This tailored approach makes this year a win-win for each individual class.

During this webinar, recent scholars shared takeaways from this past year’s CKLDP (see below). Of course, COVID made an impact, but this class was steadfast and adaptive. AIA Colorado CEO Mike Waldinger said, “This class was inspiring at what was learned and how to head forward thanks to their resilience.”

What should upcoming CKLDP Scholars expect?

  • A diverse, quaint environment enriched for learning.
  • Learn from industry leaders in architecture and other career sectors.
  • Gain lifelong friends.
  • Grow and be challenged.
  • Discuss latest architectural trends.
  • Become a better architect and understand business/leadership.

What 2021 session topics were noteworthy?

  • Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusiveness: getting out of one’s comfort zone and learning from others.
  • Contracts and negotiation: very timely topic that can be scary, yet very important to an architect.
  • Environmental threat analysis software: view upcoming challenges and how to establish mitigation protocols.
  • National/International Architects: Moshe Safdie, Peter Gluck, Grace Kim, Jonathan Segal, Enoch Sears and Jaron Lubin.

For those emerging professionals, please consider applying for this distinct professional development program. Understand the application process and the important dates below. Let’s honor Christopher Kelley by learning from each other as we design buildings for a better Colorado.

2023 Application Timeline / Schedule

  • Applications Open: November 16, 2022
  • Applications Due: December 11, 2022
  • Bootcamp Session: January 2023

For more information or questions, please contact CKLDP Chair Leah Gordon, AIA.

Webinar Recap: Becoming an Architect

What are the paths toward being a licensed architect? It’s one of the most important professions in our nation and state. While Coloradoans love the outdoors in every sense, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs places shelter, as a base foundation to our existence along with food, air, and water. Architects are essential to life, yet how does one become an architect and help others survive and thrive in safety and prosperity?

During a recent AIA Colorado webinar, AIA Colorado Licensing Advisors Avik Ghua, AIA and Erik Okland, AIA, shared insights and avenues toward licensure. Following are just a few of the highlights, and you can view the AIA Colorado YouTube channel for the full recording.

  1. Four Steps. According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), there are four major steps to obtain a license: 1) Education, 2) Experience, 3) Examination, and 4) Licensure and Certification. Education and experience can have various paths, so make sure the exact requirements are understood to best meet your timeline and personal and professional environment.
  2. Official agencies. The official organizations need to be understood: The NCARB, in collaboration with jurisdictions or state and territory licensing boards, facilitates the licensure and credentialing of architects to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The State of Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) manages licensing and registration for multiple professions, including architects. The NCARB website lists by state the individual state requirements and alternate options for licensure.
  3. Timeline. Taking a look at the timeline, the NCARB’s utmost mission is the safety of occupants in the building designed and stamped by licensed architects. Similar to doctors and dentists, this process is lengthy and demanding, yet doable. The average time from start to finish is about 13 years. The reward of licensure is worth the grit, grind, and wait, and AIA Colorado is here for its members in every step of the process. For those seeking to concurrently fast track the education, experience, and exam, the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) is a viable option.
  4. Education Paths. Accredited universities are a recommended path for education; however, non-accredited programs work as well for the State of Colorado. Check the National Architectural Accrediting Board for nationwide programs. The University of Colorado, Denver is on the accredited list, while other degree options and non-degree options are available in Colorado. The University of Colorado, Boulder meets alternative program criteria with its Environmental Design Degree. An encouraging trend is that diversity is improving; nearly half of the architectural school graduates are women.
  5. Experience (AXP). An important and necessary component of this process is gaining real-world experience alongside a licensed architect. Based on previous data, plan for about five years to finish this Architectural Experience Program (AXP). The experience areas include practice and project management, programming and analysis, project planning and design, project development and documentation and construction/evaluation. The total number of experience hours fluctuates from your degree type, including no degree for the State of Colorado.
  6. Examination (ARE). This is a six-part exam. Average exam-taking time is two years. Be prepared. You can do this! Find a mentor—AIA Colorado is here to help. The six exam divisions mirror the AXP experience areas, and the State of Colorado DORA will approve your eligibility to take the exam. Candidates can retake a division after 60 days and a maximum of three times a year. The exam can be taken at home, at a Prometric location, or a combination of both home and site. Candidates need to ensure their test areas and computers meet requirements. A free 30-minute pre-exam trial appointment is available to verify your computer and testing area at home meet requirements.

And finally, just to reinforce AIA Colorado’s commitment to you in this amazing journey, CEO Mike Waldinger said, “Don’t go it alone. We are here to help you find a mentor to gain another perspective and help you in the process.”

Licensure Stats for Colorado  

  • Experience: 132 completions out of 657 candidates reporting hours at a 20 percent completion rate.
  • Examination: 38 completions out of 638 active testers. 1,033 divisions taken at a 48 percent success rate.
  • Timeline: AXP is 4.7 years. ARE is 2.3 years.
  • Licensure: 7,804 total licenses


Becoming an Architect: AXP, ARE, and Colorado Licensure

Emerging from the Storm

AIA Colorado and CKLDP present: Toward the Three-Dimensional Garden City with Safdie Architects

An Intro to the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program

Financial Gifts Grow, Inspire New Opportunities

In the midst of a pandemic, helping hands changed lives, enabled education, and saved careers. Would you believe it was the vision of a few architects 100 years go—bridged with the spirit of current-day needs—that led to these inspiring stories?

It’s all thanks to the Architectural Education Foundation, which among other things, offers annual scholarships and financial aid, opportunities for which are are now open.

On February 17, AIA Colorado hosted a Financial Opportunities webinar with the Architectural Education Foundation along with previous award recipients to learn how these opportunities helped advance their careers. Following are the three takeaways from the event and greater insight on how you can take part.

1. Apply today!

Webinar attendees heard from AIA Colorado CEO Mike Waldinger and Architectural Education Foundation Trustee Robert Fuller, FAIA. Fuller gave an overview of the three different types of financial opportunities available for 2021: 1) Travel Scholarships, 2) Academic Scholarships, and 3) the Licensure Advancement Fund. March 1 is the deadline to apply!

2. This funding opens doors.

Meg Schubert Allen, AIA, with Stantec is a previous Travel Scholarship recipient and shared the story of her three-week travels to Europe and several Scandinavian countries in 2019. She offered useful tips for applying for the Travel Scholarship such as conducting preliminary research, building a case study, scheduling, budgeting, and planning travel accommodations. Schubert Allen traveled with fellow award recipient and member Drew Allen, AIA. Their experience was richened by proactive planning—the duo requested meetings with those in the profession and found it easier and more impactful to coordinate being on a research trip funded by an AIA scholarship. To this end, having world-class architecture in Colorado can only be realized with sending our local architects around the world.

We also heard from a recipient of the newly launched Licensure Advancement Fund, which helps with exam fees and more. Jenny Kivett, AIA, shared her personal journey of starting her career during the 2008 recession and challenges during this ongoing pandemic. Her vulnerability spoke to the heart of every professional seeking to rise in his or her career. COVID turned the ordinary into an obstacle course that stretched time and miles. A pause in facility testing led to a canceled exam, but Kivett persevered and ultimately passed her remaining exams and obtained her license. Not only was she in career transition, but also, she endured long travels to find a test site—with family in tow. While initially discouraged, Kivett was surprised at the ease of applying for the Licensure Advancement Fund. It was too easy. Are you an AIA member? Yes. Have a need? Yes. AIA is here to help.

Last but not least, an ambitious, first-generation college student, Victor Gonzalez, told his story of seeking and finding how architecture and design would define his academic studies. Victor is a previous Academic Scholarship recipient and is a student in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Environment Design program. When his curiosity of architecture bubbled, Gonzalez’s eagerness sent him traveling out of state to an architecture orientation week. Next, a high school snow day found him applying for RTA Architects student program with one remaining spot on the last day for applications. Today, this young leader gives back by serving on several national and local boards. And heads up—he is expecting to graduate this May!

3. You can use funds in the future.

If awarded a Travel Scholarship or receive support from the Licensure Advancement Fund, you don’t have to use the award today. Particularly given the pandemic, safety, and travel restrictions, you can apply now and use for future travels and exam fees.

AIA Colorado is truly grateful for everyone who contributes to these financial opportunities. These helping hand scholarships and grants are truly game changers for careers, firms, and our members.
To submit your application by March 1, please visit the  AIA Colorado website. As well, you can visit this site to contribute the Architectural Education Foundation. Be part of a 100-year legacy of helping others and your career. APPLY NOW

Foundation Opportunities 2021

Architect Quiz: Support for the Health, Safety and Welfare

© AIA Colorado 2023