March 14, 2019

From the desk of Will Wright, Hon. AIA|LA
Director of Government & Public Affairs

The Value and Impact of Your AIA Membership is Advocacy

AIA|LA & The County of Los Angeles

On March 5th, on behalf of AIA|LA and its membership of 4200+ architects, designers and emerging professionals, I had the opportunity to testify in front of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. I was there to share our support for a motion (19-1449) authored by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Solis that re-affirms the County’s commitment to achieve a 25% procurement attainment goal for local, small business enterprises for all County contracts by the year 2020. Especially as it related to the procurement of the professional services that will be required to implement Measure H, Measure M, Measure A and Measure W, I encouraged the County to reach even higher and to strive for a goal of 30 to 35% to optimize small business inclusion.

To Read the County’s goal, CLICK HERE.

According to the motion and the underlying commitment, the County realizes that “achieving the Goal will require a cultural shift across County departments in how the procurement of both goods and services is accomplished. It will also require a dedicated effort to streamline the County’s procurement policy, an initiative that will improve the business operations of all County departments and benefit businesses of all sizes.”

One positive first step that the County took was by hiring former City of LA Chief Procurement Officer, Michael Owh to be the new General Manager, Purchasing & Contract Services for County of Los Angeles.

Next Steps include working with the County (and the City of LA, too) to develop a strong implementation plan to create “a regional business certification program and marketplace and a modern e-procurement system.” We also need to identify which policies and regulations may currently hindering inclusion and propose legislative solutions that will help us achieve our goals. Most importantly, we need to streamline the Countywide procurement process so that more businesses have the opportunity to compete for these contracts.

A regional marketplace procurement platform that the Los Angeles Business Council Institute recently introduced to the City of Los Angeles (Compete4LA) is an opportunity for AIA|LA and its architect members to advocate for smart procurement reforms, as well as, expand our public agencies toolbox of project delivery alternatives.

Essentially, it will be up to architects to further connect the dots between inclusion and the outcomes of design excellence, which arise expressively by assembling diverse teams that return a greater return on investment for our public infrastructure investments while also delivering healthier, more functional and more beautiful results.

To hear more about “Compete4LA”, please make plans to attend our upcoming Political Outreach Committee, which will be at Hanson LA on March 19 (6pm), which will serve as our third forum to discuss how to achiever greater business & cultural inclusion as we prepare our region for the 2026 World Cup and 2018 Olympics & Paralympics.


Guest speakers include:
Mary Leslie – President, Los Angeles Business Council
Mark Morales – Vice President, SBA Business Development Officer, City National Bank
Michael Owh – General Manager, Purchasing & Contract Services, County of Los Angeles & former Chief Procurement Officer, City of Los Angeles
Moderated by: Douglas Hanson, AIA, ASID – Chair, AIA|LA Political Outreach Committee & President, Hanson LA

AIA Los Angeles

AIA National Capitol Hill Day

On March 6th, AIA|LA President Barbara Bouza, FAIA, Executive Director Carlo Caccavale and Associate Director Maria Robinson-Glover joined 600+ AIA members in Washington, D.C. for the annual Grassroots Capitol Hill Day 474 meetings were held in the House and Senate including 137 members of Congress to advocate on behalf of architects and two major issues they impact: energy efficiency in buildings and school safety.

Special emphasis was placed on meeting with the Senate’s Energy & Natural Resources and the House’s Energy & Commerce Committee, as well as, Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and Homeland Security & Government Affairs, amongst others.

If you were unable to join your colleagues in D.C., there’s still time to take direct action to support a new approach to increase energy efficiency in buildings and to support safe school design for new and existing schools.

You’re encouraged to reach out directly to your Congressional Representatives and U.S. Senators by following these easy-links created by AIA National to help facilitate your collective impact.

CLICK HERE to Tell Congress to support safe school design for new and existing schools

CLICK HERE to Tell Congress to support a new approach to increase energy efficiency in buildings


Support a new approach to increase energy efficiency in buildings.

Congress passed Section 179D into the Internal Revenue Code in 2005. It was crafted as the main federal tax code provision that would increase the use of energy efficient technologies in all commercial and multi-family buildings. However, 179Dhas been more effective in encouraging their use in new construction, less so for renovations or retrofits to existing buildings. This is an issue because 95 percent of existing commercial buildings are more than a decade old and were built prior to 2008. Of all commercial buildings, 82 percent were built before 2000; prior to modern versions of building energy codes governing their design and construction. Therein lies the problem; the primary federal law meant to increase energy efficiency in buildings is only impacting a small percentage of them. Furthermore, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), passed in 2017, has had the unintended consequence of disincentivizing building owners and developers to invest in property improvements that increase energy efficiency. Bottom line: increasing energy efficiency in America’s existing building stock needs a fresh approach and new public policy solution.


Amend the federal tax code to better target and incentivize the use of energy efficient technologies on existing commercial and multi-family buildings. Specifically, Congress should expand the current definition of what is considered “qualified improvement property”, or QIP, to include energy efficient technologies. This change would allow building owners and developers to write off a certain percentage of depreciation costs if they install energy efficient technologies such as HVAC, mechanical insulation, lighting, windows, roofs, submeters, and other building management systems.


Support safe school design for new and existing schools.

Since 9/11, a central focus in the terrorism mitigation strategy of America’s local, state, and federal governments has been the design or redesign of new or existing buildings and structures. From airports to sports stadiums and public/private office buildings to mass transit hubs, the design of buildings and structures has been rethought. In summary, architecture and design has been a key tactic in the fight against terrorism. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the collective response to school mass shootings.

2019 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shootings. Since then, more than 220,000 students have experienced gun violence at school. Despite this, a systematic approach, like the one seen since 9/11, focusing on safe school design has not occurred. Yet, after a school shooting occurs, the one solution that is consistently called for and agreed upon by all sides of the political spectrum is “we need to design our schools to be safe learning environments.” However, most of the nation’s 122,000 public and private K-12 school buildings are still not designed to deter these violent acts.

Funding is one of the main parts of implementing a design-centered strategy. Information is too. Currently, local and state education officials lack a central repository of credible best practices, resources, and overall safe school design information. This is a huge deterrent to them estimating, and potentially securing, funding to retrofit existing schools or to build new ones. It also greatly inhibits many of them from considering how architecture and design can help ensure a school is a secure and positive learning environment, not a fortress.


Authorize the creation of a federally funded and housed information clearinghouse for local and state officials. This entity would serve as an unbiased resource for them to constantly access. It would provide a reliable forum to disseminate relevant information from the numerous stakeholders necessary to ensuring a school safe design such as architects, engineers, first responders, building security experts, and mental health advocates. In addition, design services should be an eligible use of funding in any existing federal grants that support school security.

AIA National

Governor’s Appointments

Weeks ago, Governor Newsom made clear during his State of the State address what his charge would be during his term as California’s Governor. Newsom seems to be proactive on taking necessary steps to address housing and confront climate change. To help with these efforts, he has appointed several new individuals:

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg to be California’s “housing Czar” on the newly formed Commission on Homelessness & Supportive Housing
Tia Boatman-Patterson – Senior Advisor on Housing
David Hochschild – Chair, California Energy Commission
Janea Scott – Vice Chair, California Energy Commission

The AIA CA will reach out to Mayor Steinberg and other leaders who are working diligently to tackle these important issues. To participate in the conversation and hear how others within the profession are addressing housing solutions, consider registering for the 2019 Housing Forum.


Sales Tax on Professional Services

The AIA California has been proactively actively engaged in one particular issue that is harmful should it pass and be signed into law. The AIA CA has joined a coalition to fight sales tax on services, including architectural services and will update members when there is more to share.

Citizen Architect

AIA CA is trying to identify architects who serve their communities as elected or appointed officials, such as elected members of a city council or school board, appointed members of a planning commission, or a design review board who could participate in the AIA CA Citizen Architects program. If you are a Citizen Architect, or have an interest in being more involved in your local community, engaging in leadership positions or participating in opportunities that will bring our citizen architects to the forefront, contact Melissa Barton 916-642-1711/

For more info, CLICK HERE.

From the Desk of AIA California President Ben Kasdan, AIA

Someday I Suppose: Housing Crisis in California

No issue hits home quite like the housing crisis in California and throughout the country right now. Newly inaugurated California Governor, Gavin Newsom, has described housing affordability as his number one priority. Many California-based architecture firms focus on primarily on residential design (including my firm of KTGY) and it affects each and every one of us daily. The problem is so complex and multifaceted, but three of the most architecturally relevant subtopics are the staggering rise of homelessness, the lack of attainable housing, and sprawl.

AIA California