Small Firms: Roadmap To Success 2023

SMALL FIRMS: ROADMAP TO SUCCESS, as a series of hands-on professional development workshops, will serve as a forum to give architects and designers insight and access to tools and resources. It will help attendees organize and operate a successful architectural & design practice.  This Workshop will be four hours long consisting of 4 one hour long presentations of 30 to 40 minutes with a 20 minute, interactive Q&A.



AIA CES: 3.5 LU Approved



Build it! Navigating the Approval Process from Entitlements through Permitting

Presented by Sara Houghton, AIA and Courtney Brown

Learning Objectives:

You will learn how to set your project up for success from conception to RTI as it moves through various departments within the City of Los Angeles.  We will cover phases spanning pre-development to pre-construction, how to identify potential project hurdles early in the process (planning!) as well as best practices for navigating through and communicating with the City and associated agencies (permitting!) as well as with the broader community (neighbors!).

Courtney Brown, Vice President of Permitting & Development Strategy, Three6ixty

Sara Houghton, AIA – Vice President and Director of Planning and Land Use, Three6ixty



Courtney Brown, Vice President of Permitting and Development Strategy at Three6ixty, leads the permitting team, specializing in complex permitting projects, tenant improvement, and affordable housing. With over 10 years of experience, her career highlights include securing permits for a unique micro-amusement park, retail cannabis businesses, and various affordable housing projects. She combines big-picture strategy with targeted tactics, influenced by her diverse clientele, from General Electric to California Home Builders. A Southern New Hampshire University and University of Texas graduate, Courtney balances her career with her passion for fashion, beach life, supporting the local LGBTQA community, and being  a warrior mom to a 15-year-old boy.

Sara Houghton, AIA – Vice President and Director of Planning and Land Use at Three6ixty, is a licensed architect with over 25 years of expertise spanning commercial, residential, civic, and educational projects. Before joining Three6ixty, she served Rosenheim & Associates as a Planner and maintained her own architectural practice. Sara has collaborated with international firms like NBBJ and Cannon Design and excelled in land-use entitlements, permitting, design review representation, and zoning modifications. A Cornell University graduate who studied in Rome, Sara also actively contributes to the American Institute of Architects, the Association for Women in Architecture, and the Southern California Mediation Association. Her leisure time is spent enjoying local live music and practicing handstands.

Three6ixty (“360”) is a land use consulting firm providing a comprehensive range of Project Management, Planning, Outreach, and Advocacy services to our community. We specialize in complex projects including multi-family residential and mixed-use developments, creative office, food service, and hospitality projects. With offices in Culver City, 360 is committed to providing a new frontier of land use services to the real estate development community, property owners, public agencies, and non-profit organizations.


Getting Started with HR: How to Grow Your Team While Protecting Your Firm

Presented by Joe Cangelosi, Affiliate AIA|LA


Learning Objectives:

This session will help new and growing firms understand the risks, rewards and opportunities as an employer in Southern California, and how to set up the HR function to benefit the firm and its employees. Participants will come away with a high-level understanding of:

  • People Operations vs. HR
  • Recruitment
  • Compliance & risk mitigation     
  • Retention
  • Technology options

Joe Cangelosi, Affiliate AIA|LA – Founder & President, Tee Lex


Joe Cangelosi, Affiliate AIA|LA has spent his life in design. Starting as a lighting designer, he built and sold two successful companies, moving on to agency operations. Fueled by a passion for design and architecture, Joe founded Tee Lex to help creative firms solve real-life challenges and has worked with countless SMB’s to improve their internal functions. He has presented on business management at many major conferences including ‘A22. Joe is on the board of the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce and lives in Topanga Canyon with his husband and Lexi, a Smooth Fox Terrier.

Tee Lex provides business solutions at the intersection of People, Projects & Finance. A pioneer of Back Office Design, Tee Lex is dedicated to reducing low-value work and administrative burdens in creative service businesses, helping midmarket businesses thrive and small businesses get over the “midmarket wall.”


The Power of Storytelling

Presented by Honora Shea

Learning Objectives:

You will learn a unique approach to architectural PR and business development, and in particular how their focus on storytelling and narrative sets their clients apart, and places their work within the broader cultural discourse.

Honora Shea, Cofounder & Principal, THIS BY THAT


Honora Shea’s lifelong love of architecture is not entirely unrelated to the fact her family is full of architects – and that she grew up in a house that was a perpetual family renovation project in  Pittsburgh. Before This by That, she was immersed in contemporary art and architecture as a writer and creative producer. She has worked with Steven Holl Architects in New York and Beijing’s Vitamin Creative Space gallery, honing her ability to bridge the gap between creativity and commerce through producing and managing projects for artists such as Cao Fei and Sharon Lockhart. Her writing on art and architecture has been published by the likes of Architectural Record, Artforum, Interview, T Magazine, and Wallpaper*.

This by That represents architects who challenge the status quo. The agency matches creative clients looking to build new environments or transform existing spaces with architects who share their ambitious, innovative vision. This by That also offers business development, communications and strategic advice to architecture practices, helping them to secure new clients, projects and media exposure.


Legal Risks in Design: How to Manage Risk in Contract, Payment, and Performance

Presented by Ryan J. Kohler, Affiliate AIA|LA

Learning Objectives:

  • How to understand your contract terms
  • How to identify legal risks during design and construction administration
  • How to minimize the potential for owner-claims when you ask for your fee
  • How the claim process works in reality

Ryan J. Kohler, Affiliate AIA|LA – Attorney At Law, Collins + Collins LLP



Ryan J. Kohler, Affiliate AIA|LA is a trial attorney in the firm’s Pasadena office, focussing on professional liability, employment matters, construction, and business litigation. In the construction field, he has helped clients tackle issues including contract formation, risk management, unpaid fee resolution, and liability defense. He also helps a broad client base with employment and HR issues, including wage claims, discrimination, retaliation, and defense of employment lawsuits in courts / administrative state agencies. Mr. Kohler helps clients respond to employment issues and assists employers in structuring effective and practical personnel policies. He received his law degree from the University of Southern California Law School and is admitted to the California state and federal Bars. He is also a guest lecturer at the USC School of Architecture.

Collins + Collins LLP has fought for and defended architects and engineers in a wide variety of disputes across the state of California. These include construction defect claims often involving nine-figure demands, negligence claims for personal injury, breach of contract and delay claims, and state administrative and compliance disputes.  The firm also handles contract negotiation, assistance as outside general counsel, and assistance with employment compliance and defense of employment claims, among may other matters.  See for more.

Graciously hosted by


May 31st, 2023

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Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center Reimagined

Learning Units: 1LU/HSW (Applied)

This is a virtual event.  Virtual meeting information will be email directly to registrants.

Conceived in 2015 as a master-planning response to looming SB 90 deadlines, the Tarzana Medical Center Reimagined Project is elevating the quality of patient-focused care on its existing campus while keeping all acute care services operational. When completed, the project will have replaced the existing patient tower, emergency department, pharmacy, main entry and admitting department, as well as significantly remodeled and expanded its Diagnostic & Treatment and support services. The Owner, Architect, and General Contractor will present the complexities of this multi-phase project and how strategic collaboration of the project team and coordinated integration with hospital operations and construction management effectively resolved design challenges and set the project on a firm path to successfully achieve the project goals and meet schedule milestones.

5:00 – 5:15 pm: Logon and Networking
5:15 – 6:15 pm: Panel Discussion
6:15 – 6:30 pm: Q+A

1. Summarize California SB 1953 seismic upgrade compliance requirements
2. Optimize the integration of multiple teams and coordination of concurrent pre-construction and construction activities
3. Streamline OSHPD approvals for scope of work in existing healthcare facilities
4. Develop procedures for maintaining hospital operations during multi-phase construction


Managing Principal-in-Charge
Perkins and Will

Russell Triplett’s more than 30 years of healthcare design expertise includes campus master planning, new construction, renovation and complex multi-phased projects in operating facilities, including large academic medical centers, teaching hospitals, small outpatient and ambulatory facilities, and skilled nursing facilities. He has a comprehensive knowledge of OSHPD’s Title 24 codes, procedures, seismic compliance regulations and CDPH/DLC’s Title 22.


Vince Cassone, Jr.
Sr. Design Construction Manager, Real Estate Strategy Operations
Providence Health & Services

With more than 20 years of extensive new and tenant improvement construction projects in the medical, commercial, and industrial sectors, Vincent Cassone is currently managing all aspects of the Providence Tarzana Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Reimagined project. Vincent holds a double Bachelor’s degree in Business, with a specialization in Project Management and a minor in Health Facility Management from Ashford University and The Forbes School of Business.


Erik Chessmore
Vice President, Project Executive
McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

Erik Chessmore is responsible for the overall management and direction of preconstruction and construction efforts on numerous Healthcare projects. His responsibilities include maintaining client relations, directing project estimating and scheduling, managing field staff, and overseeing project safety and total quality management. His more than 21 years in the construction industry has included working on many McCarthy healthcare projects throughout the region, in a variety of different capacities. Erik holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Loyola Marymount University.


Design Principal

In practice for over 20 years, Mark Tagawa’s design experience ranges from healthcare and educational facilities, to commercial and corporate interiors. In addition to work completed domestically in the U.S., his portfolio includes projects in Asia and the Middle East. A Hawaii native, Mark is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

June 9th, 2020

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Understanding Antimicrobial Ingredients in Building Materials in light of the current and future health crises

Learning Units: 1LU/HSW 

This is a virtual event.  Meeting information will be email directly to registrants.

In response to growing concerns over COVID-19, authors of a recent report, “Healthy Environments: Understanding Antimicrobial Ingredients in Building Materials” will present their findings.  No evidence demonstrates that products intended for use in interior spaces that incorporate antimicrobial additives actually result in healthier populations, and may have negative impacts on both people and the environment.


Bill Walsh, Founder of HBN

Bill Walsh is the Founder of the Healthy Building Network (HBN). Since 2000 HBN has been defining the leading edge of healthy building practices that increase transparency in the building products industry, reduce human exposures to chemicals in building materials, and create market incentives for healthier innovations in manufacturing. He has been Visiting Professor at Parsons The New School for Design, is a Fellow of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts, and a founding board member of the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Collaborative. Bill and HBN have been awarded the Design for Humanity Award by the American Society of Interior Designers (2019); WEACT for Environmental Justice Leadership Award (2018); Healthy Schools Network Hero (2013); US Green Building Council’s Leadership In Advocacy Award (2012). Previously he served as a national campaign director at Greenpeace USA, and held staff attorney positions with the US Public Interest Research Group and the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center. He holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and LLM in Public Interest Advocacy from Georgetown University.

Mary Dickinson, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Associate Principal at Perkins+Will

As Regional Sustainability Practice Leader, Mary has worked on over 5 million square feet of sustainable design projects, many of which have been 2030 compliant. She managed the creation and launch of the new Transparency Site with updated Precautionary List and is a member of the Sustainable Design Council and Research Board. This role has allowed her the opportunity to quickly respond to the firm’s big ideas, sharing and applying them in-house with local design teams. Her design philosophy is fueled by solutions that allow projects to weather the storm while reducing the impacts of the land they sit on and the people that occupy them.

A lover of animals, plants, and all things nature, Mary is unsurprisingly drawn to sustainability. Even in her own home she is working on reducing her family’s footprint by eliminating the use of plastics, nurturing a garden, participating in composting and recycling, and enjoys continually making home updates that reflect her sustainable priorities.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to identify interior finishes that may contain antimicrobial additives.
  2. Participants will be able to critically analyze health claims related to antimicrobial products. 
  3. Participants will be able to identify authoritative sources that provide ongoing guidance about the efficacy of antimicrobial building materials.
  4. Participants will be to explain the potential negative health and environmental impacts of antimicrobial building products.

Photo Credit: Perkins + Will

May 28th, 2020

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Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity Best Practices: Panel Discussion

In 2018 AIA|LA released the Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity Best Practices Guide which provided a roadmap with actionable steps to support design practitioners in their daily work. Come here from your peers about ongoing EDI Initiatives and what they are doing to improve diversity and equity in the profession.

Confirmed Speakers (check back for additional panelists)

Amy Murphy – USC Architecture ‘Diversity and Inclusion Liaison’

Jessica Tracy – Gensler ‘The Breakfast Club’

Jeri Oka – Jerde

April 30th, 2019

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