Here at Architectural & Engineering Design Associates we're always striving to improve. This means new hardware, new software, training and even a recent addition to the office building. These are all great ways to improve our service to our customers and the community. But they pale in comparison to the addition of people. Over the past year we have gained some valuable new associates who not only assist in creating new work, but also bring fresh eyes and perspective to our company.
Over the next few days I will be updating the website to add new content from end to end. A bit of that content will include two new additions to our production staff. We are proud to welcome Jake Spear and Alyssa Walker to the architectural department. Jake joined us recently and has integrated into the staff seamlessly. Alyssa had been interning with us while attending college and is now a full-time staff member. Both have contributed much already and we look forward to them growing along with us.
Growth requires energy and I'd like to take a few seconds to talk about some of our project partners that have helped us to grow. Over the past 5 years AEDA has been lucky enough to secure several term contracts around the area, in addition to the many wonderful customers we serve. We are proud to serve as Term Contract partners with both Clinton County and Essex County. Additionally, we've been blessed with contracts with ORDA, Franklin County IDA and Harrietstown Housing Authority. These term contracts have enriched our production with various projects and is proof that we are capable of delivering great projects and cost-effective design solutions. We are thankful that these groups have placed their faith in our abilities and we will continue to strive to improve for ALL of our customers. Thank you for a stellar 2018 and thank you for a great outlook for 2019.
Our production staff has grown and we are pleased to welcome new faces into the office.
As I mentioned back in May, Rachel Lamica has joined the architectural department as an full-time staff member and we are pleased to have her aboard! She is already contributing so much to the team and has become an integral part of our production crew.
We are also pleased to welcome two new staff members to AEDA.
First, Rob Armstrong has joined the company as a project manager. He, with Joseph Krupka, will be responsible for project estimating, project specifications, project bidding, conducting pre-construction meetings and project progress meetings, submittal reviews, and Construction Oversight for us and we're thrilled to have him aboard! A graduate of Clarkson University (Jim and Andy's Alma Mater) we're certain he will be a great addition to the office and a great asset to us and our customers!
We are also happy to announce that Judah (Jude) Feingold has joined the company as an intern engineer. Jude has over 22 years of professional engineering experience in a wide variety of capacities and has joined the engineering department with focuses in both Civil and Mechanical design (although I'm certain he will be helping us in a whole variety of ways). A graduate of the University of Rochester, Jude brings a ton of great experience and knowledge to the company and we are excited to see what he can do for our clients!
Overall the company is making strides continue to be the best firm in Northern NY as we want to serve our customers with the highest quality people and production. And we hope to continue growing into the future! Stay tuned for more updates as the summer progresses!
P.S. The office addition is complete! (see below)
Big Changes are happening at Architectural & Engineering Design Associates. 2018 is bringing about many changes for our business and our office. We move forward with a positive mindset and confident outlook for a bright future for the company.
First, it is with a note of sadness that we must announce the imminent departure of Paul Sherman. He has accepted a position outside the company and is moving forward with his career along a different path. We, as a company, and as his friends, wish him nothing but continued success and good fortune as he enters the next phase of his career. His time here at AEDA has helped to propel the company forward and his absence will be sorely felt by all. His knowledge, his wit and his charm has been a huge part of the office and we know he will be a positive asset in his future job. Thank you Paul for all you've done for us!
In the interim, Joseph Krupka will be stepping up to fill the void as a project manager for AEDA and we know he'll do a great job! His history with the company and his extensive knowledge will keep the company moving smoothly through this transition.
Rachel Lamica, our former intern, has graduated from Keene State College with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and has accepted a full-time position with AEDA. We are thrilled to have her as an associate and look forward to all she has to offer the company. She's been a valuable asset for us as an intern and we know she will continue to be as an employee! Welcome aboard Rachel!
In addition to the staffing changes, we're also in the middle of some exciting construction here at the office. We are building new offices downstairs and moving our conference room up to the main level in order to better serve the office and our customers. In addition (no pun intended), a new addition is being constructed at the rear of the office which will expand our production space. More exciting news to come on that as the year progresses!
As always, we strive as a company to stay at the forefront of technology. Recently, the company purchased (and is now using) a mobile scanner to measure existing interior spaces. This tool will give us hyper-accurate dimensions for spaces, which we can use for remodeling and renovation projects. We are excited to have this tool in our arsenal! If you have a project that could benefit from this technology, we would love to hear from you!
Architectural & Engineering Design Associates, P.C. is growing our design family. Recently James "Jamie" Hammaker joined the architectural department as an intern architect. He has over 15 years of experience in architecture and design and we know he'll be a great team member. Head over to our staff page and take a look!
Additionally, AEDA is being joined for the summer by two interns. Helping to educate the next generation of design professionals is important and we feel that giving opportunities to students is a great way to give back to our community's future architects and engineers. Providing a professional environment where students can learn about architecture and engineering helps to better prepare them for the real world and helps give them an advantage in job seeking after college. We're very excited to welcome Keene State College Senior, Rachel Lamica, who is completing her Bachelor of Science in Architecture. Rachel is already contributing to projects in Revit and we look forward to seeing all she's capable of. AEDA also welcomes back Schulyer Gratto who is attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for Civil Engineering. Schuyler came to AEDA as a high school senior to intern and we're glad to have him back at the office. Both Rachel and Schuyler will be interning with us for the summer and we hope to provide a rich learning experience for both of them, and hopefully they can teach us a few things as well.
Overall 2017 is proceeding nicely for AEDA. We have some really dynamic and groundbreaking projects that are developing which we will be sharing in the near future. These projects will begin to really define the ways in which our company is moving up to the next level into high-profile and world-class design projects. Stay tuned for more as the summer progresses!
Last December the Architectural Staff here at AEDA began using Autodesk Revit as our primary tool for architectural design and construction documents. It was a dynamic shift from the mostly two-dimensional work we had been doing with Autocad. Gradually over the course of the year we have discovered new techniques and methods for creating exciting and complete buildings.
2016 has brought the company a lot of residential work, which in retrospect has been beneficial to our learning of Revit. Smaller projects have allowed us to focus on the details of designing in Revit. It has also given us the opportunity to present both interior and exterior spaces in ways we have not been able to achieve using our old programs, Revit lets us create buildings and construction documents at the same time. We are very excited about what this allows us to do for our customers. We can now fairly easily present 3D models of the outside of the home that have a level of realism that used to be a very time-consuming process. Interior renderings are nearly as easy and the results are stunning.
As you can see, the level of realism is quite striking. Our customers can now easily visualize their future home to a level that we could not easily provide 12 months ago. Both natural and artificial light sources play off surfaces and create depth and shadow.
These new abilities are great, and we love what they provide our customers. The real question then is; how does Revit operate in creating construction documents? The answer simply is: Revit allows design professionals the abiltity to easily create construction douments directly from the building model. Plans, sections, elevations, and schedules can easily be created and modified with little effort. Details require very little and overall the program keeps track of every small piece of data. From thermal values and finishes, to the number of doors and windows, Revit files track every pertinent piece of information that a design professional might require. It even tracks a lot of data that our office may never use.
As an architectural designer I don't ever imagine myself going back to Autocad full-time. I think that Revit overall does everything I could want better than older programs. From a business/marketing standpoint I think that Revit has given the company a valuable new tool to promote our work and bring in new business. Revit still has some areas in which improvements can be made, but overall AEDA made the correct decision to shift our architectural staff over to Revit. I can't wait to see where we'll be in another 12 months.
Achitectural & Engineering Design Associates, P.C. received some very notable (albeit, a bit misplaced) praise this past Friday and we would like to extend our gratitude to all of the people who thought so highly of us.
The Press-Republican ("The hometown newspaper of Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties") published its annual "Reader's Choice" issue on July 8 and in the "Best People" category our firm was honored to have AEDA and Andrew Abdallah listed as "Best Architect" for the region.
Even though Andrew is ACTUALLY a Professional Engineer, the company does have a licensed Architect on staff (Shane E. Chatelle, R.A.) and we do provide complete, licensed architectural services to the North Country and beyond.
Andrew and company had a good laugh over the misconception but recognize that despite the technical inaccuracy of the title this is still a very humbling and unexpected honor. We are thrilled to be considered by the people of the tri-county area to be the best firm to provide architectural services and we will continue to make every effort to provide quality architectural AND engineering services.
Congratulations to all of the other winners and thank you again to all who voted and to the Press-Republican.
Everyone's in this together. As a company we all have to take any changes that the industry throws at us in stride, from Building Codes and Zoning Requirements to Calendar Software and CAD. It's a part of growing and necessary to stay competitive.
Recently AEDA instituted a major change in our CAD software, introducing Autodesk Revit to production staff. In order to continue making progress as a company this change made sense and is starting to produce some exciting results. In the office there's still some excitement regarding the software, but there can be resistance...the learning curve is dangerous and claims many victims.
As a company, the introduction to new software is a tenuous time. The transition between programs takes time and can hurt production and ultimately the bottom line. The expenditure for the new software, training, and hardware upgrades can be expensive as well. In all, the losses can initially outweigh the benefits. Some employees may find it easier to stay in the comfort zone of the older software because they do not easily grasp the new, or because deadlines for projects make using the older software seem like a better choice. This is understandable and often supported by the decision makers. Slowing down at the curve is safe.
Meanwhile, other staff members are making strides and pulling ahead utilizing the full capabilities of their new tool and mastering the various aspects of it. They find shortcuts and better ways of doing things, they learn new skills and discover other tools that help them become more productive. Suddenly they prefer not to utilize older tools and they begin to forget old ways. Around the curve it's difficult to see the road behind you.
At a certain point the new and old ways become distant and communication becomes more difficult. The longer it takes for everyone to transition the harder it becomes. This can lead to many problems; compatibility, communication, direction and goals. In addition, it may become necessary for some staff to retrain those other staff members and guide them once the transition must be made. This creates addition slow downs and production issues.
AEDA is making progress and we're confident in our decision to embrace the changes. Revit is the future of Architecture and we feel confident in our ability to produce excellence by using it. Already our construction documents and renderings are getting compliments and we know that we can only improve. There will always be bumps in the road, but once the learning curve is behind you the road ahead is usually straight...until the next curve.
To illustrate our progress, here's a sample of a current project. You can compare it to the image from our blog post "Welcome to the future...We'll train you for that." on 12/08/15. Keep working to get around that curve, it's pretty on the other end.
Taking your game to the next level takes "next level thinking". It's not enough just to work harder, you actually have to begin operating in the mindset of the level in which you wish to operate. In architecture and engineering that means that if you want larger projects and more exposure you must reach a larger audience by creating opportunities for them to recognize you.
Marketing cannot be an afterthought anymore. Traditionally, putting an ad in the local trade magazines and getting a Yellow Pages listing was enough to guarantee some business got directed to your door. In the digital age these methods are not enough. Potential customers are perceptive, and intelligent, and these days they want to do some legwork before choosing a professional to work for them. This means that a phone number and a list of services is the beginning, not the end, of marketing. As a company, Architectural & Engineering Design Associates strives to be the first and last place people look for architecture and engineering (and we’d like to be everywhere in between as well).
I'm not going to fully outline AEDA's marketing strategies nor am I going to outline how we attract business because frankly I don't need to help out the "competition". Instead, I want to talk a little about identity (which I suppose will help the competition anyway, but if they're not doing this yet, I think they have bigger worries).
What is identity when we talk about architecture and engineering? Certainly design work can be a way that a company establishes its identity. However design is usually an eclectic mix of different styles that reflect the customer's desire as much as the firm's work. It isn't always easy to recognize the designer by the building. We aren't all Frank Gehry. However, identity is still important. In concert with marketing strategies, identity is the most important thing a design firm must create following the actual design work itself.
Over the past fifteen-plus months AEDA has begun to create a more recognizable and professional identity. This includes all of the ways in which the customer interacts with us. Our correspondence, our drawing sets and construction documents, our advertising and website and even our business cards are aligning into a unified identity. We want our business to be recognizable across the spectrum of contact and communications in order that when people see us, they know us. And just as individual identity evolves, so too must a corporate identity.
Our website is a great example. We don't see our website as a static document, but rather as a living and evolving entity that showcases our company as we grow in success. We want people to see what we do, and see it as we do it. Cross promoting on social media, AEDA can make quick updates, while when bigger things manifest we can update the website. Using a multitude of communication techniques helps us to create a wider identity as we promote new projects and design work. In certain instances we even want people to be able to delve deeply into specific projects to understand how we think about our design and our method.
We've been busy this year so far and a lot of that has to do with our new marketing efforts and the identity we're creating. We will continue to refine our identity so that our customers can make the most informed decision when seeking out design professionals. We will continue to do this in order to give you the clearest picture of who we are, what we do and how we can work for you.
We hope to hear from you soon.
So we're moving forward with Autodesk Revit in the office and so far it seems to be allowing us to produce more with less effort. Sure, there are bumps in the road as we explore this new software, but overall it looks like the transition will be relatively smooth.
But software alone isn't always the answer, flexibility is required also. Often progress and growth require us to evaluate all of our methods and practices. Just because we do something a certain way for years, it doesn't mean that they should remain the same or that things can't improve, or even that we're correct to begin with! And so asking additional questions as a production staff is essential. It's especially beneficial as we transition from AutoCAD to Revit because as we learn new software we can also learn to spot areas to improve.
We started by looking at the construction documents we produce and where we could improve them for our customers and contractors. This lead to a discussion of fonts and tags and ultimately to our document template. Revit doesn't work like AutoCAD and so our borders and tags and even our font style needed to be reviewed to see if we really wanted to drag all of that history into the new program. Ultimately we didn't want a lot of that baggage. Revit has a very clean design for construction documents. Default fonts and tags are much different than what the office was using in AutoCAD prompting us to look at whether we could live with these changes. Some things we like and some we didn't. One thing we really didn't care for was the default font. Unfortunately, Revit defaults to Arial...a font style that I can't stand and that needless to say didn't resonate well with anyone else either.
In our training we were advised NOT to change the default settings for anything. It's not bad advice. It insures that the drawing package will have a uniformity and usability for everyone. Conversely is also means that the drawings look like everyone else's. Thus the dilemma.
Our final decision was to throw caution to the wind and begin to modify the program and set up our own templates for drawings. Every Font, Tag, Border, and Family that had the default text would need to be duplicated and modified. It sounded like a daunting task, and looked to be one as we began trying, however as we worked through the problem we realized that perhaps it wasn't as hard as we'd first thought. Creating our own identity wasn't impossible after all. If we'd just accepted what we'd been told or weren't willing to examine ourselves then we would be limiting our knowledge and learning how the program works, we would discover new things and we'd have been saddled with Arial Font...
Now we're designing our own office template which will incorporate the changes we make into all our future projects. We will revisit the template as needed to update or modify things as required. And ultimately we will review things semi-annually to make sure we're still satisfied with our choices and how they help us to provide a superior product to our customers and the people building their projects.
In thinking about things the most important question might be, "Should we be asking questions more often?" Some people get into a rut, they become stagnant and comfortable with the status quo. We should never be so comfortable that we stop questioning and exploring. Stagnation is the enemy of creativity, and in this business of design creation that can spell disaster. I hope we never stop questioning our methods, I hope we always continue to create new and wonderful things. If this sounds like the kind of thinking that appeals to you, then I encourage you to contact us for your future projects. We want to explore and ask questions, and we want to produce the best possible designs for our customers. Make sure to check back often as I continue to discuss our work and our future.
This past Monday the company got together for our annual holiday party. We had a lovely evening at the Orchard House in Peru NY with our families, some great food, drink and plenty of good cheer. This time of year is often a time for reflection and thanksgiving and certainly this year AEDA has a lot to reflect upon and be thankful for. We have had the opportunity to continue serving the community and designing some really wonderful projects and we've expanded outward to reach new communities and customers. Truly it has been a year of blessings.
Our push into new areas of marketing has also yielded new insight into how we can create new partnerships and bring new business to the company, and our website is becoming a great way to see how we work and what we're doing.
Traci Perrigo has become the new office manager here this year and she has become an integral part of the company, assisting us in countless ways to improve our production and communications. We've added a new phone system to better serve our customers and staff and we're rolling out Autodesk Revit as our primary design software in order to bring the most up-to-date program available to our project partners!
Overall 2015 has been a good year for Architectural & Engineering Design Associates and we look forward to and even better year in 2016! To all of our friends, family and those who will become our friends in the future here's wishing you all the best and we hope to see you at the office soon. Whether you need an architectural project or just would like to stop by to say hello, we welcome you to come see us. Thank you all for helping to make our company better each day, without all of you we wouldn't be here.