Rand Elliott, FAIA was the speaker on May 28th for the AIA Central PA Spring Lecture. Rand’s presentation titled “One” (not to be confused with arguably one of the greatest pop songs in the history by U2) was our first ever online lecture. Rand handled the challenges presented by the pandemic leading us to a virtual lecture format with eagerness and skill. He provided a detailed review of the process on his firm’s Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.

Watch the Recording of the Lecture Here

Getting a glimpse into the efforts Rand Elliott Architects invested in the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center which opened days before the pandemic lockdowns began in March was inspiring. We’ve had past speakers make presentations limited to several projects (Williams & Tsien comes to mind) versus a broader overview of a firm’s work but this is the first time we have had a speaker present a single project.

Seth Wentz, Jim White, and Michelle McKenna were the driving forces behind making the lecture happen and I am grateful for their energy and commitment.

Honestly we were very uncertain how the lecture would play in an online format and we were pleased to see that we had about 100 people tune in and take part. The Q&A portion at the end of the presentation made the experience specific to AIA Central PA and provided some of the access that has been so special about the lecture series. Undoubtedly it is better to be able to gather for a lecture in person but we know that when circumstances require it we can hold successful lectures online too.

Thank You to all the Sponsors – 8 sponsors made the lecture possible. It is meaningful to see support for the lecture series given the challenging circumstances everyone is facing.

Campbell Associates
Chris Dawson Architect
Conestoga Tile
Keith Bush Associates
Murphy & Dittenhafer
Whitney Bailey Cox & Magnani

Small Firm Exchange (SFx) 2020 2nd Quarter Report

By Chris Dawson, AIA, LEED AP BD + C Pennsylvania’s Small Firm Representative


The SFx Member Group’s mission is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing within small firms. I have seen both at the national and state level the group pivoting in response to the changes to practice brought on by the pandemic and the racial justice movement. There is a sense around the country and the state is that office operations and construction site visits have been altered as well of market conditions but that to quote Mark Twain & Mark Asher, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

The SFx Practice WorkGroup is crafting resources for members around:

  1. Accounting & Finance
  2. Business Models & Beginning Business Strategy
  3. Marketing
  4. Profitability & Finance Management
  5. Risk Management
  6. Teamwork
  7. 2030 Challenge for Small Firms
  8. Human Resources
  9. Technology
  10. Project Managment

Chairing the 2021 AIA National Conference SFx WorkGroup, I am organizing plans that range from promoting A’21 to members to crafting CEU’s tailored to small firm exchange interests to organizing social gatherings. In the early stages of preparations for A’21 we are preceding from an optimistic viewpoint that we will be able to hold large gatherings again.

A’21 is in Philadelphia June 17th thru the 19th 2021.


Chris Dawson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Principal Chris Dawson Architect

Emerging Professionals Corner

Paula Maynes ARE Grant applications are now open!

Established in 2015, the AIA Pennsylvania Emerging Professionals ARE Grant is dedicated to the remembrance of Paula Maynes, AIA. She inspired us with a legacy of mentorship, service to the profession, a stellar work ethic and a unique calm, collaborative nature. These ARE the qualities that embodied Paula and are what we seek to develop in ARE grant recipients.

This year, AIA Pennsylvania will be awarding up to three (3) architecture graduates with a grant to cover the cost of three (3) divisions of the ARE!

Applications are due by 11:59 PM on Sunday, September 13, 2020. Visit aiapa.org to learn more about the eligibility and application process.

PALM | Promoting Advocacy and Licensure Through Mentorship

The goal of AIA Pennsylvania’s PALM (Promoting Advocacy and Licensure through Mentorship) program is to bring a quality mentoring program to individuals in Pennsylvania that may not have had such an opportunity in the past. The purpose of the PALM program is to create a dialogue between registered architects, aspiring architects, and architecture students regarding advocacy, career experiences, goals, and thoughts on the past and future of the profession. This is a unique opportunity for architects and architectural students from all over Pennsylvania to share a similar unifying experience. This program is intended to engage members at all levels of professional development and encourage the mission of AIA Pennsylvania by preaching benefits of licensure for architectural grads and the importance of advocacy for all members.

PALM will be held in fall of 2020 this year through virtual meetings! Sign-up information will follow at the end of July, but if you have any questions or suggestions please email palm.centralpa@gmail.com

Special Content

Accept the Exceptions

By James A. Mehaffey, AIA from the Yeoman Architect

Image accessed through History.Org

The earliest known codes that dealt with construction are found within the Code of Hammurabi, which dates back about 1700 years B.C. in Babylon. Since building codes deal with permanent structures that are figuratively and sometimes literally concrete, some may be surprised that today’s codes are not so absolute and clear-cut as say, a rental agreement on an apartment. In the case of old King Hammurabi, it was very definitive – should a house fall down on its owner, the builder shall be put to death! Today (thankfully) construction law is not so strictly interpreted. This may be because the industry is ever changing in terms of technology and building standards. Or it may be because there are an infinite set of conditions that may be encountered within a design that has not commonly been experienced before. Or it could be a set of existing conditions that is unique to the circumstances of a particular building project. Likely it is some combination of issues. Continuing reading here

A Call to Action from AIA PA Leadership

Actions Speak Louder than Words: Committing to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Profession.

Read the letter and intention statement

Upcoming Events

July 22 | 12:30
AEC Industry Collaboration for Better Business/Built Environment Outcomes Webinar

Job Opportunities

Looking to post or find a new job opportunity in Central Pennsylvania? Check out the NEWEST opportunities here and post your job openings here.