025 The Designer Interview: Bond Project Post #4

post-25The night before the designer interviews I couldn’t sleep. I had put myself in the designer’s shoes and couldn’t shake them off. Years ago, when I was a structural engineer on the design team, I remember the desperate feeling of “we’ve got to win.” The reason was pretty simple; we needed the revenue.

At some point, I was able to take the designer’s shoes off and envision the next day. Tomorrow I would spend the day being part traffic cop, part mom, and part detective. Acting as a traffic cop, I would welcome teams to the interview room and then politely kick them out at the end of their allotted time. During the interview I would focus on the presenter, silently encouraging them to do their best, and listen for clues as to why their team is the right team for the job while writing down constructive criticism for their debrief.  At the same time, I’d glance at the key client stakeholders to see if they were connecting with the presenter. It made me tired thinking about it. I would have to be “on” all day; right now I needed to get some rest. Continue reading

024 The Designer Shortlist: Bond Project Post #3

post24Happy New Year everyone! I’m starting the year 2017 off describing the process that we used for shortlisting designers for the bond project. On all projects we typically receive 10 – 20 submittal packages from interested designers. Since we cannot interview all the teams that submit, we will shortlist up to six teams. Below I will describe the shortlisting process that we went through to determine which designers to interview on the bond project. Continue reading

017 Public-Private Partnerships: A Primer

WordpressIt took about one hundred conversations to negotiate the deal,” said Gordon Merklein, the executive director for real estate at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He compared negotiating this deal and other deals to dating. “If the ‘first date’ goes well then you progress to a ‘second date’ and if that goes well then there are many more, sometimes hundreds,” he said. During the “dates”, they worked through issues like who would pay for the “town square” in the middle of the development because by not building on this part of the site, the developer would lose leasable area, but Gordon’s team felt it was necessary for the quality of the development. Like dates, he explained, some meetings were jovial, some meetings were tense, some dramatic, and I sure quite a few were boring, but in the end they negotiated a deal that benefited both parties.

The deal described above is for the “pseudo” public-private partnership (PPP) Carolina Square development. I say “psuedo” because the “public” part of the partnership is the Chapel Hill Foundation Real Estate Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Foundation Inc., which is funded by private funds, but is considered public since they represent the interests of UNC. Continue reading

010 Board of Governors August Project Approval List

randomCheck out the pre-meeting materials for the Board of Governors meeting last Friday. Projects in the UNC system that are up for approval are listed. Look under Committee on Budget and Finance item 2.

See blog post 005 Project Milestones & Marketing Strategies for how you might use this information.

Click here for Board of Governors website

007 Stakeholders- A Resource or a Constraint?

Given and Find

menilScott, Julie, and I looked at our next homework problem, in the grey study room of the Engineering Sciences Building. The problem: “The velocity of a particle undergoing rectilinear motion is v(t)=3t2+10t m/s. Find the acceleration and the displacement at t=10 s, if so= 0 at t=0.” It was 1990, and we were in Engineering 101. As studious freshmen, we focused on the task at hand, as we had been taught, we wrote down Given, left a large empty space and then wrote Find. Under Given, we wrote down our parameters (Newton’s laws of motion) for helping us to solve this problem: acceleration is the derivative of velocity over time, and the integral of velocity with respect to time is displacement. Voila, we solved for the answer and finished our homework so we could go get a drink…of Pepsi, we were under 21.

Working with Constraints

Unlike Newton’s laws of motion, the stakeholders and the guidelines that serve as design parameters (givens) for campus projects are not as straight-forward. And, as you can imagine, Continue reading

006 One Easy Way to Show Appreciation via Email Response

email-inboxI closed my email on the Mac that I shared with my fellow architectural students at Arizona State University. My dad hadn’t written me back again. I started to get up from the desk, but then I sat back down. I had written him four emails and no reply. I was pissed. Granted it was 1994, so email was a new phenomenon, but I was 2,000 miles from home for the first time in my life, and I was a tiny bit (OK a lot) homesick. I sent him the following email. “Dear Dad, if you do not respond to this email, I will never write you again. Love Amy.” Of course he answered and has never missed answering an email since then. Over the next few years, I relaxed a bit and didn’t expect an email reply unless I needed a question answered.

Fast forward to 2007. I worked at an A/E firm and noticed that my client, an architectural Continue reading

005 Project Milestones & Marketing Strategies

image-for-post-005With the help of my parents, my first job was delivering The Dominion Post, in Westover, WV. I earned a fair amount of money for my candy habit, and had enough left over to buy a piano. If I knew then what I know now, I would have saved a lot of money on dentist bills and I’d own Microsoft stock instead. While I was a consultant I often thought the same thing, if only I’d known about the project before my competition, I could’ve positioned myself better to be on the winning team. Some of you may be aware of the milestones in the planning process and some of you may not, but knowing the milestones described below may give you a leg up on your competition.

01 Master Plan

The creation of a campus master plan is the twinkle in the eye milestone of a project. The campus Owner (University, City, or Corporate entity) will hire an architectural planning firm Continue reading