ACE Joint Owner Forum: Nov. 13, 2019

The next ACE Joint Owner Forum will include local government owners from the Southwest Virginia area.  The event will occur on Wednesday, Nov. 13 in Roanoke.  ACE is a joint venture of the Virginia components of AIA, ACEC, and AGC to educate and promote best practices of the design and construction industry.


Location: Blue Ridge Hotel and Conference Center

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. for Forum, 4:00 – 5:00 Networking/Cocktail Reception

Fee: $50 (Members only)


Register online.

ACE Virginia Joint Owner Forum Recap with Northern Virginia Local Governments

ACE is a joint venture of the American Institute of Architects, Associated General Contractors, and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia, to educate and promote best practices of the design and construction industry. In 2018, its inaugural year, ACE held three collaborative forums that connected the design and construction professions with those that hire them. What resulted was an improved understanding of what makes projects successful from the perspective of all stakeholders, an intimate forum for business development, and an opportunity to learn about future projects.

On September 24th, ACE had its third Joint Owner Forum of 2019, sixth overall, in Arlington. This year, we have engaged various local governments from around the Commonwealth. This forum hosted stakeholders and decision-makers from the City of Alexandria, Arlington Public Schools, and the Counties of Prince William, Fairfax, and Loudoun.

The panel consisted of the following participants:

Jeff Chambers, AIA – Director of Design & Construction [Arlington Public Schools]
Lou Ann Dorrier, RA – County Architect and Division Chief [Prince William County]
Patti Innocenti, CPPO – Deputy Director of Purchasing & Supply [Fairfax County]
Jeremy McPike – Director of General Services [City of Alexandria]
Cheryl Middleton, CPPB – Division Manager of Procurement [Loudoun]

Below is a snapshot of the key points discussed:

Project Delivery Methods:

  • Design-Bid-Build is still the most frequently used method
  • Arlington Public Schools use CM-at-Risk for projects over $10M
  • PPEA and PPTA are used in specific circumstances such as transportation projects and parking garages
  • City of Alexandria uses all methods and makes its selection based on risk mitigation
  • Job Order Contracting is used for expeditious results are required on small projects
  • Prince William County has adopted the habit of soliciting pre-planning studies before releasing RFPs for large projects. The studies help to fine-tune the program and budget for the CIP

How to Get Work in Each Locality:

  • “We don’t interview firms, we interview people” – they want to get to know the team members who are going to work on the project. Don’t bait and switch
  • The resumes of the individuals is equally, if not more, important than the firm experience
  • Establish your reputation through successful completion of small projects
  • Volunteer in their community every now and then
  • Similar projects mean more than your firm’s proximity to the locality
  • Know the issues involving the community such as zoning, historical issues, sensitivities, etc.
  • You better proofread your proposal
  • Size of firm does not matter – in fact – sometimes the best customer service comes from small firms
  • References are checked. Make sure your references know that they are being used as references
  • In a project interview, be prepared to explain how the project will still be successful if a key player leaves the firm
  • Organize your RFP response to match the structure of the RFP
  • RFP language is being revised to encourage new firms to pursue projects in the respective localities
  • Call it out if an individual gained the relevant experience at another firm

Design and Construction Quality

  • “Why are you delegating so much design?”

This conversation progressed into the Owner’s concerns about losing control of product quality and the Design + Construction industry voiced concerns about increasingly compressed project schedules. Our industry felt that they were often being asked to do the impossible – significantly reduced schedules and expectations of greater quality. It concluded with the request from Owners for us to share if the proposed schedule is unobtainable during the RFP phase.

  • The design industry suggested holding “pre-qualifications” meetings before advertising large projects. This would be an opportunity to learn more about the project’s intimate details which may result in greater value received by the Owners. This thought was embraced by all.


  • Designing to LEED Silver seemed to be the baseline standard. The locality may or may not pursue actual certification.
  • Commercial Property-Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing structures are being explored and adopted
  • Net-zero buildings are a reality – Arlington Public Schools has two
  • Fairfax has invested in the creation of an Energy + Efficiency Department
  • Commissioning is just as important as the upfront sustainability project decisions

The next forum will take place on Wednesday, November 13 in Roanoke with Southwest Virginia area local governments. Register today>>

ACE Virginia – April 23, 2019 Joint Owner Forum

Join us for the Joint Owner Forum with Local Government Clients from the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

Panelists scheduled to appear are:
Gerry Jones – Suffolk Director of Capital Programs
Oliver Love, Jr. – Norfolk Senior Project Manager
Tom Nicholas, PE – City of Virginia Beach, Facilities Engineer, Department of Public Works
Wilbur Hogge, PE – Chesapeake Public Works Department, Facilities Division, Construction Facilities Manager

Registration for this event is open to AIA Virginia members only.
Want to become a member? Contact Cathy Guske,

Date: Tuesday, April 23
Time: 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Cocktail Reception Following
Location: Marriott Norfolk Waterside
Cost: $50
AIA CES: 2 Learning Units

Space is limited.

Pella Windows and Doors
Keith Fabry
Clark Nexsen
S.B. Ballard Construction Company

To sponsor this event, contact Judy Cheadle at

ACE Higher Ed Event Recap

ACE is a joint venture of the American Institute of Architects, Associated General Contractors, and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Virginia, to educate and promote best practices of the design and construction industry. On September 25, ACE had its final Joint Owner Forum of 2018 at the Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg. This session engaged our higher education stakeholders and decision makers from Radford University, Virginia Military Institute, and Virginia Tech. The event was followed by a networking reception that allowed for more intimate conversation with the panelists.

The panel consisted of the following participants:

Ed Gillikin, AIA – Panel Facilitator and Principal of KOP Architects
Mike Biscotte, PE – RU Director of Facilities Planning and Construction
Col. Dale Brown – VMI Institute Planning Officer
Dwyn Taylor – VT Assistant Vice President of Facilities Operations and Construction
Paul Ely – VT Assoc. Director of Capital Construction and Renovations

Great dialogue was exchanged regarding SWaM, upcoming projects, how to get work, best ways to engage with the university and procurement vehicles. Each segment included the audience in a question and answer period that proved to be engaging and valuable. It quickly became evident that each university expected the design team to know the procedures specific to its institute in order to complete work effectively and efficiently.

SWaM: Each university is committed to the success of Small, Women, and Minority-owned businesses. It was noted that each institute is seeking to engage with design firms who have not yet worked on campus. For example, Radford University has used six different design firms for six different capital projects. VMI has recently selected new firms to help complete its work and shared that consultants who work on “post” must be ready to be a visible component of the VMI family. Virginia Tech representatives encouraged those in attendance to use ACE as a networking vehicle to improve SWaM participation in the Commonwealth.

Upcoming Projects: Each panelist provided insight into current and upcoming capital projects. Col. Brown shared that several renovation projects were in the design phase using CM-at-Risk and a designer had recently been selected for a new $40M aquatics center. As Radford evaluates its capital needs, Mr. Biscotte looks to turn to renovating and repurposing existing buildings. Virginia Tech’s list of opportunities were expansive and included key projects such as the replacement of Slusher Hall, Jamerson Athletic Center Fourth Floor renovation, McComas Hall and War Memorial Gymnasium renovations.

How to Get Work: Col. Brown shared that a firm’s marketing is the last job it closed out. Each panelist admitted that they call one another to inquire about working with a firm before making the hire. The panelists shared what they expect from those who pursue work on their campus. There was a general consensus amongst the panel that their desire was for every architect who wants to be a part of their team to know and understand previous studies and master planning efforts. Teams are viewed negatively during interviews when they ask questions that demonstrate their ignorance of these existing documents. In addition, thoughts were shared in what they want to see in the RFP responses and in interviews.

Below outlines the most prominent tips offered by these decision-makers:

  • Make sure the proposal addresses all of the requested criteria (Have your staff grade your RFP proposal against the RFP requirements before submitting)
  • Know the CPSM [or similar document for Tier III institutes]
  • Content is valued higher than “Slickness” in interview presentations
  • Show the full team in your proposal (not just the Architects)
  • The amount of time the team members have worked together is important
  • The Project Manager has to speak up in the interview
  • Make Sure the Interview Team is “THE TEAM”
  • Typos indicate that the team does not pay attention to details
  • Ask for a debrief meeting after you win the job!

Best Ways to Engage: Time is everyone’s most valuable resource. “Meet and greets” are handled differently at each university. For example, Virginia Tech does not take one-on-one meetings. Instead, it hosts a quarterly outreach meeting for all firms who are interested.

Procurement Vehicles: It was shared that a variety of procurement vehicles are used between the three institutes. Virginia Tech uses the most diverse methods that include Design-Build, Design-Bid-Build and CM-at-Risk. VMI and Radford use Design-Bid-Build and periodically will use CM-at-Risk. Term contracts are still a tremendously valuable tool for firms to gain experience at a respective institute and build productive working relationships.

The 2019 ACE Joint Owner Forum series will host local government clients to continue the productive dialogue. Please be on the lookout for “Save the Dates” as they become established.