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Mayor Adler Presents a New Way Forward

Written by Elizabeth Rabaey, Cook-Joyce, Inc.

Austin’s new mayor, Steve Adler, joined the SMPS Austin Chapter for lunch on April 14, 2015 at the UT Club. Mayor Adler presented several ideas for “a new way forward” in city governance and their impact on the local AEC community.

Change the Way City Council Makes Their Decisions
During the past year, the city council structure was changed from seven at-large representatives and mayor to 10 district representatives and an at-large mayor. Many of the issues/resolutions considered before the city council had little or no input from the community. In an effort to change that, Mayor Alder and the city council created committees comprised of Austin citizens to study the issues/resolutions and provide their recommendations to the city council for their deliberation. This citizen input encourages a city-wide approach to moving forward and is not specific to any one district. Mayor Adler says this new way of thinking and process is working well for the city.

Revise the City of Austin Permitting Process
In a recent study of the permitting process, a consulting firm identified many recommendations for improvement. The mayor and city council are reviewing the recommendations and will work with the city manager to develop a 30-day list of goals and metrics to address the permitting backlog. A similar list of 60-day goals and metrics will be created to identify long-term resources, systems, processes and costs to improve the overall permitting process.

Implement Ways to Improve Austin Mobility
Mayor Adler says that he often gets asked what his plans are for improving mobility around Austin. His response includes both short-term and long-term measures. Some of the short-term measures include the implementation of the “don’t block the box” campaign, better coordination of road closures in the downtown area, and encouraging construction of new buildings that impact traffic lanes to happen during the evening or night. Long-term measures include fully implementing the sophisticated traffic light monitoring system to regulate the flow of traffic and encouraging all quasi-governmental entities with mobility plans, i.e Capital Metro, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, to be combined into one plan. This way, says Mayor Adler, we can be all working together towards one solution for Austin’s mobility.

Manage the Current and Expected Growth of Austin
How can we preserve Austin and all its quirkiness and still continue to grow? For many years Austin has been on many of the “best of” lists which highlighted our job growth, affordability, and support for the creative industries. As we grow as a city, we continue to have record job growth and support for the creative industries, but the issue of affordability for all the people currently living here and moving here has raised the most concern. Mayor Adler believes we need to start working towards a managed growth to address the affordability issue for the City of Austin to be successful.

View photos from the luncheon HERE

Project Spotlight: The Bowie

Written by Lyndsay Woods, Harvey-Cleary Builders

Recently completed, The Bowie is a 36-story, mixed-used apartment building in downtown Austin. The cast-in-place concrete structure includes 4,268 SF of retail space, 200,000 SF of parking garage, 40,684 SF of office space on two floors, which will be occupied by Whole Foods Corporate, and 358 residential apartment units with 34 different floor plans to choose from. Each unit has floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood floors, and window shades, making it one of the top three luxury residential towers in downtown Austin. The building skin consists of curtain wall, brick, composite panels, plaster, and vertical garage fins. The building amenities include three outdoor common area decks with fire pits, grilling areas, and pet play area. Topping the tower is the heated swimming pool which is the “highest pool in Texas.”

Lynd World Group and Endeavor Real Estate Group
Architect: HKS, Inc.
GC: Harvey-Cleary Builders
Civil Engineer: Longaro & Clarke, LP
Structural Engineer: Brockette Davis Drake
MEP Engineer: Blum Consulting Engineers

Lunch & Learn Recap

Written by Lauren Rekola, Ryan Companies

March’s Lunch & Learn topic “Working with a Photographer” brought Patrick Wong with Atelier Wong Photography and Kirk Tuck with Kirk Tuck Photography to speak with the Austin chapter on Thursday, March 26.

Wong, whose work focuses primarily on architectural photography, led into the conversation by stating “people operate on visual stimulus,” which is an impactful point for the AEC industry, whose work focuses primarily on the creation of tangible end products. Photos of these end products build the foundation of AEC portfolios. Wong also mentioned the importance of an architectural photograph backing up the mission of your company. When a company submits a proposal for a new project, they often reference previous projects that are similar in scope. Photos of these previous projects are one of the few insights a potential client has into the type or quality of work a company offers. These photos should visually communicate a company’s standards, ethics, and style. A photographer with a background or general knowledge of architecture, Wong pointed out, will be able to communicate these ideas in an architectural photograph.

Kirk Tuck’s work focuses mainly on portraiture. In the AEC industry, the importance of portraiture may often be overlooked. However, Tuck brought to light some great points about the headshots most of us provide in proposals or post to our websites. Ensuring these portraits are “motivated by brand strategy” is especially impactful for SMPS, as branding and general marketing strategies are on most members’ daily agendas. He spoke to the impact a headshot could have on a potential client choosing to work with a company or not. Tuck stated, “portraits humanize your work” and make the client think, “I’d like to work with that person,” giving a unique perspective on portraiture and its role in company branding.

SMPS Austin Job Board

Proposal Writing: Using Your Whole Brain

Written by Marisa Jarmon, American Constructors, Inc.

At this year’s SMPS Southern Regional Conference, Graceworks – a professional training and coaching company – held an interactive workshop session on creating proposal content that will engage a wide variety of people. Graceworks Coach Jen Hebblethwaite introduced us to the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI), the world’s leading thinking-styles assessment tool. The HDBI divides the brain into four modes of thinking: analytical, sequential, interpersonal, and imaginative. This is known as the Whole Brain® Model. Just like we have a dominant hand and eye, we also have a dominant way of thinking. Once an individual understands his or her thinking style preferences, the door is open to improved teamwork, leadership, customer relationships, creativity, problem solving, and other aspects of personal and interpersonal development.

By understanding the different ways in which people think, we can begin to communicate in a way that translates to various thinkers. For example, what an analytical person understands may not translate well to someone who is more of an imaginative thinker. Therefore, you must consider this when crafting your proposals and communications. Below is an example of how to incorporate elements that will be understood by the various thinkers. A: Analytical – Charts, graphs, statistics, cost savings, analyses; B: Sequential – Lists, bullet points, procedures, plans, approach; C: Interpersonal – Photos with people, testimonials, references; D: Imaginative – Graphics, color, new/different concepts, big picture ideas

For further information on Graceworks, visit For further information on the Whole Brain® Model, visit 

Compensation Survey Report

Book Review: Negotiation Genius

Written by Jennifer Finch, Kiewit

‘Negotiation Genius’  is a Harvard Business School book published in 2007. This book is fantastic at using case studies to illustrate scenarios and common mistakes that people make in negotiation.

Part I: The Negotiator’s Toolkit explains how to claim value in negotiation and how to determine your ‘Best Alternative To Negotiating an Agreement’ (BATNA), then calculating your ‘Reservation Value’ (RV) – your walk-away point in the current negotiation. It also talks about how to assess the other party’s BATNA to determine his/her RV so you can calculate the – The Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA).

Part II: The Psychology of Negotiation helps the reader develop self-awareness that is often missed when negotiators try to ‘wing it’ or shoot from the hip. It also teaches again, through case studies, how to anticipate the next moves of your counterpart.

Part III: Negotiating in the Real World illustrates that you don’t need to be dishonest to be successful in negotiation. Lies are not just unethical; they are also a poor strategy. Being caught in a lie can damage your reputation and your counterpart could lose trust in you. To deter your counterpart from lying to you, it helps to be prepared and if you’re not, at least give the impression that you are.

What struck me as noteworthy from this book can be summed up in the following quote, ‘Bottom line when approaching any important negotiation – enter the process with the goal of looking for areas in which you can create value.’ Claiming value in a negotiation is easy; how can I get the best deal for me? But, creating value takes it a step further. Instead of looking at the negotiation as a pie and how you can claim the most pie for yourself, the authors suggest ways to increase the pie for both parties.

As a business development professional in the AEC industry, I absolutely recommend this book. Negotiating is all about human interaction, and as BD professionals, we are constantly interacting with our clients, finding ways to create value for them with the end goal to strengthen our business relationships.

You aren’t born a master negotiator, but you can develop into a skilled negotiator with thoughtful preparation and an honest, critical refection on your past negotiations.

New Members

Help us welcome our newest SMPS Austin Members!

Katie Doucet
Doucet & Associates

Laura Gentner
JE Dunn Construction

Vicki McCullough
Sequitur Marketing, LLC

Melissa Munoz
STG Design


Membership Drive