Sharing and Learning at Tradeline

November 14, 2019
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Recently, Alyson Goff and I presented at the Tradeline Conference in Austin alongside University of Virginia Assistant Campus Planner, Elisa Langille. Themed: “University Facilities for the Sciences and Advanced Technologies,” Tradeline focuses on highly technical facilities for corporate, university, and government campuses. Topics span engineering, health sciences, robotics, artificial intelligence, data sciences, biological and physical sciences, maker spaces, and innovation hubs. These conferences are intimate in scale and feature deep-dive presentations from institutional representatives and sessions from owner-consultant teams.

Conferences of this nature are great opportunities to catch up with clients, share expertise, and stay apprised on the challenges facing institutions. Our presentation, “Translating data and strategic vision into a physical space plan for engineering and applied sciences,” focused on the Integrated Space Plan for UVA Engineering. Together, we demonstrated a process for incremental, strategic renovations that unleash the academic potential of underutilized and outdated buildings; we detailed the shakeup of traditional departmental structures, and illustrated UVA’s road map to align the School’s academic plan and strategic goals with its existing space inventory; and we demonstrated large-scale building opportunities to satisfy goals and provide adequate space to create pedagogical change within UVA Engineering. The concept of “engineering on display” remains a popular driver, but accomplishing it is difficult. We were happy to share the lessons of this great project — a fantastic project team, an excited client, and a powerful story is a great combination.

Beyond our presentation, the Tradeline Conference, as a whole, offered an incredible learning experience from other sessions and through casual conversations. Some of our key takeaways include the importance of developing guiding principles to inform priorities and decision-making. Goals such as flexibility, diversity, adaptability, and connectivity, are particularly important, as learning spaces translate those qualities into the built environment. STEM education remains a priority, but we are now seeing an increasing number of institutions seeking to integrate the arts and sciences into engineering. As interdisciplinary education becomes more widespread, this ensures ethics is part of the STEM curriculum.

Other new concepts include further evolution of active learning environments featuring open, flexible spaces to accommodate a variety of uses such as a math cave or interprofessional education (IPE) simulation and the fusion of physical, digital, and biology technologies.

Good design creates purposeful interaction, and collaboration and engagement makes it possible. Given the importance of data in decision making, visualization and accessibility of data are key pieces to the puzzle in today’s world. We are happy to be on the forefront of this and eager to learn more and help shape the future.

Dana Perzynski and Alyson Goff are associate principals in the Planning and space analytics discipline groups, respectively.

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United Way Campaign Wrap-Up

February 9, 2016
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It was another record-breaking year for our 2015 United Way annual giving campaign! The United Way team of Adam Ravestein, Meghann Boosinger, and me (Dana Perzynski), with support from Jim Wheeler, worked hard to raise a total of $41,916 to help change the odds for families who need it most.

The team organized several campaigns to raise money. The chili cook-off is always an office favorite. The competition is always fierce – each year there is a lot of smack-talking among the chefs, and this year was no exception. We had 13 chili-makers, and each chili was different and delicious! In the end Cormac Phelan, a new employee at Ayers Saint Gross, won with his chiliMAC recipe. Daniel Greenspan’s Sweet Fennel Chili and Samantha Polinik’s Moussaka Chili tied for second place. The winner received Ravens tickets, and the second place winners were awarded $100 Visa gift cards, all donated by Ayers Saint Gross.

We also continued our tradition of bringing in breakfasts every Friday in the months of November and December, where all proceeds go directly to the United Way. We added a special “Omelet Day” this year, conveniently held the day after our Holiday Party, which was a huge success. We made almost 50 omelets, specially prepared by aspiring chefs Chi Yan and Daniel Greenspan.

There were several raffles that brought in extra money – our IT department charged $50 for old computers, and we raffled off a Kindle Fire (donated by Ayers Saint Gross) at our annual Family Barbeque.

The biggest fundraiser every year is the Payroll Deduction, where money is taken directly out of employee’s payroll. The events are fun and help raise awareness, but this is where the bulk of the money comes from. We are proud that we were able to achieve 50% Baltimore office participation, and 40% total participation across the firm. The team offers incentives for employees to donate and even raise their donation from the previous year.

Even though the campaign has come to a close, we know the work is not over. There are still people in need. As a result, we have decided to continue the spirit of giving though the winter/spring by collecting toiletries for homeless veterans. We are asking employees to bring back unused hotel toiletries from their travels, and we will put together bags to donate to The Baltimore Station. We are also planning a Day of Action at Helping Up Mission in the spring.