Problem-solving is in your DNA. You build hospitals, community plans, affordable housing – our world – by considering an infinite amount of variables, opinions and interests. Sometimes the project is so large that you collaborate with other firms, navigating complex business relationships to ultimately deliver a better solution. You weather legal threats, natural disasters and financial twists. Now it’s time to apply those skills in a unique and unprecedented way.
The COVID-19 crisis will end. Keep that always in the front of your mind as we roll up our sleeves and get to the work of today.
Like you, we are receiving vast amounts of information that is changing daily. Sorting through and compiling the items that are most useful to you is AIA Mississippi’s priority for the day. Please help us by contributing your ideas and experiences. Email email@example.com. Her wifi works great from the trampoline.
New & Notable
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Four Docs For Firms from
O’Hagan Meyer Attorneys + Advisors
- Practical Employer Guidance on COVID-19
- Employer FAQs relating to President Trump’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- FAQs relating to COVID-19 and force majeure implications
- DOL accelerates effective date of FFCRA effecting employers with fewer than 500 employees
R. Corey Clayborne, FAIA, NOMA, MBA
Executive Director, AIA Virginia
Practice considerations: Manage your architecture firm’s risk in response to COVID-19
In the past few weeks, the world has reacted in incredible ways to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most architecture firms are working remotely, either at their own decision or at the direction of local authorities. It would be reasonable to assume that most construction projects might be significantly impacted – if they haven’t been already. Architecture firms are undoubtedly facing difficult decisions as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. Often, those decisions will require firms to balance competing interests and obligations without a clear “right” answer. Daunting as it may seem, with mounting uncertainty, a proactive, systematic, and reasoned approach to answering the plethora of questions facing firms will be the best way forward.
This document is intended to be a resource for architects and architecture firms in developing a firm-specific response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a non-exhaustive list of issues to identify and consider in an effort to help shape firm discussions and decision-making. It is not, however, intended to provide guidance as to how architects and architecture firms should resolve these issues, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal, insurance, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors, to include the firm’s size, location, clientele, project types, project statuses, etc. > Read more
AIA Risk Management
Major Impacts of the CARES Act on Firm & Employees
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the third federal legislation meant to address the COVID-19 crisis. It was passed by the Senate on March 25 and is expected to pass the House of Representatives Friday, March 27.
The CARES Act touches on many aspects of the healthcare industry and the overall economy. This memo focuses on the provisions most likely to impact the architecture profession. This is not legal advice; every firm should consult their own counsel for how these policies will impact them specifically. The policies included in the CARES Act build on the first two federal laws passed in response to COVID-19 on March 6 and March 18, 2020. Please see the previous memo from Tim Hawk, FAIA on March 22, 2020 for more detailed information on those bills.
There will likely be additional actions from Congress and the federal agencies to address the health crisis and the economy in the months ahead. A fourth legislative attempt may include infrastructure and other investments. AIA will send additional information as it becomes available. > Read more
Architect Standard of Care Relative to Site Visits During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Architecture firms are undoubtedly facing many challenges and decisions as they deal with the impact of COVID-19. Most architecture firms are working remotely, either by their own choice or at the direction of local authorities. However, many construction projects are continuing. Architects and their firms that need to provide contract administration services or other contractual or legal obligations for site visits will need to balance competing interests and obligations.
The AIA is prohibited from giving legal advice. However, we are able to outline the issues for your use in seeking the advice of an appropriate professional. If you believe that you are facing a situation where liability may arise, we urge you to promptly seek advice from legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction, as well as the advice of your professional liability insurer. > Read more
Anne Law, Esq.
Dress: Quarantine Casual
Organizations are building virtual meetings and webinars to provide insight to firm owners. We know you have multiple monitors – use one of them to register, show up and share what you know. This is a good time to run a rendering and hop on your ipad for a minute.
Wednesdays at noon
Starting April 1st (not kidding!)
We missed you so much at the monthly luncheon that we decided to create a way to see you every week for lunch! Precisely at the halfway mark each week, AIA Mississippi invites you to a hump day dose of optimism as we break bread together (virtually). We’ll gather questions in advance and post so members can join, ready to share their experiences.
Grab takeout so we can post a pic of everyone’s logo to our social channels!
Dress quarantine casual
Register at this link
Thurs., April 2, 2-4pm CT
AIAU Live Course > Register
What Architects and Firms Need to Know About the Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Plan, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
On Friday, March 27, after days of intense negotiations, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. This sweeping $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus package was passed on a bipartisan basis to help abate the massive economic disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition to direct payments to huge swaths of the American population, this Act provides for $350 billion for small business loans, an expansion of unemployment insurance, and tax relief to some employers. Further, for those firms that do business directly with the federal government, there are a number of provisions that address new programs that are being made available to government contractors. Many of these provisions will aid businesses in making difficult decisions about their workforce as the nation comes to a standstill due to the need for social distancing. In particular, employers that maintain their payroll will be eligible for forgivable loans to blunt the impact of the virus.
- Describe the scope of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act as it relates to architects and firms, large and small.
- Identify the programs in the stimulus act that will benefit architects and firms.
- Discuss the aspects of the act that have restrictions or limitations based on firm size or other criteria.
- Recognize the goals of the CARES Act to provide resources and incentives for maintaining payroll within firms and practice.
This webinar is limited to 1,000 attendees. Register now to confirm your access to the content. If you are not able to get into the session live, AIA will email you a link to the recording once its available.
Check back for more events.
If You See Nothing Else
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the “Cares Act”
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion economic rescue plan on Wednesday (March 25) that will offer assistance to tens of millions of American households affected by the coronavirus. Its components include stimulus payments to individuals, expanded unemployment coverage, student loan changes, different retirement account rules and more.
The AIA Advocacy team put together a great overview of the Act. > Start here
Barron’s helps small businesses understand how it will help. > Read “What the Cares Act will Bring to Small Business”
The New York Times offers a layperson’s guide to help coming from the U.S. Government. > Read “the FAQ on Stimulus Checks, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Bill”
and the email has been written for you
As architects, we are committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. The COVID-19 outbreak and the current health crisis strikes at the very core of our mission. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, members of Congress are debating additional measures to help those affected by this pandemic and to stimulate the economy.
If you would like to help in this outreach, please take a minute to send a letter to your member of Congress urging them to provide additional resources to those affected by the virus and for our frontline responders. Please ask them to include significant investment for 21st Century infrastructure and to provide temporary relief measures for business owners. > Do your part.
How Businesses Can Help with COVID-19 Response – USACE
The effort to build out facilities to expand local and regional capacity is being lead by the US Army Corps of Engineers thru FEMA. They need help from the private sector.
Firms and individuals interested in working on this should take the first step of registering: https://sam.gov/SAM/pages/public/index.jsf
Within SAM.gov is the Disaster Response Registry, where you can register your company’s unique capabilities:
When you land a contract, thank Sam Marcum for the intel!
Living Document: If you’re new to the idea, individuals collaborate and build a large document that compiles ideas. As such, you’re going to want to bookmark this one and review it periodically because, like fine wine, it will get better and better with time.
Thank you for the heads up, Madison Talley, AIA! INCREDIBLE RESOURCE!
Communications and Temp Policies in Response to COVID-19
As architects scrambled to adopt policies in a rapidly changing environment due to COVID-19, the team at the Practice of Architecture saw a need to create a living resource to illustrate how firms are responding to keep their practices open, and what we can learn – quickly – from one another as a community.
We are in the process of gathering examples from firms of different sizes to demonstrate various responses in live time to changing operations of architecture firms all over the country. We are particularly focused on case studies that demonstrate communication and policy changes with staff and clients. We will continue to update this document as we receive new information, and will do our best to organize all best practices and templates by firm size.
This living document was started on Monday, March 16 2020 by Practice in Architecture in response to a simple tweet asking firms to share policies that they have already shared with their staff and clients. > Dig in!
Architecture Firms and Remote Work
Hosted by Boston Society of Architects
Recorded Tuesday, March 17, 2020 | 60 minute YouTube
Two Boston firms, Saam Architecture & Margulies Perruzzi Architects, share their experiences transitioning to WFH (work from home – thanks Shannon!)
File sharing platforms, addressing generational/work style differences, VPN, Revit, Skype (for work reviews), testing remote computing capacities, Slack, Teams, BIM 360 and BIM workflow, Bluebeam Redline Sessions, remote work guidelines, design collaboration, and more. > Watch / listen
Office dogs are awesome. Guest appearances at about 18:57 and 20:21. (We’re right there with you!)
|BlueJeans||PCMag 4.0/5 reviews|
Great quality. Sounds great in Dolby Sound-enabled rooms.
|No file sharing. No recording for the Me plan. Minimal features.||Free 7 day trial.
$13/host (50 guests)
$18/host (75 guests)
|ClickMeeting||PCMag Editors' Choice, 4.5/5 reviews|
|Limited number of video participants. Lacks phone support. Comparatively expensive. Uses Adobe Flash (antiquated).||Free 7 day trial. No credit card.
$25-40 / month
Feature rich offering everything found in other services (as best we can tell). Thanks, Gwen, for submitting this late comer that ultimately took the title!
|Not as slick and user friendly as the others.||Free or pay what you can.
|GoToMeeting||PCMag 4.0/5 reviews|
Simple interface. Custom URL. Commuter mode. No credit card required to try. Meeting transcription. 25 video feeds. Business version allows drawing on screen.
|Lacks features such as polling. Webinar feature requires user to download and install viewer software.||Free 14 day trial. No credit card.
$14/mo: 150 guests
$19/mo: 250 guests
|Join.me||PCMag 3.5/5 reviews|
Generous free plan. Scalable options. Display up to 10 video streams.
|Whiteboard only available on iOS. Lite plan does not include webcam feeds.||(Price requires creation of a user ID)|
|Microsoft Teams||PCMag 4.0/5 reviews|
Best for very large organizations (networked together). Can blur speaker background to reduce visual clutter. Highly customizable. Integrated with Microsoft Office.
|Primarily intended only for Microsoft environment.||Free with Office 365 business.
Also free as a standalone but with limited features.
|Zoom||BEST FEATURES & QUALITY|
PCMag Editors' Choice 4.5/5 reviews
Great price. Excellent performance. Feature rich. Ideal for large meetings. Can mute guests. Pro plan allows admin to assign others to setup meetings.
|No toll-free dial-in numbers for US. Some reports the mobile version is buggy. Be careful with the pricing: note that what appears to be $20/mo actually requires a minimum of 10 hosts = $200/month.||Free: 100 guests, 40 min./mtg
$15/mo: 100 guests
$200/mo: 300 guests (10 hosts min)
Table started by Kate Brunswick Hon. AIA, CAE, AIA Ohio
Contributions by Dawn Taylor, AIA Kansas City; Ashley Cates, AIA Tennessee; Gwen Berlekamp, AIA National, Amber Lombardo, AIA Mississippi
Check out the PC Magazine article for much more detail about the reviewers’ experiences.
Prices are rounded up to the nearest dollar, are the monthly billing rate and are current as of 3/24/20.
H.R. 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Emergency Paid Sick Leave
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expands access to emergency paid sick leave to as many as 87 million U.S. workers. Many of these workers currently have no paid leave and are being forced to choose between their paycheck, their health, and the health of the people around them. This is a critical step toward protecting families’ financial security and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus. > Read more
Richard McNeel, AIA, sent this over. Thanks, Richard!
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
Small Business Association (SBA) Federal Disaster Loans for Businesses, Private Nonprofits, Homeowners and Renters
The SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. > Read more
As of 3/20/20, Mississippi is now listed in the COVID-19 Declared Disasters. Other events are listed such as severe weather, tornadoes, blue-green algae, and flooding. Check these other incidents in case you qualify under another declared disaster. Check back for updates. > Read more
OSHA: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
This 33 page PDF provides specific information about how Covid-19 could affect the workplace including steps employers can take to reduce workers’ exposure. Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with OSHA since your firm may have never been considered a high risk for injury until now.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed this COVID-19 planning guidance based on traditional infection prevention and industrial hygiene practices. It focuses on the need for employers to implement engineering, administrative, and work practice controls and personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as considerations for doing so. This guidance is intended for planning purposes. Employers and workers should use this planning guidance to help identify risk levels in workplace settings and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement. Additional guidance may be needed as COVID-19 outbreak conditions change, including as new information about the virus, its transmission, and impacts, becomes available. > Read more
AGC‘s excellent resource page brought this one to our attention.
“What Employers Should (and Should Not) Say to Employees to Manage the Challenges of the Coronavirus“
This 48 minute webinar by Venable Law Firm, LLP helps employers understand how to have conversations with employees without encroaching on their rights. After reading about OSHA above, you’ll want to hear this.
If you or your employees are prone to working even though you don’t feel well, these guys will help you manage it. Does your employee think they “just have a cold” but you’re worried it may be something more serious? You have to be careful how you ask. > Watch it (or listening works too)
Thank Nicki at AIA California when you don’t get sued.
Working from home?
Splashtop is an app for remote computer access. We’ve used it for a couple of years now to run Adobe apps that don’t comfortably run on our laptops.
One of our favorite “happy accidents” is that the screen resolution of our desktop transitions well to our laptop and actually offers more usable space than the laptop alone. Grab a more powerful set of readers.
It has worked great. It’s also very affordable. > Take a look
Need a reliable virtual meeting platform?
Chatter around AIA is that Zoom is the go-to solution. Others have been mentioned but this one is consistently recommended over others. > Take a look
Here’s another article you may find interesting: “COVID-19: Ultimate Guide to Free Video Conferencing & Collaboration” by Rebekah Carter, UCToday.
Office emails killing you?
Slack takes an alternative approach. It allows teams to chat in “channels” so that every member sees all communication about a specific topic (project, issue, subject, etc.) in one place.
AIA Seattle says they’re using it to start channels for membership interest groups. For example, firms of different sizes subscribe to a channel with their colleagues and collaborate.
Execellent idea, Connor Descheemaker! Thanks for sharing!
Coronavirus offers “a blank page for a new beginning”
says Li Edelkoort in Dezeen. “The recent pictures of the air above China showed how two months without production cleared the skies and allowed people to breathe again,” she said, referring to the fact that carbon emissions and pollution from Chinese industry have declined since the virus first hit the country. This means that the virus will show how slowing and shutting down can produce a better environment which will surely be visible on a large scale.”
Thanks, Boston Society of Architects, for today’s bright spot!
Managing Projects, Project Teams and Maintaining Productivity while Working from Home
In situations where individual staff or entire project teams opt to work from home in response to this pandemic, what steps should we take to minimize the impact to our work and client obligations.
A multi-office firm’s internal policy document will help you craft your own. > Get some ideas
Props to AIA California for sharing!
The AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx)
AIA has countless resources – sometimes we need to be reminded. The mission of the SFx is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms.
This nice reminder compliments of the CACE Component Connect Best Practices page.
4 Ways to Work Together When We Can’t Be Together
At ideo.com, Heather Emerson & Simone Stolzoff share ideas about how to maintain a connection with clients when in-person meetings aren’t possible.
“Before the meeting, the team mailed a virtual workshop survival kit, complete with “sleeping bags” for cell phones, mini-whiteboards for people to prototype ideas, and physical takeaways to help the presentation resonate off-screen. Over the course of the meeting, participants excitedly unwrapped items one by one. It was a way for the IDEO team to show up in the room when they couldn’t actually show up in the room.”
Thank you, AIA California, for the share!
- CDC – Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
- WHO – World Health Organization
- NIH – National Institutes of Health
- OSHA – United States of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- NIAID – National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
- Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
The authors and AIA Mississippi assume no liability for the use of this information by AIA members or by others and who agree to use this information at their sole risk. Any other reproduction or use is strictly prohibited. This information is provided as a member service and neither the Authors nor AIA Mississippi are rendering legal, medical or financial advice. Laws vary by state and members should seek professional counsel to evaluate these suggestions and to advise the member on proper risk management.