Aria Group: Training with Purpose

Seems like only yesterday I was a wide-eyed intern right out of school, thinking I knew pretty much everything. I quickly learned school taught me just enough to land my first internship. I learned more in my first six months of on the job training at Aria Group than I did in the prior five years at school. Nothing against my alma mater, but more so about how much faster you learn from real world architectural experience. By the time I was eligible to take the licensing exam, I was as well prepared as anyone could expect, not so much from reading books or studying flash cards, but from the experiences gained on the job.

Fast forward 25 years now to a different world in so many ways. Currently, the office has over 25 people working towards taking either their NCIDQ or NCARB licensing exams. Although on the job training simply isn’t as easy to obtain as it used to be, Aria Group believes in the importance of providing opportunities for staff to obtain their work experience requirements and take the next step in their career. There are still books, flash cards, and study guides available in the office and online, but we’ve also begun providing seminars and site visits specifically geared towards NCARB and NCIDQ learning requirements. By relaying our past experiences, both positive and negative, we are able to give the younger staff something more to remember than just what they read in a book. Hopefully that will pay off when the time comes to take the exams.

Recently we were able to coordinate a site visit to the Sawmill Station Development in Morton Grove, IL. with International Contractors Inc. We were able to see the foundations of the Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant under construction as well as different aspects of the rest of the development. Joe Panico and Scott Ledbetter from ICI were excellent hosts and provided valuable insight and feedback from a contractor’s perspective. After the visit, we reviewed examples of construction site reports with those who attended so they could understand what and why items get documented.

In the office, we have started hosting meetings and webinars that focus on some of the more difficult categories of architectural experience for staff to gain training in – such as Practice and Project Management, Contract Administration, and Construction Evaluation. These meetings are a mix between a show-and-tell session and a lessons learned discussion where we are able to share our real world experiences. Our last webinar focused on landlord-tenant work letters. Not just reading through a standard work letter, but explaining various client specific components – what to look for, why we look for it, what are some typical red flags, and how the work letter relates to our construction documents in the end.

Next on the agenda will be how client project budgets compare to actual contractor pricing and what we as architects and designers can do to educate ourselves to be more accurate in our design cost estimates early in the project. Stay tuned!   – Dan Bernatek