We’re proud to announce that we’ve been selected as a 2015 Outstanding Emerging Professional Friendly Firm by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Central States Region!
The Central States Chapter is a regional component of the national AIA, and represents the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The recent nod from AIA Central States is one of many professional development-focused honors BRR has acquired within the past decade. The firm has been awarded both the Intern Development Program (IDP) Firm Award and IDP Outstanding Firm Award by the national AIA chapter from 2008-2011 and 2011-2014. Other honors in recent years have included designation as an Intern Friendly Firm by both AIA Kansas City and the Central States Chapter, as well as selection as ‘Firm of the Year’ and ‘Best Company to Work For’ by Kansas City-area organizations and publications.
A quality that sets BRR’s IDP practices apart is a value on mentor/mentee relationships, and the involvement of management and senior leadership in the professional development of our team members. Our culture focuses on creating a place for community and professional development, and interns specifically are encouraged and given opportunities to engage with experienced architects to learn more about their roles and career.
“What I appreciate most about BRR’s efforts to develop architectural interns and other staff members into well-rounded professionals is the support and encouragement we receive from Principals and other leaders,” said Mary Beth Gregory, an Architectural Intern in BRR’s San Francisco office. “I really feel that the focus is on the people of our firm and succeeding not only as a firm, but allowing individuals to succeed, as well.”
Our commitment to professional development manifests itself in a multitude of resources and programs, as well, with one example being our AREA 52 program, an initiative that was created and launched after seeing the success of AIA Kansas City’s ARE Success program. AREA 52 challenges our architectural interns to take and pass all seven sections of the ARE within a 12-month period. Participants are placed on teams with other employees in the testing process, and work together to determine a testing schedule for the team, hold group study sessions, and provide general support and encouragement for their team members throughout the year. BRR also provides 100 percent financial support for exam fees, including an “ARE Mulligan” allowance that covers the cost of a single failed exam.
Goal setting is another area we regularly train team members on and practice. All team members are educated on the process of S.M.A.R.T. goal writing in order to set both short and long-term goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. “By encouraging us to be goal-oriented people, BRR shows their investment in me personally,” said Gregory, “and has given me a basis for steps to take in achieving my professional and personal goals.”
Additionally, BRR’s diverse range of project types and sizes allows the firm to continually have numerous projects in various stages of production at any single point. Over the course of an intern’s IDP experience and career, opportunities are available to work with multiple studios and gain experience on a specific IDP training area or project type.
“I enjoy the opportunities to work on multiple project types throughout our professional development,” said Meg Olson, an Architectural Intern working with one of BRR’s grocery studios the Kansas City office. “The ability to work on projects from start to finish and see their evolution through the various phases is influential in developing well-rounded architects. We’re creating team members that are experienced with multiple project types, and have the skills and flexibility to move from one project to another as needed.”
Other examples of BRR’s support for its emerging professionals include: mentoring resources; ARE goal planning sessions with their supervisors; company-wide recognition for individuals after they’ve completed the ARE (including a traveling ‘ARE Completion’ trophy); regular IDP lunch and learns; a summer series of educational sessions focused on various areas of architecture and business; support for participation in external leadership development programs; and access to cloud-based practice programs for testing.
Pictured above: Heidi Grimwood (center) of our Phoenix office receives the traveling ARE trophy after passing her final exam. She’s pictured with Chris Rhea (left), Chairman of the Board, and Shad Vermeesch, Vice President and Principal in Charge of BRR-Phoenix.