AIA Honolulu, the Hawaii chapter of the American Institute of Architects, has announced its 2022 Board of Directors Executive Committee.
The committee now includes Jim Nicolow, principal and director of sustainability at Lord Aeck Sargent as president, Todd Hassler, partner at Peter Vincent Architects as vice president and president-elect, architect Willa Trimble as treasurer, and Chretien Macutay, architectural designer at G70 as secretary.
Ex-Officio members include past President Karan Sakamoto, principal at Next Design LLC, and AIA Honolulu Executive Vice President Julia Fink.
In his new role Nicolow will focus on the implementation of the chapter’s forthcoming strategic plan, which is scheduled to be released in February.
“AIA Honolulu was founded nearly 100 years ago to promote design excellence in Hawaii and it is the kuleana of architects to lead the creation of a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient Hawaii,” Nicolow said in a statement. “Our members are actively designing solutions to many of our most pressing problems, and our region already models solutions to meeting the twin goals of climate action and increasing equity in the profession.”
Pacific Business News caught up with Nicolow to learn more about his goals for 2022, challenges facing the profession and what AIA Honolulu is doing to make Hawaii a better place for architects to do business.
What are your top goals for the year?
I’m really excited about the year ahead and the degree to which AIA Honolulu has not just survived but improved through this challenging pandemic.
We’re holding a kick-off celebration next week that will showcase work by our members, unveil the chapter’s new strategic plan, and provide the first opportunity for in-person fellowship since the start of the pandemic. (The event will be held 5-9 p.m. Feb. 4 at Cafe Julia).
Our three-year strategic plan is organized around three broad themes – belong, learn, and commit – and [is] informed by AIA National’s strategic goals to advance climate action for human and ecological health, and to advance racial, ethnic and gender equity in the profession. Successful implementation of the plan will be a top priority of my term.
What is AIA Honolulu working on to make Hawaii a better place for architects to do business?
We’re working to create a welcoming professional organization where current and new members feel they belong. With an inclusive atmosphere and active participation, they come to learn through a robust curriculum of professional development and technical training opportunities, providing architects with the tools to do our best work.
And we commit to shaping solutions to our community’s most pressing challenges through good design.
Furthermore, our Hawaii State Council represents AIA members on matters of state-wide interest, providing advice to state, governmental and regulatory bodies regarding issues affecting the architecture profession in Hawaii and our shared built environment.
How is inflation and current supply chain issues impacting the work architects do in Hawaii?
Increasing construction costs, skilled labor shortages, and building products supply chain disruptions and delays are negatively impacting project schedules and budgets nationally. Architects are pressed to absorb the added services necessary to redesign as increased costs, the need to identify available product substitutions, and extending schedules effectively reduce project budgets.
These challenges are exacerbated due to our shipping costs and delivery times to bring materials from the Mainland or Asia, a constrained labor pool which can’t easily draw from neighboring states, and a permitting process which can take longer than design and construction.
What bills are you monitoring in the state Legislature this session?
AIA Honolulu and the Hawaii State Council are closely monitoring any bills that affect the State Building Codes Council, procurement of architectural services, disaster preparedness, green infrastructure, and energy efficiency, which uniquely impact the practice of architecture. It’s early in the session to provide specific bill numbers, but we’re currently actively monitoring nearly 30 bills.
Legislative priorities for 2022 include protecting public procurement of architectural services – specifically protecting qualifications based selection (QBS) for the selection of architects, landscape architects, and engineers. We believe utilizing QBS for these services, as practiced by 48 states and the federal government, provides the best taxpayer value.
We’re also calling for a fully-funded State Building Code Council (SBCC) and believe a more uniform building code is good both for consumer protection and efficiency of the design and construction business. A funded SBCC is the best entity to address and codify responses to the challenges of sea-level rise, climate change, energy conservation, and resiliency. Hawaii should fund the SBCC through building permit surcharges, as is the practice of most other states.
On both a state and county level, how are things going in terms of the speed of getting necessary permits?
AIA Honolulu is strongly supportive of thorough, but timely, permit reviews to ensure code requirements are being met and the public protected, as well as meaningful enforcement of violations.
With members reporting permit timelines that can exceed 18-24 months, the current process is simply not sustainable and not only negatively impacting the state economy but, I fear, encouraging illegal activity. AIA Honolulu has begun meeting with the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting on a bimonthly cadence to share the concerns of our members and help drive solutions which can simplify, modernize, and ultimately shorten the permitting process while protecting the public.