Design for Social Impact
May 25–August 3, 2014
Based on the idea that design is a way of looking at the world with an eye for changing it, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) presents Design for Social Impact, an original exhibition offering a look at how designers, engineers, students, professors, architects and social entrepreneurs use design to solve the problems of the 21st century.

Japanese Design Today 100
June 27–July 19, 2014
The Japan Foundation presents the World premiere of the exhibition Japanese Design Today 100, which opens at UCLA’s Department of Architecture & Urban Design at Perloff Hall. This exhibition showcases the Designscape of contemporary Japan through 100 objects of Japanese design: 89 objects created since 2010 that are well known in Japan, as well as 11 objects that represent the origin of Japanese post-war modern product design. These 100 product designs are displayed in 10 categories: Classic Japanese Design, Furniture & Housewares, Tableware & Cookware, Apparel & Accessories, Children, Stationery, Hobbies, Healthcare, Disaster Relief, and Transportation.

BAM/PFA New Building Topping Out Celebration
July 17, 2014
Construction is nearing midpoint at the downtown Berkeley site of the future home of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA). Workers will soon be erecting the last of the steel beams that form the frame of this dynamic building. To celebrate this important milestone, BAM/PFA invites its Bay Area friends and neighbors to a “topping out” ceremony on Addison Street, between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street.

39th Annual American Craft Council San Francisco Show
August 8–10, 2014

The American Craft Council returns to San Francisco for its 39th Annual American Craft Council San Francisco Show this August 8-10, 2014 at Fort Mason Center. As the largest juried fine craft show on the West Coast, the 2014 San Francisco Show is expected to draw more than 12,000 fine craft collectors and design enthusiasts.

Conversations in Place 2014
August 10, 2014
ow in its third year, Conversations in Place 2014 begins another series of illuminating explorations of “Southern California – Yesterday and Tomorrow” at the historic Rancho Los Alamitos. The 4-part series begins Sunday, August 10 and continues through Sunday, November 2. The series begins with W. Richard West, Jr, President and CEO of The Autry National Center of the American West, Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, chairman of the United States Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Pamela Seager, Executive Director of Rancho Los Alamitos, and Architect Stephen Farneth, FAIA, founding partner of the award-winning historic preservation firm Architectural Resources Group, in conversation about the place of museums and historic sites in shaping the story of Southern California. Can these institutions escape the straightjacket of the time to better interpret history to the 21st century?

NOW AND NEXT 2014 Symposium on Technology for Design and Construction
August 13–15, 2014
Meet thought leaders and colleagues interested in architecture, engineering, construction, open BIM Exchange, software trends and more. Learn about the innovations that are moving companies and people forward
including: where and how design and delivery is shifting; which software applications are transformative; best practices for collaborative project delivery; how to engage with the global BIM community. Connect with and hear from the best and the brightest such as Jordan Brandt, AutoDesk; Deke Smith, buildingSMART alliance; Ray Topping, Fiatech; Bill East, Prairie  Sky Consulting (formerly of the US Army Corps of Engineers).

Archtoberfest San Diego 2014
October 1–30, 2014
Archtoberfest San Diego 2014 is a collaboratively-operated initiative aimed at establishing an annual, month-long program of public events and activities pertaining to architecture, design, planning and sustainability.

New Urbanism Film Festival
November 2014
The primary goal of the New Urbanism Film Festival is to renew the dialogue about urban planning with a broader audience. The Festival brings in movies, short films, speakers, on the topics of architecture, public health, bicycle advocacy, urban design, public transit, inner-city gardens, to name a few. 



Deadline: August 18

Deadline: September 2
Hansgrohe+Axor Das Design Competition

Deadline: September 5

2014 Designer Dream Bath Competition

Deadline: December 31
Kitchen Design Contest
Wolf and Sub-Zero 

FORM Event Images

Industry Partners




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Building Your Business: Talking Ownership Transitions with Bill Mandel and Laura Howard

Bill Mandel and Laura Terry Howard, of MBV Law, talk ownership transitions for architecture, design and engineering firms. Image Anne Hamersky/courtesy MBV LawRecently, we brought you the story of Nadel Architects ownership transition, as part of our continuing series on building and growing your business. We were intrigued by the process and wanted to get more details on the nuts and bolts of ownership transitions in general. We went right to the source: attorney Bill Mandel, who handled the ownership transition plan for Nadel Architects, and his partner Laura Terry Howard. At their San Francisco–based firm MBV Law, Mandel specializes in transition planning for architecture, engineering and design firms, including mergers and acquisitions and ownership transition programs, while Howard's practice area runs from addressing formation issues in the start-up phase to developing and implementing an exit strategy. Here, they give us more insight into a critical process in the life of a firm—when done right, it can mean thriving for decades to come. 

What are some transition scenarios? 

Laura Terry Howard: There are a number of choices one might have. You could sell the firm to an outside buyer or close the doors. Our experience is that selling to an outside buyer isn’t impossible, but it’s a different transaction to engineer and it’s not really common. The more viable alternative is to look around your organization and see who could be owners. Ownership transition doesn’t result in the absolute highest value to a selling owner, but over the lifetime of the program the owner will be well compensated. If you close the doors, you will get very little value. If you sell to someone outside, you’ll get a higher value but give up all control. Giving that up isn’t really appealing to a lot of people.

Bill Mandel: Of the merger-and-acquisition deals we’ve done, very few have been for architecture firms. Architecture firms aren’t as prone to being acquired, because their cultures are unique and, therefore, are hard to merge into another firm. Generally, architects are limited to doing an ownership transition program or closing the firm.

When do you start planning for an ownership transition?

Bill Mandel: Starting early is best—at least 10 years before a founder (owner) is ready to exit the firm. That gives time to identify candidates for ownership and bring them on board. There are often hits and misses. Sometimes candidates don't work out as owners, so you need time to regroup and find other people. You should start no less than five years before exiting, because you need time to craft a good transition program.

How do you identify future owners?

Bill Mandel: You look at the firm’s needs: do you need good marketers, good project managers, and/or good administrators? In all cases, candidates should have a sense of entrepreneurship and risk taking. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify the best candidates. We work with consultants who are well versed in evaluating candidates to get a good assessment. Founders are often not in a very good position to evaluate candidates, because they are too close to the candidates and aren't able to view them with objectivity.

We advise our clients to always look for new candidates. Keep your eyes open for the next generation. We had a case where a client only offered ownership to the most senior people. There were terrific people in the generation after and those folks walked out and formed their own firm, creating real competition for the firm they left.

Laura Terry Howard: It can be difficult to find people in the next generation that have all the qualifications and skills you may want. You may see a collective formed that will have the necessary skills.

Sometimes candidates won’t tell the founders what they really think about becoming an owner. The founders may believe they have three or four candidates ready to go, but the consultants might find they’re not interested in being owners.

What is involved with an ownership transition plan? 

Bill Mandel: A direct ownership plan involves a sale of stock from the founders to candidates. The program establishes the value of the company, using a formula that will be applied for all future purchases and sales of the firm's stock. We tell our client founders that candidates are interested in the three "C's": Cost, Compensation and Control. How much will the ownership cost the candidate, what will their compensation be as owners and what kind of control will they have (a say in decision-making). We generally advise clients to start with a small amount of ownership and see how it works. If it works, you can sell more stock.

How do you pitch it to employees?

Bill Mandel: We develop the plan with the owners and then present it to the candidates. We find that our programs have a high degree of acceptance. You start off spending time with the founder going through the road map and putting together a term sheet. Then we sit down with the owner and candidates, discuss the term sheet with them and ask them to go off and talk to their attorneys, spouses and other advisers. And let us know if they want to proceed with the program Once the candidate has indicated a willingness to proceed, we will prepare the legal documents and meet with the candidates to review them. If a program has the right elements and is seen as affordable and beneficial, there is a high likelihood that the candidates will accept it. We also explain the obligations that candidates have to take on, so they understand the risk element in being owners. Rewards of being an owner rarely come without some risk.

Laura Terry Howard: One of the biggest challenges we often face is that we have to show founders that the price paid is going to be fair to them. It might not be as high as if the firm were sold to an outside buyer. They have to look at it objectively, look at the people buying in, recognizing they have other financial obligations—so it has to be affordable to candidates. If it’s not affordable, then no one will buy it. The other big challenge is control of the firm. When we talk to founders, they’ve been controlling their own destiny and aren’t used to giving up control. Ownership transition requires a frank discussion between founders and candidates about changes in leadership and governance after the buy-in.

What are the advantages of having a clearly delineated transition plan in place? 

Bill Mandel: It provides for an orderly transition of ownership and leadership and allows the founder to have partners to share in the responsibilities of running the firm. It’s also an effective method of attracting and retaining key people. It also creates sustainability for the firm. Another benefit is that people who are being recruited for employment by more than one firm are likely to go with the one with an established ownership transition program. 

Laura Terry Howard: It’s all about the talent and intellectual capital and keeping it within a firm. 

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