Barton Myers: Works of Architecture and Urbanism
September 12–December 12, 2014
With works as varied as a Vidal Sassoon Salon from 1968, the U.S. Expo Pavilion in Seville, Spain in 1992, and his steel houses, this exhibit will present an overview of almost fifty years of architecture. Barton Myers first attracted attention in the late 1960s for his civic buildings and urban projects in Canada. He returned to the United States in 1984 to open a Los Angeles office and became known for his performing arts centers, campus buildings, and steel houses among many projects. 

The Barton Myers papers were donated to the Architecture and Design Collection of the AD&A Museum, UC Santa Barbara in 2000.  The archive covers Myers’s work from 1968 through 2002 and includes sketches and computer drawings, watercolors, images by well-known photographers, detailed study models and models of blocks-long sections of cities, as well as research notes, correspondence, lectures, and writings.

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.

ACADIA 2014 Design Agency Conference
October 23–24, 2014
DESIGN AGENCY will bring together the spectrum of research and creative practice currently occurring within the ACADIA community through the combined support of the research networks of the University of Southern California, University of California Los Angeles and Southern California Institute of Architecture. Questions the capacity for computation to inform or challenge traditional design processes; computation as design operation - the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power, and/or computation as design instrumentality - the design mechanism through which power is exerted or an end is achieved.

ASLA SoCal Chapter Quality of Life Design Awards
October 23, 2014
The Southern California chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects holds its biennial awards, honoring excellence in designs originating in one of the nation's largest chapters and executed across the globe. 77 Projects were submitted and over 40 were awarded by our esteemed jurors in the categories of Design, Planning and Analysis, Communication, Student, and Concepts, Ideas and Theories.

2014 Design Awards Gala
October 29, 2014
The 2014 AIA|LA Design Awards location and date has been set for this year. We are excited to host you at the Heart of Downtown Los Angeles with the ceremony at the Million Dollar Theater and the reception at Grand Central Market. Join us at this amazing and historic venue to honor our winners and honorees.

LA Conservancy Presents "We Heart Garden Apartments!”
November 1, 2014

Imagine living in a garden oasis in the middle of America’s second-largest city. Thousands of people do, and it’s a unique and endangered way of life in development-prone L.A. Here’s a chance to see what life is like in historic garden apartments, “villages in the city” that could never be built today.

New Urbanism Film Festival
November 6–9, 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.

de LaB's Making LA Conference

November 7, 2014
During the conference, we'll be exploring the themes of Water, Transportation, Density and Community. Our hope is to hear from a diverse range of practitioners, city officials, makers and artists who are deeply involved in/committed to these themes. We're looking to include conversations, videos, slideshows and presentations about projects that are currently in development and recently completed that are promising to shape the future of Los Angeles. Our goal is to showcase ideas, visions, projects and more that explore how Los Angeles can make huge strides in terms of water conservation, transit richness, urban density and important community initiatives. Current confirmed speakers for the water section include: Deborah Weintraub, Deborah Deets, Carol Armstrong, Omar Brownson, WeTap, among others. Other conference speakers include Moby, Mayor Aja Brown, and representative from Side Streets Projects and Resilient Cities, among many others.

USGBC-Los Angeles’10th Annual Green Gala

November 13, 2014
The Los Angeles Chapter of the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC-LA) will host the Chapter’s 10th Annual Green Gala on Thursday, November 13, 2014, from 6:30 – 10:30pm at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA. The Green Gala is recognized as the single largest annual vehicle for communication, celebration and bridge-building among those who think, act, design and build greener throughout the County of Los Angeles and its metropolitan areas.

DIEM: Design Intersects Everything Made

November 14, 2014

West Hollywood Design District presents the 3rd annual DIEM: Design Intersects Everything Made, a one-day design symposium that offers culturally resonating discussions, panels and keynotes from leaders in the fields of design, decorative arts, fashion, architecture and fine arts.

The West Hollywood Design District Presents Decades of Design 1948–2014
November 19, 2014–February 2015
The first-ever retrospective exhibition uncovering, examining and celebrating six decades of rich design history in West Hollywood. The curated ­­gallery will showcase design pioneers and present tastemakers through bold graphics, photographs and original product.

Innovation and Design Excellence in Healthcare Facilities Design: Today and Tomorrow
November 21, 2014
Hosted by AIA Los Angeles and AIA San Francisco, Future Care: Design for Health is a one-day healthcare symposium featuring the top minds in healthcare planning, design and construction. Speakers will address the rapidly changing healthcare environment and how these changes impact what healthcare providers need from the design and construction community.






Registration Opens: October 1
Breaking New Ground
The California Endowment

Deadline: October 31

Show Us Your Baldwin

Deadlne: November 30
Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award
International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA)

Deadline: December 8

2015 Diversity Scholarship

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

FORM Event Images

Industry Partners




« Showroom: Surface Matters | Main | Showroom: Everything in Its Place »

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. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>