Two GFFer’s, Idaliza Camacho and Tyler Cini, participated in and graduated from this year’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) through AIA Dallas, continuing a longstanding tradition for GFF to send at least one representative to the program each year since its inception in 2009. ELP identifies, cultivates and mentors young leaders in three areas of leadership: the firm, the profession and our community. The class – which is led and facilitated by Pete DeLisle, PhD, Hon. AIA – is interactive and dialogue-centered, and has been designed to place great emphasis on the immediate applicability of the knowledge to the participants’ work efforts. It is the intent of the program for participants to be critically self-reflective and make an honest appraisal of their effectiveness, and use the skills obtained to not only enhance their own careers, but to impact the success and culture of their firms and the Dallas architectural community.
An important component of the program, the Class Project, is a way for the participants to band together to apply the strategies and substantially impact their community. This is often a project of advocacy, education and design which is intended to have a positive influence on and elevate a part of the community which could benefit from the support and expertise. This year’s class project partnered with CityLab High School, a Dallas ISD Transformation School which provides students with a holistic understanding and knowledge of the urban environment by focusing on the city as a lab, citizenship, community partners and hands-on learning. The shared values and goals of the organizations, including a multidisciplinary understanding of the city to develop leaders to institute positive, meaningful change in their community, made the partnership of ELP and CityLab a no-brainer.
The project itself involved several working sessions with the staff and students to discover the needs and desires of the users of the school, a rehabilitated building in the core of downtown Dallas’ central business district. Ultimately, the class delivered a package of drawings, renderings, and pricing sheets to assist the school in the planning and build-out of their spaces. This included suggestions for the primary entrance to the building and the way the surrounding streetscapes may be developed to promote safety and activated uses, gallery spaces to exhibit work and engage the public, a fabrication lab for hands-on building, a repeatable layout for upper level studio, gathering, pin-up and maker spaces to be spread throughout the floors as the student body grows, and a future vision for activating the rooftop area for educational and social uses. The inclusion of finish and furniture selections to aid in pricing and fundraising was also of benefit, with a key component being publicly-sourced designs for furniture that can be built by the students themselves using the school’s fabrication equipment.
In all, the program as a whole and the involvement in the class project was a wonderful experience for this year’s GFF ELP graduates. It is so rewarding for them to build the relationships with the other graduates and the leaders from AIA, but also for them to bring the skills and leadership back to our office to positively impact our environment!