Category Archives: Project Management

Engineering a Meaningful Place

We sat down with A/E Firm HFA to ask about the importance of integrating engineering into a good architectural design.

Q: What is the role of engineering when designing a new space?

A: The architect creates the space with the needs of the client in mind, while it’s the challenge of the engineer to make the space functional, comfortable and safe. One of the engineer’s main goals is to design the most optimal use of the space.

“Successful design integrates architecture and engineering into a holistic space.”

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Q: What’s the biggest advantage of HFA being an integrated A/E Firm?

A: Communication. The HFA design team all work in the communication to stimulate creative design solutions. Truly integrating an A/E firm is like designing a good space, you have to understand how the disciplines work together to create the holistic experience for the end-user. In this scenario, our clients are the end-user.

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Q: How does that integration help in creating meaningful places?

A: Any designer can create a space, but great spaces happen when architects and engineers are working together to optimize it for the human experience. That’s the end goal of any project. Good space design is about the way it makes you feel when you experience it, and we want to create a meaningful place for all to enjoy!

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HFA Ranked Top 5 by Architectural Record

Arch Record List

Architectural Record has ranked HFA the 5th top design firm in the nation for the Retail Market.

As a full service architecture and engineering firm, HFA continues to be a leader in Retail Store design across the United States.

 

HFA Architects and Engineers Celebrate 25 Years

Identifies 25 Ways to Impact the World Through Design

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The architectural and engineering firm based in Bentonville, Arkansas reached a major milestone unachieved by most firms, 25 years in business. In recognition, the staff developed ideas of ways to impact the world through design.

Founded by architect Harrison French, the one person firm has grown to over 170 employees serving nationally recognized clients throughout the United States and is positioned to begin working internationally. The fully integrated, multi-disciplined firm has been recognized among the fastest growing firms for the past six years, by Zweig Group, a national architectural and engineering industry consulting firm.  Based upon the number of licensed professionals, HFA was recently recognized as the largest architectural and engineering firm in Arkansas. The growing Bentonville firm has an office in Houston, Texas and staff in Dallas, Texas.

“This anniversary would not have been possible without the hard work of a lot of talented professionals and great clients.” said Harrison French, AIA, Principal / CEO,  “I’m even more excited about our future as we continue to challenge ourselves and develop our skills even further.”

In celebration of their achievement, HFA hosted an event on May 7th in their newly renovated headquarters office which was transformed from a vacant home improvement retail store. The beautifully designed studio was awarded LEED CI Gold certification for its utilization of sustainable design and energy saving systems.

In recognition of their 25 year achievement, the HFA staff launched 25 Ways to Impact the World Through Design initiative.  This thought provoking initiative asked our staff members to identify a design idea that can be used in our daily lives and the impact that design can have upon the world.  There were 89 entries submitted by our staff of which the 25 where chosen by the staff to represent our 25 years in business.  At our May 7th anniversary celebration, the top three design ideas were selected by a vote of the attending guests.

“This has been a very fun design challenge and we were excited to see that there were so many innovative ideas created by our staff.   The design ideas really tell the story that our staff is not only very creative, but that they are truly caring people who really want to help the world become a better and more meaningful place to enjoy.” said Larry Lott, AIA, President and COO.

About HFA (Harrison French & Associates, LTD) is a multi-disciplinary design firm providing Architecture, Interior Design, MEP Engineering, Fire Protection, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Landscape design services to the retail, commercial and assisted living markets throughout the U.S. and holds professional licenses in all 50 states; and the District of Columbia. Please visit us at http://hfa-ae.com/.

Timesheets….The necessary evil

DeLynn HughesBy DeLynn Hughes, CPA, Associate & Controller 

In today’s world of fixed fee contracts it is becoming even more difficult to convince our employees to fill out timesheets in an accurate and timely manner.  After all, many employees don’t think that timesheets matter when the contract is fixed fee.  We must find a way to instill the importance of accurate timesheets to our employees regardless of the fee arrangements.

One of the most important reasons that accurate timesheets are necessary is for planning and bidding future projects.  If we really don’t know how long something takes, how can we accurately bid on a future project.  Accurate timesheets help us determine the hours needed on a similar project in the future for profit and loss projections.

Another reason for accurate and timely timesheets is to have a record for determining additional services.  Perhaps a relatively new employee, eager to please the client, performs services outside of the contract.  If the timesheet is being reviewed timely by a more seasoned employee, they may be able to approach the client to obtain fees for additional services or explain to the new employee the actual scope of work before he or she spends an inordinate amount of time.

Timesheets also provide us with a tool for teaching.  By reviewing timesheets when the project is current, a manager can discuss problem areas with employees.  This can be an efficient tool to help everyone create better processes in the future and avoid the same mistakes.

Timesheets seem to be the thorn in all service industries.  We try to praise employees who fill out timesheets efficiently, belittle employees who don’t, and annoy all employees with reminders.  Perhaps education is our best tool by reviewing and explaining to employees the importance of accurate time management and leading by example.  We have to remember that timesheets provide the service world with a gauge to review history and predict the future.

What does it mean to be integrated?

Chris HortonBy Chris Horton, Vice President & CFO

In my previous article, I discussed the reasons for hiring an Architect/Engineer for your projects.  One of the items I didn’t list was the benefits you gain from hiring an integrated team.

Firms will tell you that they function as an integrated team because they have all disciplines under one roof, but experience has shown that what usually ends up happening is each discipline is treated like an outside consultant, never talking to each other except through email.

Firms that have embraced the concept of integrating the disciplines provide a more cohesive project with fewer drawing inconsistencies.  Notice I didn’t use the word “no” here.  As long as human beings are involved with design, there are going to be inconsistencies, period.  What integrating the team accomplishes is that those inconsistencies are generally small inconsistencies.  You typically don’t have the big busts that occur like routing ductwork through structural beams because the MEP Engineer didn’t have access to the structural plans.

When a project is completed by a cohesive team, the client gets a set of project documents that are very tight and that in turn allows for bids to be tight.  When the bids are tight, you truly start hiring contractors based on qualifications, not pricing.

Another benefits of a good set of documents is that it’s easy to identify the outliers.  All too often contractors will underbid projects in order to get the work and then the change orders start coming.  With a good set of documents, the good contractors will basically clump together somewhere in the middle.  The guys that are too busy for the work will price it high and the ones that you don’t want to work with will be at the bottom.  Makes it a whole lot easier to pick a good contractor when they are all hanging in the same area in the way of fees.

The next time you are shopping for A/E services, ask a few questions.  What questions?  Well that will come in my next article.