DA Lab: Inside the Envelope

April 14, 2017

Like many firms, we have in-house professional development sessions aimed at pushing ourselves to learn, try new things, and seek inspiration from more sources. Sometimes we bring in a guest expert; other times it is just a chance to compare notes and stay connected. To emphasize the open-ended, experimental nature of these discussions, we think of them as “labs” rather than product-driven “lunch-and-learns.”

Well, it occurred to us that inviting our friends in the design community to join us would only make ‘labs’ more fun interesting, and more likely to happen regularly.  Working in a small firm, it is all too easy to get wrapped up in our individual orbits!  We shared the idea with the other firms and found a strong interest so we decided to make it happen.

Our first community DA Lab was held on Tuesday March 21st and we had a packed house!  We invited building envelope consultants Jeff Speert and Brad Carmichael of JRS Engineering to be our guest experts.  Most small projects, particularly residential, don’t have an envelope consultant as part of the team. Therefore, the design of the wall, roof and foundation assemblies falls onto us architects who must determine what is best for the client, the climate and the design.

The past several years have also seen advancements in materials, new construction methods and more stringent code requirements.  Sometimes it can be difficult to know if a material or method is backed by science or is simply opinion.  Jeff and Brad did a perfect job ofanswering questions, explaining the science, and sharing their experiences.  They left us all with a greater confidence in our technical abilities and shocked that something mundane like building paper could be so fascinating.

If you would like to be in the loop on future DA Labs, just send an email to to be added to the group.