Event Blog

Southern California Development Forum brings value through educational, networking and philanthropic events around current developments in the A/E/C world.  Read all about our recent events here.

  • 04/13/2018 12:45 PM | Cole Calhoun

    With rapid urbanization and population growth in Los Angeles, there is an increased strain on the public infrastructure and transportation.

    At our Transportation panel on April 10, 2018, leaders from three different agencies convened to share insights as to how they are implementing creative finance strategies to plan and build the future of transportation in Los Angeles. Panelists raised the question – can Los Angeles catch up with its transportation needs to improve urban mobility?

    “Among housing and employment, transportation is one of the biggest challenges Los Angeles is currently facing,” says Stephen Polechronis, Regional Business Line Leader, Transportation at AECOM, who moderated the panel discussion.

    From left to right: Stephen Polechronis, AECOM; Jenna Hornstock, Metro; Samantha Bricker, Los Angeles World Airports; Darin Chidsey, Southern California Association of Governments


    Darin Chidsey, Chief Operating Officer of Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), an organization that undertakes a variety of planning and policy initiatives to build a more sustainable Southern California, believes “we have a responsibility to look ahead at the next 20 years of transportation and to consider the foundation of what the demographics will look like.” He recognized the fact that no one wants to sit in traffic concluding that if we don’t come together to solve transportation issues now, we’ll have bigger problems in the future.

    Fortunately, things are looking up for Los Angeles as Measure M, a half-cent sales tax that will fund an unprecedented $120 billion in transit projects in the next 40 years, recently passed in the county. This measure will allow the Metro Board of Directors to improve the traffic in Los Angeles, repair potholes and sidewalks, repave local streets, improve connections and more.

    Jenna Hornstock, Executive Officer at Metro, expressed how excited her team is about the current opportunities. She provided insights on current projects throughout the county and highlighted Metro’s purchase of Union Station in 2011, for which they have done some major restoration, preserving its historic characteristics while also improving its functionality.

    Chidsey reemphasized that, because voters have set the stage and funding is now available, the time to act is now.

    Another way to be mindful of spending is to consider public-private partnerships (P3s). P3s can be an effective way to build and implement transportation infrastructure for multiple decades. In both the public and private arenas, P3s can be a mutually beneficial way to resolve important transportation issues without the financial strain on the public.

    Samantha Bricker, Deputy Executive Director of Project Development, Coordination and Environmental Programs Group at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) acknowledged that pursuing P3s for the current LAX LAMP project has allowed her and her team to maintain their design aesthetic and keep costs to a minimum. Although P3s are not ideal for all transportation projects, they often reduce upfront public costs through fast-tracked, efficient delivery methods. That is because with P3s, all stakeholders collaborate early in the process, allowing each team member to provide valuable insight which ultimately results in savings and a longer project lifespan.

    According to Hornstock, we are the local advocates and, as a result, “we have to go out and fight for this new image of Los Angeles. We have to take the fear of change and turn it into excitement for the future.”

  • 03/20/2018 11:57 AM | Cole Calhoun

    Healthcare organizations can be perceived as “tired” based on their delivery models. Because of this reality, healthcare M&A have been on the rise over the past several years. Hospitals are merging, technology and service vendors are consolidating and systems are integrating ambulatory centers, physician practices and oftentimes clinics. 

    At our Healthcare 2018 panel, pre-eminent health system leaders discussed the surge in healthcare M&A and how they improve delivery of care and lower costs. Moderated by Sarah Jensen, president of Jensen + Partners, panelists provided a background history of their respective companies in addition to their insights on what the rise in M&A activity means for healthcare facilities. They each discussed how they are preparing for the future as technology continues to transform the way healthcare facilities function. Jay Gellert, former president and CEO of HealthNet, “a combination of technology and opportunity” is changing healthcare.

    Gellert explained that some of the rationales for M&A, include “demographics, economics, technology and delivery.” Jeff West, senior regional director of Providence St. Joseph Health, pointed out that “healthcare M&A allow for increased market share, keep the market relevant and accelerate transactions.”

    Gellert mentioned some of the largest healthcare M&A in history that took place over the past year, including UnitedHealth Group and DaVita Medical Group, Aetna and CVS, Cigna and Express Scripts, Anthem and Florida Medicare Acquisitions, Centene and Community Medical Group and Humana and Kindred Healthcare, to name a few. In an effort to become one stronger, more valuable company, better suited to achieve market success, this trend in healthcare will continue to be on the rise. Gellert also explained several factors companies must consider in the M&A process, such as new entrants versus incumbents, policy, capital/facilities, transition versus disruption, timing and prudent planning.

    Panelists called attention to the current state of healthcare in the U.S. and Gellert remonstrated that “the U.S. spends more money on healthcare than any other country and the least on social care,” but still does not meet the needs of the nation. Jared Langusdirector of strategic initiatives at Cedars Sinai Health Systems, added that “the gap between what employees are paying for healthcare and the price of their plans in widening.” It’s clear there is an imminent need to restructure our healthcare system, but only time will tell what the future of healthcare will look like in the U.S.

    According to West, “maintaining infrastructure, increased regulatory environment and seismic compliance” are just a few of the challenges healthcare facilities will have to overcome in the next few years.

    The panelists could all agree that the healthcare industry has plenty of hurdles to overcome, but with the number of big-name health systems headlining the year in M&A and the advancement of technology, the future of healthcare looks bright.

  • 02/28/2018 11:52 AM | Cole Calhoun

    Technology is influencing the world with everything from virtual reality to 3D printing. Emerging technologies are presenting progressive developments, providing competitive advantages and changing the status quo for the built environment and reshaping commercial real estate as we know it. At our Emerging Technology, over 175 industry leaders mobilized to discuss cutting edge technologies, how such technologies are being used in the industry and what the future of technology looks like.

    The panel included a diverse group of experts, moderated by Stan Chiu, AIA, LEED AP, Principal at HGA. Speakers included Jose Sanchez, Professor at USC School of Architectureand Director of the Plethora Project; Erik Narhi, Computational Design Lead at BuroHappold Engineering; Paul Martin, Director of Engineering Sales at A. Zahner Company and Jen Hawkins, Product Development Manager at Digital Building Components.


    Key takeaways from the event include:

    • Google Cardboard: Each table was given a pair of Google Cardboard glasses, allowing guests to explore various design models, such as Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
    • Virtual Reality: Guests participated in an interactive VR activity at the end of the panel discussion, provided by BurroHapold.
    • Digital Fabrication: Hawkins discussed her work at Digital Building Components. She explained the digital fabrication process, which uses the coordinated model that has been developed with the design team and MEP trades to drive fabrication. The shop is currently producing cold-formed steel load bearing structures, exterior wall panels, and interior wall panels.
    • Crowdsourced Urbanism: Sanchez detailed his experience of creating Block’hood, an interactive city planning video game that allows users to explore the notions of crowdsourced urbanism.
    • Handling Challenges for Clients: Martin explained how his firm develops specific technologies to handle geometry and other challenges clients may face.
    • Bridging the Gap: Narhi gave an overview of how he bridges the gap between software engineering developments and AEC project workflows. He and his team harness data to visualize and predict how to design spaces so they perform the way they should.

    We are grateful to our panelists, attendees, table sponsors (CorganHaworthPCL and Southland) and event sponsor, BuroHappold, for helping us make this event happen. 

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