Letters to the Editor

Advice on CAPS

Dear Editor,
I’m a kitchen designer and a freelance writer on design topics. Lately I’m writing a lot about universal/aging-in-place design (as well as green design and smart-house design, two other “huge” topics). I wonder if you can give me a candid opinion of the CAPS program, as I’m considering taking the courses.

Is most of it “common sense” (for someone who has written about and is familiar with Universal Design)? Or will I learn new information? Given your AIA designation, I’m sure you came into this program with a lot of background, so did it provide new information?

Is it a recognized, valued credential in the marketplace? Has it brought you business? Any intelligence you can provide is much appreciated.

— Nena Donovan Levine,
Allied ASID
N Design, Inc.
W. Hartford, Conn.

Menn’s response:
I have been practicing architecture for over 30 years and still found my CAPS designation worthwhile. Unfortunately, you probably know that all architects have to take classes in EGO to graduate with an architectural degree. That being said, the thing I liked most about the experience in originally taking the CAPS courses were the hands-on things that take place in the classroom (like using a wheelchair and asked to use a washroom or being blindfolded and asked to use a washroom).

It is my opinion that architects, interior designers and kitchen designers, some time lose track of how everyday people experience what we design for them. The CAPS classes helped me understand how people, that are aging-in-place, experience things differently than we do. Even the simplest things we might take for granted (like brushing our teeth) are experienced differently by someone with arthritis or has a disability. It truly makes it a “real” experience.

The long and short of it is, the answer is YES. You will learn new information. Yes, some of what is being taught is common sense but please understand that the courses are being taught to a large cross section of people. My experience has been that if you learned one new thing that a course or designation is worth the time you spent. I hope this answered your questions. If you have any other, please do not hesitate to contact me again. I would also like your thoughts after you take take the course. Good luck.


Dear Editor,
I read your article in QR (Weiss, June) during lunch today. My company has been in the business for 20-plus years and our volume is $3 million. Getting jobs done on time and on budget is priority No. 1. We are good at quality. However if a customer is unhappy 90 percent of the time — it is schedule over runs. Nine percent of the time is probably a communication issue.

“Myopia” . . . I like that one. We struggle with it. I think it takes a team effort (production manager, production support and sales) to remind our project managers to stay on top of planning ahead. I recently completed a chart of the sales-handoff metrics and presented it to the entire company (12 people, we are a project management team). I have seen positive results from that. Making sure everyone is aware of their co-workers responsibilities is powerful. Tight project packages are paramount. Just as important is the production team getting back to the sales person to motivate a client to make decisions if any are left.

I’m looking forward to seeing what other responses are.

— Robert E. Weickgenannt,
Starcom Design Build Corp.
Columbia, Md.

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