IKM Implements Constructability Cohort to Support the Advancement of Quality Documents

Photo of IKM graduate architects discussing a drawing set depicting Constructability Cohort at IKM Architects Pittsburgh
IKM Implements Constructability Cohort to Support the Advancement of Quality Documents


Two IKM staffers with a passion for document production quality are implementing a staff-led cohort designed to study, analyze and educate the office as a whole regarding constructability issues pertinent to the field of architectural design. The cohort aims to bring lessons learned, best practices, and industry experts to the staff as a part of the firm’s overall mission to provide innovative and informed architecture to all clients.

Through ongoing discussions, led by Kara Berteotti, graduate architect and Bob Bailey, AIA, CSS, CSI, LEED AP Specification Writer and Constructability Specialist, it was determined that a technical cohort such as this in the office would help share constructability information to all levels of staff – from the seasoned professional to the new graduate.

“The cohort was pitched to leadership with the mission, ‘to promote office knowledge, understanding, and involvement in the physical and technical aspects of design and construction,’” says Kara Berteotti, graduate architect and cohort-cofounder. “It was created out of my personal aspirations to learn more, to produce quality architectural documents.”


“We recognized a desire on the part of our staff and firm leadership to proactively and purposely strive for continuous improvement in the quality of our construction documents and specifications through a sharing of knowledge and training on the physical components and installation methods commonly used in the construction industry,” said Bob Bailey, AIA, CSI, LEED AP.


“We have a wealth of knowledge in house, particularly at the senior level,” says John Schrott, AIA, president of the firm, “Our challenge is to collect, record, share and disseminate this information to younger staff. I think all firms face this challenge. We all need to continually learn from the experience of others. Our firm culture encourages all staff to contribute to making IKM a better organization, there are so many positive aspects of this new cohort.”

The firm has seen ongoing improvements through a focus on quality control and quality assurance. This cohort is more about disseminating that information to all levels of staff. The “firm’s knowledge” is a combination of the collective technical education and experiences of the staff; it is a continual evolution. With a mission to be innovative and informed IKM seeks to test ideas, adopt new best practices, and share that knowledge both internally with staff and externally on projects for clients.

The cohort leaders outlined the ideas they would like to address including a library of physically constructed mock-ups; a digital archive of successful details and the coordinating specifications that have been vetted through construction; a series of lessons learned sessions; invitations to industry experts to present, demonstrate or train staff; and improved relations and participation with professional organizations that match the cohort’s mission such as the Master Builders’ Association and the Construction Specifications Institute.

Once the Constructability cohort concept was approved a handful of other staffers were recruited to participate in organizing and implementing the ideas.

IKM has several other cohorts in the office for continuing education, emerging technologies, intern development, sustainability and social to name a few. All of the cohorts have areas where they might overlap. It speaks to the collaborative nature of the design business and of IKM in particular.