We are keenly aware that our world is changing. Integrated delivery methods, building information modeling, globalization and a desire for sustainability have dramatically shifted the eco-system in which we live.
We believe trust-based teams are the key to thriving in this new world.
The Global Design Alliance is an international network of dynamic design, planning and construction firms who are committed to growth and change. We are a living 20-year experiment in the transparency, resource-sharing, authenticity and creativity that builds trust and develops not only people, but whole companies, who truly are “better together.“
Because we expand their business opportunities, knowledge and relationships.
Because we are a comprehensive resource and our collective wisdom yields better solutions.
Because we are an interdisciplinary perspective on the future and a laboratory for experimentation and innovation.
Because we expand their opportunities for professional and personal growth.
Because we share a commitment to making it a better place.
The Global Design Alliance was formed in 1993 as the Strategic Team of Allied Resources (STAR) with 9 founding member firms. The goal was a new model for practice based on common values, spirit of partnership, learning from and supporting each other and marketing together. A code of conduct and commitments were established to ensure the group was more than simply another professional organization.
One of the founding members, Lou Marines, captured the intent…
The glue that provides the sustenance to our existence is the commonality of values which allows us to be cohorts, to be friends, to be trusting in each other and in the spirit of partnership to both support each other and to protect each others' back - that for me is what we are about.
As a living experiment in trust-based teaming for almost 20 years, the GDA represents over 4,000 employees with over $500 million in design fees each year and over 70 offices in ten countries.
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The Global Design Alliance began over a conversation about strategic alliances in the A/E industry. After several meetings, David Evans of DEA in Portland said, “We’ve been talking about this…why don’t we do something? Let’s try.” And so the Global Design Alliance began (originally as the STAR Alliance).
Gray Plosser of KPS explained, “As we talked about our strategic purpose, we decided that most groups fail over chemistry. We knew the chemistry was right. We decided we’d figure out later what our strategic purpose was.” That was back in 1993. Today the GDA has accomplished many of the things merely dreamed of back then, but chemistry remains a high value even as the strategic purpose grows and membership changes.
Different from most professional organizations, firms are invited to be part based on personal relationships with member firms. Because of the depth of the commitment, Global Design Alliance offers firms an extended get acquainted period to explore membership. Those interested first receive an information kit that outlines the nature of the organization, required participation, financial contribution, and benefits.
At DIALOG, we believe that collaboration is foundational for achieving design excellence and for meaningfully contributing to the wellbeing of our communities through design. The GDA is a remarkable platform for building personal relationships, for creative collaboration, and for developing a broader worldview of the opportunities and challenges facing the AEC industry.
GDA gives our firm a regular opportunity to be exposed to leading thinkers from different regions, different segments of the design professions and often different target market sectors. We always come away from GDA meetings with a wide-ranging and sophisticated view of current issues that are being faced by design professionals. The level of sharing, which can be about anything from business and substantive tools that are working for a member firm to challenges faced by members to opportunities to work together, is deep and unique. Participation in the GDA has consistently and positively informed our own business model and decision-making.
I am a person who values meaningful relationships, and believes that transparency and collaboration amongst like-minded individuals leads to amazing outcomes. The GDA has been the perfect conduit to foster those relationships, and our company benefits in countless ways as a result of our engagement with the great organizations that make up the GDA.
Our collaboration with the Global Design Alliance has afforded CO Architects the rare opportunity to share best practices and create project pursuits amongst an diverse group of Architects, Engineers, Contractors and leading consultants. I believe CO Architects is a better practice because of the quality and diversity of ideas that we share each year.
The GDA has been an excellent and safe environment for us to share ideas, learn from others and grow our company.
There is an initial vetting process by both the candidate and GDA. We evaluate whether a firm’s values, goals and services will fit well within the Alliance. The candidate gets a better sense of the members and how to get the most out of joining. If mutual interest continues, the firm is invited to sit in on a board meeting and make verbal and written presentations about its practice. A final vote is then taken.
The GDA meets twice a year for multi-day retreats hosted by a member firm. Each session focuses on a variety of topics from leadership, to firm management, to marketing to design and industry trends. Ideas are shared between participants and outside speakers are often included to share in their areas of expertise. Between meetings, we share on monthly conference calls to stay connected.
Saskia Dennis-van Dijl is a Principal Consultant in the Cameron MacAllister Group and will serve as Executive Director in a unique long-term consulting engagement . Saskia has been active in the AEC industry for over twenty years and consults with companies nationally on issues of marketing, leadership development, equity and diversity, and practice management. She is a nationally recognized speaker on a wide-range of topics related to the state of the design and construction industry including Women in Leadership, Best Practices in Marketing, and Evolving Design Culture.
Passionate about supporting the role of women in the workplace, Saskia has channeled her beliefs into equity and diversity consulting, helping firms better understand their challenges and opportunities in those areas. This focus carries over into her work with the AIA San Francisco’s Equity by Design, for which she is an active spokesperson.
Saskia joined the Cameron MacAllister Group in 1999 after 11 years as Director of Business Development for EHDD in San Francisco. Saskia lives in Portland, Oregon and is building a house in the Columbia River Gorge, strategically located within hiking distance of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Brook Wyntergreen, a member of the Global Design Alliance since 2014 and former Alliance Coordinator Chair, has accepted the role of Associate Director of the GDA. She will support the Board and Executive Director to manage the day-to-day operations of the consortium. Brook brings over a decade of experience in the design and construction industry, formerly serving as the Marketing Director for KPFF Portland Structural Engineers. With a passion to understand and drive best practices of the profession, Brook looks to the creative minds of the GDA to lead the discussion for progressive and sustainable design.
If you wish to learn more about GDA, please contact our Executive Director, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl or Associate Director, Brook Wyntergreen. Our directors and member firms will be happy to discuss the value and responsibilities of participation, and the process for joining the Global Design Alliance.