U. of Michigan
Ponce de Leon founded an innovative digital and robotics focused architecture lab at the University of Michigan.

Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., has named Monica Ponce de Leon dean of its School of Architecture, effective in January. She replaces Alejandro Zaera-Polo, who resigned last October in a dispute with the university over plagiarism issues, says Architectural Record (AR), sister publication of ENR, which adds that her appointment had been speculated “for months.”

Ponce de Leon was dean of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor since 2008 and also formed her own practice, MPdL Studio, in 2011.

According to Princeton, she is "widely recognized as a leader in the application of robotic technology to building fabrication." That application began while she was director of the Digital Lab at Harvard University, then continued at Michigan where Ponce de Leon "developed a state of the art student-run digital fabrication lab," that integrated digital fabrication into the school's curriculum, says Princeton. The university credits "her pioneering work" in expanding use of digital tools and digital fabrication techniques in U.S. architecture schools' research and curriculum.

In an interview earlier this year with an on line architectural publication while still at Michigan, Ponce de Leon noted that "when we set out to do the robotics digital fabrication lab, we were not setting out to do a trend for others to follow. We thought that a robotics lab would be an important component of how to understand the future of the discipline."

She added that "there have been certain critical moments in the history of architectural practice when we’ve made, as a discipline, strategic mistakes," noting that in the last half of the 20th century, architecture "progressively retreated from controlling building. Today, you have construction managers, client representatives and a whole industry of building experts filling the gap where architecture left off. This has put other disciplines in the driver’s seat, and gave them more control over what it is that we do."

Ponce de Leon also said hat "one of my fascinations with digital fabrication is the elimination of the middle man—the idea that you can have the architect control the means and methods of construction, and actually drive the processes of building in ways that we were not driving it in the 90s, when I started working with digital fabrication."

While she pointed out that "I don’t think the architect is ever going to 'regain control' over the means and methods of construction, we need to learn to operate within that system, change it, and find ways to exert our power that are different from the way that we did that in the past."

Even so, the academic added, "placing technology at the center of our discipline is problematic because it relinquishes aspects of the discipline that I consider essential. Architecture is one of the few disciplines at the intersection of the humanities, the arts and the sciences. Reducing architecture to technological mastery gives away our true complexity – while ironically making form seemingly more complex."

Lawrence H. "Larry" Silber has joined Hertz Equipment Rental Co. (HERC) as president and CEO, the firm said May 21. He was, most recently, an adviser at a private equity firm, and he also had led the spinoff of Ingersoll Rand's utility equipment group as former unit president. Silber replaces Brian P. MacDonald, who left HERC after just one year, a tenure that also included serving as interim CEO of its parent, Hertz Global Holding Corp. He had been touted to take that role permanently. The departure comes days after HERC announced flat global revenue results of $355 million for first-quarter 2015, impacted by the falloff in oil prices, he said. But Hertz released no profit figures for the unit or the corporation, since a multiyear review begun in 2014 of apparent accounting discrepancies is still ongoing. That review is further delaying the planned split of Hertz's equipment and car-rental units, the firm said. HERC ranks third on Rental Equipment Register's latest annual ranking of top rental equipment firms, issued May 28. "Whether MacDonald became frustrated with the situation at Hertz and quit, or was pushed in order to show action was being taken to address flat revenue and challenges on separating the business, we do not know," said online equipment publication Vertikal.net.

Hill International, Philadelphia, has named Dominick Fickeria senior vice president and deputy Northeast regional manager in its project management group. He had been director of the URS Corp. construction management department. Fickeria is based in New York City.


The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which represents about 725,000 members, has elevated Lonnie R. Stephenson to president. He was a union vice president and head of the union's 120,000-member district in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. Stephenson succeeds Edwin D. Hill, who has retired after 14 years in the role. Hill has been an IBEW member since 1956, Stephenson since 1976. Hill was cited by Washington Life magazine in its May issue as one of the "most powerful people in Washington." It noted his strong stance against income inequality, which the publication said "will likely become a major issue in the 2016 campaign."

William C. "Bill" Bodie has rejoined Parsons Corp., Pasadena, Calif., as executive vice president of its Middle East Africa region. He was a senior vice president at Fluor Corp. Previously, at Parsons, Bodie was executive vice president and global business development manager of its government services unit. The firm also named Jannet M. Walker vice president and deputy eastern sector manager for its rail-transit unit, based in Jacksonville, Fla. She was a transportation vice president at CH2M, formerly CH2M Hill.

CDM Smith, Cambridge, Mass., has named Carlos Echalar as chief human resources officer. Most recently, he had the same role at MICROS Systems, a $1.4-billion, 6,500-person technology firm recently acquired by Oracle, says CDM Smith. Echalar also was a global HR executive for Computer Sciences Corp. and SAIC Corp.

Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), New York City, has named Joseph G. Pulicare chief operating officer of its U.S. transportation sector. He is based in Philadelphia. Pulicare was executive vice president and CEO for transportation in the Americas at AECOM. Global professional services firm PB was acquired by Montreal-based WSP last year.

Jody L. Clark has joined Beatty Development Group, a Baltimore-based mixed-use developer, as chief operating officer. She had been an executive at Hannon Armstrong, a REIT that focuses on energy finance. Clark also became vice president of development at General Growth Properties Inc. after it acquired The Rouse Cos., at which she was a real estate manager. Beatty Development started in 2013.

Detroit-based architect-engineer SmithGroupJJR has elevated Mike Medici to president and managing partner. He was the firm's learning practice leader. Also named managing partners are Russ Sykes, who had run its science and technology studio and directed China operations, and Troy Thompson, who was director of operations in Washington, D.C. They succeed President and CEO Carl Roehling and COO Randy Swiech, who remain as practitioners and board directors.

CCI Group Inc., a Toronto-based consulting engineer, has named Gus Sarrouh as CEO. He was chief operating officer of The Ingenium Group, the parent of Canadian design, design-build and construction management firms Giffels, NORR, Archial NORR and Cion. Ingenium Group has a total of 900 employees.

Todd Christopherson has joined Wenck Construction Inc., Golden Valley, Minn., as CEO. He was a partner at geotechnical engineer Brierley Associates Corp., Denver, and that firm's regional manager. In the new position, Christopherson succeeds Vince Vander Top, who returns to a former role as principal. Christopherson is a past president of the Minnesota chapter of the Construction Management Association of America.

Michael Wood has joined Three Oaks Engineering, a woman-owned natural resource consultants in Durham, N.C., as principal following its June 1 integration of The Catena Group, Hillsborough, N.C., of which he was founder and president. Three Oaks now has 23 employees.