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Jay H Isenberg AIA has over 20 years of experience as a practicing architect most of them as principal of his own firm. His general practice includes experience in most project types, both residential (40%) and commercial (60%) with budgets over $6 million. Clients encompass the private and public sectors, including commercial, medical, residential, governmental (Department of Transportation and Department of Military Affairs), institutional, religious and non-profit groups. He has experience in all phases of architectural practice from marketing and contracts through the design, construction documents, project management and contract administration phases of most project delivery methods. He is particularly qualified and suited for handling design build residential project disputes.


Mediation provides a last opportunity for self-determination of the outcome by the parties themselves, as well as the possibility for negotiating creative solutions unavailable through arbitration or litigation. The mediator’s task is to help navigate the parties through this process by any number of means including facilitation and evaluation/assessment based on the mediator’s industry specific knowledge and professional expertise and judgment. A mediator must always listen for opportunity, be patient and steady, yet tenacious in a commitment to stay with the process through all its expected hurdles, and when appropriate use humor to remind everyone of their humanity. A steady stream of tough questions during private caucus can be expected. Construction projects usually begin as a honeymoon in “good faith and fair dealing” but somewhere along the line trust and communication and the ability to negotiate with the other party has broken down. Mediation is a time to consider and focus on what is now reasonable rather than only on what is “right” in the minds of each party. The pre-mediation period is critical in preparing the parties and their advocates for what is expected. Attorneys must be prepared and have their clients prepared to negotiate, otherwise there is little chance to succeed. A mediator must be prepared by requesting and reading thoroughly material sent to them about the case. I recommend a private confidential telephone conversation with each party prior to the session to help prepare the groundwork for the session, gauge the possibility of success, manage expectations and establish a rapport before we meet in session. There is no reason to waste valuable time and money on fishing expeditions by either party. Of course, the confidential and voluntary nature of mediation must be respected at all times.

Current Position:

  • Owner, Isenberg + Associates (Architecture)

  • Owner, Isenberg ADR (Mediation, Arbitration and Consulting)

  • Adjunct Assistant Teaching Professor: College of Design, Graduate School of Architecture

ADR Experience/Expertise:
Mr. Isenberg has experience as an arbitrator, serving both as a sole arbitrator and on numerous occasions as a panel arbitration member and as a mediator since 1994 on dozens of cases ranging from small single issue situations to large complex multi party cases involving million dollar claims and counterclaims Parties involved have ranged from single family residential owners, designers and contractors to city officials, corporate executives, insurance companies, consultants, contractors and subcontractors. Representative issues that have come before him include:

  • professional negligence and standard of care

  • professional fee disputes

  • unauthorized use of documents and copyright violations

  • defective design and work claims

  • change order claims and amounts

  • cost and schedule overruns and delay damages

  • requests for equitable adjustment

  • accelerated schedule calculations, prolonged equipment utilization, extended general conditions and home office overhead, and labor inefficiency calculations

  • parking lot design defects

  • landscape material calculations, plant replacement and selections

  • water intrusion and mold damage

  • latent defects, failures and their responsibility

  • fabrication and delivery of subcontractor materials

  • HVAC, lighting and electrical quality of work and remediation

  • defective fireproofing and acoustical systems repair

  • defective roofing, water intrusion and mold

  • owner supplied material and manufacturer’s discounts

Mr. Isenberg has also mediated the dissolution of two architecture firms, facilitated workshops whose theme was cooperative working arrangements among architects and consulting engineers, has participated in Partnering sessions with the DOT, attended partnering and dispute review board training workshops, and assisted construction attorneys in the development of 2D and 3D computer trial exhibits and interactive exhibits, models and drawings.


  • University of Minnesota – Master of Architecture

  • Colgate University - Bachelor of Arts

    Professional Associations:

  • American Institute of Architects

  • AIA Minnesota

  • American Arbitration Association Panel of Neutrals (Mediation and Arbitration)

  • CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution Construction Panel of Neutrals

    ADR Presentations and Seminars

  • 5/2003 - Cooperative Design: Fostering a Collaborative Design and Delivery Process. Continuing Professional Studies, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota

  • 3/2003 - How to Avoid the Project from Hell. Home Design Show, Minneapolis, MN

  • 10/2002 Co-creator, When Dream Becomes Nightmare; Exploring the Dynamic Relationship Between Architect, Client, and Builder. Performance presentation and discussion, Architecture and Psyche Symposium, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN.

  • 2/2002 Dispute Resolution Through Mediation and Arbitration, MNSPE (Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers, Continuing Education Program)

  • 5/2001 Arbitration: Options and Strategies, AIA Minnesota Cont. Education Program

  • 3/2001 Mediation or Arbitration? What, How, and Why? NARI Symposium 2001

  • 11/2000 Cooperative Design, Helping Engineers and Architects Work Together, a panel discussion and presentation of the same workshop, AIA MN State Convention

  • 2/2000 ADR; Lessons From The Trenches, AIA Minnesota, Continuing Education Program

  • 1999, 2000 Guest Lecturer, Mediation/Arbitration and ADR, Professional Practice Class, School of Architecture, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

  • 1998-2000 Adjunct Faculty, Mediation Training Instructor; Mediation Skills for Business and Professional People, Center for Conflict Management, William Mitchell School of Law, St. Paul, MN

  • 1999-2000 Guest Lecturer, Mediation/Arbitration and ADR, Professional Practice Class, Univ. of MN, Mpls., MN

  • 1998-1999 Guest Lecturer on Partnering, Center for Conflict Management, William Mitchell School of Law, St. Paul, MN

  • 1996 Mediation, Arbitration, or Here Comes the Judge, AIA MN State Convention Program

  • 1996 Invited Seminar Panelist AIA National Convention, Minneapolis, MN on Architects in Cyberspace, the Internet, and the World Wide Web, Program provided by AIA National

    Awards, Honors, Publications:

  • 2006 The Strange Case of George Costanza and Zaha Hadid, “Intersections; Conference on Beginning Design Education”, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

  • 2002 Competition Winner: Tzedakah Box: The Art of Giving. Original 12”x12”x12” design was awarded second place in a juried competition to produce contemporary interpretations of a traditional ritual object for an exhibition held at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, March - May 2002

  • 2000 AIA Minnesota Presidential Citation; “....for determined commitment to a “new and improved” AIA MN web site."

  • 1998 Competition Winner: Cafe Caribe. Design Proposal selected among 12 entrants for new theme restaurant. Winner of Outstanding Exhibit Award, Minnesota State Fair

  • 1997 AIA Minnesota Presidential Citation; “....for creative ideas and joyful leadership..."

  • 1985-1993 Team Member USA Masters Squash Team Maccabi Games, Tel Aviv, Israel. Bronze Medals 1985, 1993

  • 1992 Blue Ribbon, History of the MN State Fair, Karal Ann Marling, Ruby’s Cafe, MN State Fair

  • 1990 Architecture Minnesota, Ruby’s Cafe, MN State Fair, Unbuilt Minnesota Exhibition, St. Paul, MN

    Alternative Dispute Resolution Training:

  • AAA Dealing with Delay Tactics in Arbitration (ACE004), 2006

  • AAA Chairing an Arbitration Panel: Managing Procedures, Process & Dynamics (ACE005)

  • AAA Arbitrator Ethics & Disclosure (ACE003), 2005

  • Attended Partnering Facilitation Workshop, 2003

  • AAA Arbitrator Update 2002

  • AAA Construction Industry Arbitrator II Training

  • Advanced Case Management Issues, 2001

  • AAA Mediator Retreat, 2000

  • Dispute Review Board Administration and Practice Workshop, 1999

  • Y2K Disputes The Mediation Option Workshop, Center for Conflict Management, William Mitchell School of Law, 1999

  • AAA (National) Construction Industry Arbitrator Training Workshop, 1997

  • Construction Claims in Minnesota, The Cambridge Institute, 1997

  • AAA Residential Real Property Arbitration (and Arbitration/Mediation) Training, 1996

  • AAA Real Estate Arbitrator Workshop, 1995; Hennepin County Bar Association, Sports Mediation, 1995

  • Hennepin County Bar Association, Murphy's Law for Mediators, 1995

  • Hennepin County Bar Association, Prudential Securities Case Study, 1995

  • AAA Advanced Arbitrator Training, 1994

  • AAA Basic Arbitrator Training, 1994

  • AAA Advanced Mediation Training, 1994

  • General Mediation Training, Mediation Center & The Dispute Resolution Institute, Hamline University School of Law, 1994.

    Teaching, Committees and Workshops:

  • 2005 Participant Corporate Director’s Academy: a 4 day collaborative workshop sponsored by the Caux Round Table and The Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership to train future independent corporate board directors.

  • 2004 Member AIA MN Communications Task Force to review and strategically revise the three communication tools (magazine, newsletter and web site) of AIA Minnesota

  • 2004 Attended Cranbrook Teacher’s Seminar Workshop (Case Studies) sponsored by ASCA

  • 2004 Adjunct Assistant Professor, curricula development and teaching; Building Production Processes, Arch 5561, graduate seminar, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota

  • 2004-present - Adjunct Assistant Professor, curricula development and teaching; Integrated Design Systems, Arch 4552, College of Continuing Education, Construction Management Program, University of Minnesota

  • 2002-2005 Adjunct Assistant Professor; Fundamentals of Professional Practice 5621, graduate seminar, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota

  • 2003-present - Intern Development Program (IDP) Education Coordinator, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota

  • 2003-present - Member, Professional Practice Advisory Committee, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota

  • 2003-present - Member, Practice/Education Committee, AIA Minnesota

  • 2000-2002 - Workshop Facilitator and Developer: “Cooperative Design, Helping Engineers and Architects Work Together”, a joint educational workshop program sponsored by AIA Minnesota and the Consulting Engineers Council of Minnesota, (3 sessions)

  • 2000- present - Chairman, AIA MN Web Site Committee. Responsible for the design, redesign and strategic realignment of AIA Minnesota's first and second generation web site.

  • 2002 Co-Chairman, Internet Forum Committee. Building alliances across practice and technology

  • 2001-present - Member, AIA MN State Convention Programs Committee. Responsible for development and/or facilitation of over forty programs and keynote speakers each year for our State Architects' Convention.

  • 1996 -1998 - Co-Chairman, AIA MN State Architect’s Convention. Responsible for the planning, implementation and promotion for one of the largest state architects’ convention in the country. Involved coordination of 12 subcommittees and their volunteers.

  • 1998-present - Member, Government Affairs Committee

  • 1996-present - Member, Council of Firms Committee

Leadership/Public Service/Entrepreneurship:

  • 2006 Founding Member, Form + Content Gallery, a artist’s cooperative, Mpls., MN

  • 2006 Board Member, Minnesota Architectural Foundation

  • 2003-present Member, Advisory Board of Directors, RIMON, Jewish Council for the Arts, Mpls. MN

  • 2002 Member, Sanctuary Restoration Committee, Temple Israel, Mpls, MN,

  • 2000 Design, Production, and Marketing of Gore-Lieberman 2000 Souvenir Yarmulke. Individual entrepreneurial effort during the 2000 Presidential Campaign

  • 1999 Architectural Consultant, Steering Committee Member, Twin Cities Sukkot Project, New Designs for an Ancient Tradition, an artist/architects’ competition and exhibition at the Mpls Institute of Arts,

  • 1999 Designer of the “Green Sukkot”, built and exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Art with Joel Sisson of the Green Chair Project as part of the Twin Cities Sukkot Project

  • 1999 Co-Publisher and Designer: The Ultimate Guide to Sanibel and Captiva Shells and Beach Life, a six panel folding laminated guidebook

  • 1999 AIA MN Representative to the 49th International Aspen Design Conference; “design. digital”, examining the “floating world of design in a digital world.”

  • 1999 Forum Administrator: AIA MN web site discussion forum.

  • 1999-2000 Member, Board of Directors, Minneapolis Mediation Program, Minneapolis, MN

  • 1997-present Mentor: University of Minn. School of Architecture Mentor Program

  • 1989-1998 Sponsored Squash Player: Squash Advisory Staff/Pro Team Member for the Prince Sports Group