News

Designing for Others

Designing for Others

In a sense, architecture is always about designing for others, is it not?  Even if I designed a home or structure for “myself”: as a married person with children, wouldn’t I ultimately take the needs of my family into consideration?  Unless I was designing a domicile for which I intended to occupy in solitude so that I could devote my time to a great work of literature (clearly I am not talking about this blog), would I not consider visitors?  Even Thoreau’s Walden: Life in the Woods devotes a chapter to the comings and goings of visitors (he always had three chairs ready for visitors).  We are never truly alone.

As it turns out, nearly all that I do revolves around design for others.  In my position as one of the “Checker of Drawings”, I essentially become a method actor playing several roles as I read “the script”.  The script, or the collective of the construction documents, as it were, is strictly a draft when I read it.  Depending on which act I am reading, I immerse myself into the character suitable for the role.

First, I become the Code Official.  I am likely seeing this set of documents for the first time.  Even if I know a lot about the project, I pretend I do not.  The Code Official must be able to review the first several pages of a set and get a general understanding of the existing conditions (if there are any), the type(s) of building(s) proposed, the occupancy, the construction type, the amount of area and height, etc.  A lot to do, and it is a challenge to do this clearly and succinctly.  Are there fire walls, and if so, where?  How much renovation is there (Level 2 or Level 3)?  Where are the different uses separated?  We have to come up with a way to convey this information even if it means adding little drawing vignettes to clarify.

Much of what I look for is not glamorous, however stairway enclosure protection is important, especially if missed and not considered during design prior to bidding.

Next, I try to take the point of view of the people building this structure.  How clear are all the transitional details – are there enough blow-ups?  Are the required dimensions there?  Even if the dimensions are there, are they in the right place, where they make sense to the builder?  How have the details considered the person physically putting the drywall on the wall?  We also try to incorporate all of the systems and engineering knowledge to coordinate consultant drawings; so that our drawings don’t say one thing, and the electrical drawings say another.There are so many things to consider that, unless you do the same building over and over again, no one would ever catch them all.  But we try none-the-less and strive to be better all the time.

Sometimes, the things I look for are mundane, like how does this tiny shaft get drywalled up three stories?
Sometimes, when I see the same issue over and over, I need to keep myself sane…

Obviously, the point of view of the Owner, or in our case the end user, is of the upmost importance.  I have to look for details that do not comply with Codes, of course.  However, I find myself becoming the advocate for those with limited abilities of all sorts, where, even if the design complies with the Codes, I typically ask if certain moves might be made to improve accessibility.  In senior housing independent living apartments, typically (per ANSI A117.1) a sink in the laundry is exempt from side approach requirements (the ability for one to approach the sink sideways in a wheelchair and have enough room to center your torso on the sink).  The first instinct of a designer is to throw the sink to the corner as far as you can so that there is as much open counter to fold.  This may work fine for the able bodied resident, but what about one in a wheelchair or scooter?  Even if one is temporarily confined for the time it takes to mend a broken bone or some other kind of ailment, it would still be nice to be able to use your laundry room.


A reception desk in a senior’s environment needs to consider, in all aspects, the perspective from a wheelchair.

In closing, I look at this set from my own perspective.  For this set of documents, even though another architect was the lead on the project, I ask myself what personal experiences can I impart on the design?  I have been designing for seniors for over 20 years, but the office as an entity has been doing so for three times that.  We have a lot of collective experience.  You can also call it collective memory.  You can call it tales from the trenches.  You could even call some of them war stories.  Whatever these deign issues are called, we want to review each project from the perspective of this checklist of items, lest we overlook them.  As one of my favorite sayings goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  When the office produces a set of documents, I want us all to be proud of the end result.  For successful building projects, repeating advantageous design moves and avoiding detrimental ones can only help the cause.

Always remember, staff break rooms cannot be considered “employee work areas”!

Note:  If you were wondering…my marks are green and not red because I am not the only one to redline jobs.  My green marks distinguish themselves from someone else’s red marks, while still visible against the black lines of the construction documents themselves.



This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “Designing for Others” and was led by Jeff Pelletier.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:
Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
How To Design for Others

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
designing for others – how hard could it be?

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“designing for others”

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Just say no

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Designing for others

Steve Mouzon – The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
Planting Seeds of Better Design

Anne Lebo – The Treehouse (@anneaganlebo)
Designing for people

Career Path(s)

Career Path(s)

I always say I’ve known I wanted to be an architect since the seventh grade, but that doesn’t mean I knew what it meant to be an architect at that time.  That didn’t come until much, much later.  Even architecture school doesn’t truly prepare one for the path of professional “architect”.  It tends to makes sense that, even upon completion of a degree in architecture, many graduates find themselves working outside the field of of architecture eventually (or even immediately).

In my own graduating class of about 25, I estimate that at least one third of said graduates are endeavoring in professions outside of architecture.  And of the eight or more “outsiders” I count, gender really has nothing to do with it.  And by that I mean: no, it isn’t all the females from our class that dropped out of professional life to raise children.  Quite the contrary, actually; as more women from my class are still in architecture and a higher percentage of men have left it.

So where do these people go and why did they leave?  Do they do something related to architecture or completely unrelated?

I looked to my classmates, friends and former co-workers for answers.  I generated a sort of questionnaire.  Of the people I surveyed, two are in the film industry (one in visual effects and one in set design – no adult film stars that I know of, sorry).  One worked as a product designer for a major ceiling product manufacturer. Two work for the federal government.  One works for a large retirement community and helps new residents layout their new retirement homes and sell their existing ones.  One is a jewelry designer and sculptor who sells her merchandise in museum gift shops and craft shows all over the country.  One person now engineers and builds millwork and cabinetry.  One classmate owns and operates a needlework business.  Last but not least, one colleague now runs a catering business and gourmet shop.  Notice there is not a single stay at home mom or dad listed.  While some may have also done this job IN ADDITION to their other job, it isn’t as if these people have picked up their ball and gone home.  They are contributing to the work place in other ways, some related to architecture, some not so much.
The equal rate of attrition between men and women on the road to achieving their licensure after receiving their degree is in line with a recent NCARB study.  See the link here.
I thought about this and asked each person I know in this position to answer a fourteen question survey.  As to be expected, some surveys took a very long time to get back (architects are notorious procrastinators – no surprise).  Some I am still waiting on.  I hold no ill will, but they are off the Christmas Card list for sure.  Actually our family is so bad at getting Christmas Cards out, we have changed them to New Year’s Cards.  Full disclosure:  I do none of the work on the holiday card front for my own family.  I am the worst.
I tried to get an idea of why each person in the focus group went into the study of architecture, when he/she felt like they might want to change professions, how architecture school may have prepared him/her for other endeavors and if he/she would do it differently or what suggestions might be useful to those pondering the profession.
In terms of when the decision was made to enter architecture school, most of the respondents indicated fairly late in high school.  One person indicated a very young age (before 10 years old), and two actually made that decision after college orientation or after a full year of college.  Our class had a high percentage of students that were older, from 20 to 30 years old, rather than 17 or 18 like the rest of us.  I am not sure of the reason for this but it didn’t really matter other than when it came time to buy beer.  I would guess that the dropout rate for the traditional freshmen was about the same as those entering architecture school with a few years already under their belt.
When asked if there was any point that they felt entering architecture school was the wrong one, answers were all over the board.  Some had doubts in school (of course we all did in some way due to the pressures of studio).  One person actually left a message for their adviser in order to start the process of switching majors.  The adviser never called back and he ended up sticking it out (see above for ‘procrastination’).  One woman kept a pink ‘Change of Major’ slip pinned in their work space all five years.  Another indicates that every semester was plagued with doubts.  Several respondents settled into the program with less tumult that the rest of us.  And lastly, one man didn’t have doubts until he received his first paycheck and saw the amount of overtime he was working.

When asked if they intended to seek employment outside of the profession immediately following college, most responded that they first sought traditional work for architectural graduates.  Only one intended to pursue work in a related field (architectural preservation).  Many found traditional work.  Only one person I polled fell into another profession while looking for traditional work; the video gaming industry.  In fact when he started in the gaming job, five of the six people on his team were either architecture school graduates or licensed architects.

Only one of the respondents is currently a licensed architect.  Having worked for a division of the federal government for several years as their architect, he decided to actually join them as a project manager.  As a result, he left the private sector to work for this government agency, running their construction projects as an Owner’s representative.

Another former coworker also got a job with a government agency in a field directly related to architecture.  But when it became clear that a transfer from his current city was eminent, he found work in another department in graphics and web design in order to stay put.

My classmate Jake has a very unique resume.  After graduating with us in architecture, he ended up traveling around a bit, trying to decide where to work.  In doing so, he passed through San Francisco and thought how cool it would be to work somewhere like Pixar.  When traditional jobs did not immediately pan out, he found himself working in the video gaming industry, contributing on several games in the Star Wars series for Lucas Arts and Marvel Nemesis for Nihilistic.  Eventually he made his way to the other side of the planet, working for Weta Digital, currently as Layout Head of Department, and has worked on films like Avengers: Infinity War, Avatar, X-Men: First Class, and the Hobbit trilogy.  Oh, just look at his IMDb page.  Jake attributes his current skills like spatial layout, 3-D problem solving, art history and managing stressful deadlines to his architectural training.
In perhaps one of the most unexpected results of my survey, one respondent actually came back to work at an architectural office:  the one I work for.  Jim had worked for us more than ten years ago and eventually found employment with a major manufacturer of ceiling products, where his wife also worked at the time.  He worked in several positions over about a decade from research and development of ceiling products, to working with architects and designers to produce specific solutions for their design needs.  While his positions were maybe more traditionally filled by industrial engineers, the problem solving aspects of working in buildings perhaps benefited him during his time there.  When I contacted Jim to answer my survey and catch up for lunch; I gave him a tour of our new office space.  A few weeks later and Jim rejoined us.  Yes our office is that cool.  Jim has since wondered off into new adventures since.  He went on to join a German building product manufacturer, a commercial case goods manufacturer and now works for a residential home building company as a sales manager, where yet another of our classmates now works as a studio manager.

My friend Melissa runs a business creating handmade jewelry and other objects made from industrial and recycled materials, see:  StubbornStiles.  She worked in architectural offices for about ten years before making that move.  And if there was anyone I would have expected to do something outside of architecture, it was Mel.  Not to say she wasn’t talented and couldn’t have excelled in an office, but I expected her, more than anyone else I knew from college, to create her own professional path.  I visited her once in San Francisco many years ago where she was working in a firm, and it was very strange for me to see her step out of the office, dressed the part in every way.  What she does now totally fits her.  (She was the one with change of major slip at her desk in college).  She now works with her super cool and talented family in Portland, Oregon.

My wife worked for a very small architectural firm doing mostly residential work for a short time, but left to work for a nationally known home building company.  She liked the residential aspect of the work and she needed to pay off student loans, and this job paid better.  She went on to move to where I was living in Lancaster, PA (and we still live there today) and worked for two different regional home builders.  She went part time after our first child and eventually quite all together after our second.  She never fully intended to leave the work force, and continued to freelance drafting work.  Eventually, an opportunity came to her through one of her freelance clients to become what is termed the Transition Specialist for a very large retirement community.  She meets with clients who will be moving into the retirement community, measures their furnishings that will be going with them, and lays out the furniture plan for them in their new apartment plan.  She also provides tips for selling the home they are leaving.

I know or know of others that have gone into designing and building furniture, culinary and catering endeavors, and even a needlework shop and business.  It is clear that all of these changes in profession have one thing in common:  there is still an aspect of design and/or art relating to them all.  When asked how their architectural education benefited them in their non-traditional professional field, the answer returned was unanimous from the focus group:  the ability to problem solve.  It is a different kind of problem solving than the engineer or mathematician.  The problems presented to architects and even to students in school are open-ended and never only have one answer.  We are taught to think in terms of options.  The solution that is best for Client A is almost certainly not the best solution for Client B.

The architect must work between what the client thinks they need, what the codes require and what the engineers need to do.  I have always thought that being an architect requires, almost above all else, the ability to compromise.  The best solutions can answer questions that weren’t even asked.  Architecture school teaches creative thinking to spatial problems as well as time management skills.   It also teaches how to take criticism.  Does it ever…

Most of the people in my limited survey also know others in their fields who studied architecture or were architects.  The last couple of decades have seen a few deep recessions.  Architecture was one of those majors everyone was warned against very recently, see:  Degrees to Avoid.  Getting a job in architecture has been difficult at several times over the course of the last 20 years, which can influence some to abandon the traditional route and go into something else.  There are also several famous folks who at least started an architectural education before going off to become famous for other things.  See:  Career Paths. Some actually got their degrees and practiced before going into acting, singing, even royalty…good work if you can find it.

Several respondents suggested they didn’t know what they were getting into.  There are a lot of programs today targeting high school students that didn’t exist when I considered a college major.  I actually have volunteered for the program at Penn State.  See:  Career Advice.  This would have been extremely helpful to me as a college freshman and would have provided for a good transition from high school to studio.  It turns out there are dozens of these programs over the summer from one week to six weeks.  See:  Summer Programs.  I would tend to think that incoming students at least have the opportunity to know what they are getting into.

Most of the people I polled believe that the education of an architect can provide one with a set of skills that is transferable to other undertakings.  Of course to be licensed, there is the Architectural Registration Exam to contend with, along with the NCARB internship requirements.  But that is a discussion for another time.  Architecture school is not for everyone, considering my class barely graduated 25% of the original first year sudents.  Even my colleagues who are in fields that have college programs tailored specifically to them (like animation and stage set design) discover aspects of the architectural program that inform their work.  Needless to say, a Bachelor of Architecture or Masters of Architecture is the most direct path to becoming a practicing architect.  But an architectural course of study is able to translate to a wide variety of career pursuits.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “Career Path” and was led by Mike LaValley.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:

–>Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Well, How Did I Get Here (Again)

–>Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
a paved but winding career path

–>Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Career – The News Knows

–>Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#architalks 41 “Career Path”

–>Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Winding Path

–>Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Career Path

–>Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Career Path of an Architect (And Beyond)

–>Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Career Path

–>Steve Mouzon – The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
A Strange Career Path

Words

Words

How we use words is important.  They are one of our inexhaustible resources. But if we don’t use them mindfully, there is no limit to the mischief they can cause.

Many may think that the Drawing we produce for projects would govern all intent.  That is not always the case.  The accompanying document to the drawings is the Project Manual and it contains within it, among other things, the Specifications.  There will be a set of chapters for each type of construction or products designated in the Drawings.  Hopefully the Drawings and Specifications are properly coordinated and match up in all instances.  That doesn’t always happen.  We would like, as design professionals, for anyone else interpreting our Construction Documents to ask us our intent if there is any confusion, but that doesn’t always happen either.  While it is more complicated than can be described with this single sentence, a general rule in the profession is: in the case of difference between Drawings and Specifications, the Specification shall govern.

There is another choice word in that last sentence.  See that word “shall”?  Could it not have said “will”?  Of course.  But in legal jargon, “shall” connotes a strict requirement.  The word “will” could simply mean something that will take place in the future.  Look at the founding documents of our Country.  Those guys used the term “shall” liberally.  They knew something about lasting documents!
Speaking of “shall”, writers of building codes also LOVE the word “shall”.  In case you were wondering (I know you were), the 2009 IBC, 12th Edition mentions the word “shall” 9,109 times.  There’s only 716 pages by the way.

Word choice is key.  I am a big believer in using as few words as possible to convey a message, whether it be a note on a drawing, an email to a Client, or a response to a Contractor.  I wrote another post on that topic here:  Yada Yada World, so I won’t get into it here.

But you have to use the right words.  I love my daughter dearly, and I am not making light of her auditory processing disorder, but she said the funniest thing at the dinner table recently.  She is very musical and volunteered to play at this year’s high school graduation.  When she told us the tune they were to play, I nearly spit out my peas.  She told us she was practicing “Pomp and Circumcision” instead of “Pomp and Circumstance”.

So yeah, words are important.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “Words” and was led by Jeremiah Russell.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Does anyone hear your words?

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Visual Words

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Words are Simple — Too Simple

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“words”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks 40: Words

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A pictures worth

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Mindset for Endless Motivation and Discipline #Architalks

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Use Your Words (Even When You Can’t)

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Words

Leah Alissa Bayer – The Stoytelling LAB (@leahalissa)
Architects Are Storytellers

ArchiDad

Being an ArchiDad

Having children changes anyone.  Hopefully it does, anyway.  I know it did change me.  My wife and I were married for five years before we had children, which I think we both are glad we did.  Getting to know your spouse is quite important.  Having that time to work on your relationship before you introduce any rug rats, in our opinion, made it easier later for us.

But how did being a dad change me as an architect?  Before I get into that, it bears mentioning that my wife and I went to architecture school together.  She gets this crazy professional life.  She understands the crushing deadlines.  And even though she no longer is exactly in architecture, this life would be unbearable without a partner who understood it.  Adding children to the equation would have further complicated things.
We do all the mundane, architect-y stuff with our kids.  They had their share of building blocks and Legos growing up.  We yammer on about cool building details when we see them (and they call us nerds).  And our kids have been on more than their fair share of architectural tours.  We told the kids we are going to Niagara Falls, which of course we did.  What we didn’t tell them is that we would be stopping in Buffalo for a couple days and, oh yeah, Frank Lloyd Wright has a few buildings to check out.  We went to the Smokey Mountains and, oh yeah, there’s this house we need to see called Biltmore.  Now they know better, that there is at least one architecture tour per vacation.  But more so than this kind of stuff, being an architect has a lot of the same challenges to home life as other jobs, and maybe just a few unique challenges.

Just Your Typical Family Summer Vacation.
Like virtually anyone else born since the 1960’s, my first encounter with an architect who was also a dad was Mr. Mike Brady.  He was the indelible family man.  Mild mannered and almost always home in that wood paneled den with shag carpet.  In this business, we can’t always be home.  But luckily, we found a home that is just 2 miles from the office, so that my time is not further eaten up by a daily commute.
Yes, this is on the way to Niagara Falls, I swear.
As married couples without kids, we often came home from work for dinner “whenever”.  Sometimes ate just cereal or Uncle Ben’s rice.  Sometimes we ate without the company of each other.  Sometimes we had to stay until it was too late for dinner.  That changed with children.  At first, we both worked and shared cooking duties, but we ate as a family every night that it was possible.  Now, we are lucky enough to be able to live on one salary, and my wife, who is a wonderful cook, will have dinner ready at 5:00 on the dot.  This not only works for me but also for the schedules of our two, now teen aged, children.  If at all possible we eat as a family unit every night.  I am one of the first ones to leave the office in the evening in order for this to happen.  However, I often eat with the family, and return to work, sometimes within about an hour.  After dinner the kids head back to homework or practice or whatever.  But we have that hour together.
This schedule is important to us.  And it doesn’t happen everyday, but the key for us is to make it the exception, not the rule, that we don’t have dinner together, all four of us.  Our business requires a lot of travel.  Somehow, I got into a habit of writing a little note on a Post-It in each of their rooms the night before I leave for any overnight trips, while they’re sleeping.  Now, they are an expected ritual, as if I took over where the Tooth Fairy took off.  If you’ve ever been overlooked by the Tooth Fairy, you know what I am talking about…
My kids almost always ask me what I did today.  There are days when I don’t even want to try to explain to them the things I do in a day, but I figure if they ask, I should tell them.  As a result I don’t think either one of them will pursue architecture.  I’m honest.
Having kids made me look at the balance in our lives.  Life can’t be 99% work and 1% “the rest”.  Before kids, that balance was difficult to strike.  Kids can have a grounding effect.  There is no getting around the fact that this business means some long hours.  So does parenting.

Sometimes it works out for them.  They got to swim in the Montreal Olympic Stadium.

In my career, I also lost my way in taking care of myself.  Over the years, bad eating habits and lack of exercise packed on the weight.  Having kids makes you think about sticking around as long as you can for them.  Last year, I made a commitment to myself (but also still for the family) to take better care of myself.  I started a better eating program and I hold two nights a week sacred for working out.  I can be flexible with the days but not with the number of days per week.  It has paid off, and after losing over fifty pounds, I essentially look at that as more time of better quality that I can spend with the three people I don’t want to be without.

Cue the sappy Brady Bunch interlude music.

That is one sweet T-Square.

This post is a special Father’s Day Edition of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog, who are also dads) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This edition was led by Brian Paletz.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects (and dads) are listed below and are worth checking out:

–>Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
#Archidad – A modern approach

–>Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
Happy Fathers Day #archidads

–>Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
The Dad — The Architect

–>Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Life as an Archidad

–>Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
ArchiDad

–>Larry Lucas – Lucas Sustainable, PLLC (@LarryLucasArch)
A Daddy Architects Work Life Blur and My Escape

–>Steve Mouzon – The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
Fathers Day for Architects – The Empty Seat

–>Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
ArchiDad on Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

Experience

Experience.

Photo Credit:  Photos-Public-Domain.Com


Experience is, in my opinion, the best education of an architect.  Nothing in school can prepare you for the “real world”.  That is why one of the cornerstones of our profession is an internship.  Certain experiences must be collected prior to being able to sit for the exams. That’s the way it should be; for all the same reasons you don’t want any doctor to treat you that hasn’t had at least some experience with patients.

Nobody bothers to count the rings of a sapling that is cut down.  There’s no history.  Now, an old grow log is another story.  You can tell a lot about the life of a tree by looking at the rings.  You can see the good years and the bad.  Drought or bountiful rainfall, wild fires or blight; wounds of various variety.

Photo Credit:  U.S. Forestry Serivce

Experience is how we learn from our mistakes.  Mistakes don’t prevent us from growing, but they may imprint an indelible mark on our journey.

I ran a variety of projects for 20 years for my firm.  I had a good amount of success.  I also made my share of mistakes.  For most of those mistakes, I figured out how to fix them.  I didn’t do it all on my own, I had a wealth of other people’s experience working for me, both in the form of co-workers as well as consultants or other partners.  I will say this: I rarely made the same mistake twice. 

Now I help others in the office review their plans.  This is a job I never intended to hold, but it is one that I can do only because of the experiences I had as a project manager.  Why do I look for that extra clear space in toilet stalls if the partitions go all the way to the floor?  I had to fix that once.  Why do I double check remoteness of stair towers?  Had to fix that once.  Why do I look at combustible concealed spaces?  You get the picture.

When I first started out, I always thought that architecture was a profession for the grey haired.  There is no substitute for experience.  I am not suggesting in any way that you attempt to cut open your architect and count his or her rings.  Trust me, those trials and tribulations are there if they have the experience.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “Experience” and was led by Lora Teagarden.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
experience comes from experiences

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Gaining Experience As A Young Architect

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
knowledge is not experience

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
That’s Experience — A Wise Investment

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“experience”

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
You need it to get it

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Channeling Experience: Storytelling in the Spaces We Design

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
The GC Experience

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Experience

Leah Alissa Bayer – Stoytelling LAB (@leahalissa)
Four Years In: All Experiences Are Not Created Equal (Nor Should They Be)

Unlikely Inspiration


Necessity and her daughter, Invention.


Don’t you hate blogs that start with a tired, old cliche?  I know I do.


I am from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Lancaster has a lot of barns.  Barns have doors that slide along a track.  Lancaster also has a lot of retirement communities.  I think you know where I am going here….  No?  Let me back up.

One of the biggest trends in the last 20 years is trying to get some privacy into shared, or double-occupancy nursing rooms.  This makes a lot of sense.  Shared rooms are much more economical, as that means building half as many bathrooms as private rooms.  But residents, family members, health care staff and even HIPPA, want some privacy for each individual occupant.  As square footage is king, any ways to improve privacy in tight spaces are at a premium.

I know nursing homes aren’t “sexy” to architects.  But consider this is what we are trying to improve:

Typical “semi-Private” Nursing Bed – Unchanged from 1900 


Ideally, we would layout a new building to provide layouts that accommodate separate quarters for each resident, along with a common foyer that allowed for entry into the bathroom as well as the corridor.  Pretty straight forward, but this was not what most nursing rooms looked like in the early 1990’s.  This was a big leap.  What’s more, if you’ve ever worked in healthcare, you know that they hate pocket doors.  You can’t clean the pockets, yet stuff can get back there, so there is a fear of infection, etc.  In our original plans, we used cubical curtains.  

State of the Art Circa 1990-something.  “Shared Room” takes the place of “Semi-Private.


What can we do to improve upon this?  Doors are the obvious answer, but how?  It turns out, we were able to convince the Health Department that “barn doors” are a hygienic alternative to pockets.  With a barn door, we get all the benefits of a pocket door and eliminate all the space a typical swinging door needs.  Did I mention that all these doors needed to be 3′-8″ wide to be able to move the beds through them in an emergency?  Each room not only has its own space, but each bed has a window.  Not the case in the first example:  one resident gets proximity to a window, the other gets the bathroom door!

Saving space is particularly important in projects that combine additions that have the nice layout of the Shared Room, but also renovations that try to provide the same privacy in a space that wasn’t designed for it.  Below is a sample reconfigured space – the exterior walls and corridor walls did not move:

Here we had two former traditional layouts combined but maintain privacy.

In the diagram above, barn doors can literally slide behind the dressers.  Swinging doors would not have worked at all.  The bathroom also uses a barn door.  In this instance, we were completely re-configuring the space “inside the box”, but were able to provide similar privacy in the renovated space as in the brand new building.

But what if you have a double occupancy room which cannot be reconfigured substantially?  The diagram below is an example of that.  The alterations only include a dividing wall to create privacy.  But the space was so tight, that the openings into the rooms were forced into a 45 degree angle.  

Revised room with added privacy wall and sliding doors.


The intervention is minimal but we are left with a problem as to how to close off the private rooms.  The client was not satisfied with cubical curtains.  The door track required to open a sliding door at a 45 degree angle is not something that’s off the shelf at Home Depot.  As we are not in the business of inventing door hardware, the Contractor and a local metal fabricator designed and built something that actually worked.  But that is only the first hurdle.  We had to get the health Department to sign off on it.  Did I mention that a floor track was forbidden?  The Contractor devised a track that ran along the wall to keep the door from flopping around.

A complete mocked up room and opening was built to demonstrate its performance.

Mock up – Half Open.  Or is it Half Closed?
Mock up – Mostly Closed.
Mock up – Track from Foyer Side.

Mock up – Track from Resident Side.

The door was approved and went on to be installed.  Between the modest renovation plans, tight spaces and an Owner who was unwilling to compromise, a brand new type of door was created.  We just don’t have a name for it yet.  Any inspired suggestions?

Finished project – door in closed position.  Transom lights allow borrowed light into the foyer.

Finished project from the room side.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “Unlikely Inspiration” and was led by Eric Faulkner.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
unlikely inspiration was there all along

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Inspire — A Clover

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Unlikely Inspiration: The Strange Journeys of the Creative Process

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Unlikely Inspiration – Herbert Simms

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Unlikely inspiration

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“unlikely inspiration”

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
Inspired by Leather Working

Steve Mouzon – The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
A Most Unexpected Inspiration


What Was I Thinking?

Did you ever have one of those days in your early profession that made you second guess all of the decisions you had ever made up to that point?  I am sure every young architect has questioned his or her career path.  One day in particular comes to mind for me.  

Our office had just completed a very high-profile Seniors apartment that had received lots of awards, had gotten a lot of press in the trades, and was very high end.  It had three stories of apartments, each with a nice sized balcony.  What more could you ask for, right?
On the top level, there were several variations of balconies at that floor for the apartments.  Some were open trellises, others were covered with clear Plexiglas and some had a more traditional (solid) porch roof.  It seems that none of these options was exactly what the Client had in mind.  The residents with the solid roofs didn’t like that their balconies were darker than their neighbors’, the residents without any covering didn’t like that their balconies got wet while others stayed dry, and the residents with the Plexiglas covering didn’t like that they could see debris on their roofs.  The Architect was called in to suggest some compromises.

A rendering of the Project.  Note some of the balconies are trellises, some have solid roofs.

One suggestion for the dark balconies was to paint the underside of the roof structure white instead of the dark green of the original design.  So instead of getting a painter to paint one of the balconies, an intern architect was dispatched with a knife, a box of white Foam Core sheets, a ruler, a cutting board and several tubes of Liquid Nails.  So there I was, in temperature and humidity both in the mid-90’s, on a resident’s balcony. Standing on a ladder, I fitted squares of Foam Core into the coffers of the porch roof while trying to keep the sweat from burning my eyes.  I was miserable.  Having been part of a meeting prior to this exercise, I had been dressed in a coat and tie, not exactly appropriate for the task at hand.


Not only was the work undesirable, but the gracious gentleman who allowed me to enter his home and walk out on to his balcony had some memory issues.  He was also a retired military officer.  Though he was extremely accommodating when he first met me, in the time it took me to place the white Foam Core under his roof (I am guessing about two hours), he had kind of forgotten who I was.  When I reentered his living room, he didn’t take kindly to me barging into his life and interrupting The Price Is Right.  I felt bad, but what could I do?  There was no other way off the third floor balcony!  I just apologized profusely and left his apartment as quickly as possible.
After I finished inserting the panels into the coffers, I was literally drenched.  My boss (and the person that assigned this task to me) was meeting elsewhere in the building, so I just found the nearest restroom and tried to dry out, wishing fiercely I had a change of clothing.  It was maybe the most uncomfortable I had ever been.  Forget hot yoga, try hot architecture.
I am told that the Liquid Nails gave way to the humidity over the summer, dropping the foam panels on the Major’s head every so often.  Days like those really made me question my sanity for entering the profession.  I am sure the Major would agree with that assessment.

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “What Was I Thinking” and was led by Cormac Phalen.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:


Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
What was I thinking?

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)

WWIT — Convenience Kills!
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
What was I thinking?

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
What Was I Thinking? (Learning from Your Mistakes When Starting a Business)

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
What was I thinking!


Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“what was i thinking?”
Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
what were we thinking: #architalks
Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
What Was I Thinking?
Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen (@archy_type)
What was I thinking?

Noisy Neighbors

Originally appeared in the AIA Design for Aging Newsletter in August 2014.
Moving is always stressful.  You have to find enough boxes to hold all your stuff.  You have to have utilities shut off in one place and turned on in another, hopefully at the appropriate times.  You need a van and a lot of friends who will move you for pizza and beer or soda.

Moving into a retirement community is stressful too, although hopefully you can afford professional movers at this point in your life.  However there are a lot of adjustments to be made.  For one, most of the residents moving in will be leaving a single family home and are accustomed to the buffer they have between their house and any neighbors.  This is not the case in most residential accommodations in a CCRC.  In most instances, at best, you will have one neighbor directly on the other side of the wall from you.  In many cases, you will have neighbors to both sides, plus above and below.
Sales people will likely not understand and thus not explain to residents the reality about what they may expect to hear from their neighbors.  And this is a disservice to the residents and to the administrators who will hear the complaints.  But expectations need to be managed in order to not to disappoint new move-ins.  The walls, ceilings and floors between units will in most cases never be “sound proofed”, but we as designers will do what is possible to manage and dissipate sound to acceptable levels.

I grew up in a semi-detached home until I was 15 and then lived in a townhouse with my family or the college dorms until I was 27, when I bought a single family home with my wife.  You could say I was used to having neighbors.  For almost 30 years I expected to hear my neighbors come in the door, hear their garbage disposal and generally, hear a bit of their everyday life.  But as long as the neighbors kept their AC/DC album to a normal level, this was ok because this is what I had come to expect.  However, this is not what many incoming residents to retirement living may expect.  They may expect the same quite environment they have now in a single family home.  They have no children.  They may even live completely alone.  The only sound they may hear is made directly by themselves personally.
When Aerosmith is your neighbor…you’re going to hear something.

None of the close quarter living units I experienced growing up were even close to complying with ‘modern’ sound requirements.  Current building codes address both air-borne sound and structure-borne sound.  Simply stated air-borne sound is hearing your neighbor’s voice or TV.  Structure-borne noise is hearing your neighbor’s footfalls above you or their garage door open.  So as a minimum the wall, floor and ceiling assemblies between dwelling units must meet and sound transmission class of 50.  This far exceeds standard wall construction found in older building stock or in a single family home.  A wood stud wall with a layer of wall board on either side has an STC of about 34.  To get to about 50-54 STC (as measured in a laboratory) a wood stud wall must have 2 layers of wall board on one side of the studs, the stud cavity is filled with fiberglass insulation,  with another layer fastened resilient metal clips which offset the board from the stud by ½ inch.  These clips allow one side of the wall to vibrate independently from the other side and as such the noise does not translate from one side of the clip to the other at 100%.  The fiberglass insulation works as an attenuator, reducing the strength of the signal, so to speak.  This wall is also in effect 50% more dense than the standard wall.  The building codes also require that all openings, cracks and seems must be sealed with acoustical caulk and that penetrations, such as electrical outlets, must be staggered between studs, so that there aren’t one in each side within the same cavity opening.
Also, from the laboratory to the field conditions of the actual building, the STC is expected to be reduced by 5 levels.  This is most likely due to imperfect conditions and inherent weak points in corners and along edges, as well as penetrations needed.  So while we design to meet an STC of 50 in our drawings and the code plan reviewers see this, it is expected that a field test on the same assembly would provide a result of 45 and this still meets code.  Sound will penetrate a system at the weakest point, so anywhere the defenses are down such as at a door or an electrical box, that is where the sound will transmit.  Unfortunately, if the rest of the room is treated well acoustically, it doesn’t really offset a break in the assembly, like a hole or seam that is unsealed.  It only takes a small hole in a rubber raft to sink it.
So in a sense, a standard party wall is about 15 to 20 STC points higher than it would have been prior to the regulations in the building codes.  That seems pretty good, but is it?  Consider these facts.  A rule of thumb is for every 10 STC you add to an assembly, the sound coming to the other side is roughly half as loud.  In diminishing returns, 5 STC is clearly noticeable, 3 STC is just barely perceptible, and 1 STC is almost imperceptible.  Mass is important to acoustical performance.  If you double the thickness of a membrane, such as 2 layers of wall board in lieu of one, the STC rating will increase by about 5, which is clearly noticeable.  Installing insulation is a wall also adds about 5 to the STC.
Example of an STC 30 wall – Photo Credit:  Gypsum Association

Walls assemblies with STC values far exceeding the code are often called a “luxury” and as such they come with a price.  A wall with an STC of 60 will pretty much eliminate the perception of loud speech from one side of the wall to another.  A double wall certainly improves STC ratings.  But they take up a lot of square footage (which often can’t be factored into rentable space) and they are more costly to build.  Also masonry walls are very dense and as such very good insulators of sound, but again come at a cost.  A 10 inch hollow block wall by itself attains nearly a 50 STC. 
Example of a 55-59 STC Wall – Photo Credit:  Gypsum Association
Floors will be very similar to walls, except a typical assembly “sandwich” would be made up of wood joists and fiberglass insulation topped with plywood subfloor and gypsum poured topping.  The bottom would have several layers of wall board attached to the same kind of metal clips on the underside of the joists.  Additionally, a floor needs to perform in terms of impact noise, i.e. footfalls, which is a structure-borne noise.  Typically this is addressed additionally with an acoustical mat placed between the gypsum topping and the plywood in the assembly.  These mats provide additional mass as well as resilience to the floor make up.  The mats can also be placed right below flooring as well.
Example of an STC 37 Floor – Photo Credit:  National Gypsum

Example of an STC 60 Floor – Photo Credit:  National Gypsum
STC ratings are a fairly sensible predictor of how a wall will perform.  However, SCT uses a range of 125 to 4000 Hertz, which are the range of frequencies associated with human speech.  This range does not really consider very high or very low frequencies, such as those produced by machines, air handlers or electrical transformers.  It isn’t perfect but the STC rating system is the standard by which designers live by.
I am using examples above in terms of wood construction because that is fairly standard in low to mid-rise residential construction.  But actually metal studs preform a bit better than wood studs.  This is due to their flexibility characteristics as they a can soften or decouple some of the noise vibrations from one side of the wall to another. In terms of the big three in acoustical dissipation, there is Mass, Airspace between and Resiliency (or materials that flex and decouple).  Any time you can add two or more of these properties to an assembly, improvements will be realized. 
During the pricing exercises on building or renovation project, we as designers are often asked to make concessions to reduce costs.  Many of these decisions, which the Owner must be a part of, may affect acoustical comfort.  These items include replacing cast iron waste pipes for PVC pipes, reducing or changing types of insulation on pipes, providing alternate wall assemblies (here we can point to code now to limit this reductions), alternate finishes which may be less absorptive of sound, alternate HVAC and mechanical items that may perform worse acoustically or alternative door hardware.  All of these issues can degrade the acoustical comfort in a building versus the initial design, so be careful.
How does this all translate to the expectations of future residents?  When discussing their future neighbors, the sales team must not convince the clients they won’t hear anything their neighbor does.  It is expected in new construction that dwelling units will not be sound proofed, but that sound will be reduced to an accepted standard.  They are likely moving into new type of housing product whether it be apartment or semi-detached home, so it must be explained that there is an inherent difference between living on your own plot versus living in a community.  The sales team should learn, with the help of their design professionals, how a standard house wall performs next to the proposed party walls in the housing product.  How do they relate in terms of STC to each other and to the minimums mandated by code?  If the product is new, a pricing alternate could be explored for “luxury” STC 60 walls.  It could be an option to residents to buy up to this option.  But this is a very difficult feature to add later.
I’ve always found it interesting that in aging, it is often said the hearing goes first, yet in many cases the resident population we serve seem to be ultra-sensitive to sounds in their new homes.  I believe much of this is the result of expectations.  People coming to live in an apartment after having lived on their own plot for 30 or 40 years tend not to expect to hear their neighbors at all.  They don’t have common walls or hallways.  They don’t have elevators nearby.  They may be on the same routine as their spouse and don’t worry about someone being a night owl while the other is an early bird.  Let’s face it, if they’ve lived with another person for 40 year, they probably have adjusted to their routine.  A new neighbor is a completely different story.  They are probably used to the noises of their old HVAC system, but their new one may make different sounds.  Not more noise, just different.

Communication in a Yada Yada World

Gary Cooper, as Howard Roark in the Fountainhead.

Gary Cooper was the strong, silent type.  When it comes to writing it is almost always better to use fewer words to express a thought rather than more.  This is especially true in business writing and the same can be said for spoken presentations.  That is not to say that one should haphazardly remove words, or force sentences to their minimum lengths, but a well thought out paragraph should remove extraneous phases and redundancies.  As all things ultimately relate to Seinfeld; this is not a suggestion simply to gloss over the body of the story…
Did Elaine just yada yada the best part?  No she mentioned the bisque.
But this takes some time and thought, as does improving anything, and that is why it seems to seldom happen in business correspondence.  To illustrate, below are some of my favorite quotes on the subject:
Thomas Jefferson quipped, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
Blaise Pascal said (in French), “I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”
This last historical example I present is not only clever, but ironic.  In Hamlet, Polonius states that “brevity is the soul of wit” in an exceptionally long winded explanation as to why the Prince is mad.  The Queen then interjects, “More matter, with less art.”  Quite possibly the most elegant way to say, “Get on with it,” that I have ever come across.
If I can be indulged a final personal example, I was working with an engineer on faucet specification.  Exciting, no?  There was a major difference between the faucet the Owner suggested (Faucet A) and the type we typically use (Faucet B).  First I received a ten minute phone call from the engineer explaining why Faucet B was specified by them in the first place and how it was more appropriate for use in this case.  Then the same engineer sent me the product cut sheets along with a very lengthy email further explaining the situation.  My task was to distill all this information to get a final decision from the Owner.
I was able to shave 1/3 of the word count from the original engineer generated email and send it to the owner for a value-based decision.  I believe it was clear, concise and yet courteous.  I actually got a note back from the engineer thanking me for sending out the question because, as he put it, my correspondence was what he was trying to say in his head, it just wasn’t coming out that way.
The Gettysburg Address contained 270 words, roughly 200 less than this article.  Lincoln’s Address was not the only speech in Gettysburg that day. Edward Everett gave a two hour eulogy prior to Lincoln’s two minute talk and yet no one remembers the former’s content.
For the record, the owner responded the way we hoped he would and used only nine words to do so.  
This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “Communication” and was led by Brian Paletz.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Communication and the Question of Relevance

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
what does it communicate?
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Types of communication in architecture
Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Talk, Write, Draw — A Com Hat Trick
Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“communication….”
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #36: Project Amplify
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Communication – What, How, Why?
Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Why Communication Skills are a Must for Aspiring Architects
Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Who’s Bad!
Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Communication
Jane Vorbrodt – Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Explain Yourself…

Starting a Design: First Thing's First

I am going to guess I look at the start of a design differently than any of the other architects writing about this topic today.  I think most people picture a person hunched over a slanted drawing table in a dark room, inking lines on vellum under the halo of the single incandescent bulb of an articulating lamp.  While I do get to look at each and every project in our office, my input has more to do with compliance and practicability than design notions.  And instead of ink and vellum, I typically have my codes pulled up on my tablet.  Or I may have one book open on top of another book. 

How TV Shows Portray the Architect.
Normally, I see projects after they’ve taking at least a rough form.  Programming and discussions with the Owner have already taken place, at least to some degree.  Our projects are seldom “simple”, meaning they usually involve a good bit of renovation and connections to existing structures, which means firewalls and other code related goodies.
To get started, I need at least three bits of information.  What is the Occupancy?  What is the height & area?  What is the construction type?  A fourth component may often be:  What are we connecting to?  This is assuming we know which codes to use in this Jurisdiction.

This is What My Desk Really Looks Like at the Start…
Occupancy (or building use) may seem simple, but it can get complicated.  Our focus is primarily senior living projects.  Many of the buildings in communities serve multiple uses.  Are we separating the uses by fire barriers?  Are they allowed to mix?  Can that occupancy be open to the corridor next to that occupancy?
Height and area is pretty straightforward until it isn’t.  First, areas could change due to design changes, so you have to make sure there is some flexibility in the allowable areas or be prepared for heartache.  Do we get extra square footage (SF) for sprinklers?  Do we get extra stories, or is it capped at 4?  Then, where there are more than one occupancy in a building and those uses are not separated, the sum of the ratios of actual SF to permitted SF of each occupancy cannot exceed 1.  And you thought high school algebra was a waste of time!
Construction type is the variable I can help determine.  The further to the right in the code chart, the cheaper it is to build, typically.  But the cheaper construction types are the most restrictive in terms of how high or how big you can build.  So it is a balancing act.  In wood construction you just can’t build certain building uses or you can’t build them high enough.  In other cases, we have to divide the building into two separate structures, connected at fire walls, in order not to exceed the allowable area.
 

Exciting, Right?

The dance continues.  In a building containing multiple occupancies, you can separate them or allow them to “mingle” together (unseparated).  Unseparated occupancies must abide by all the most restrictive conditions for any of the uses.  This means if you have apartments and assembly spaces in the same building, you may be looking at a higher level of protection in the whole building due to the presence of that one use.  Or you can separate them with protected construction.
A Little Later on in the Process, Code Books on Top of Code Books…

When buildings are renovated or connected to additions, there is another layer of compliance complexity.  If the building is not separated into two independent structures with fire walls, what do we have to do to the existing building to make it compliant with current codes?  Sometimes this is not much, but other times the added square footage of an addition will require life safety systems that aren’t provided in the existing building, like sprinklers, smoke detection or fire alarms.  There are other triggers for accessibility as well.
This May Be Closer to Reality…
This is the stuff I start thinking about when I begin to look at a building design.  A little more than form follows function, isn’t it?  And we haven’t even gotten to the details yet. Like:  Where’s your vapor barrier?  What’s the flame spread of that material?  What’s the UL of that roof/ceiling?  But early is the time to address these topics.  

Never has anyone ever told me, “I wish you would have waited until after permit submittal to tell me about the flaw in my fire wall!”

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is “Starting a Design” and was led by Jon Brown.  A lot of other talented writers who also are architects are listed below and are worth checking out:

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Slow Down. Hold Still.

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
where do we start?

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
How to Start a Design

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
Starting a Design: #Architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
On Your Mark, Get Set — Start a Design!

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
.”starting a design…”..

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #35: Starting a Design

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Where do we begin?

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Where do you start when designing a new home?

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
do-re-mi- Design

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
5 Tips for Starting an Architecture Project

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
How it all begins…

Steve Mouzon – The Original Green Blog (@stevemouzon)
Starting Wrong – The Amazon Mistake