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The Architectural Registration Exam (ARE)… the ARE is the professional licensure examination adopted by the 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories. The ARE attempts to assess a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities required for providing competent services in the practice of architecture. A lofty goal.

During my early employment in architecture firms, the seasoned architects often spoke of their ARE ‘war’ stories. Prior to 1997, those taking the ARE were required to take nine divisions over a four-day period and the exam was only offered once a year in major cities across the United States. The exam was via ‘paper and pencil’ in a studio like setting. To me that sounded much like architecture school and a lot of fun! It also seemed to be an accurate representation of what an architect does, or will be doing. Working under pressure, having to produce, produce accurately, and within deadlines.

However, I didn’t take the exam until the early 2000’s, and by then the exam was in the midst of various revisions and became computer based. While the ARE was becoming more streamlined, it was also becoming more of a task to be completed rather than a test of ones’ competency. I mistakenly assumed I required a lot of ‘real world’ experience such that I could be tested on my abilities of being an architect. As such, I learned as many aspects as I could about the profession. I studied real world examples of the AREs’ ‘testing’ divisions. I spent far too long thinking I needed more time to ‘learn’ to be an architect before I could take the ARE. I was wrong, very wrong. The ARE was merely a task to complete along the way to becoming an architect. It seemed to have lost the aspect of a ‘test’ of ones’ abilities to practice architecture. It was a task that one had to master to pass. It wasn’t a true test of any sort of skill or competency; it was a task of memorization.

When I was studying for the ARE, materials were readily available that had much of the ‘test’ and questions verbatim for one to memorize. I’m guessing this remains true. It was a ‘test’ about being able to know how to ‘test.’ No matter test or task, there is information within the ARE that needs to be known. One needs to demonstrate the ability to know such. However, while the ARE is an important step to becoming an architect, it’s not nearly as important as you think it is prior to passing.

Being years removed from the ARE, I’m not sure the current state of the ARE. I’m going to assume it’s become even more of a task. If I’m wrong and the ARE has reverted back to being more of a test, then I’m happy to be mistaken. Either way, my advice is the same… complete the task as soon as you can such that your relevant and real testing in the profession can begin. Do not let the ARE intimidate you. Study for the task, complete it and move on. Don’t overthink it. Once you’re an architect, you’ll be tested continually with real consequences. You’ll be far more proud of yourself and these tests then the task of the ARE.

 

Design Task On,

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects select a topic and the group all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs and read varying takes on the topic. This month’s topic is ‘The Architectural Registration Exam.’ To read how other architects interpreted the topic please click the links below:

 

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
What is the Big Deal about the ARE?

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
what A.R.E. you willing to do

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Take the architect registration exam, already

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
ARE – The Turnstile

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
the architect registration exam

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I forget

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
The Architecture Registration Exam

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
What is the Benefit of Becoming a Licensed Architect?

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Every Architect’s Agony

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
To do or not to do ?

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Passing the Test

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Part 3!

Ilaria Marani – Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)
How to Become a Licensed Architect in Italy

Jane Vorbrodt – Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Seven Years of Highlighters and Post-it Notes

There are very few words that I actively try not to use. However, ugly is one of them. It’s far too easy to say “I don’t like that house, it’s ugly!” It’s difficult to say “I don’t like that house because…” Much like beauty, ugly is in the eye of the beholder and is extremely subjective. However, there are a few objective things to address when designing your house to curb potential ugliness. Well, actually… they’re border line subjective as well.

ug-ly • [uhg-lee] • ADJECTIVE

1. very unattractive or unpleasant to look at; offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance.

2. disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable.

3. offensive to the sight.

No two clients have the same needs or wants for their house and each house has its own unique set of circumstances that need to be resolved or addressed. However, a few ‘rules’ are omnipresent- materials, massing, scale, and proportion. These are means/methods available to an architect to assist in the development of their designs. Addressing them will go a long way to creating an aesthetically pleasing house. Keep in mind, these ‘rules’ are typically broken and remain successful. However, one must first know the rules in order to bend/break them successfully.

Materials should be limited to three (3) on the exterior of a house. Materials should be appropriate for their use- don’t wrap columns in vinyl siding. Not counting the foundation, no more than two (2) wall materials should be visible on the exterior of a house. This stems from simplicity and ease of construction. Use of more materials creates an aesthetic of fragmentation and no sense of overall design cohesion. This in turn leads to visual distraction. The use of fewer materials allows focus on the composition of the design and is typically an indicator of a confident architect. Employ fewer materials executed to a higher degree of proficiency.

Massing should be simple. No matter the aesthetic of a house, the massing should be composed of simple forms. This will typically translate to building shapes that are efficient and sensible. There should be a hierarchy of massing. Most houses are composed of more than one single mass. The most important, or most public part of a house, should be the most prominent mass of the house. The massing of a house should rapidly and clearly show two things- the main ‘body’ of the house and the location for people (not cars) to enter the house.

Scale refers to how one perceives the size of the house elements or spaces in relation to other elements and spaces. Both building scale and human scale need to be addressed. Building scale is how the size of building elements relate to each other. Human scale is how the building elements and spaces relate to the human body. Two differing scales can be used simultaneously, and an architect can alter ones perception by use of scale. There are no hard-fast rules for scale, but a designer must be aware of both building and human scale in order for a successful design.

Proportion refers to the relationship of one element to another in terms of quantity, size, or number. It’s the comparative relationship of differing parts to the whole. There are various proportion ‘devices’ developed over the years to aid architects and guide them in their designs… the Golden Section, Modular Man, the ‘Ken’…etc. Various proportions can be found throughout nature. It makes sense to design a house in harmony with proportions that naturally occur in the world. Proportion applies to all aspects of the design of a house. Proportion should not be used arbitrarily; simple harmonious proportions should be used throughout the design of a house.

It’s beneficial to know why you don’t like something so you don’t repeat the same thing. The next time you find yourself thinking/saying a house is ugly, rather than say it’s ugly, try and describe what it is you find displeasing about the house. It’s highly likely you can trace it to a lack of understanding of materials, massing, scale, and proportion.

 

Design On,

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects select a topic and the group all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs and read varying takes on the topic. This month’s topic is ‘Ugly.’ To read how other architects interpreted the topic please click the links below:

 

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
ugly is ugly

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Ugly Architecture Details

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
unsuccessful, not ugly: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Ugly is in The Details

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Ugly

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Ugly, sloppy, and wrong – oh my!

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[ugly] buildings [ugly] people

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Is My House Ugly? If You Love It, Maybe Not!

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
the ugly truth

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
A Little Ugly Never Hurt Anyone

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Ugly or not ugly Belgian houses?

Ilaria Marani – Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)
ArchiTalks #30: Ugly

Larry Lucas – Lucas Sustainable, PLLC (@LarryLucasArch)
Die Hard: 7 Ugly Sins Killing Your Community

Within ‘employment,’ moonlighting means working a second job. In particular one after normal business hours in the evening or night. Since the work is typically performed at night, when the moon is out, it’s known as moonlighting. I didn’t do any research, but I’d guess you could tie a strand of the terms history back to moonshiners… working on something prohibited under the light of the moon. The thought of an architect moonlighting to garner clients and recognition in hopes of striking out on their own will forever be within an architects’ psyche. Moonlighting in architecture connotes a romanticized notion- the ‘gifted’ architect being able to do as they please for a client without the constraints of their employer. The reality is far from that.

I’m not an advocate for an ‘architect’ moonlighting as an ‘architect’. If you do it a few times throughout your career, no big deal. However, if it’s something you regularly do, then it’s not okay. Architecture is a tough profession, it shouldn’t be taken lightly or attempted in a few nighttime hours after your day job. It demands focus. You change when you moonlight- your attention span is reduced, your energy levels go down, the quality of your work suffers, your relationships with others aren’t all they could be, your stress levels rise, etc. You’ll also create convoluted liability issues. You can try to convince yourself otherwise, but the truth is the truth. The reality is moonlighting is not fair to you, your employer, or the people you’re moonlighting for.

Regardless of my personal thoughts, the lure of moonlighting for an architect is typically too much to resist. Architects will continually be tempted and many will moonlight. If you choose to moonlight as an architect and you’re currently working for/as an architect, I offer these suggestions:

1. Confirm your employers policy on moonlighting, most are very strict on such practices- meaning they don’t allow it.

2. Be sure you’re moonlighting client is aware that you alone are responsible for the project and they indemnify your current employer for any and all- have it part of your contract.

3. While you’re on your employers ‘clock,’ do not work on your moonlighting project at any time, not even during a lunch break- no sketches, doodles, phone calls (even on your personal phone), no site visits, no nothing.

4. Do not use anything of your employers for your work- no pens, paper, plotter, computer, no nothing.

If you’re regularly busy with your own moonlighting clients, take the plunge and strike out on your own- you’ll have much more freedom than the moonlight hours grant- and all your previous changes will revert back to your normal self.

 

Design On,
(hopefully during daylight hours)

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects select a topic and the group all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs and read varying takes on the topic. This month’s topic is ‘Moonlighting.’ To read how other architects interpreted the topic please click the links below:

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The Ironic Blasphemy of Moonlighting and what Architects are Missing Out On

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
moonlighting more than an 80s sitcom

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Moon(lighting) changes with the seasons

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Moonlighting

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
hustle and grind: #architalks

Michael Riscica AIA – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Moonlighting for Young Architects

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@BuildingsRCool)
Architects do it All Night Long

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Starlight, moonlight – tick tock

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Is Moonlighting Worth It? Probably Not, But We All Try.

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Dancing in the Moonlight

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Moonlighting: or Why I Kept My Dayjob.

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
An Alternative to Moonlighting as a Young Architect

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Architalks 28 Moonlighting

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
On Moonlighting

Ilaria Marani – Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)
There is no moolighting. It’s a jungle!

Jane Vorbrodt – Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Crafted Moonlighting

 

“I’m not paid to be a role model. I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court.” – Charles Barkley

Those that know me personally would probably revise Barkleys’ quote to:

I’m not paid to be an architectural mentor. I’m paid to solve the clients’ design problems, provide clear and concise construction documents, and be profitable while not compromising the client/project goals.” – Keith

Truth is, as an architect I provide mentorship whether or not I consciously choose to or not. If someone seeks me for mentorship, I will assist wholeheartedly. I’m blatant that my ‘style’ of active mentorship is along the lines of ‘tough love;’ I don’t baby sit nor hand hold. That’s a waste of my time and does nothing to truly educate the mentoree. For those that don’t actively want to be mentored, it happens anyway via redlining their work and participation in meetings, site visits, etc. So what is mentorship, mentorship is:

1. Figuring out the best way to achieve a given a task/end goal. It’s not being given a task/end goal and every step/process along the way to achieve such.

2. Looking for, and experimenting with, steps/processes to follow to achieve a particular goal; asking a lot of questions. It’s not being told the steps/processes to follow nor is it looking to ask one specific question in hopes that answer catapults you to the end goal.

3. Presenting various solutions/information for review and discussion. It’s not presenting a single solution and asking “Is this what you wanted?”

4. Reviewing/red-lining your own work prior to having someone else review- if you can find your own mistakes, chances are you won’t make them again. It’s not simply handing your work over for others to find your mistakes/omissions.

5. Learning and learning how to learn. It’s not about being definitively told what to do and most importantly, not being told specifically how to do it.

Keep in mind; this occurs while I (or your mentor) keep a loose ‘tab’ on you. It sounds a bit harsh and even vague, perhaps it is. You’ll be allowed to err, but not in an abysmal manner to the project/client. The end goal of a successful ‘mentorship’ is an individual who can think for themselves and not rely on others to decidedly inform them of all they need to do.

Learning and growth are stagnated when one is sheltered in their comfort zone and need to be instructed on every task and how to achieve. If that’s your belief of being mentored, congratulations you’re on your path to being a draftsperson. If that’s what you want, fine, they will always be needed in the AEC profession. However, if you want to be an architect, you’ll need to be able to think for yourself and not rely on others to explicitly inform you of your tasks/means/methods; the quickest way to achieve such is through mentorship.

 

Design On,

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a topic and a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s topic is ‘Mentorship’– to read how other architects interpreted the topic please click the links below:

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
This is NOT Mentorship

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Mentors, Millennials and the Boomer Cliff

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Influence

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Mentorship

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
teach them the way they should go: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Bad Mentor, Good Mentor

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
The Top 3 Benefits for Architects to Mentor and to be Mentored

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I’ve got a lot to learn

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Gurus, Swamis, and Other Architectural Guides

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
The Lonely Mentor

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice From My Mentor

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Mentoring with Anecdotes vs. Creating a Culture of Trust

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Why every Aspiring Architect needs SCARs

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Mentorship : mend or end ?

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
My Mentor

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
5 Mentors that are in my life

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Mentorship

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
On Mentorship

Ilaria Marani – Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)
Mentorship

I’m going to keep this simple, because… well… it’s actually this simple. If you’re anticipating constructing a new house or renovating your existing house, I’m offering some advice. While this is geared towards residential projects, the same holds true for almost any building project. My advice is:

Hire an Architect- An architect’s value is problem solving, addressing your needs/ wishes/ budget/ schedule, and complying with local building and zoning codes- all while designing an aesthetically pleasing efficient house. Architects help you design/discover a house that works for you and fits your individuality and preferences. The value of our services is occasionally related directly to cost savings. However, typically our value is in questioning, planning, clarification, detailing, and ‘solidifying’ numerous moving ‘parts’ into an efficient cohesive design- which ultimately results in cost savings to you.

Actively Participate- When it comes to designing your house, as an architect I will have strong preferences and recommendations. However, ultimately it will be up to you to make decisions. An architect will not force a design on you which you don’t want; if they do try, than you didn’t follow my series about ‘Hiring an Architect.’ We will make recommendations; present differing options, and offer our professional opinion- which is why you hire us. However, if you’ve seen something you like, show it to me… think something can be done a better way, challenge me… keep open dialogue flowing; your project will benefit from such. Ultimately you make the decisions- we work for you.

Be Honest- If you’re not honest with yourself and all involved with your project, you’re setting up for disappointment. Money doesn’t magically appear in a project, if you cannot afford something, don’t need something, don’t like something, or don’t understand something… speak up and have it explained/ clarified. It’s tough, but above all else, you need to be honest with your budget. You’re paying for the project and you want the most value you can get, having honest discussions is crucial to achieving such.

Have Trust- I can’t state this enough, you need to TRUST your architect. You need to be comfortable in talking honestly with them… see previous advice. You should be able to envision having meals with this person and inviting them to a party- architects love parties! You don’t have to be best friends with your architect; you do need to like them though. You need to have confidence in their integrity and skill set as an architect, that they are your advocate, and have your best interests at the forefront.

Actively working with an architect you trust and can be honest with, will allow you to make well informed decisions about your project. Architects will listen to your needs/wants and in the end you’ll have the house you wanted because your architect was able to assist you in bridging the gap between your vision and reality. You’ll end up with a house that fits you and your lifestyle.

 

Design On,

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a topic and a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s topic is ‘Advice for Clients’– to read how other architects interpreted the topic please click the links below:

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Working with an Architect

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Advice for ALL Clients

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
advice to clients

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Clients

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Trust Your Architect

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Advice List — From K thru Architect

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
advice for clients

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Few Reminders

Jonathan Brown – Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)
Your Architect is your Advocate

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[tattoos] and [architecture]

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Changing the World

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice for Clients

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Questions to Ask an Architect in an Interview: Advice for Clients

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Dear Client,

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Advice for Clients

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Advice for clients

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Advice for Clients

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Advice for Clients

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
What I wish clients knew

Your house may be the most expensive project you will ever undertake. As an architect, I take the opportunity to work with you on such an important aspect of your life very seriously. If you are making such an investment, and you want your house to reflect who you are and how you live, hiring an architect is a must. I will help you design/discover a house that works for you and fits your individuality and preferences. This house, your house, will be vastly different than one designed for someone else. However, I won’t create a home for you. That’s up to you.

Wait… what… you’re a residential architect and you don’t design homes? Nope. I’ve never designed a home, not one. Houses, I’ve designed lots of houses, but no homes. However, I’ll confess, I’m guilty. I interchange ‘house’ and ‘home’ all the time. I’m sure there are numerous instances in various posts on my blog. However, there is a difference. A house is the physicality of the structure; a home embodies a ‘spirit’ or ‘vibe.’ This can only come from the occupants of the house and their usage of it. My childhood home holds great memories for me. At the time I was unaware of the gift our home gave- it served as the framework for my family and our daily life which in turn became my memories.

It’s been 30+ years since I’ve lived in the house, but my memories are fresh because I have the house as a reference that enhances my memories recollection- textures, sights, sounds, smells, all contained within the house, my childhood home. Architecture and the memories associated with it are what foster a home. A house serves as the frame of reference for daily life, which in turn transcends a house to your home. So please, take the house I designed and make it your home, it’ll be worth it!

 

Design On,

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a topic and a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s topic is ‘House or Home?’– to read how other architects interpreted the topic please click the links below:

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
The Designation between House and Home

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: House or Home?

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Emotional Marketing for Architects: House or Home?

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
House or Home? It’s in the story.

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
House or Home? A Choice of Terms

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
house or home: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
House or Home — Discover the Difference

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“house” or “home”?

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #24 : House or Home

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
House or Home? – Depends

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
House or Home? Train for One, Design for Another

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
A Rose by Any Other Name…

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
House or Home

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Designing a House into a Home

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Making a House a Home

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Dwelling on a Macro scale

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
House or Home: One’s a Place, the Other a Feeling.

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
#ArchiTalks #24 House or Home? #RefugeeCrisis @GrainneHassett mentioned

Stated over ninety years ago, the quote above still holds true and will most likely always. However- and you know I’ve got nothing but love for you Corbu- my ‘issue’ with the quote is the term ‘style’. There are few stronger words in the English language then the word hate- intense or passionate dislike. I rarely use the word. However, I need to state this… I hate the word ‘‘style’.

Residential architecture and the distinctive ‘styles,’ be it Shingle, Victorian, Craftsman, or Modern, are designed by following a particular set of stylistic rules- massing, elements, materials; each are selected and composed in a particular manner to create a building. These rules produce the type of architecture that makes these ‘style’s so well-loved. However, style’ dictates conforming to conventionality; it’s a representation or composition of set patterns and canon. Is this a bad thing? No. The typical residential ‘‘styles’ make up what most people envision when they imagine a home, and these ‘‘styles’ continue to resonate with the majority of homeowners. ‘Style’ does have its place and there are countless new houses constructed in a particular ‘style’. Reproducing homes that are beautiful constructs and akin to the original ‘style’ can be successful if one adheres to the patterns and rules of the ‘style.’ However, typically these homes lack coherence because the rules of the ‘style’ are not consistently followed.

While ‘style’ does have its place, I’m not overly interested with ‘style’ in architecture. ‘Style’ can be very subjective and plastic in architecture. I choose to not start a design with a set ‘style’ and its inherent dogma. I approach each project by looking to define the inherent design issues- independent of a set ‘style’ to strive for. I consciously attempt to not root my work in a particular ‘style.’ I strive to absorb a client’s beliefs and wishes and respond with an appropriate design. At the commencement of each project, any ‘style’ to strive towards is negated- the resultant design is based upon the inherent design problems, client needs, desires, and context. Starting with a particular ‘style’ as the end goal, limits you to the rules of others from the onset.

I prefer to strive for establishing an aesthetic for the client/ project. The aesthetic arises from arrangement of spaces/ forms, context, materiality, key features, etc. Typical architectural design principles are still adhered to- mass, proportion, scale, etc. However, without the confines of a ‘style’ the process is much more organic and in-tune with the clients personal needs. ‘Style’ is someone else’s and per their rules… aesthetic is yours and per your rules. Strive for your own aesthetic.

 

Design On,

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a topic and a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s topic is ‘Style’– to read how other architects interpreted the topic please click the links below:

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/style-do-i-have-any/

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
style…final words

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The AREsketches Style

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Name That Stile!

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

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

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
What Style Do You Build In?

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
You do you

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Defining an Architect’s Style

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
What’s Your Style?

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Architectural Style

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Should You Pick Your Architect Based on Style or Service?

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
5 Styles of an Aspiring Architect

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Architects Atelier (@sokokyu)
Loaded With Style

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Regression or Evolution : Style

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
What’s in a Style?

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Architectalks 23 – Style

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Being an architect means constantly going ‘back to school’ and learning… and I don’t mean in the Thornton Melon sense of going back to school- although pulling of a Triple Lindy would be awesome! We architects are always trying to improve our skill set and become better at our craft. However, without Tony Robbins motivation what’s an architect to do? Well, simple, here are a few things you can implement today to make yourself a better architect:

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1. Stop working- rotate your drawings 90 or 180 degrees ccw or cw- continue working.

2. Embrace the fact the next project is your best project- always has been always will be.

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3. Listen to The Middle by Jimmy Eat World.

4. Learn how to self-edit and simplify.

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5. Learn when enough is enough and walk away.

6. Be practical.

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7. Realize there’ll always be a ‘cooler’ architect doing a project you wish you had done.

8. True design begins at the end of your comfort zone, get out of it!

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9. Take a break from architecture and pursue non-related hobbies… you’ll soon see a relation.

10. Accept that there are things you can do to be a better architect.

 

Seems simple, well that’s the point. Too often we overcomplicate architecture and forget the simple things- give a few of these suggestions a try and I guarantee you won’t be dissatisfied- if you are, well go have a snickers! Download your very own PDF cheat sheet-> Become a Better Architect

So what tips do you have to offer to become a better architect?

 

Design On,

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* Don’t doubt my valuable advice… give it a try… you’ll be a better architect in no time! This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a topic and a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s topic is ‘Back to School– to read how other architects interpreted the topic for ArchiTalks #21, please click the links below:
 

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Back to School!

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/i-wish-i-were-going-back-to-school/

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Designing Back to School

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: “Back To School”

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
What Have We Learned? It’s Back To School For #ArchiTalks 21

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
good to go back to school

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Back to School: Marketing for Architects

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
4 Tips As You Go Back To School

Cormac Phalen – Cormac Phalen (@archy_type)
Back to School Again

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#architalks 21 “back to school”

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Let’s Get Back To (Architect) School …or Work.

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Back to the Cartography Board

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Back to School

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
#ArchiTalks / 15 Ways to Make the Most of Your Architectural Education

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
getting [schooled] again

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
What’s better than architecture after school?

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Back to {Architecture} School

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Back to School…Suckasssssss

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Back to School: Seoul Studio

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Back to School…

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
[ArchiTalks #21] 10 Things Architecture Students Say Going Back to School

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Back to School? It Doesn’t Stop there for Architects.

Tim Ung – Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
10 Things I wish I knew about Architecture School

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Wow! Summer’s here already and we’re half-way through another year… time’s a flying! I typically self-impose a social media disconnect during this time. Summer is busy- end of school year/beginning of school year, family vacations, project constructions, lounging at the pool, etc. As a sole-proprietor it’s tough trying to balance work, family life, continuing education, marketing, social media, etc. Social media is typically the first thing to go when my work and/or life get busy or demand attention. I don’t know how some of my colleagues continually post new content and are active on social media on a daily/ hourly basis. Not me, I can’t do it. Let me re-phrase, I don’t want to do it.

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Summertime often finds me disconnecting from the daily use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Houzz, LinkedIn, etc. The disconnect typically lasts for a week… or two… or a month. There’s a lot going on this time of year and I find it best as time spent with family. I’ll admit that the first few days are tough. I wonder:

“What’s ‘this guy’ up to?”

“What’s ‘that guy’ up to?”

“Am I trending on Twitter?”

“Has Twitter forgotten about me?”

“How many posts on PC vs Apple will I miss?”

“Will I miss the latest ‘thing’ to buy/subscribe/follow/implement/read that will solve all the issues of being an architect?”

“Does this post make me look fat?”

“If I ask all my followers for $1.00 I can continue my AIA membership… that’s what Kickstarter does… right?”

“I wonder what architecture is doing today?”

“Really, your BIM software is the best… but the other guy said his was?”

“Will I miss the coolest cat picture ever?”

“I do have a lot of the ‘answers’ to architecture… should I share them?”

“Maybe I’ll start hand-penning blog entries and mailing them to my followers, that would get me trending for sure!”

“Should I post more cat pictures?”

“Will my blog dry up and blow away without weekly posts?”

“Will the interweb catch-on to me and demand money back for my waste of bandwidth?”

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As days pass, stress dissipates- no trying to keep up, no capturing the perfect photo or pen the perfect tweet, post, status update, insta-goog-face, etc. Things turn out okay and I survive. Well in reality I thrive. I reconnect with what it’s like to live in the moment and actually interact, face-to-face, with real people. I don’t question our modern means of communication and social media, I think it’s a great tool and has truly made the WORLD more accessible for many. I just question our modern ‘need’ to be connected 24/7. I often wonder if I would be more active on social media if I worked for someone else or when my firm grows and I have ‘people.’ I don’t think I would. Maybe I would. No… I doubt I would. Do yourself a favor and take a social media break. Even if only for a day, trust me the interweb will still be here when you get back and things will be fine.

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There’s always talk of a life-work balance and how best to obtain. The older I get the more I realize I don’t want a life-work balance- I want my life to outweigh all other that I do. My family and personal relationships are far more important to me and I want the scale to tip in their favor. I am an architect, but architecture is not my life. My family is my life. Although, yesterday my daughter said “Dad, can you design a modern house for us to live in, I’d like maple floors and lots of glass.” So maybe only slightly off-balance.

“I trace the cord back to the wall…

No wonder it was never plugged in at all”– Tom De Longe/ Mark Hoppus

 

Design On,

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* Disconnect and go do something else…seriously, go do it!. The interweb will still be here. This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a topic and a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s topic is ‘Summer’– to read how other architects interpreted the topic for ArchiTalks #20, please click the links below:

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Summer is a Great Time To Market Your Architecture Firm!

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/summer-is-for-the-young-at-heart/

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Summer : A Review

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
summer working, had me a blast

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel)
Lake Powell

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Seasons of Summer

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
The Dog Days of Summer

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Summer — Architecture Imagery

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#Architalks 20 “summer” and architecture

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
4 Secrets To Getting The Most Out Of Your Summer Internship

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Summer Surprise

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
An Acrophobic Architect’s Illuminating Summer of Roofs

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Glass in Architecture – Summer Wonders

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@architangent)
4 Reasons Solar Power is a Hot Topic

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Seasonal change

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
… and the livin’s easy

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Summer Rhythms

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Do I Need to Hire an Architect?

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
An Architectural Spark for your Summer

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Summer in Seoul

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Work Projects during Summer

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
5 Things to Make the Most of Your Summer

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
An Architect Summer

Would you trust Art Vandelay as an architect? Maybe. After all, he did do the Guggenheim and it didn’t take him that long. However, I doubt you would trust him as an architect. Why? Credibility.

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If you aspire to be a respected architect and deliver successful projects, your credibility is crucial- especially knowledge about construction. Early in my career I was well respected by clients, and most importantly, contractors on the job site. Did I have this from being the greatest designer? No. Was it that I sported a goatee? No. Were my Construction Documents really awesome and legible? No, I mean yes, but No. Was it that I was an expert code guy? No. Was it that I dressed well? No. It wasn’t any of these. What it was can be attributed to three experiences:

1. As a child, I learned a lot from my dad- he was a master carpenter and cabinetmaker.

2. In high school, I worked at a real lumber yard, not a big-box home improvement store.

3. In college, I was a laborer for a residential construction company.

How did these foster my credibility?

1. My dad taught me the basics of construction and materials. Sounds simple, it is, but you need to know the basics. From an early age I knew what a 2×4 was vs. a 2×6, a screw from a nail, etc. It meant I could talk to contractors intelligently.

2. Working at a real lumber yard broadened my knowledge of materials and how/where they were used. In addition, it gave me a basic understanding of material costs.

3. This construction experience underscored the fact that what is on paper gets built, but not necessarily built as it is drawn. I learned how things actually go together and the construction scheduling process.

You’ll be surprised at how much of your past will impact your future as an architect. These three experiences afforded me knowledge which instilled in clients and contractors a sense of trust that I knew what I was talking about. It’s hard to get projects built. However, it’s extremely difficult to get projects built the way you want them built. If you’re taken for your word, and are knowledgeable and correct, your project has a better chance of being successful. Having credibility as an architect is a crucial ‘tool’ for the success of a project.

However, construction knowledge isn’t the ‘end all’ of credibility, although you must at least have a basic understanding. An architect can offer credibility in other areas- codes, sustainability, project management, detailing, construction management, etc. On the flip-side, having no credibility whatsoever can ruin the best of all projects. On a lighter side, your credibility may be suspect if you…

a. Think a 2×4 is 2″ by 4″

b. Think lines on your drawings are just that, lines

c. You felt ignorant when asked if a beam was upset or not, you had no idea beams had feelings

d. Think those changes won’t cost that much

e. Can’t draw a legible revised detail on site on the back of a 1/2 torn Subway sandwich wrapper using a carpenter’s pencil

f. Don’t want to walk the site because it’s muddy

g. Forgo a pre-construction meeting because there’s nothing to talk about because nothing is built yet

h. Are asked why there is no cricket indicated on the roof plan, your response “Cricket? (covering phone and turning towards colleague), “I think the contractor has been drinking, cricket, that’s an English baseball sort of game… He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, we should have selected the cheaper guy!”

Are you a credible architect? If so, why do you think you are and how did you get to be such? What tips do you have for future architects on establishing their own credibility?

 

Design On,

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* This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a topic and a group of ‘blog-ing’ architects all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s topic is ‘Dear future architects…’ I chose to discuss the credibility of an architect– to read how other architects interpreted the topic for ArchiTalks #19, please click the links below:

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Dear Future Architects: A Confession

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/dear-future-architects-you-need-to-hear-this/

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Dear Future Architects: 4 Perspectives

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
dear future architects

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel)
Dear Future Architects

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Dear Future Architects: 3 letters

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
future architects: #architalks

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
Dear Future Architect, Listen Here

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Dear Future Architect — Remember Then

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“Dear Future Architects,”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Dear Future Architects..

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Dear Future Young Architects… Please Quit Screwing Around!?!!

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
Dear Future Architects: Don’t makes these 4 Mistakes

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Dear Boy in the Plastic Bubble,

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Dear Future Architects

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Dear Future Architects, Be Authentic

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Dear Future Architects…

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
Dear Future Anthony

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Dear Future Architects, Do Your Thing

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Dear Future Architect,

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Dear Future Architects, Don’t Forget to Treat Your Clients with Respect

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Dear Future Architects…

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Dear Future Architects…

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Dear future architects, never lose your optimism

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
Dear Future Architect, a Letter to My Younger Self

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Dear Future Architects…

Ken Saginario – Twelfth Street Studio ()
Dear Future Architects…