daltile slimlite panels

I don’t think I’ve ever used my blog space to endorse a product before, but I came across this in my email today and have to say that it is quite spectacular!

Daltile, with which we are all intimately familiar I’m sure, has come out with their Slimlite tile panels. They are suited for residential as well as commercial use, interior or exterior, floor or wall, freezing or non-freezing conditions (provided you take a few extra steps). And that’s all well and good, but what really struck me was the SIZES available with these new tile panels. The largest standard size comes in at 39″ x 118″!! That’s nearly 10′ long!

Now, all I need is a client who thinks these are as fantabulous as I do and wants to use them on their next home/renovation project! Go check it out for yourself at the Daltile website.

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books, books everywhere, books – #letsblogoff

What is your favorite book and why? via LetsBlogOff

….This is akin to asking a man dying of starvation what his favorite food is. Answer – does it matter? I LOVE to read. I have a stack of books on my night stand, book shelves full of books that I’ve read, will read, and will read again; boxes stacked in my attic of books that I’ve read in years past. I’ve given away more books than I currently own, and I read them all. I read fiction, literature, non-fiction, biographies, architecture books, magazines….I READ. A lot. It gets on my wife’s nerves, but oh well.

Currently I’m reading Thunder from Jerusalem by Brody and Brocke Thoene, which is book two of a historical fiction series about the struggle to found the nation of Israel in 1948. Great stories, great characters and rich descriptions. Certainly won’t make the list of “favorite”, but damn good nonetheless.

If I had to pick just one that sticks out, that means something to me personally, that comforts me, the one book that I go back to over and over again when nothing else seems to hold my interest, it would be:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, pere (senior). Written in 1844, it recounts the early life, betrayal, salvation, resurrection, revenge and redemption of Edmund Dantes – a young French boat captain engaged to the beautiful Mercedes betrayed and imprisoned by his friends conspiring for their own personal gain. His life becomes one of a singular purpose – revenge on those who betrayed him.

The genius to the story is the characters. You can see their faces, hear their voices, live in their lives all during a real time of turmoil and uncertainty in European history. There is a sense of being a part of the story, not just a passive observer.

I first read this book in middle school (6th grade?) for a book report and I remember taking it everywhere with me – EVERYWHERE…well, not the shower, but everywhere else for sure. I was captivated, enthralled, wrapped up, no other world existed but the pages of this amazing story. I’ve since read the book at least 5 or 6 more times, and every time I read the book I see something new, I relearn some character that I had overlooked the last time. It’s the only book I can’t get tired of reading, and I revisit it every couple of years.

Reading was my refuge, and still is. I was an only child, so I had two choices really – either play with myself (not like that you perverts) or read. More often than not I chose to read and still do.

What do you love to read? Join the LetsBlogOff circuit and tell us all about your favorite book and why.

sketching: a challenge!!

M.C. Escher - "hands"

Today, I was sitting at my desk, compiling record drawings for a large school project I’ve been working on for the better part of 2 years now, and I got a brilliant idea!

You’re sitting on the edge of your seat, I know.

I’m sending out a challenge to anyone and everyone who might come across this blog to design a single family home out of 2 40′ high cube shipping containers. Dimensions are as follows: 8′-0″ wide x 9′-6″ high x 40′-0″ long. The idea is to generate a floor plan for mom, dad and one child. However you want to make that happen is fine with me. Arrange the containers in any fashion: side by side, staggered, stacked, whatever tickles your fancy.

And this is a sketch contest. I want hand sketches with pen/pencil/sharpie/crayon/whatever and paper. No 3D models, no photoshop collages. Let’s flex that “brain to hand” connection a little and do something fun. Please send your sketches to me via email with a small one paragraph explanation of your design and a quick bio. I’ll post every design that comes in individually. This will be a never ending contest and I would like to post one sketch each week.

There are no cash prizes, but you will receive world renowned fame and recognition on this blog in big bold letters and fancy italics. I might even underline it. How sweet is that!?

Let the sketching begin!

Repost: why architects are always working (via think | architect)

Just a little fun late on a Monday night from my good buddy Lee.

why architects are always working Architects are often criticized that they are always working. We simply can’t stick to the ‘nine-to-five’ time frame. Even when we’ve left the office, our brain is still going. We sketch on napkins at dinner and falling asleep is often a chore because thoughts are still flowing through our minds. Yes, we are aware that minutia + detail = hours of time spent for things that no one will appreciate or even notice. Why is this you wonder? Well, here … Read More

via think | architect

architectural reinvention

As we continue listening to the talking heads decry one economic disaster after another, continually speculating on when we’re going to hit the bottom or when “the recovery” will solidify, etc etc ad nauseum and now heading into a presidential election *bangs head on desk* are architects and designers positioning themselves for reinvention?

By this I mean, are architects looking for new ways to market their services; looking for new clients; looking for new project types to branch out into; looking to add deliverable services for existing clients; and looking to create meaningful partnerships with peers and contemporaries in order to strengthen and embolden the profession?

In my experience, the answer seems to be drawn down generational lines. By this I mean, there are those of the “old guard” who are either nearing the winter of their careers or are in a position of leadership with sufficient work behind them that they are comfortable exactly where they are and have no plans to change their tact anytime soon, if ever. Then there are those, like myself and many others, who are at the beginning and middle of their careers and see opportunities for a new way of practicing architecture. There are obviously exceptions to both rules, but lets stick with generalities for right now.

This first group, those comfortable in their professional bubble, unfortunately are in some of the highest leadership positions of the firms that we all deal with or work for. And in my experience getting these architects to “push the envelope” or “get out of their comfort zone” is akin to jumping out of an airplane with no parachute – the liklihood of surviving is “small”… :-\ The bright side here is that, largely, these architects are on their way out of the profession. That is, they are less likely to be active in the profession and those moving up the ranks into new leadership positions. This is a good thing.

BECAUSE it is allowing those like me in the beginning and middle of their careers to take a look at the profession as a whole and look for ways to improve, change and make better a system that has largely stayed the same for some time. And architecture, as a profession, needs to change. Many have already seen this and are adapting to a new way of thinking, streamlining their businesses, taking advantage of things like coworking, telecommuting and, of course, “the cloud”.

What is all this innovation, adaptation and reinvention leading to? It’s leading to architects coming together as a community again to build not just better buildings but a better, faster, more efficient and more adaptive profession; one that fosters learning across all levels of experience and expertise in ways never seen before. We’re seeing it happen locally, nationally and even worldwide where, thanks to faster internet connectivity and digital data storage (the cloud) architects can work together and build relationships not just across state lines but on different continents and across multiple disciplines simultaneously.

This is an exciting time for architecture and for architects. Where do you find yourself? Are you innovating your practice? Are you seeking out new talent to collaborate with, learn from and pour into? Or are you stuck in the old way of carrying on in your own local circle, comfortable, stable, stagnant? What are your opinions, outlooks, advice, criticisms and praises? I want to hear from the profession (that means you…yes you, the one in the desk chair reading this). So speak damn it! 🙂

20 years of architecture – #letsblogoff

This month’s LetsBlogOff asks “what will your life look like in 20 years?”. This is similar to the age old question that every high school graduate is asked – “Where will you be in 10 years”. It’s an interesting question to ask and an interesting exercise to engage in. It requires you to think about your upcoming life in an exciting way. It allows you to dream and make plans at the same time. I think this is important for everyone to do at various stages in their life – to look ahead, to dream and to make plans, set goals. But for me, 20 years is a really long time. Too long, in fact, to have meaningful dreams or to make effective plans. In 20 years my three children will either be done with, or nearing the end of, college. I’ll have been licensed and practicing architecture for almost 3 decades, I’ll have been married for almost 25 years. In 20 years, who I am today is NOT who I will have become.

Instead of thinking about the next 20 years, and trying to hypothesize who and what I’ll be, I’ll focus on something more manageable – the next 2 years.

Where will I be in 2 years? What can I accomplish with 24 months worth of time? With a limited amount of time, our dreams and aspirations can become more clear, they can crystallize into a practical series of steps forward, one building upon the other, in a way that we experience DAILY triumphs, victories and lessons learned.

In 2 years – I’ll be a licensed architect.

In 2 years – I’ll have built at least 1 shipping container home that moves toward off-grid living.

In 2 years – I’ll move to a new city.

In 2 years – I’ll have my own practice.

In 2 years – I’ll have helped my clients realize a myriad of project types on budget and in keeping with their vision emphasizing sustainability and responsibility.

In 2 years – I’ll be a Architect, working to further the profession for the next generation, fostering responsible design and construction practices and helping my peers and contemporaries do the same.

In 2 years I’ll be 2 years closer to 20 years of architecture.

the interview process

These days, I’m sure there are a lot of us out there beating the pavement and engaging in this time honored process of “selling ourselves” to the highest bidder….or really to any bidder. :-\ I myself have interviewed with a fair few in the last couple of months and I was thinking about “the keys to successful interviewing” in the architecture profession. And more importantly, are there any specific tips/tricks for architects and interns out there facing the grueling search for employment?

In my first search for “interviewing tips”, a ton of information came up most of it from sites like career builder or monster and the like. There are even many college websites that have “interviewing tips” in their career sections, which I think is immensely helpful for future graduates or those just entering the professional workforce after graduation. That first interview can be INSANELY STRESSFUL.

I remember my first interview for a intern position. I was asked “how do you feel about architecture as a business?” And of course I immediately blasted into a long speech that boiled down to “I believe architecture has the power to change how people perceive their world…blah blah blah”. My interviewer (who later became my boss a couple weeks later) just sort of smiled and said “well, I’ll ask you that question again in a couple years and we’ll see.” :-\

With that experience, and the experience I’ve gained at the few firms that I interviewed with and subsequently worked for, I’ve come up with a couple bullet points that hopefully will help you on your next architectural interview. These are in my own personal order. Feel free to shuffle as required. 😉

Be Genuine

A lot of the “literature” on interviewing seems to begin with something about “putting your best self forward”.  I think this line of thinking is a little misleading, because most of us see that as covering up all the strange quirks and peccadilloes that make us US, and putting on a benign and “safe” face that our interviewer (and potential boss) will like and want to hire. That’s all well and good, and may even work 9 times out of 10, but the real goal here is not just to find a job, but to find a job and then KEEP IT. 🙂 Now, by “being genuine” I’m not suggesting picking your nose or dropping the f-bomb or oggling the hot receptionist during your interview. That sort of “honesty” is best left at the frat house. What I do mean is that you should be relaxed in who you are. Realize that there was already something about you, your resume and/or your cover letter, that got their attention and they simply want to know more. Be  forthcoming and direct with your answers and even ask a few questions of your own. Realize that you have nothing to lose. After all, the worst they can do is say “no”.

Know your worth

This kind of goes along with being genuine, but takes a step further in that you have to know that you bring something to the table, some “worth” that your interviewer should consider apart and above the other applicants he/she has lined up. This can be stated either verbally (and trust me, they’ll ask) or stated in your work (which we’ll get to in a minute) or in some other demonstrated ability. And be confident in that ability, that worth. Don’t dance around it, don’t sugar coat it, just put it out there clearly and simply. Let your interviewer judge whether or not it’s in their best interest.

Have a solid portfolio

A portfolio, apart from almost everything else, is what can really sell “you” to a potential employer. If you’re a recent graduate, obviously, your portfolio will be mostly design work done in studio, but you may have done a internship over a summer, so be sure to have that handy as well (always get permission from previous employers). If you’ve interned for a while, or are licensed, your portfolio should reflect the best and worst of all your work. I know many out there will say “why in God’s name would you want to put out your worst work”. Well, that’s simple. Architecture is about finding success in every project from the most mundane to the most magnanimous. If you can’t demonstrate an architectural success in that crappy tenant improvement project what does it matter that you were such a shining glory on that multi-million dollar jewel project? A diverse and honest portfolio shows a potential employer that you’re serious about your career and your profession. Again, be genuine.

Finally, leave your pride in the car

Know with 100% certainty that you are not the cat’s meow, you are not the creme that rose to the top, you are not the next Pritzker Prize winner and you are certainly not the future starchitect of your own little world. You are an intern/architect with a long road ahead full of learning and full of opportunity to serve your employer and your clients to the best of your ability. It’s not about you, it’s about what skills you can offer and how well those skills will help grow the firm in reputation and business. You are a servant to the firm and to the client. Take pride only in ensuring the the client’s project (cause it ain’t your project, honey) is built on time, on budget and in a quality and lasting manner while maintaining design intent.

So, that’s my “4 points to a successful architecture interview”. If all else fails you can always beg. Just don’t be the guy who cried. Cause then you’ll always be the guy who cried. No, wait that’s for break ups…yeah, go ahead and cry. It could work….right?