ARE 4.0: Site Planning & Design

December 16th, 2013 – the fateful day of my Site Planning and Design exam. I was not hopeful going in to the testing center. I was even less hopeful once I got through the multiple choice division. Not because I was worried about the MC section – that was no problem – but because I knew the graphic division was coming after my required 15 minute break. I was sweating. A lot.

After pacing the waiting room for about 14 minutes I headed back into the testing room to face the music and just get it over with. The countdown finally ended and I was set to begin the two graphic sections: Site Zoning and Site Grading. If you’re reading this blog you’re most likely familiar with these graphic exams, but just in case you’re not…

Site Zoning is the first of two graphic sections for this exam in which you are given a site plan usually bound on two sides by public roads, with assorted trees spread around and some sort of visual feature like a body of water. You’re given a site program and asked to place two buildings on site with some kind of public plaza and a required number of parking for the given use. Rolled into the program is a series of requirements and restrictions that will inform on how the site is developed and where the buildings and other improvements should or should not be placed.

My zoning exam, I think, was conceived by a truly evil and cruel person. While I can’t divulge the specifics of the exam I was given, I can tell you that after 45 minutes of monkeying around with the site elements and realizing that it was just not working….I hit the reset button and started over. It was hell. The site grading portion was easy peasy lemon squeezy. And thank God that it was otherwise I would  have run out of time.

In the end, with about 90 seconds to go, I quickly reviewed my solution (if one could even call it that), resigned myself to whatever fate may come and hit the submit button. To add insult to injury the next screen is a pop-up that asks “are you sure you want to submit”…..Was I sure? No. Did I have a choice? No. So, 4 1/2 hours after I sat down to begin my exam I got up and left. Again I was not hopeful. In fact I was already planning my retake 6 months down the road.

BUT as luck would have it, on Christmas Day I got an email from NCARB alerting me that my results were available for viewing. I did NOT want to look at those results on friggin Christmas Day. How cruel can NCARB be?! I mean, wtf? But, I needed to see the results, so I braced myself, clicked the link, logged in and finally made it to my results page.

PASS!!!!!!!   BOOM BABY!

So, now I’m 5 exams down and 2 to go. I failed PPP in September, so March will be my 6 month mark. Next is Structures and I’m freaked out about that one, but I WILL make it and I WILL pass and I WILL be licensed.

Good luck to all those taking their exams. My best advice for SPD is to practice the NCARB Vignettes as often as possible. Just take them over and over and over again. And each time try to create a new solution that works to get used to thinking outside of the box. And once you get into your test, read through the program carefully and then just breathe for a minute. Calm yourself as best you can and then get to work. Work quickly and efficiently. Don’t worry about making it pretty just make it work.

The Man Who Acts

“Impossible is just something you haven’t found the solution to yet.”

Excellent post. If you’re not following this blog yet, you need to. Now.

daily prompt: necessity is the mother of invention

Imagine, in great detail, an invention that could help reverse pollution — describe for us how your invention works and how it will help save the planet.

unless lorax

I have two children – a son (5) and a daughter (4). And every night, without fail, I read to them before bedtime. It’s our thing. I’ve done it for the last 3 years or so and I dread the day they are too old for me to read to them. That aside, one of their favorite stories to read is The Lorax by Dr. Suess. If you’ve never read the story or seen the movie you obviously live under a rock let me sum it up for you:

The Onceler travels to a forest, a magical place with Bar-ba-loots and Swomee-swans and Humming-fish and Truffula Trees. The trees are exactly what the Onceler has been searching for to make his new invention – a Thneed. And a Thneed is a thing that everyone needs. So, he takes out his axe and chops down a truffula tree and sits down to knit a Thneed out of the truffula tuft.

This is where the Lorax comes in. He speaks for the trees because the trees have no tongues. And he demands to know why the Onceler would chop down a tree to make this fool Thneed. You can already see where this story is going. The Onceler is in big business now, chopping trees and making Thneeds that everyone needs. He keeps on chopping and chopping until there are no more trees. This is when the Lorax gets lifted away, but not before leaving a small pile of rocks with just one word inscribed – UNLESS.

We currently live in a world on the border of crisis. And I don’t care what side of the aisle you sit on, it is an irrefutable fact that our natural resources are finite. They will be depleted eventually unless drastic changes are made now. And unless we make those changes now, future generations will suffer the consequences of our inaction. And as stewards of this one world we’ve been entrusted, INACTION is INTOLERABLE.

So, what is my invention for reversing this calamity? I don’t have one. I don’t need one. Because it’s already been invented. In fact, this one thing has been being perfected for thousands of years. And there are billions of these things all over the world. If you look in a mirror you’ll see one of them – the most amazing and wonderful invention ever conceived – YOU. And me. All of us.

You see, the moral of The Lorax is “UNLESS someone like you and me cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

tight squeeze : architecture : MA house : katsutoshi sasaki + associates : okazaki japan

This is some beautiful and ingenious architectural design. I’d love to say “oh hey I could do that with containers”, but honestly, this is much too beautiful and simple in design to cheapen that way.


openhouse-magazine-tight-squeeze-architecture-ma-house-katsutoshi-sasaki-associates-okazaki-japan 1 ‘ma house’ occupies an incredibly narrow plot of land in a densely populated residential region of okazaki, japan. reinterpreting traditional notions of scale and program, the dwelling, created by katsutoshi sasaki + associates,   for more photos and text please vist designboom

openhouse-magazine-tight-squeeze-architecture-ma-house-katsutoshi-sasaki-associates-okazaki-japan 3

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