architectural rant

Ok. So I get into the office this morning and there is a brand new stack of magazines in my inbox to read….or rather to add to the other stack of magazines that I still haven’t read. Included are the latest copies of Arch Record and Architect. On the cover are the latest and greatest shiny projects for all us monkeys to drool over.


Seriously. I can not stand the over dramatization of architectural design and the friggin “Starchitect”. For the record, I do not like the work of Billie Tsien or Santiago Calatrava or Daniel Liebeskind or Frank Gehry or any of the other shiny new up and comers out there. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can design a great building when they have no real budget. When you’re spending over $1,000 per square foot on a project everything looks good. Why? Because it’s the best of whatever is out there. No expense is spared.

What architecture do I enjoy, you ask? REAL architecture. Architecture that has a budget, a real budget, of $250 per square foot or less. These are real projects. Real architects have designed them. Real architects have poured their heart and soul into creating a good work of architecture that will perform according to the client’s needs, stand the test of time and still maintain the project budget and schedule. THAT is successful architecture. THAT is architecture that should be celebrated in magazines and at award ceremonies.

Ugh. Ok. I’m done. Rant over.

Daily Prompt: Decisions Decisions

How are you more likely to make an important decision — by reasoning through it, or by going with your gut?

Architecture, like life, is made up of a series of decisions. Some good, some successful. And some….not so much. The process by which these decisions are reached is significant and varies for each designer and each architect. I myself use a combination of the two: reason and gut.

When designing a building for a site, or when renovating an existing structure, the first thing you want to do is get familiar with it. This usually requires a site visit. You need to see, smell, touch and feel the space or property you’ll be designing. You want to know where the sun is, where neighboring buildings are, how tall are they, is there a highway nearby, etc. All of these things will impact your design.

Next you want to look at the building plan or site plan and, depending on what the program calls for, you begin to take all of that information you’ve gathered and begin to make decisions. Some of them will be gut – they’ll just make sense. Others will need to be thought out and reasoned – this usually feels like a game of Tetris. Especially with existing buildings.

the design process....

the design process….

Architectural Design is not a straightforward or linear process. It’s usually a mess. If most clients saw everything that goes into designing a home or an office building or even a kitchen….they’d probably go mad. Architects are mad already, so it’s ok. In the end, to design a good building you have you use all of the tools available to you. Your gut and your head.