There are so many ways to live a profitable, intentional life; the manifestation of creativity for me - as an architect - doesn't always have to look like a building.
In this interview I discuss the FIRE movement (Financially Independent, Retire Early) with respect to my career as an architect.
There are so many ways to live a profitable, intentional life; the [...]
There are so many ways to live a profitable, intentional life; the manifestation of creativity for me - as an architect - doesn't always have to look like a building.
In this interview I discuss the FIRE movement (Financially Independent, Retire Early) with respect to my career as an architect.
Architect's DIY Kitchen Makeover Part 1 - Sketching and Planning
Living in a home you designed can be a humbling experience. In this [...]
Living in a home you designed can be a humbling experience. In this DIY kitchen makeover I'm fixing all the mistakes I made when I designed my home in 2007. I'm revisiting the finishes, replacing fixtures + fittings, installing new cabinet fronts and hardware, organizing + decluttering, and even adding a few bespoke pieces we couldn't afford when we first built our home.
In part 1, follow along as I sketch out my ideas and discuss what worked and what didn't in the original design.
In part 2, we'll build + install everything and reveal the final results.
00:00 Existing Floor Plan and Concept
03:06 Cabinetry and Hardware
03:34 Appliance upgrades
03:51 Our Biggest Mistake
05:36 Removable Toekick
06:11 Decluttering ideas
07:13 Repair and repaint
07:28 Organization systems
07:46 Plumbing updates
08:22 One open shelf
08:40 Bespoke detail idea
Challenges of Starting a Design Firm Alone - Modern Practice Series
He worked for Cloepfil (Allied Works) + Meier and now he's starting [...]
He worked for Cloepfil (Allied Works) + Meier and now he's starting his own studio. Follow along as John builds his new architecture business from a studio apartment in Brooklyn, NYC. He discusses portfolios, moonlighting, working alone and the challenges of going solo.
Full video (part 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOAIf6WX6mY
If you serve clients, you know what a challenge it can be to balance [...]
If you serve clients, you know what a challenge it can be to balance the workload, timing, sequencing + income. Listen to the entire discussion on my other YT channel, Two Sides of FI (financial independence) to learn how I turned fewer projects to my advantage and diversified my sources of income.
Watch the full video: https://youtu.be/PEuN5QtBEyk
00:00 A package arrives
00:52 The Photography Storytelling Workshop
01:08 Bisociation (use this trick)
02:19 Vintage Manuals
02:57 Pretty Much Everything
03:57 Revealing what's in the package
06:13 A Tale of Life & Craft
07:20 Houses - Sean Godsell
08:45 Hell Yeah or No (What's worth doing)
10:08 A "Now" page to catalogue ideas
10:29 I have a podcast now (& a new YT channel)
10:57 Links to the resources mentioned http://thirtybyforty.com/blog
Most of my time as an architect is spent doing this...
A recent site visit + client request sets in motion a process every [...]
A recent site visit + client request sets in motion a process every architect is familiar with: redesign + revisions. This is my process for solving real-world architectural problems, from sketching to updating the drawings and documents.
It’s been a challenging winter building the Outpost project. But spring is finally here and big changes are afoot. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you in upcoming videos.
Starting Your Architecture Studio? Here's A Reality Check.
Sit in on a creative business consultation as I work through Page's [...]
Sit in on a creative business consultation as I work through Page's ideas for her new architecture practice and watch as we turn her aspirational concepts into reality. I walk her through the basic calculations every new business owner must know, we talk options and opportunities, clients, fees, and how to position her business in the middle of the value exchange.
This is a typical conversation I have with design professionals of every skill level each Friday. These are students enrolled in my Architect + Entrepreneur Course and range from new graduates and young professionals just starting out, to established architects all seeking to design a business for the new economy and feed their creative intellect. Our conversation brought up many of the issues we face as design professionals in daily practice; topics they don't teach in school.
If you're interested in learning more about the strategies + tactics we discussed and for the worksheets and access to the entire conversation with Page, please check out the Architect + Entrepreneur Course.
JOIN The Architect + Entrepreneur Course:
00:00 Meet Page
00:46 (My Front Yard)
01:49 The initial plan
02:19 I'm an investor, pitch me.
02:49 Precedent 1: Mass Design Group
04:30 Why non-profits are tricky
05:55 Precedent 2: Epicenter
06:43 You're actually the investor, so...
07:36 Plan B
08:45 Alone vs. partners? Pros/cons
12:10 Plan C - safer, but not ideal
13:30 Who's serving your ideal client now?
13:47 Leveraging free
14:10 Running the numbers (take 1)
16:33 A Reality Check
17:06 Treat your business like a design problem
17:38 "Speaking from experience"
18:22 Other possible solutions
20:51 My "Day 1" Activity
22:33 Where do your potential clients see value?
24:22 Walmart + scale issues
25:09 How about a Plan Book?
26:00 Running the numbers (take 2)
26:30 Licensing your plans
27:50 B to B vs. B to C
28:48 Equity exchange?
30:31 How to own the room
31:26 Sharing my formulas
34:09 Does that excite you?
35:26 Thinking holistically
37:03 Capturing margin during construction
39:22 Remodel projects?
42:50 Your Day 0 vs. My Year 7
44:00 The value of a story
45:40 Clients base decisions on this
A Day in the Life of an Architect: Construction Site Visit
Join me for a construction site visit as the Island Outpost project [...]
Join me for a construction site visit as the Island Outpost project enters rough framing, the point where the initial sketch of an idea is finally rendered in physical form. For an architect, it's probably the most exciting phase and it's taken us many months to get here. Site and foundation work are time consuming and embody a lot of effort, but progress is often slow and much of the work is hidden in the finished project. By contrast, framing moves quickly and there's much to coordinate between the trades: plumbers, electricians and mechanical subs.
The culture of HGTV has tricked us all into believing that construction happens in the space of a 30-minute show segment. But custom design + construction takes time to complete. And, custom construction on an island takes much longer (I'm learning). That's because building on an island is subject to an entirely different set of rules. All things being equal, given the choice between plentiful, profitable work on the mainland and work on an island, most contractors have been choosing the work that's easier to access and execute. That's not something I had fully anticipated at the outset of construction and it's proving a difficult problem to solve. The building boom here in Maine has caused a significant labor shortage and that's hindered our ability to secure subcontractors willing to make the journey out to our remote site.
There are no hardware stores, or places to run to if you need an extra bag of concrete. Everything we build with comes from off-island and thus, bringing the necessary materials to the island requires a special weather window and, if it's a load delivered by barge, the right set of tides to land and leave the beach. Winter wind and heavy seas have conspired against us more than a few times too.
The work continues though and I'm thankful for the dedicated crew acting as my hands in the field to realize these ideas in spite of the wind and weather. So too, for generous, supportive clients - dear friends by now - who patiently watch as their home takes shape. To navigate these opposing forces and turn them to your advantage takes skill, hard work and the work of many. And, perhaps that's the reason the creative satisfaction in the end is so great.
My sincere thanks for watching and following along. It really is as much fun as it looks!
00:00 Driving to catch the Mailboat
00:52 The hands of the architect
01:05 An unforgettable commute
01:35 Outpost materials arriving by boat
02:02 Importance of observing construction
02:22 My favorite drone sequence
02:36 Entry approach + building tour
03:30 That view, right?
04:11 How I conduct construction site visits
04:40 Why architects are involved in construction?
05:08 One of two, incredibly generous clients who made this possible
05:30 Changes...(good ones)
05:45 What I bring with me
07:35 Field reports
08:17 "It's good to be the boss...sometimes..."
Sketch with me in this video as I design custom details for a [...]
Sketch with me in this video as I design custom details for a residential project. Inventing bespoke solutions to design challenges is the reason I love designing homes. Often, if I'm stuck on a design brief, I’ll zoom in and begin sketching a detail. There’s something about the scale and how manageable it is to solve simple problems that helps me move forward.
For me, this process always starts in my sketchbook (or on the iPad) and then I’ll move to the computer to draw it more precisely following that. Starting informally with a sketch allows me to be free and fast with ideas and it leads me to other threads I hadn't anticipated. You'll see this in the video as I chase down a few absurd ideas.
The process begins with a design brief: in this case the hanging coats at the entry wall and adding a flip-down desk near the pantry area. I then compile inspiration imagery (like the military field desks) and grab a ruler to have on hand as I'm designing. Relating to the human scale is an important part of detailing and a ruler helps you set proper proportions for drawers, desk height, etc.
A trick I use as I'm drawing is to really think hard about the daily patterns of life around the subject I'm designing. How would someone use this space? What would they have in their pockets, what would their daily routine moving through or around this space be like? Placing yourself there and asking what would make this experience better, or more "delightful" leads to novel insights. Delightful is kind of a corny word but it’s the best descriptor I can think of. It's the thing that makes you smile when you see it, and say, “Wow, they really thought this through! They really considered what it means to live here, in this place.”
The point of sketching is to chase down all the bad ideas, all the strange threads of thinking, including the absurd. Be open to thinking differently and the invented solutions may surprise you. It's important to not to put too much pressure on it, these aren’t beautiful drawings, they’re process, they show the steps from one idea to the next.
Timestamps to help you navigate:
00:00 Inventing solutions
00:22 Sean Godsell Quote
00:27 Design Brief: Entry Wall Details
00:51 Tools I use when designing details
02:28 Sketching ideas
06:54 Taking it further
08:32 Zinc shelving idea
10:08 Typography monogramming
11:25 House "FOB" idea
11:57 Design Brief: Flip-down desk design
12:59 Sketching on iPad
14:24 Idea to eliminate hardware
16:56 Desk materials + interior
19:26 Leather tab idea
21:55 Designing the stool
22:50 A step stool too?
23:57 Analog ideas
The sketchbook I'm using in the video is a new custom project called TRACE. The media is a 90# vellum, printed with a grid of white reticles, it takes graphite, ink and alcohol markers (like Copics) beautifully. Set for release in May of 2021, learn more here: https://thirtybyforty.com/trace-sketchbook
If you made it to the end and you're reading this, this is a personal thank you for your support. I don't have a big team that helps me film, edit or post these videos, it's just me so the feedback and support from people like you is invaluable and never taken for granted.
What's in my set of architectural documents? Sharing everything: drawings, schedules, + specs.
Drawings, schedules, specs.; I'm sharing all the deliverables I create [...]
Drawings, schedules, specs.; I'm sharing all the deliverables I create for a typical custom residential project in the studio. Constructing a home involves thousands of decisions and the architectural design process is designed to document and catalog those decisions and convey that information to the entire project team: clients, contractors, consultants; anyone responsible for helping us construct our architecture.
Even for a small home, the number of decisions - from foundation to finish - can feel overwhelming. The more you draw + document before construction, the more control you'll have over the finished product. Anything you don't draw or document is simply a decision you're choosing to defer to someone else to make.
The drawings shown here are an in-progress set of documents, I still have stair plans, a finish schedule and interior details to complete. Typically, I'll release two packages of information: a shell package for the exterior shell of the structure and an interiors package. The first helps construction to proceed quickly and once under way, I'll develop the interior design, finishes and details with the client completing those during the early phases of construction. Also not shown are my consultant's drawings, which - for this project - consists of a set of structural engineering drawings.
00:00 Intro printing + stamping the set
00:18 Drawings are just one tool available to us
00:37 Are more drawings better?
01:29 Cover sheet and general notes
01:54 Site plan
03:00 Plans (foundation, floor, roof)
04:42 Exterior elevations
05:29 Wall sections
07:48 Interior elevations (personal favorite)
08:50 Plumbing schedule
10:11 Window and door elevations/details/schedules
12:42 Wall types
13:47 Electrical plans
17:03 Deferring decisions
18:50 Mid-Winter (in Maine)
19:06 Download my Specs.
Design + sketching tips, shortcuts + an in-depth exploration of the [...]
Design + sketching tips, shortcuts + an in-depth exploration of the process residential architect - Russ Tyson - uses to design award-winning homes. Using a recently completed project as an example, we deconstruct the steps he takes with every new project from site analysis, to client engagement and budgeting and how he makes those all-important first marks on the blank page.
Russ is an incredibly talented designer, illustrator and principal at Whitten Architects in Portland, Maine. See more of Russ' work here: https://www.whittenarchitects.com/
00:00 Introduction "The Dark Arts"
00:44 Russ' architectural sketches
01:09 How can we draw like you?
01:28 Favorite tools + drawing advice
02:40 Sketching shortcuts
05:11 Typical Workflow
07:18 Lines on Paper
08:35 Reference Project + Process
10:23 Site Analysis
12:02 How many schemes do you show the client?
13:40 Inventing a design narrative
15:09 What do you present to the client?
16:17 Clients + Boats
17:03 Easter Egg
17:51 Choosing between schemes (the why)
19:50 Site diagrams + massing
22:13 "Draw as small as possible"
23:44 My favorite color
23:45 Finished Project Photos
24:41 Budget Discussions
25:35 When to engage the Contractor
26:01 Book Recommendation
26:55 More Project Photos
27:42 What an architect brings to the design process
Drawings, Site Visits + Construction on a remote island | Outpost - Part 9
Foundation + site work has begun on the island Outpost project and [...]
Foundation + site work has begun on the island Outpost project and we're faced with an important decision. See the drawings I prepare for this stage of construction, the design considerations for the foundation strategy and walk the site as I review progress.
Our initial foundation strategy to use posts + piers was thwarted by higher than expected bedrock (ledge) elevations. You'll see what the changes we made and all steps we took to design a sensible alternative. Architectural drawings order and organize information and ensure our design decisions are enacted in the field, but they're also not fixed instruments, inevitably the construction offer unexpected obstacles and the purpose of conducting site visits is to solve these in real-time. The drawings must also take into account the sequence and order of operations on a construction site, it's quite possible to draw something that can't actually be built. See how I build my architectural drawing sets with this in mind.
There's nothing more rewarding as an architect than seeing your ideas realized in physical form. It's a complete thrill for me each and every time. I'm honored to have such an incredible team of collaborators that make this possible. Without generous clients (and their willingness to share the process so openly) and skilled craftspeople to assemble the parts none of this is possible. So too, the privilege to bring you along for the journey. Thanks for watching + supporting my work, I appreciate you all!
00:00 Building on an island
00:41 Choosing + designing a foundation system
01:51 Slab on grade
04:01 Post + pier
06:09 Frost wall + crawlspace
08:47 Making changes
09:40 Drawing the foundation plan
10:51 Locating the building on-site
12:00 What to include on the foundation plan
13:25 Checklists (in Notion)
13:46 Site walk + tour
15:24 An office with a view
16:14 "This is the worst one..."
Thinking about a career in architecture? Wondering about the math [...]
Thinking about a career in architecture? Wondering about the math required, or how much you’ll earn? Are your drawing skills questionable? Joining me to answer these questions (+ more) is my friend Bob Borson, architect + creator of The Life of an Architect blog + podcast.
Some timestamps to guide you:
00:00 What do I do with the rest of my life?
00:30 An architect’s salary discussion
01:03 Other ways to think about compensation
02:05 Compensation Calculator (by region, job, etc.)
03:37 Happiness vs. Compensation Chart
03:57 I’m terrible at math, is this the right career for me?
04:27 Math we use in daily practice
07:27 I can’t sketch or draw, is this a problem?
08:03 Why sketching is important (even if you’re not great at it)
10:10 Not everyone in this profession is a designer
10:50 Can I be an architect with no formal training?
12:00 Trade school vs. University
13:10 Linear vs. Lateral thinking
13:36 Designing houses + interiors without a license
14:29 Know this…
15:26 Solving problems vs. Telling Stories
16:40 What clients buy from architects
17:16 I’m (insert age) is it too late to become an architect?
18:25 The challenge of going to school later in life
19:38 What skills will prepare me for architecture school?
20:13 “This is gold”
24:29 What books do you recommend?
28:38 Peter Zumthor + beards
The Life of an Architect blog was created in 2010, and for ten years Bob’s posts have been making the practice of architecture accessible + interesting to a worldwide, diverse audience. He exposes the reality of the design and construction process with style, a dry wit and without sparing the true grit and struggles that making architecture so often involves. He’s not afraid to reveal the mistakes and missteps made along the way, the messiness and imperfections tell the real story of our life as architects. If you’re looking for glossy photos, you’ll find very few here, this is the place to go if you like sketches, a little snark and cogent thinking.
If you’re not familiar with his work, you’ll find ten years of posts, images, and inspiration thoughts on his blog.
Follow along as I update, organize, + declutter my design studio to [...]
Follow along as I update, organize, + declutter my design studio to better suit my needs. I'll walk you through the changes I've made, including two new desk setups, lighting, furniture, storage + styling upgrades.
0Confused as to how to start using Notion for architecture? I share my [...]
0Confused as to how to start using Notion for architecture? I share my Notion workspace + the templates I use as an architect to track my weekly schedule, tasks, and projects (both personal + professional). I've chosen Notion and its minimalist UI to store + organize all of life's information. In my studio, Notion has replaced Trello, Todoist, and Evernote...it truly lives up to its "all-in-one workspace" reputation.
As a productivity and project management tool, Notion is intuitive, capable and infinitely flexible. It's a blank canvas that can be almost anything you want, which is both a strength and a weakness, especially when you're just getting started and unsure of how best to set it up.
In this video I'll teach you how to customize your workspace to suit your needs and a framework to begin building your own. I start by walking you through the basics of Notion's visual editing tools and then move into more advanced functions to create intelligent task lists, meeting notes templates, SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures) + WIKI's to help save you time in the design process. The project track brings it all together in one dashboard where tasks, resources, schedules and meeting notes are collected and shared amongst team members, both in-house and remote.
Timestamps to help you navigate:
00:00 - Setting my digital house in order
00:22 - Want your own kiXstand?
00:43 - Four types of pages I use
01:00 - Build a Weekly Agenda
04:24 - Easter Eggs (For careful observers, I hide things in every video. You knew that, right?)
04:53 - SOPs + WIKIs
07:16 - An Intelligent Task List
12:22 - Building a Project Track
15:00 - Meeting Note Templates
17:29 - Kanban Phase Template
19:18 - Wacken (someday)
19:30 - Notion for Life
Follow along as I design + draw an architectural lighting plan + [...]
Follow along as I design + draw an architectural lighting plan + create the presentation assets for my clients to review. An electrical plan shows the fixture types, switching, receptacle locations and all electrical devices + equipment we need to plan for in our architecture.
Designing it in coordination with the other essential building systems: architectural, structural, mechanical and plumbing affords us the most control in the final outcome. Hidden elements in a project - beams, ductwork, vent stacks - can adversely impact the placement of the visible lighting elements which is why we plan for them in the design process. Drawing and overlaying each helps us to identify conflicts on paper where it's much more efficient and cost-effective to make changes.
See how the abstract concepts of ambient, task + accent lighting are accounted for and applied in a real-world design of a remote, off-the-grid residential project in Maine, USA.
Time stamps to help you navigate:
0:38 Base Plan
1:20 Information You'll Need
1:39 Three Types of Lighting + How to Layer
2:10 Lay out the Ambient Lighting
3:07 Recessed Spacing Guidelines
6:55 What not to do
8:09 Lighting in Layers
10:19 Mini-lesson on exterior lighting
13:30 Drawing the plan digitally (I use AutoCAD LT 2020, because I like it, it's really fast and I can make drawings that actually look good. If you want to use Revit, or a pencil + graph paper, they work too!)
24:08 Everything else
25:31 Let's build this...
Sketching in Isolation - Work From Home Skill Building
Feeling the pressure to make the most of your time in isolation to [...]
Feeling the pressure to make the most of your time in isolation to learn new skills + be productive? If you haven’t quite lived up to your own lofty expectations of what you should be accomplishing, you're not alone. Learn what's been working for me as I sketch an invented architectural folly.
Time spent in my sketchbook is focused and without distraction. It’s space to think and be creative without the strict boundaries of budgets and schedules. It’s reminded me that not everything I design needs to be rooted in reality, that daydreaming and suspending the laws of physics have value too and can nourish my architecture practice in meaningful ways. Inventing imaginary architecture can help you assert control in a time where agency is in short supply. For me, it’s been an enriching, liberating win in this time of quarantine.
I hope spending a few minutes with me in my (digital) sketchbook designing a Quarantine Chapel - whatever that is - will inspire you to get lost in your own sketchbook for an hour or two. And, if you build a few skills along the way, all the better!
Work from Anywhere: Tools, Tips, + Methods I Use to Run a Remote Architecture Studio
Sharing the process, tools and methods I use to work remotely as an [...]
Sharing the process, tools and methods I use to work remotely as an architect. As a sole practitioner living on an island off the coast of Maine, most of my clients live far away so it's not often we're able to meet face-to-face. Much of the architectural design process is handled at a distance using remote collaboration tools, everything from meetings and design presentations to criticism, feedback and sample selections. As we adapt to a new paradigm and more disconnected physical working environments our work can be just as fulfilling and collaborative.
Time stamps to help you navigate:
0:13 Things have changed
1:14 My Process: Sketch to Presentation
1:38 Client Feedback + Two Challenges
2:18 Sketching a solution
6:34 Building the digital model
9:46 Packaging up the Presentation (drawings, models, Keynote presentation, video, + email)
12:34 Meetings (video conferencing)
13:31 Keeping track of information + decisions
15:28 Don't miss this sequence
These are uncertain and difficult times; I'm here to support you in any way I can. Please let me know what I can do to help you in the comments.
Be well + take care...
ALL MY GEAR (UPDATED LIST):
#architecture #architect #remotework
Aerial photo credit (thumbnail): Geran de Klerk….
iPad for Architects. Do you really need one?
Do you really need an iPad as an architect, an intern or student? See [...]
Do you really need an iPad as an architect, an intern or student? See if any of the four use cases I came up with match yours. Having always sketched on paper + trace with a pencil and ink, a tablet never really appealed to me or seemed entirely useful. I just wasn’t sure how it would fit into my workflow. But, the Apple pencil and Procreate have changed my mind. The Apple pencil is what makes using the iPad such an irresistible experience for me. It bridges the divide between the analog and digital and when it's so seamlessly integrated with an app like Procreate that you forget you're not using the real thing, that's a remarkable feat.
It's more than just a digital sketchbook though, the utility of the iPad extends far beyond that. In this video you'll see all the ways I'm putting it to work in my residential architecture practice. It may just be the thing that helps you rekindle your love of hand sketching.
Timestamps to help you navigate:
1:25 A tablet is best suited for...
2:03 Use Case #1
2:49 Use Case #2
3:35 Use Case #3
4:12 Use Case #4
5:09 (Incidental use case)
5:24 How to choose amongst the tablets available
6:12 Why I chose the iPad Pro, hardware + other considerations
10:03 Essential + Nice to have Accessories
12:52 Essential Apps
15:01 The app that changed my mind
18:39 How meta. You're paying attention now, you'd make a good architect.
19:49 Who feels my pain?
I love making videos, but these take a lot of time! Purchasing my products and clicking my links helps to support my work. I appreciate you!
Design, Meet, Revise, Repeat | The Outpost Project Part 8
After a round of revisions and a meeting, it becomes clear not [...]
After a round of revisions and a meeting, it becomes clear not everything is as resolved as I thought. The Outpost project enters a new phase as we refine the design and prepare the drawings for construction. This "awkward phase" - as I refer to it - is a natural part of the design process. How long it takes to work through it varies, but it always results in a better building.
1:04 Locating the Screened Porch
1:35 Budget Considerations + Phasing
2:15 Should every space orient to the view?
3:47 Exploring one more location
5:04 Master bed + bath options
5:37 Remote presentations (using Loom)
5:53 Skype meeting + new concerns
8:17 "I find it a little...boring..."
8:36 You are not your work.
9:51 The need for reference images (I use Pinterest)
10:17 Redesigning the Master Wing
14:02 New information = new options
The video opens as we seek to locate the screened porch which I left out from the previous plans. It's natural - especially when building on site with sweeping views - to want every room to capture that view, but you'll see that prefer to position program spaces to take advantage of the full diversity of a site's features, not only the most dominant one.
As I return to the studio to incorporate the changes from our site meeting, I run through several revisions and schedule a Skype call to discuss progress. During that conversation it becomes clear that the master suite needs to be redesigned to create a separate dressing area and group the shower and soaking tub together.
As a young designer, I had difficulty separating myself from my work. Hearing a critical comment from a client (i.e.: "I find it a little...boring..." ) can be jarring at first. Having worked with many clients and heard a lot of critical feedback, I've learned to draw a very clear line. I am not my work. The work is the work. My job is to shepherd my clients through the design process and help them build the home that best suits them, not the one that will look best in my portfolio. It's possible to hold esthetics, form, and function in high regard whilst meeting the client's needs, they're not mutually exclusive.
The video ends with a brief charrette as I sketch and redesign the master wing. As you'll see, this creative friction from my client pushed the design to a new and better place.
Having cleared these minor challenges and confirmed the project is on budget, we'll be moving ahead with the design of the exterior shell package preparing for a construction schedule in the early summer of 2020.
Choosing windows and doors and designing the elevations are up next.
* *NEW for 2020 ** Architect + Entrepreneur Startup Toolkit (includes lessons from the A+E Course): http://thirtybyforty.com/spl
A structural engineer is a part of the design team for all my [...]
A structural engineer is a part of the design team for all my residential work in the studio. In this video you'll join me for the kick-off meeting with my structural engineer as we begin developing the structural design for the Outpost project. You’ll see how we choose a foundation strategy, work through framing + detail ideas, and understand how lateral loads are transferred and how they affect the materials we choose to build with. The professional tug-of-war between engineer and architect isn't adversarial, rather it's collaborative and makes for a better, more efficient project.
The most interesting part of our dialogue begins around minute eighteen where I ask Albert to comment on one of the most common objections I hear from contractors in the field: "This structure is way over-engineered." His answer illuminates how a structural engineer can complement the architectural design process in ways you may not have anticipated. Not only do engineers help us to efficiently size structural members and optimize the design, but their practical building knowledge and field experience can prove invaluable.
Because an engineer’s work is smaller in scope, (their fee is typically about 10% of an architectural fee), they must secure 10X the number of commissions to make a comparable income. This naturally exposes them to many more projects (in theory 10X), ideas, and failures than an architect would typically see. And, it’s those failures that are the most instructive. This symbiotic relationship between architect and engineer has benefitted my practice and my clients in ways that are difficult to calculate but that surely far exceed the engineering fees invested.
Structural engineering is more than sizing beams, designing connections and specifying concrete mixes, it’s an allied discipline which helps to make our jobs as architects easier and to deliver a home that meets (and often exceeds) our client’s expectations.
Although this footage is but a small sampling of our conversation, you can appreciate the give and take that a typical design collaboration entails. As professionals, we rely on the expertise of many consultants to realize our architectural goals.
This is a long video, here’s a few timestamps to guide you:
0:30 ** General Site + Foundation Considerations
4:05 ** Architectural Goals
5:02 ** Roof Design + Framing
6:36 ** Eave Detail
8:55 ** Possible vs. Practical
10:00 ** Designing for Lateral Loads
13:24 **Transferring the loads: bracing (wood vs. steel)
18:12 ** “This feels over-engineered” – The most common complaint I hear from contractors in the field (DON’T MISS THIS SECTION)
22:09 ** Value of engineers from an Architect’s perspective
23:43 ** 10X Projects, 10X Failures, 10X Knowledge (a convincing case for collaborating with engineers)
25:10 ** Engineer’s steel manual vs. Architect’s steel manual
What's the most important skill to cultivate if you’re interested in [...]
What's the most important skill to cultivate if you’re interested in becoming an architect? Learning to sketch. Sketching is an important part of the design process and a daily sketching habit will teach you to see the world as it is, to divine why buildings look the way they do and to understand proportion and scale. Sketching is invaluable for communicating your ideas in meetings to clients, to your colleagues and to tradespeople in the field during construction. For most designers, the sketch is where ideas are born.
Digital tools have their place in the design process too, but they serve a different purpose. The analog sketchbook is a place to think and to move more slowly. It's in digital space that we transform the thoughts and ideas into the documents we'll use to construct our architecture and to make them real. There’s room for both in the design process and each informs the other.
To celebrate the release of the first run of BLANK sketchbooks, I’m opening mine up so you can see how I use it in practice. I hope it shows you that ideation and exploration doesn’t require perfect technique or polished renderings. In fact, the imperfect nature of an open-ended sketch leads to novel ideas and better design resolutions. Follow along as I develop a few less than perfect sketches, share my thought process, a few drawing conventions and personal musings about the importance of building a sketching habit.
Special thanks to Mike Schiano and his company Airship Notebooks for helping make the BLANK notebook a reality. This sketchbook was designed with creatives in mind. It has everything I look for in a quality sketchbook.
+ A5 size (5.8” x 8.3”) - portable, but not too small.
+ Cover: 650g chip, debossed (front + back) Heavy stock protects your work.
+ 50 pgs [ 70# - 100g ] White-cream stock. Works for pen + pencil.
+ 5mm dot grid. Helps with layout + proportion.
+ Red elastic closure keeps things tidy in your bag + serves as a placeholder
+ Double ring spiral binding lays flat on the page and works for both right and left-handed sketchers.
Architecture Model Making Tutorial (Using a Real Project)
Follow along as I build a small architectural model for a residential [...]
Follow along as I build a small architectural model for a residential project currently in design in my studio. You’ll learn how I plan it, see the process for constructing it and learn how I use it as an iterative design tool.
• How to transfer the design to the site model (see part 1 for the site build)
• Floor construction
• Wall construction
• Roof construction
• Foundation + site integration
• Adding details
• Landscape elements
Materials: I use basswood for many of my models because it’s dimensionally stable, easy to cut, takes paint and has a thickness that’s appropriate for the scale I’m working with (3/32” = 1’-0”). To fasten the pieces I use a combination of hot glue and white glue. The hot glue is used more for connections which are concealed and don’t require a high degree of precision. I use white glue for components that may need to be repositioned after they’re set in place, ones that are tiny or fragile, and for parts of the model that are subject to close visual scrutiny. White glue takes longer to set but it has a more polished finished appearance.
When you build a model you’re forced to confront reality in a way. You can’t ignore the topography, the foundation, or the structure. The elevations and the plans all line up in three dimensional space and then you'll begin the editing process. I find the act of building models immensely satisfying, not only because at the end of it I'm left with a tangible object, but also because it surfaces what’s most important in the design. The model will always show me the weak points of my work and that enables me to take the necessary next steps toward improving the design.
Presenting the Concepts: Client Meeting + Site Walk | Outpost Part 5
Sit in on a client meeting as I present the schematic design concepts [...]
Sit in on a client meeting as I present the schematic design concepts for the Outpost project. After selecting a favorite to move forward with we then visit the site to lay it out in full scale and begin making real-time revisions to react to a few newly discovered site features.
Choosing a design direction sets the next phase of the design process in motion and all future decisions will follow from the chosen layout. It's a turning point for the project and there's one thing I'm certain of it's that what I come in with will inevitably change as a result of our collaboration and discussions. And, that's a good thing.
I treat the schematic design presentation as a dialogue and a waypoint in the design process rather than a singular, fully-formed project. The goal is for my clients to feel as invested as I am in the design. That's why the designs are loose and open-ended early on, there's lots of room for interpretation; it's malleable. There are a menu of options and together we choose what works and what doesn't.
Great architecture is only possible with the patronage of great clients, please show your appreciation and help me thank my clients in the comments below for their willingness to share so openly what is a deeply personal process.
Sketching Design Concepts - Outpost Project, Part 4
I’m sketching design concepts for the Outpost project for our upcoming [...]
I’m sketching design concepts for the Outpost project for our upcoming schematic design meeting. Join me in the studio as I turn a rough concept into a digital model and schematic floor plans. This is the process I use for all my work. It begins as a mess and I iterate until it gets stronger and more coherent. The goal of the schematic design meeting is to settle on the architectural concept, choose a location on the site to locate the home and ideally a floor plan to move forward with.
I’ve been thinking about this project and working on it in my sketchbook for a while, but now I have to make them real. The abstract ideas are overlaid on the site plan and I begin to react to the topography and create places and space in and around the home. Along with the site plan, I gather the building program – the list of spaces we need to include - a scale, some tracing paper and pens.
The architectural design concept is heavily influenced by the site and this remote place. We know we want to knit the home closely to the landform and given there’s a lot of elevation change and we have limited access to concrete and fill material we’ll be creating platforms and using decks to transition between the land and the home. By dividing the program spaces up into tiny cabins I can position each to react to the appropriate site force or feature that’s nearby. I know from meeting with local contractors that it’s difficult to bring concrete and fill material to the island so what I might normally do on the mainland to fit a building to the landform is going to be costly. So, I don’t really have the option to do much site work or to shape the site in any meaningful way so this is another reason for adopting this kind of a strategy. Each cabin will have to sit lightly on the land without access to a poured in place concrete foundation so we’ll likely be using piers.
I block out the spaces on the site plan very roughly at first. The early sketches are more diagrams than floor plans. I locate the major spaces and then sketch on top of the diagram adding more and more detail: doors, windows, hallways, fixtures, furniture and stairs. Each layer builds in more information. I'll sketch the floor plans at a low level of resolution and then begin looking at the design in three dimensions.
For this meeting I'm building digital models in SketchUp as I'll be traveling to the island for the meeting. Physical models will come later, but in both cases, models help me to study the spatial relationships more closely. The information I learn building the models feeds directly back in to the design of the plans. This back and forth is a typical part of the an architect's design process.
Whether we're designing a small outpost like this or an airport, architects follow similar steps. It’s an iterative process, you move between plan and section and model and each step informs the next.
As an architect you process a lot of information, evaluate all the constraints and opportunities and try to make something beautiful out it all. I think it’s hard to do much better than the natural environment surrounding this home - what’s there already - so really my job is to respect it by doing as little as possible.
My sincere thanks to my clients for their willingness to share their project and process publicly. Architecture isn't possible without great clients.
My Sketchbook, Site Diagrams + Contractor Interviews
The latest round of prototypes have arrived for the sketchbook I’m [...]
The latest round of prototypes have arrived for the sketchbook I’m designing + manufacturing. In this 'day in the life' you’ll get the first look at it. I’ll also walk you through a site analysis as I build it in Keynote which I've been using for most of my presentation work lately. I love its simple, minimalist toolset.
On my daily hike I climb Pemetic mountain in Acadia national park and following that you’ll see excerpts from two contractor interviews as I search for the right builder to help construct the OUTPOST project.
My schedule prioritizes making things in the morning and managing things in the afternoon and this ensures the work that’s most important to me is completed first.