July 9th, 2010
I will start this discussion with a short parable: Two masons were working on installing brick veneer column bases on a colonnade as part of one of my projects. The first mason, when asked what he was doing, replied that he was installing masonry veneer column bases. True enough. An accurate statement. The second mason responded to the same question with the reply that he was helping build this building.
It is possible that the first mason would perform just as professionally as the second. But I think it is more likely that the second mason would approach his work with at better overview of its place in the total building composition. I also think he would be more likely to care and notice how his work interfaces with the work of other trades, probably resulting in a better final product. Read the rest of this entry »
April 5th, 2010
As the profession moves towards ever more integrated design processes, it has become incumbent upon the new members of the profession, fresh from their successful collegiate studies, to present themselves to architect employers with an ever increasing list of already-owned and developed skills.
Back in the old days, when drawings were produced by hand – pencil or pen upon vellum or film – the freshly minted architectural graduate could be assured of at least a couple of years of laboring over the smallest details, interior and exterior elevations, plans, or sections. This had the benefit of exposing the candidate, slowly, to all the ins and outs of basic building design as they worked to help a team assemble a set of drawings. Most components of the drawing sets, including all the details, were redrawn for each project. This systematically forced repetition would help instill an understanding of the system or materials contained within the details on the young architect-to-be, while he or she perfected their line technique and lettering “hand”.
Then came sticky back reproduced standard details and things like pin-bar assembly of final drawings. Suddenly the focus of the labor was to select the correct, already drawn details to install on a sheet, see to it that they were copied, and then assembled on the correct sheet. Less time was spent (less was available) actually reviewing the detail for content and accuracy, as the basic drawing effort was already completed. The opportunity to learn about the content and reasoning behind the detail was reduced. Only the most diligent intern spent any time reviewing all of the content for accuracy and personal understanding.
Now computers and design programs allow us to produce even more quantity in less time, with the sticky back detail replaced by “x-refed” details and geometry. The amount of time spent reviewing the contents of the details is even more constricted, and the opportunity to learn how things work is even more compressed.
Read the rest of this entry »
April 2nd, 2010
I was conversing with an engineer the other day about a public works project for a local city we had been asked to help his firm work on. We were going to prepare renderings of the proposed street elevations for the property where they were designing and installing a water tank and a pump house building.
The project manager for the city – a city engineer – asked to see examples of our work prior to authorizing the engineering firm to engage us for this work. We submitted a couple of examples of rendered street elevations we had done for recent housing projects. They showed trees, walls, landscaping intent, massing of the buildings and other structures beyond the walls, as well as the relative level of the street to the proposed construction.
The city project manager, after viewing the submitted sample drawings, asked whether or not we had any examples of pump station buildings in our resume’ that she could view. At first, I laughed, and then fired off an email to the engineer we were attempting to be hired by, somewhat facetiously asking – does it matter what kind of building it is behind the wall and landscaping, we are architects, we can draw it. We are professionals. It is a building for goodness sakes! Read the rest of this entry »
February 12th, 2010
I am an architect in private practice in Southern California. I graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in 1981 with a Masters in Architecture. I actually began working in the profession as a draftsman in 1976. From 1987 through most of 1991 I was a partner in a private architectural firm, which grew to a staff of twenty before eventually being dissolved. Since that time, I have been the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at Musser: Architects, Inc.
My staff and I are able to effectively provide a wide variety of design and consulting services to our clients. A large portion of our work involves renovation and forensic work, and much of that is focused on affordable rental housing and private, higher density housing projects. We perform peer review services, accessibility reviews for a wide variety of building types, and expert witness services for professional services complaints, construction defects, contract disputes, and accessibility issues.
This blog will be a regular exposition based on observations about the profession of Architecture and my experiences as a member of the profession. Some will be serious (but not too serious) and others may be tongue-in-cheek humorous. They will all be intended to be informative as well as instructive. I intend to allow comments, and will post those that are not profane, foolish, stupid, or ad hominem in construct. I will be the sole arbiter of the previous definitions.
To all those who choose to visit, welcome.