Architects & Clients: The Dating Game

One of the things I was most excited about when starting Board & Vellum over four years ago, was the prospect of “pulling back the curtain” and giving clients a view into how Architects work. More importantly, how our work impacts our clients. I can come up with a ton of great design ideas, but without willing clients who feel they can trust us and our process, I’d be left to rely only on those willing to take a leap of faith. Endless leaps of faith are not what a sustainable design business is built on, and I think that our approach to transparency has proven that most clients would prefer not to jump blindly into a business relationship.

The Board & Vellum blog is not just entertainment; we like to think of it as a tool to educate the public about what we do. For this purpose, I wanted to dive into the actual process of how we go from a project inquiry to a real project here at Board & Vellum, and what it could look like if you were to drive down that road with us.

Typically, potential clients find us online and send an email (via our web site, our profile on Houzz.com, or Facebook), sometimes through a friend (word-of-mouth advertising can’t be beat), or often they see our name and phone number on a job-site sign, posted at project that is currently under construction, and give us a call (we are very surprised how many inquiry calls we receive from job site signs!).

Our job-site sign posted on Queen Anne at one of our projects currently under construction. You'd be surprised how many calls we get from these!

Our job-site sign posted on Queen Anne at one of our projects currently under construction. You’d be surprised how many calls we get from these!

Because of the number of inquiries we’ve been receiving in this booming economy (hint, it is a lot), we had to put a system in place. Usually Tina, our Marketing coordinator, will field the calls and emails, and respond with a request for some additional information, so that once she passes the client on to a Project Associate, the first conversation can be more productive. It is OK if you don’t have all the answers on the first phone call, we’re really just gathering information on your anticipated timeline, scope of work, budget (usually the thing that people know diddly-squat about, but again, perfectly OK), and your goals for the project. At that point Tina will set up a call with one of our staff to answer more of your questions and talk a little more in depth about your project. This is kind of a “pre-interview” to see if we could be a good fit for each other. Once that happens we schedule a complimentary in-person meeting at your project location. We’ll typically send two people to this initial meeting (not necessarily the project team) to talk through the details of how we work and hear about your goals for the project. We’ll walk around the site taking everything in, and maybe throw out some initial ideas, if appropriate.

Inquiry Calls

We’re always here to take your call… although usually only one at a time.

Following the walk through, we’ll prepare a formal proposal that outlines in detail, the specific phases of the project, our approach to cost savings and value engineering, our approach to sustainability, representative project photography, and, of course, our estimated fees. Included with the proposal is a brief Terms of Agreement and a Contract document, that once signed will get you on our schedule and start the process with us.

B&V Proposal

We prepare a full color detailed proposal following our first walk through of your project to recap our understanding of your goals.

We take this match-making with new clients very seriously, because hiring an Architect is really a personal experience. We will attempt to get inside your heads and design a space that works for you. In order to hire us, you should not only like us, you should feel that we truly understand your needs. I like to say that we not only listen to what you are saying but we listen to what you are NOT saying as well. Architects have to be inherently great communicators (are our drawings not just a visual form of communication?), so from the initial phone call through the subsequent walk-through meeting, we’re learning about you and you’re learning how we communicate, all of which helps build a level of trust which is the foundation for working together.

We’re also interviewing you to determine if you’ll be a great partner. Some of the things we look for are:
• Is your budget realistic given your scope of work? It is VERY understandable at the early stages of a project, if you want more than your initial budget will allow. Most people have no idea what things cost to build. But it’s our job to educate you on what your budget will get you, so that you can determine if you need to pull back scope or increase your budget.
• Is your timeline realistic and does it work with our availability and workload? Not only do clients not know how much it costs to build, they don’t know how long it takes. We try to be realistic with your anticipated schedule and make no promises about fast project completion. It’s a process and we want to get it right.
• Do we think you’ll be fun to work with? To be perfectly honest, lots of fun clients come our way. Typically, the reason we don’t fit with a new client has more to do with bullet points one or two above. But every now and then, we meet with a client and we just don’t jibe. We want you to have the best experience remodeling your home, even if it’s not with us.

If, at this point, all the stars align, and you sign the contract, then we get the pleasure of working with a client with whom we have already established a solid foundation of trust and understanding. It’s a win-win situation, and has served us and our clients well.

Hopefully, if you’ve read this far, you’re a little less overwhelmed about the process of hiring an Architect, and maybe you’ll give us a call or shoot an email. We’re a friendly bunch of people, just waiting to make your dream(home)s come true.

Everything Is Awesome with Houzz

We’ve been keeping a secret for a few weeks but we can finally share the news! Houzz contacted us a month ago about doing a video project showcasing Jeff’s house and the Lego Lounge for their new HouzzTV platform. We immediately said yes and they spent two full days filming the house, the Lego Lounge, Jeff and Chris with the boys and the Seattle area. They got so much footage, they surprised us with TWO VIDEOS! We are so impressed with the quality – it’s amazing to have such a professional view into one of our most popular projects. Below is the shorter video focusing on the Lego Lounge. You can click here to see the full story and the longer video featuring the whole house. Enjoy!

Earth Day Sustainability Slam

The AIA Committee on the Environment is hosting a Sustainability Slam and you’re invited!

event image
Board & Vellum is once again teaming up with Model Remodel to present Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe in a Pecha Kucha-style event on Wednesday, April 22nd. We’re celebrating Earth Day through a celebration of sustainable design and green building, along with 5 other projects at this fun local mixer. The event is free, but you do need to rsvp. Click over to the event page for all the details.

Does it make sense to add a second story to my house?

The current Seattle real estate market is crazy. Many of you out there are having to bid up mediocre homes as there’s so little available to purchase. To make matters worse, you may actually love your current house and don’t want to leave, but you’re maxed out with space. I get a lot of questions about whether or not it makes sense to add a second story to a client’s house.

One of our earliest second story additions shows how you can gracefully go up and respect the neighborhood

One of our earliest second story additions shows how you can gracefully go up and respect the neighborhood

It certainly isn’t a simple yes or no answer, but I’ve found that considering several factors can help you decide which path to take. While I like to think that a big part of my job is making dreams come true, it seems that when second story additions come up, I invariably leave first meetings with a different recollection.

Hello, I’m Jeff and I’m here to crush your dreams.

Well, that is a bit dramatic, but I’ve found that getting a big bite of reality helps reset expectations so you can start working on a feasible path forward. Expanding up isn’t cheap, it isn’t straight-forward, and it takes a lot of time to get it right. Luckily, that’s what we do.

Here are the considerations to think about when debating whether to add that second story or not.

1) Do you love your location?


This is easily the biggest factor in the current real estate market. Quite simply there is nothing for sale. Being in a location you love or one that is a desirable long-term option will be really hard to recreate. Real estate brokers (who we’re happy to refer you to if you actually don’t love your location and want to move) always say “location, location, location” and we second that notion. A house doesn’t exist in a bubble and getting that first piece of the puzzle right is almost priceless. So if you love where you live and want more space, move on to the next factor to consider.

north-seattle-neighborhood-map

2) Is your budget realistic?


This one is tough since no one has any clue what a 2nd story costs. Someone’s cousin in a small town told them they hired “a guy” and they did it for under $100,000 and they just love their house. Let’s refer back to point number 1: location. Seattle is a desirable location and things just cost more here (often a lot more). There are a zillion different factors but a good rule of thumb is that you’ll need at least $250,000 to add a 3 bed/2 bath second story and have it look decent. More than likely budgeting $350,000 is safer when you include all the incidental costs. That’s usually around 750-1,000 square feet. The costs can go up from there depending on what you do on the main floor (it will be impacted by the new stair at the very least). Yes, there are probably stories of actual people who built a second story in Seattle for far less than that. Usually it is a simple box on top of a craftsman bungalow or lower-quality materials and installation. I understand as a consumer myself that sometimes you are more tempted by quantity than quality, but I would advise you to think carefully about this. This is a very big long-term investment and getting it right can be the deciding factor when your house appraises for tens of thousands of dollars lower than expected. A well-designed second story home will live better and appraise higher than one slapped together for the lowest cost.

Board & Vellum will help you navigate the costs of a remodel with collaborative meetings and lots of handy spreadsheets

Board & Vellum will help you navigate the costs of a remodel with collaborative meetings and lots of handy spreadsheets


3) How much space do you need?


This is a weird question as I’ll often be asked why things cost so much when they only want a new floor for a master bathroom. Shouldn’t 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom cost less than 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms? Yup, they will. But the incremental cost to add those 2 extra bedrooms and 1 bathroom will be so small that you may want to re-think your strategy. Adding up is costly and whether you’re adding 1 master suite or 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms you still have all of the associated costs that go along with that; structural, heating, roofing, a new stair, etc. etc. The list is long. I always advocate to aim for the 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom second floor. It is a solid investment as it is so desirable and helps ensure the value of your investment.

A second floor plan is always specific to your house and is impacted by many factors such as stair locations and the width of your house.

A second floor plan is always specific to your house and is impacted by many factors such as stair locations and the width of your house.


4) What is your desired architectural style?


It seems that second story additions are one of the easiest remodels to screw up. Quite frankly, it is a challenging design problem and it takes a lot of care to get it right. Sometimes (OK, usually), it isn’t as simple as just adding a dormer. Some homes have a shape that just wasn’t meant for another story. This is where a lot of designs fall apart. You can see that someone tried, but the problem is that it looks like two forms slammed together. Often it makes more sense to reconsider the whole house and give it a new direction that looks like it was always intended to be that way. Additionally, if you’re more into modern architecture I would caution you to look around your neighborhood (how will this blend in and work with your neighbors) and how will the first floor of your house work with a new addition? Going in a more modern direction CAN be the right decision but it should be carefully considered. Too often homes are forced into that role and it just doesn’t work. Ranch houses can handle this transition well, but a bungalow has much more trouble. Be true to your house and neighborhood in considering whether you want to add up or not

Here are two second story options for the same house.  You can see how they go in very different directions but are both consistent with appropriate architectural styles for their neighborhood

Here are two second story options for the same house. You can see how they go in very different directions but are both consistent with appropriate architectural styles for their neighborhood


5) The final bit to consider is what your timeline is.


From the day an Architect is hired to when you start construction is approximately 4-6 months (or longer depending on a variety of factors often not in anyone’s control) and then at least 5 months for construction.

We build a project schedule for you so the project timeline is mapped out and you can follow along in the process

We build a project schedule for you so the project timeline is mapped out and you can follow along in the process

All of this considered, you should be able to decide how to best move forward. Adding on a second story addition is incredibly exciting. You get to re-imagine a small home you love into a larger one that better suits your needs. If you do it right you’ll have something you can proudly reside in and the knowledge that you made a wise investment. I personally love the challenge of designing a second story addition. There’s an art to it and it feels tremendously rewarding when you crack the solution and the plan just “sings”. It may be a slog, but our job is to help advocate for you the entire way and ensure that you get to the finish line with a gorgeous home that blows away your now fully real expectations.

You can go from this bungalow to this beautiful home with careful consideration.

Quite a drastic change for the better, isn't it?

Quite a drastic change for the better, isn’t it?


See, I told you we would build your dream back up after crushing it!

Press: Design Bureau

The long anticipated print edition of Design Bureau’s Spring 2015 Architecture Issue has finally arrived.

KM_C654e-20150406125809

If you’re not familiar with Design Bureau, it’s a feast of design. It features great projects cover-to-cover, very few advertisements, and a little pop culture thrown in for spice in the form of a piece on the award-winning set decorator for the TV show Mad Men, and news about the Alexander McQueen exhibit “Savage Beauty” moving to the Victoria and Albert Museum this summer. The glance toward fashion in this tomb of a publication only reinforces my earlier post that there is a special connection between fashion and Architecture (and furniture) that many find inspiring.

Although before I get way off topic, I encourage you to turn to pages 46 & 47 where our Seattle Box project is featured.

KM_C654e-20150406130105

Less Hierarchy and Job Titles

The bobs
I was picking up lunch at the local grocery store yesterday when over the PA system someone announced that all department managers were to report the general manager’s office. This reminded me of two things: 1) the scene in Office Space when Peter Gibbons reports to the Bobs that he has 8 different bosses, and 2) our discussion regarding job titles during a recent office retreat.

Job titles have become important as the office has grown, and clients have demonstrated curiosity as to what it all means. As a young firm we have the opportunity to decide what course we are going to take with job titles. Are we going to go with the status quo or do something completely out of the ordinary? What should be a simple discussion is not that simple when considering two factors: 1) the legalities of a job title and 2) the meaning behind the title for both us and the outside community. Let’s start with legalities.

Job titles are a salient topic in most architectural practices as many states ban the use of “Architect” in their title, unless they are registered with the state. While this seems logical, the process to become a licensed architect averages a 2-year commitment, and many professionals work in the field for 5+ years before they attempt licensure. some never even bother, deeming it unnecessary to meet their life goals. Ryan attempted to demystify licensure in a recent blog post if you’re curious about the process.

So what do you call an office full of people with several years of architectural education and relevant work experience? There are limited choices when factoring in the implications this has on people outside of the architectural community. Do our clients really understand the nuances of architectural legality and that many people can’t call themselves architects despite their experience? Probably not, but they do want someone who is qualified to do the work.

The second factor for our office is the culture. It’s easy to adopt policies of other offices by creating project managers who oversee teams of people working on specific projects. This stratification divides the responsibilities and in most cases leads to the eventual pigeon holing of people into certain tasks. I again can’t help but think of the movie Office Space. Pigeon holing is one of the worst nightmares of most architects. Fortunately, at Board & Vellum we strive to minimize the hierarchy in our office. We feel this ensures that everyone plays an equal role and grows together to meet our professional goals. We ultimately felt a variety of job titles would only lead to hierarchy and decided that whatever title was chosen we should all be the same.

RyansCard

Through much debate we arrived on the title of Project Associate (except Tina, our Office Manager / Marketing Coordinator and Jeff who reminded us he still owns the company by putting a crown next to his name, keeping the title of Principal). All other professional classifications such as Architect, AIA, CPHC® will simply be added to the title as we each continue our professional development. This is a great solution that we think will continue to grow our office professionally and culturally.

Kingjeff

Experiencing Acoustics

On a recent Friday night out and about with friends on Capitol Hill, I had the pleasure of checking out one of the newer restaurants as well as a theater for performance arts.  While that doesn’t sound like an earth-shattering or atypical weekend evening for me, I was struck by the sheer difference of these two spaces.

On this particular night out and the spaces I visited, I was taken by how much of a role acoustics can play into your experience of a space as well as the memories you’ll have of that space.  Being someone who enjoys food and always searching for great new places and experiences, our restaurant left me very impressed with food and the ambiance of the space.  Sounds like a winning combination right?  Yes…but the other memory I have of that space is how loud it was. Not just the typical chatter or white noise you can get at restaurants, but rather, we had to talk so loud we started losing our voices.  While I didn’t notice how loud it was while in the space, as I was walking towards the theater I realized that my throat hurt and really noticed how quiet it was outside.  Quiet outside isn’t something you generally say on a bustling Friday night on the Hill, just to give some more context to the noise level.

On the opposite side of the spectrum was the sound quality of the theater.  While everyone is generally quiet while the performance is going on, an actor could be whispering or mumbling and you could hear every single word they were saying.  Certainly you can make the argument that these spaces are so different and designed for different purposes but at the end of the day, acoustics are sometimes forgotten in a project and it becomes an afterthought.  Onto the nerdy side of acoustics!

From a very broad definition one could describe Architectural acoustics as the designing of spaces, structures and systems to meet hearing needs.  There are also “wanted” sounds, such as hearing everything in the theater, and “unwanted” sounds sometimes referred to as noise; examples of these are HVAC equipment to excessive noise levels of people talking.  Everyone has a different level of discomfort but a basic guide is below.

Photo Apr 01, 10 43 45 AM

Above: How much is too much?

In the case of the restaurant, there were hard surfaces everywhere.  Concrete floor, stainless steel countertops, tiled walls, metal doors and an almost perfect rectilinear space.  All of these elements were leading to sound bouncing around and hitting the hard surfaces, reflecting and amplifying back at us.  Ultimately this could have been resolved in several different ways, but thinking about adding some layer of absorbent material to the ceiling, window treatments, or even the type of furniture to help attenuate the noise could have all gone into making the space better.  With regard to the theater space, acoustics are generally one of the major items that we design to in order to ensure everyone has a pleasant experience.  In that particular space you could see acoustic tile on the ceiling, walls, set design, furniture that could help absorb sounds – even the floor plan of the space was different.

image 2

Top Left: Diagram of how sound bounces around in a room with hard surfaces and how it can be helped with absorbing materials. Right: Diagram of how sound reacts to different surfaces. Bottom Left: Example of how spaces are designed to direct sound.

When you think about trying to attenuate the sound of the space you also need to be aware of the different types of sound.  There are two different classifications of sound; STC and IIC.  STC stands for the sound transmission class which is a rating that is given to specific construction assemblies to reduce airborne sounds, such as voices, stereo systems, TV, and people talking.  IIC stands for impact isolation class.  This is a rating given to assemblies for structure-borne noises, such as equipment vibrations, people walking, dropping objects on the floor, just to name a few.  A general rule of thumb: the higher the number, the better it’ll be in noise reduction.  In both cases a rating of 50 or above will meet minimum requirements for the International Building Code.

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Top: Example of a situation where having a higher STC rating would be helpful.  Bottom Left: Diagram of how structure-borne noises impact throughout the building.  Bottom Right: Example of floor assemblies with their STC and IIC ratings.

So the next time you are out and about enjoying dinner, watching a performance – or just even at home – stop and think about the acoustics of the room and what items are either helping or hurting the sound.  If you really want to be adventurous you can do like my professor in graduate school did and start clapping or making bizarre sounds in a space.  During school I always wondered what he was doing, let alone being embarrassed from time to time but it is a great way of exploring your space.

Fun Fact:

The quietest room in the world is an anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis, MN and the quietest natural space is in Olympic peninsula, WA.  https://youtu.be/i_Rl98sqz6o

 

 

Stay Focused

I guess it all began in the mid 90′s with HGTV – were we actually putting home renovation on television?  Dwell Magazine certainly fanned the flames through the 2000′s.  Then came Houzz, Pinterest, Porch and more… At some point the proliferation of design culture had become so dense that it was unavoidable.   At present we have scores of boutique design blogs, so many it’s hard to keep track, all peddling that “must have”, “on trend”, “see it here first” advice.  It seems like you just can’t escape and it can be overwhelming!

I’m being a bit hyperbolic here to make a point… but my point is this: now in the digital design age, we are so inundated with beautiful images and “professional” opinions that it can be tremendously difficult to make confident decisions when you are designing your own home or remodel. In an effort to make things a bit easier and insure you get the most out of your own design project, I thought I would share how my wife and I approached our recently completed condominium remodel.

My advice is to stay focused. Stay focused on what really matters to you and your family. This requires some pretty radical honesty with yourself and your personal goals. When designing a residential space I have routinely watched people become overly aspirational about what to include in their design, often losing sight of who they truly are and how they will really live once they inhabit their future dwelling. As I mentioned, it is especially easy to head down this path when we are constantly deluged by  television, magazines, websites, and even our own friends’ opinions. Try to cut through the white noise by staying vigilantly focused on your own personal priorities.

So figure out what matters. Make one big design move. Let everything else support that move. Never forget that less is more (thanks Mies) and be prepared when less is more, work (thanks Rick). This sounds like an obsessively Modern mantra but I truly believe that it transcends style and works throughout scales, large and small. Stick to this formula when making design decisions and you will end up with a better product, more tailored to your needs with a unique character all its own.

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To me and my wife it is all about the kitchen; we love to cook, eat, craft, entertain, fold laundry and generally just be in the kitchen. Everything flowed from our desire to perfect and celebrate the kitchen, down to purchasing this specific property in the first place. Our first step was eliminating the walls that segregated the kitchen from the other public spaces and connect directly to the large west facing windows. Unifying the kitchen, living, dining into one grand space was a forgone conclusion but it was especially important that the kitchen be located in the middle, between the dining and living spaces so that all three area’s activities would naturally overlap.  The over sized island becomes a domestic hub that hosts all sorts of action with generous circulation provided. Eliminating the existing walls and opening up to the views of downtown Seattle nurtures our sense of place, reinforcing our connection with this beautiful city.

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Despite this desire for spatial overlap it remained important that the kitchen possess its own unique identity and be visually distinct from the adjacent spaces. To achieve this effect we employed a blanket of patterned concrete tile lining the floor, turning up at the cooktop backsplash and extending from countertop to ceiling, cabinet to wall. The patterned tile defines the kitchen area while other finish and detail choices act in deference to this bold design move. The cabinetry is intentionally quiet. With painted white flush panel doors and white quartz countertops, its minimal presence allows the tile to read through with strength. Simple fixture choices and minimal trim details reinforce this narrative.

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Keep in mind that sometimes an important design move is one you never even see once the project is complete. When we purchased the condominium it had fireplaces located in the north and south walls at each end of the large space. As we worked and reworked the design it became clear that these fireplaces were creating awkward spatial relationships, limiting our storage options and generating a furniture layout that was in direct conflict with the floor to ceiling windows and views beyond. The fireplaces had to go. We were uncertain about it at the time but we made the decision to stick with our kitchen first concept and filled in the fireplaces. Now that we are living in the space it is entirely clear that we made the right choice.

Previously existing fireplace

Before. The existing fireplaces and overwrought trim had to go…

Finally, developing a strong design concept and following it to its logical conclusion can also provide a project value. When your budget is limited it really helps to have clear and simple guidelines that direct your allocation of resources. In our project, simple light fixtures and clean window details support the design concept but are also inexpensive and easy to install. This synergy of clearly defined personal priorities, corresponding design logic and common sense construction has produced a living space of superior quality, to us. And the emphasis is on us, as these are the decisions we made.  Follow my advice and your decisions will be different but they will be right, for you.

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In LEGO, We Connect – A gallery review

If it isn’t already apparent from previous posts (and here and here), I’m a bit of a LEGO nerd.  I love those little bricks even if with two kids and a business I don’t get to build with them very much these days.  They’re beautiful, inspiring, and they’re the reason why I’m an Architect.

I’ve built some crazy things in my day (like this 7′ long spaceship) but I’ve been awful at photographing it.

Here's the OSS Pontbriand - a crazy spaceship that took up 9 months of my life.  Click for more pictures

Here’s the OSS Pontbriand – a crazy spaceship that took up 9 months of my life. Click for more pictures

The poor photography of my work was partially why I was intrigued to hear of a new photography exhibit focusing on LEGO photography.    The show was down at the Bryan Ohno Gallery and called “In LEGO, We Connect” and I figured it would be worth a visit. Honestly, I imagined it would be fun but nothing too world shattering.  Imagine my surprise then when a few of us from Board & Vellum swung down a bit late (thanks for letting us in guys!) for the opening night and saw the work.  I found it all really inspiring in the way it manipulated an apparent sense of scale and took you on a little ride.  It was fun, gorgeous, and just a blast to look at.  The three artists are from Seattle, Helsinki, and Stockholm and bring unique approaches to a fun medium.

Here are a few of us with one of the talented artists, Vesa Lehtimaki

Here are a few of us with one of the talented artists, Vesa Lehtimaki 

In particular, the work by Shelly Corbett stood out to me as playful and gorgeous.  You should check her out on Instagram as well at XXSJC and while you’re there, don’t forget to follow boardandvellum too!  Her “I Robot, 205” is one that I just can’t stop looking at. Gorgeous.

I Robot, 2015 48” x 35” Monotype Archival pigment print on paper

I Robot, 2015
48” x 35” Monotype
Archival pigment print on paper 

The show is open until April 11th down at the Bryan Ohno Gallery (521 Main Street, Seattle WA 98104).  I can’t recommend it enough.

In LEGO, We Connect

Schooled

At Board & Vellum we support each staff member having his or her own voice because we are of the opinion that collaboration between different people yields a richer outcome than following a singular way of thinking. You may notice this on our blog; different characters emerge in our posts as we all regularly contribute. With this post, I am formally introducing you to my voice.

After being in the office for a couple of months I have identified a unique position for myself. I simultaneously enjoy solving everyday architectural issues and pondering theoretical architecture. Also, as someone who recently finished my graduate thesis and continues to be active at the architecture school, I like to bring a critical view to the work that we do along with a bit of an academic perspective to our practice.

I plan to use my posts to keep readers informed about interesting events and lectures that we have attended, mention upcoming educational activities that you may find enriching, and discuss critical issues related to the work that we do. It is my hope that in providing a window into a world that can sometimes be very separate from the public eye, architects and non-architects alike can find common interests and spur a dialog.

Today I will share with you an anecdote from an undergraduate final presentation that I recently had the fortune of attending as a guest critic. In the presentations, some students mentioned a material or two with which they envisioned their proposed buildings being clad.

Some said:

Wood because it is warm, concrete because it is solid, or glass because you can see through it.materials composite

(Lancaster House. MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, Thermal Vals. Atelier Peter Zumthor and Partner, Helvetia Headquarters. Herzog & DeMeuron)

These are observations that we all make regarding typical building materials, but when discussing material one must account for the subtleties of time and its effects on our buildings. Some of these young students left out this important factor in discussing material choice. Wood can seem warm, but some species silver in the sun. Concrete is easily stained by water that has run over rusting metal or act as a host for mosses (especially in our Northwest climate). And as a professor of mine drove home in an essay during my tenure in graduate school, the experience of glass is as much a result of the reflections it casts as its transparency. Consider this element of time when you imagine your next project. The state in which you imagine your building may only last an instant; embrace the weathering and changes that occur over time and enjoy your building for much longer than an instant.