What does it take to become an architect?

Just like everything else, there is no clear answer to that question. “It depends.”  To keep this from becoming a fifteen thousand page document, I will attempt to describe what it takes to become an architect.   I should clarify that this post will focus on what it will take to become an architect in Washington State, on this exact day, at this exact minute. The higher-ups that run the licensing board like to make “updates” every five minutes.  If you can successfully navigate the tsunami of paperwork and gain an understanding of all the necessary steps, the board should give you an architecture license. For all the regulations and fine print, click here.

There are three basic “standard” routes that most people take. The “grad school route,” “pre-professional route,” and the “experience route.” All of these paths have some overlap such as NCARB and testing.

map to architecture 3

There are four ways you can go about becoming an architect in Washington State:

1) You can become licensed with only a high school diploma, but this requires 12 years of practice (and so many hoops to jump through that you should just completely forget that I even said that).

2) High school diploma plus an undergrad college degree. This will lead you on the “experience route.” You also have to do some additional steps that I have laid out below.

3) High school diploma plus pre-professional degree from an NAAB accredited school. This is the most streamlined option. This will lead you to the “pre-professional route.”

4) Finally there is high school plus undergrad plus grad school.  This is the most standard route. This will lead you to the “grad school route.”

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is an organization that keeps track of everything you do prior to becoming an architect.  The biggest thing that they track is your Intern Development Program (IDP) hours. As an “intern” you are required to log 5,600 hours of supervised time under a licensed architect.  Not all the hours need to be logged under a licensed architect, but most of the hours do.  The hours are broken down into different categories such as construction documents, design, construction observation, structure and design development.  The idea of this is to make sure the intern gets experience in all categories which helps prevent them from being pigeonholed into one task.

The IDP program really helps interns develop skills that are needed to become an architect in a controlled environment. This is roughly three years of full-time working.  There is about 1,000 rules about logging hours. All the routes that are laid out above need to complete this at some point before getting licensed.

If you go the “experience route” (see #2 above), then you are required to have two years of additional mentorship under a licensed architect.

There are currently 7 tests that you have to pass in order to become an architect.

Programming, Planning, and Practice
Site Planning and Design
Building Design and Construction Systems
Schematic Design
Structural Systems
Building Systems
Constructions Documents and Services

These tests range from 4 to 6 hours each. The word on the street is that in 2016 the number of tests will be reduced from 7 tests to 6. If you go the “grad school route” or the “pre-professional route,” you can immediately start testing after graduation.  If you go the “experience route,” you have to complete both NCARB and the mentorship before you can start testing.

Summary (Here’s the math)
“Experience Route”
(Undergrad School, 4 years) + (NCARB / IDP, 3-4 years) + (Mentorship, 2 years) + (7 Tests, 1-5 years) = Licensed Architect (10-15 years)

“Pre-professional Route”
(NAAB Accredited School, 5 years) + (NCARB / IDP, 3-4 years) + (7 Tests, 1-5 years) = Licensed Architect (9-14 years)

“Grad School Route”
(Undergrad School, 4 years) + (Grad School, 2-3 years) + (NCARB / IDP, 3-4 years) + (7 Tests, 1-5 years) = Licensed Architect (10-16 years)

As for me, I went the “experience route” and I still have a ways to go.  I have finished all my IDP hours and I am now working on the mentorship portion of this magical process.  In about a year and a half I will be ready to start testing and I can’t wait until the day I become a licensed architect! 

P.S. After you become a licensed architect you still have a requirement that needs to be fulfilled to maintain your license. Basically you are required to earn 24 credits / hours of continuing education every two years.

Revit: The Next B&V Frontier

We here at Board and Vellum sometimes get questions about the naming of our firm. Because we live in a digital world, the idea of returning to the basics of architecture– a drawing board with a sheet of vellum and some lead–seems like a somewhat counterproductive way to share ideas with clients and provide the documentation required to permit and build our projects. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t so long ago that architects and designers conveyed their ideas to clients and provided the documents to make them a reality in just this fashion. How this information is conveyed has changed rapidly, and for our firm, knowing the right medium to use at any given time provides us with flexibility and great ability to move through projects quickly and efficiently.

Above: Old school Drafting at it's finest. Below: Old School drafting pre-Board and Vellum Office expansion, Ain't nobody got time for that!

Above: Old school Drafting at it’s finest. Below: Old School drafting pre-Board and Vellum Office expansion, Ain’t nobody got time for that!

When I first joined Board and Vellum, most of our production work—the drawings that are used for permitting and construction—-was done in AutoCAD. AutoCAD (CAD, by the way, stands for Computer-Aided Design) is a work horse program that most of us in the field know like the back of our hand. It allows the user to draw lines and arcs to create shapes that represent every part of a building. These lines and shapes are sorted into layers, given line weights, or thickness based on colors, and turned on and off to create greater graphic legibility.

On the whole, there is ongoing love/hate relationship with AutoCAD. It has always performed admirably in the realm of traditional 2 dimensional-drawings-that which is the most important for construction documents, but try as it might, AutoCAD never could figure out how to be successful at 3 dimensional drafting. To make up for this lacking, Board and Vellum have used Sketchup to assist in providing clients with a better understanding of their projects in the design development phase of design. Sketchup is great at creating quick models that are great at conveying intent but still work with lines, arcs, and planes, and the use of two different forms of software created a sometimes cumbersome task of moving back and forth to produce technical documents.

Above: Section in AutoCAD as we see it. Below: Same section as it's printed. Look at all that lovely line work!

Above: Section in AutoCAD as we see it. Below: Same section as it’s printed. Look at all that lovely line work!

Over the last 10+ years, a more comprehensive process of producing documents has developed. Building Information Modeling (BIM) trades out the lines and planes and replaces them with 3 dimensional objects that are put together to create a building. Modeling instead of drafting is a whole new level of awesome, and combines the best part of 2-D drafting with visual tools of sketchup and other 3-D drawing products

While there are many BIM software products out there, we, and many others in our field have gravitated to the sister product of AutoCAD – Revit. Rather than drawing a two lines to represent a wall in plan, in Revit, we can create a wall with thickness based on how it is assembled, give it heights and materials and tell it where to sit in space. This then allows us to look at the wall from every angle, see how it interacts with other walls, openings, floors, roof forms and the site that surrounds it. This process allows us to quickly compile a simple, holistic view of any given space, and be able to share this space, make changes, and discuss options all during the course of a design meeting. Even better, what we see in the model exists in plan, elevation, section, and every other view needed to create the technical documentation needed for permits and construction.

Revit Model as we work. One model, 5 different views, with the click of a button!

Revit model as we work. One model, 5 different views, all with the click of a button!

I have been a huge proponent for our transition to Revit since joining Board and Vellum, and am so excited to see it’s implementation! We completed a pilot project in Revit this summer, and are currently developing 4 projects in Revit, with plans to have more this upcoming year. Meanwhile we are busy getting our entire team educated and engrossed in the wonders of the program. I look forward to sharing this progress and a more in-depth look at how Revit works in coming posts!

Not Your Ordinary Hinges

A while back, we had the opportunity to tour a new Queen Anne Hill residence being completed by Edifice Construction. It is an impressive project with many exciting features that kept us captivated for hours.  In addition to seeing the builders’ fine craftsmanship in person, we enjoyed the opportunity to discover new materials, fixtures, equipment, and hardware that we can now share with our current and future clients for possible inclusion in their projects.

Art Deco Fantasia by Edifice Construction

Art Deco Fantasia by Edifice Construction

For example, I learned about two types of hinges that I wasn’t aware of before the tour. We don’t often specify specialty hinges, because most applications simply call for the ubiquitous barrel hinge in one finish or another.  However, now and then a specialty hinge is required, and these two in particular are great options to know about.

First,  the Micromaster by Manfred Frank.  This hinge is the Incredible Hulk of concealed hinges!  A pair of these hinges can support oversized doors and panels of solid wood, stone, or glass up to 400 kg (882 lbs.) in weight.  Furthermore, a single person can adjust the panel into perfect alignment under full load and with just a common Allen wrench.  Once adjusted, there’s allegedly no slippage or creep possible… pretty awesome!  Here’s what it looks like:


So, what kind of application calls for oversized panels of wood or stone set flush with adjacent surfaces with minimal gaps and the ability to mysteriously swing open with ease? Well… SECRET PASSAGES, OF COURSE!!!  There is an extreme deficiency of secret passages on client wish lists that needs to be remedied.  We can fix that, and here are some images to inspire you:

collage 01

The second hinge is by Harmon Hinge and is also a concealed hinge. While the advantage of the Micromaster is its heavy lifting capability, the Harmon Hinge distinguishes itself with its ability to mount a swinging panel completely flat against a wall.  Here’s what it looks like:

concealed Harmon hinge

One application might be to conceal a pair of 18” wide doors as the “jambs” of an extra deep cased opening.  For example, the doors would be paneled and finished to match the adjacent millwork such that when open, they blend with the millwork and seemingly disappear.  It’s an interesting alternative to traditional pocket doors without the acoustic shortcomings of pocket doors and their wall cavities.  Here are some images to better illustrate this hinge’s operation and the example application:

Harmon detailcollage 02

And finally, here is a bonus hinge that I learned about while working on a project in Bellevue.  It is by Rixson.   There are various models, of course, and the one that I dealt with involved routing into the threshold and door header to provide clearance for the mounting plates and pivot axis.  Also, since these support the door/panel from below, they are capable of bearing a lot of weight.  Here’s an image of the hinge that was used in the project that I was working on:


Usually, these hinges are installed on really cool, over-sized entry doors like the ones in the images below, but you know this hardware is perfect for secret passage doors too!

collage 03

Here’s one more example of a secret passage door that probably utilizes the Rixson pivot hardware. Some lucky architect got to design this for their client!


Everyone NEEDS a staircase concealed behind a secret built-in bookcase/door! We can design this for your project… and by “we”, I mean specifically ask for David; he’s the most qualified for this particular design opportunity!

Introducing Todd!

I am excited and honored to be able to write my very first post as an employee of Board & Vellum.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by such wonderful and creative people on a daily basis all while doing what I love.Collage1A collage by definition is a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric onto a backing.  I like to think of my life as a continual collage and one that keeps developing.

While originally from the northwest corner of Minnesota (sometimes a Canadian accents slips out) my older sister and I grew up in a farm environment and the outdoors were my playground.  While out exploring and being creative with what I could find I would build forts and tree houses and spend hours enjoying them.  I thought this was all play at first, then later realized how my love of drawing floor plans and elevations of houses coincided with my building forts and tree houses.  My family later moved to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area when I was going into 7th grade and that is where I truly say I grew up and so many opportunities awaited.Collage2One of those opportunities was exploring higher education at the University of Minnesota.  There I was able to explore both the architecture world as well as the cultural studies and comparative literature realm.  Understanding where my future was going and what I wanted I had the great opportunity to go to graduate school and get my Masters of Architecture degree from Iowa State University.  While at Iowa State University I was exposed to new challenges and journeys that has gone into creating how I design and influences I look at.  These journeys range anywhere from looking at patterns in a different way to traveling and soaking up the culture of a new place to continually learning something new.  My personal motto is to never stop learning.Collage3After completing graduate school in the midst of the recession I began the journey of finding my place in the working architecture world.  Seattle wasn’t on my radar at all but one job caught my eye and next thing you know I was moving to Seattle!  I spent the last 4 years working at GGLO and gaining incredible knowledge of the built environment and grew from a nervous intern to working on my exams for licensure and being a vital element to all of the project I worked on.  While most of my working experience has been in large multifamily projects I’m looking forward to returning to my passion of single family and cultivating great relationships with clients.Collage4While Seattle wasn’t on my radar before I couldn’t imagine moving away from this beautiful city!  Whether it is exploring my love of photography, biking, hiking, all day game-a-thons, kimchi making with friends or relaxing and enjoying the wonderful wine/cider/beer this region has to offer, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’m looking forward to following my passion while here at Board & Vellum and sharing more of my collage with you all in future posts.

Introducing Jeff Sandler!

I am very happy to be here writing my introductory post as a B&Ver! It’s hard to imagine that in the past year I have studied and built furniture in Denmark, finished my architectural thesis at the University of Washington, and started work here, but I have welcomed each of these wonderful changes in turn.


I grew up outside of Chicago with my parents, older sister, and childhood dog. Summers were split between sports camp and art camp and I feel this largely describes me in a nutshell. I love adventure and being outside and also enjoy the processes of making creative work. Sketching famous paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago as a child became a favorite hobby of mine and ultimately led me to architecture. I first studied architecture at the University of Illinois, where stinging winter winds drove me to sit endlessly in the farm equipment pole barn that was my first design studio.

collage_growing up

After finishing my bachelor’s degree I had the fortune of landing an internship at Lake|Flato Architects in San Antonio, Texas. It was a dream. I spent days working among kind, interesting, and talented people and nights biking around the city with friends to favorite hangouts, being chased by feral street dogs, and driving out to the West Texas desert to view the works of Donald Judd.

collage_school and LF

My girlfriend – Emily, and I relocated to Seattle as a change from our otherwise flatland, mid-continent upbringing. Here we have found community at work, at school, and around the city. We enjoy exploring Seattle and its surroundings with trips to different farmers’ markets, drives over the mountains, and ferry rides to visit the islands.

collage_emily and me

My architectural influences come from a sensitivity toward culture and people and a curiosity for how things work. I love to think about the interrelationships between culture, landscape, and building. Now, I look forward to my opportunity to practice what I love here at Board and Vellum. Stay tuned for more musing from me on the blog!

Photography + Promotion

As the Marketing Coordinator for Board & Vellum (and the only non-architect in the office), I consider every project to have a final phase that includes professional photography and promotion. The best representation of our firm’s work is through photographs that clearly articulate the design and the final product. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Photograph by John G. Wilbanks Photography

Photograph by John G. Wilbanks Photography

As a fashion designer, I’ve had lots of experience styling models, but styling a house for its closeup is a whole different angle. Sometimes it’s a matter of removing clutter, arranging furniture, or simply bringing in fresh flowers. Generally, less is more.

Beets have a rich color and generous greens, but they are best shot from afar.

Beets have a rich color and generous greens, but they are best shot from afar.

You can really learn a lot from shadowing a photographer. I had the opportunity to assist with the recent photo shoot for our Urban Farmhouse project and got to witness John Wilbanks in action. John is our go-to guy for project photography. He works efficiently and effectively and produces incredibly compelling images.

John Wilbanks on set photographing our Urban Farmhouse

John Wilbanks on set photographing our Urban Farmhouse

Once the photographs are ready I can’t wait to share them through all our promotion channels: the portfolio on our web site, our Houzz.com profile, internal marketing sheets and project boards and of course through social media platforms – basically it’s my job to brag about our work. Marketing can often come across as phony at best – pushy at worst. But when you use genuine enthusiasm to promote something you believe in, is it still considered marketing?

Photograph by John G. Wilbanks Photography

Photograph by John G. Wilbanks Photography

2014 Highlights

I finally have a minute for a bit of a breather to write a recap of this past year.  Looking at my notes, it really hit me just how much has actually happened in 2014. In all honesty, I can’t believe it was just one year as my memories have blurred together and what seems like YEARS ago was actually just 6 months or so ago.  It has been one amazing and wild ride.

The truth is, 2014 was a tipping point and just a banner year all around.  I can’t thank everyone I get to interact with enough for making this such an amazing year.  Board & Vellum has grown into a mature and established company and I’ve personally settled into my role as Dad and community member.

So what the heck happened to make everything so crazy?  I’ll mix a bit of personal in with professional as that seems to be how we roll here.  Here are my top 20 moments of this past year in no particular order:

1)      My husband Chris and I welcomed our second son, Zachary, into the world in September.  He’s now 3 months old, full of smiles and lots of personality.  I’d be lying to say that being a parent of 2 young boys was anything but insane (there was a time in October when I would have given a limb for an extra hour of sleep) but it has been pretty incredible and something I know I’ll love even more as the years pile on.  In the meantime, I’ll hope for more sleep in 2015.

Zachary doesn't always look like an evil monster but when he does he's certainly cute

Zachary doesn’t always look like an evil monster but when he does he’s certainly cute

2)      I was fortunate enough to be honored as one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 under 40 (and still with several years to spare I might add).  I had read this list for many years so to be rewarded for my effort in helping this firm grow in the company of such amazing honorees was a huge achievement and one that I am very proud of.


3)      Our team started off the year with 4 people on the team.  Starting in January of 2015 we’ll be 12.  That’s pretty crazy growth and we’ve been lucky to assemble such a stellar team.  I can’t say enough how brilliant these people are.

3-staff collage with jeff

4)      I was featured in a really cool documentary on small businesses, “Small Business Proud”.  It is fun to look back at the video and see the hectic energy of the office as we were growing.  It was heartening to see our efforts rewarded.  Check out the video HERE

4-small business proud

5)      As part of the Small Business Proud effort, Jeff spoke on a panel with Liz Dunn and Matt Dillon how to be a successful small business owner as part of the Small Business Proud documentary.  I don’t think I made a major fool of myself so it stands out as a highlight.

Here's the crew doing our customary point at the camera

Here’s the crew doing our customary point at the camera

6)      Ada’s Technical Books and Café was rewarded with an award from the Residential Architect Design Awards in the light commercial category.  It was great to get national recognition for the work we did on that great space.  I’ve read this magazine for a very long time so it was really special to be honored by it.


7)      Our revenue increased by over 375% from the year prior.  A lot of that was spent in new computers, software, an office expansion, and training for the new staff but it was still a great year thanks to a bevy of great clients and projects.  We work hard and it has paid off.

Robert loves to multi-task

Robert loves to multi-task

8)      Our profile on Houzz.com took off and really helped establish us a leader in Seattle residential design.  Do a search on Houzz.com for a Seattle Architect and see how near the top we pop up.  It is pretty awesome.  We were rewarded with 2 Best of Houzz Awards in Customer Service and Design plus The Seattle Box the was featured in a great article. 

8-best of houzz

9)      My house, The Seattle Box, was featured in the Seattle Times’ Pacific Northwest Magazine.  It has been fun to still run into people who have seen our family in the paper.


10)   Even while growing the business, I was able to take a trip to Peru and explore that beautiful country (and eat too much food…a common 2014 occurrence).  Travel is a passion of mine and this year was no different.

This was truly inspiring

This was truly inspiring

11)   My oldest son, Kellen, learned to appreciate building with the LEGO Duplo line.  I like to start ‘em young.

Here's Kellen and I at Brickcon this past October

Here’s Kellen and I at Brickcon this past October

12)   I became a Certified Passive House Consultant.  I’m obsessed with the results oriented approach to sustainability and couldn’t be more proud to one of the new CPHCs in Washington State. We’re looking forward to hopefully working on our first passive house this coming year.


13)   Back in the summer, we took the entire staff out for a weekend long retreat up by Lake Wenatchee.  Our approach to running the firm and setting the direction is unique for firms our size and it was really helpful to have everyone at the table setting our goals for the future.  Plus, it was a lot of fun and we established our direction for the rest of the year.


14)   Our office space, while not 100% complete or quite big enough for our needs, is now far more reflective of us as a team.  There was a period when we were so squeezed in that just moving from one end to the other required careful choreography.  Here’s a bit of the backstory on our expansion.

We were VERY crowded before the expansion

We were VERY crowded before the expansion

15)   We received a Golden Nugget Award for Ada’s Technical Books and Café as well as a Green Remodeling Excellence award for the project.  Oh yeah, and a great award from Historic Seattle.  In many ways, it was the year of awards for this project.  Plus, the co-working space we designed, “The Office at Ada’s” opened up and it looks spectacular.

15-historic seattle

16)   I was honored to present at the 2014 Green Building Slam to talk about the approach to sustainability key to the success of Ada’s Technical Books.  Here’s a recap.

Here's Jason Legat from Model Remodel and Jeff speaking at the Green Slam Event

Here’s Jason Legat from Model Remodel and Jeff speaking at the Green Slam Event

17)   My house was featured in Huffington Post twice for a feature on the coolest basement remodels.

17-huff post bsmt

18)   As part of our goals for Board & Vellum, we now pay staff for their time to sit on boards, volunteer for non-profits, or just be better members of their community.  We consistently try to give back to our community as part of our core values.

Here's Cindy Lou Who collecting gifts for the Uber toy drive

Here’s Cindy Lou Who collecting gifts for the Uber toy drive

19)   I’ve settled into my role as a board member of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce.  I love the Capitol Hill neighborhood (I both live and work here) and cherish the chance to help better this amazing part of an even greater city.


20)   This one needs more than one line item, but honestly we have an outstanding group of clients.  We’re fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose who we work with now and I can’t say enough what a spectacular group of people I get to interact with.  We have such a wide variety of projects in design or under construction with even more amazing people behind them.  I’m grateful to get to help them all with their dreams.

20-happy new year

So that’s a short and dirty recap of some of my highlights from this amazing year.  From parenthood to growth, I know that 2014 will go down as on hell of a year. Here’s to what looks to be a just as successful (but hopefully a bit calmer) 2015!


Edifice of Sound

6 beethovenNot too long ago, Robert wrote an excellent inquiry into what architecture sounds like. It got me thinking about how sound translates to space, and reminded me of a poignant discussion held in a famous house while I was an apprentice at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. But, it’s not the famous house you’re expecting, although I’ll talk about that one too. Allow me to digress.

When asked who his favorite architect was, Frank Lloyd Wright would wryly say, Beethoven.

But, Beethoven, you say, was a composer, not an architect!

Then Wright would raise one eyebrow and remind the questioner that Beethoven constructed what he called – an edifice of sound.

What he meant was that Beethoven composed music holistically – it was an integrated sum of its individual parts. Every piece had meaning, a purpose. These parts (sounds, rhythm, instruments, cadences, etc.) are intricately woven together. Much in the same way that Wright created architecture: every aspect of the design was part of a greater whole. His buildings are famous for seemingly growing out of the site. And, Wright was famous for designing everything about his projects – the structure, the landscaping, the interior design, the furniture, the way people interacted with the spaces, right down to the napkin rings. There is a clear relationship between each element.

When you hear a Beethoven symphony, you’ll notice the richness of the experience. It’s full and dynamic. There is a clear composition and order of every element, themes that repeat and evolve as the work moves forward, an identifiable foreground, middle ground, and background – all culminating in a singular, soaring musical steamrolling of the sub-conscious.

Listen here – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (1st Movement, Allegro ma non troppo) as a visual representation by Philharmonia Baroque. (This Youtube video is pretty cool where you can actually see the music as it is being played. )Simultaneously look at some of the image collages I’ve compiled of a few famous Wright projects.Taliesin - Spring Green, WITaliesin – Spring Green, WI

Hillside Theater - Spring Green WIHillside Theater – Spring Green, WI

Taliesin West - Scottsdale, AZTaliesin West – Scottsdale, AZ

Fallingwater - Bear Run, PA

Fallingwater – Bear Run, PA

Perhaps you can see the correlation, and possibly how Wright drew inspiration from Beethoven.

The other famous house in question was Bruce Goff’s Ford House in Aurora, IL. It is one of the most absurdly fascinating dwellings, and was owned by one of our professors who brought us there to take in the shear impossibility of it all. While both Wright and Goff share some common element of being considered “organic” architects, they have very different visions for the creation of the built environment. But, they both were ardent fans of classical composers and they both composed their own works on piano.

Ford Residence - Aurora, IL

Ford Residence – Aurora, IL

We had debated Beethoven’s influence on Wright several times sitting in the Living Room at Taliesin that summer. What became evident while taking in the split level great room of the Ford Residence was that the space felt very different, almost a little off, despite the fantastical elements. We weren’t able to pin point it until our professor played for us some music.

Listen here – Claude Debussy’s La Mer by the Philharmonia Orchestra. You’ll notice it’s rather different than the example I shared by Beethoven. Debussy came from a more modern, impressionistic period. He employed what some described as glittering passages and webs of sound that distract from occasional absence of tonality. There is much utilization of negative space, and very little middle ground in the mix. His work is basically all foreground and background. Just like Bruce Goff’s!

“Did you guys notice”, my professor explained, “how difficult it is to photograph the house?”

God yes it was. Compared to say, Taliesin or Fallingwater, where you can hardly take a bad photo. Goff’s work is more disjointed without that middle ground holding it together. Wright luxuriates in middle ground space.

Talisein - Notice how even the edge detail of the cedar shingle roof photographs well.

Talisein – Notice how even the edge detail of the cedar shingle roof photographs well.

Naturally, having Frank Lloyd Wright as a source of inspiration for my own work, I am a big fan of Beethoven as well. I find his music utterly inescapable, like it’s a part of me. We’re so lucky in Seattle that our Symphony plays Beethoven’s 9th for New Year’s annually. It’s become a tradition for me to see it, as it has become my personal favorite work of music, surpassing dare I say the Beatle’s catalogue as the culminating achievement of Western Civilization. I’m not exaggerating! On top of everything, Beethoven was completely deaf when he wrote it, which makes the experience of seeing it performed live even more mind boggling. And it was the very first time in music history that a composer included a chorale as part of a symphony. Try not to be completely blown away during the Ode to Joy section of the last movement.

Go see it. There are tickets left all this coming weekend. The edifice of sound awaits!

Chorizo Stuffing, Whiskey, a Duck and Two Flasks

When your office grows from 4 to 12 in one year, it is major cause for celebration and the first annual B&V Holiday Party Extravaganza did not disappoint. Complete with a holiday dinner served by the original Skillet food truck, 12 thousand Karaoke songs, a cringe-worthy white elephant gift exchange, home-made ice luge shots and a red carpet entrance, there was something for everyone.

Holiday Entertaining

B&V Holiday Party Extravaganza

We’ve learned from our fearless leader to go big or go home! The red carpet arrival looked like a who’s who of Hollywood Royalty and former child models.
Board & Vellum Party Entrance

Smile for the Camera

Strike a Pose

With a limit of $10 on the white elephant gift exchange, you never know what you’re going to get! There were some standouts, some shocking moments, and some stealing… and maybe a little more stealing.

White Elephant gift exchange

which will you choose?

That's my flask!

Although they haven’t actually started yet, we inducted two new employees to the Board & Vellum family, and managed not to scare them off!
Joining B&V in January!

It was too dark to take photos of the karaoke performances, which only leaves the ominous ice luge. But… we have to keep some of our secrets, so this is the only image you’ll get.

Do you Luge?

Happy Holidays from me, Santa, and all of us at Board & Vellum!
Ho Ho HO!