Places I Would Visit, if I Won the Powerball

The Powerball is over $1 Billion! So, naturally, I am planning my life if I were to win on Wednesday! I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share with you the places I would want to visit, based on their architecture! Heck, with that much money, I might buy a house in each of these cities!

burj_al_arab      the-world

Dubai – This city is overflowing with amazing architecture. Standing 2,723-feet tall, the Burj Khalifa is just one reason why Dubai is a popular spot to visit. Other examples of amazing architecture include the Burj Al Arab and The World (an artificial archipelago made to resemble a world map).

Sony Center - Potsdammer Platz, Berlin, Germany      reichstag      berlin-rote-rathaus

Berlin – I was born in Germany, but moved to the United States before I turned 3. So I have no memory of all of the great places my parents took me. I really want to return to my homeland! Some of the places I would visit in Berlin include” Reichstag, Potsdamer Platz’s Sony Center, Altes Museum and Das Rotes Rathaus.

cloud-gate-big      willis-tower      aragon-ballroom

Chicago – I have actually already been to Chicago, but stayed for less than 24 hours. I didn’t see anything except my hotel and Aragon Ballroom (where I saw Big Gigantic on New Years Eve in 2013). There are so many amazing spots in the Windy City: The Could Gate and Willis Tower, to name a few. Chicago is also home to the great Frank Lloyd Wright. You can take a tour of his home and see where he came up with his masterpieces.

Great-Wall-of-China      Beijing-Forbidden-City2      birds-nest

Beijing – Another one-of-a-kind architectural landmark I have to see is The Great Wall of China in Beijing. Architects started building the wall during the 7th century BC. Today, millions of tourists travel to see this marvelous wonder. Other great places to visit are the Birds Nest (National Stadium) and the Forbidden City.

aqueducts      pantheon

Rome – Although the Romans adopted aspects of ancient Greek architecture, Rome, Italy still made my list. Not to mention I was raised Catholic and this is The Holy City! Some of the best architectural sites include the Colosseum, Aqueducts, the Pantheon, Temple of Vesta, the Vatican and Baths of Caracalla.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA      temple-of-athena-athens      The_Parthenon_Athens

Athens – I wouldn’t miss the world-renowned ruins in Athens, Greece. A trip to this city would be like a trip back in time as I marvel at the works of numerous Athenian sculptors and architects. Some notable landmarks include The Temple of Athena, Parthenon, and Temple of Poseidon.

Park-Guell-in-Barcelona-Spain      CasaBatllo-4      La_Pedrera_Roof-1024x870

Barcelona – I have always been completely obsessed with Spain. It looks like a fairy tale! One area that sticks out is Park Guell, because of its multi-colored tile-style and unique shaped roofs and windows. Architect Antoni Gaudi created these buildings. Other great structures by Gaudi are the Casa Batllo and La Pedrera.

louvre-pyramid      france-notre-dame-cathedral      Centre Georges Pompidou

Paris – No list of architectural cities would be complete without Paris! There is an amazing site on almost every corner! Here are a few that I would like to see: Notre Dame Cathedral, Eiffel Tower, The Louvre Pyramid, La Grande Arche de la Defense, Centre Georges Pompidou, the Arch de Triophe and Sacre Couer Basilica.

hagia-sophia-01      Column of Constantine      Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Istanbul – Growing up, Aladdin was one of my favorite movies. I always thought the buildings looked so unique, and there were so many colors! Istanbul, Turkey has buildings similar to the ones in Aladdin. The Hagia Sophia, Column of Constantine and Sultan Ahmed Mosque are wondrous sites to behold.

giza      Cairo Opera House      tour_caire_couleur

Cairo – Pyramids are the oldest examples of architecture. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest pyramid. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World and the only one that remains intact! Other great things to see in Cairo include the Cairo Tower, City Stars Cairo, International Stadium, Cairo Opera House, Yocoubian Building and Sultan Hassan Mosque.

The Architecture of Star Wars

As most of you know (unless you live under a rock…), the new Star Wars movie came out this past weekend. I am not ashamed to admit that I am, and always have been, a huge Star Wars fan. I purchased my movie tickets almost 2 months ago – and got to see it the night before it’s actual release date. If you haven’t seen it yet… GO SEE IT! It was fantastic. Really, I was so happy with J.J. Abrams direction. But that is all I will say – I would never want to spoil the experience for anyone.

I wanted to tie together one of my favorite things (Star Wars) with Architecture. And to my surprise I found this fantastic article online by James Pallister of The Architect’s Journal called Top 10: the architecture of Star Wars.  I will use some of his examples, as well as some of my own favorite architectural creations from the movies. It is really interesting to see how much architecture from around the world inspired George Lucas to create these unforgettable places.

cloud city

1. Cloud City, Besbin – “The simple and elegant 16-kilometre wide Cloud City sits high above the planet Bespin. Proprietor Lando Calrissian oversees a well-appointed luxury resort district on its upper levels, complete with hotels and casinos. Echoes of the saucer-shaped structure can be seen on Earth in John Lautner’s Chemosphere House.” A space-themed movie would not be complete without an iconic saucer-shaped vessel.

Senate Building, Coruscant

2. Senate Building, Coruscant – “More than two kilometers wide, this seat of power looms over its subjects. Sited at the end of the Avenue of Core Founders, it holds the Grand Convocation Chamber, a vast auditorium that contains 1024 floating repulsorpods, one for each senator (extensive refurbishment followed a duel between Chancellor Palpatine and Jedi Grand Master Yoda). Noted similarities with Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi.” Another round, spaceship-esc building that reminds us of the typical UFO.

Varykino_Naboo

3. Varykino, Naboo – Varykino was a lake retreat in the Lake Country on the planet Naboo. This beautiful mansion was introduced in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, where Padme’ Amidala and Anakin Skywalker were secretly married, which happens to be one of my favorite scenes (I am a hopeless romantic!). The film was actually filmed at Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain.

Sandcrawler, Tatooine

4. Sandcrawler, Tatooine – Not quite a building, but the monumental quality of its form and its polygonal facades lend this Jawa Sandcrawler a building-like presence. These large treaded vehicles have inspired buildings from a Tunisian hotel to Rem Koolhaas’ Casa de Musica in Porto.” Tanks have nothin’ on a Sandcrawler!

Bright Tree Village, Endor

5. Bright Tree Village, Endor – “Bright Tree Village is an exemplar of sustainable, low-tech development. This Ewok settlement on the forest moon of Endor follows the traditional pattern: thatched-roof huts are arranged on the main branches of a tree around the chief’s hut on the trunk. Rated BREEAM Excellent, the development – by architect Wicket W Warrick – makes use of locally sourced materials, is carbon-neutral and far exceeds Endor’s notoriously strict building regulations.” And who wouldn’t want to live in a treehouse village? Sign me up!

Echo Base, Hoth6. Echo Base, Hoth – “It took the Alliance Corps of Engineers, under Major Kem Monnon, two years to fashion Echo Base from the natural ice caverns below the frozen surface of Hoth. The result is a impressive both technically and aesthetically – a vast igloo as if fashioned by Piranesi.”

 

Exploring the Architecture of Florida

Florida is known for its beautiful weather, sandy beaches, and weird news stories. Aside from those more well-known qualities, I think we have some pretty impressive architectural structures in this state that don’t get enough credit! I am lucky to live in a rapidly growing city (St. Petersburg) which includes many buildings on my list. However, I will also be venturing out of the St. Petersburg to places such as Tampa, Miami, Lakeland, and St. Augustine.

daliSalvador Dali Museum – St. Petersburg

The Dali Museum located in my home town houses the largest collection of Dalí’s works outside Europe. Designed by Yann Weymouth of the architectural firm HOK and built by The Beck Group, under the leadership of then-CEO Henry C. Beck III, it was built on the downtown waterfront next to the Mahaffey Theater, on the former site of the Bayfront Center, an arena that was demolished in 2004. The new, larger and more storm-secure museum opened on January 11, 2011. Reportedly costing over $30 million, this structure features a large glass entryway and skylight made of 1.5 inch thick glass. Referred to as the “Enigma”, the glass entryway is 75 feet tall and encompasses a spiral staircase. The remaining walls are composed of 18-inch thick concrete, designed to protect the collection from hurricanes. It is the perfect structure to hold the strange and unique artwork of Salvador Dali.

FLpoly

Florida Polytechnic University – Lakeland

Every time that I make a trip to Orlando, I get to drive past this massive, alien-like structure. One of these days I am going to stop and go inside! I think it is the coolest college building in Florida, if not the country! Florida Poly resides on a new 170-acre campus designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava that features a 160,000-square-foot Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building. The IST Building is home to the University’s Supercomputer, 3-D printing lab and digital library. Florida Poly is the first university whose main library is totally digital. Florida Poly opened for classes on August 25, 2014 with an inaugural class of 554 students.

tampa hotel

Tampa Bay Hotel (now Plant Hall at University of Tampa) – Tampa

This former hotel is now one of the main buildings of the downtown campus of the University of Tampa and houses the Henry B. Plant Museum. It was built in the late nineteenth century by the railroad magnate Henry B. Plant as a luxury resort hotel, open from December to April. It had more than 500 rooms and hosted such famous guests as Teddy Roosevelt and Stephen Crane. Most of the rooms had their own baths, electricity and telephones, and luxury accoutrements from art work, Venetian mirrors, fine porcelains,and beautiful furniture–many examples of which can be seen today in the Plant Museum. This Gilded Age hotel provided a self-contained vacation, with delivery by train to the front door, rickshaw transportation through the exotic gardens, tennis, golf, and hunting, as well as water sports, formal balls and tea parties. University of Tampa is an all around gorgeous campus – and this building really makes it stand out in the city.

stpaul

insidestpaul

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – Sarasota

St. Paul’s was built in 1958 by Victor A. Lundy. Lundy, trained at Harvard, got his start as an architect in Sarasota. Although he designed various types of buildings – civic, commercial, and religious – his churches often are a modern variation of Gothic with steep soaring roofs. He often used laminated wood beams and wood roof decking because it was an economical solution to span wide naves. In this particular project, window slits border both sides of the “buttress” and add interesting stained glass lighting effects in the interior.

tma

Tampa Museum of Art – Tampa

The building, by architect Stanley Saitowitz, is designed to look like “an electronic jewel box sitting on a glass pedestal” and makes use of aluminum, glass, and fiber optic color-changing lights in the exterior walls to “make the building itself a work of art”. The interior is more neutral, with mostly white surfaces and subdued lighting. The architect describes it as “a frame for the display of art, an empty canvass to be filled with paintings, a beautiful but blank container to be completed by its contents.” It includes a gift shop and an indoor/outdoor cafe. In 2010, the Tampa Museum of Art was chosen as a winner of an American Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.

castillo

Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine

The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in the city of St. Augustine, FL, the fort was designed by the Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza. Construction began in 1672, 107 years after the city’s founding by Spanish Admiral and conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. The fort’s construction was ordered by Governor Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega after the destructive raid of the English privateer Robert Searles in 1668. Work proceeded under the administration of Guerra’s successor, Manuel de Cendoya in 1671, although the first stone was not laid until 1672.

carlyle

mcalpin

Carlyle Hotel & McAlpin Hotel – Miami (Art Deco)

Art Deco curves abound in this stylish hotel–from the curved corners moved around to the side, emphasized by the eyebrows which follow the undulation, to the semicircular eyebrows over the front windows and those which halt the facade’s vertical fluting. The canopy here for the front porch is also the base for the upper stories, which is supported by delicate fluted columns. The decoration at the top is filigreed masonry. It was built by Richard Kiehnel and John Elliot in 1939. The McAlpin hotel (bottom) was built in 1940 by L.Murray Dixon. The McAlpin, includes the standard Art Deco tripartite facade. The vertical member in the central bay would have originally had a marquee. The signage over the door is very stylized.

Thank you Wikipedia and Bluffton for the information used in this blog!

Daydreaming About Dream Homes

Over the past several weeks, I have been doing a lot of reading about architecture. And you know what? It is turning me into a house snob. I see so many gorgeous homes while researching – and now I want one! It is honestly worse than watching HGTV for 4 hours straight, and that is really saying something! Here are a few of the houses I have come across that I would live in – in a heartbeat.

The Floating Seahorse – Dubai

the floating seahorse I am a Florida girl; so naturally, I love the ocean (well in my case, the Gulf of Mexico). I have always wanted a home on the water. But with this majestic design I would live… IN the water and have a 360 degree view of underneath the surface. My neighbors could be sea turtles or dolphins. I could finally call myself an actual mermaid! Well, maybe an honorary mermaid. Other than the fascination with living under water, the rest of the design is gorgeous. We will for sure be installing glass showers and not baths. The back porch is basically a giant lounge chair for sun bathing. A GIANT LOUNGE CHAIR! The modern design includes wood and white throughout, with floor to ceiling windows in nearly every room (even the ones that are under water). I am wondering, though, if I would be able to have Wi-Fi or cable in this gorgeous abode. If I ever win the lottery – you can find me here.

The Open House – Los Angeles

open house I am a sucker for a good view. After my recent trip to LA, I am convinced I could never live in a city that big – but I might change my mind if I could live in this modern beauty. Floor-to-ceiling windows take advantage of the expansive views, but it’s location means that it still offers privacy. My favorite parts of this house are the surrounding gardens and terraces, which create a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The interior design is modern, stylish and simple – letting nature do all of the work. While in LA, I visited Griffith Observatory, and experienced a view very similar to this one. It definitely took my breath away. A retreat like this would make living in a big city not so bad.

Old Tahoe House – Lake Tahoe

tahoe I have been to Lake Tahoe twice. Even though I hate the cold, I would still move there in a split second. It has a small town vibe with big city amenities, and it is so gosh darn cute! This house, designed by OOA Design, would make the cold/snow thing not such a bother. The open main level features a well-equipped mudroom, open kitchen, large dining room, sitting areas and a great room – all with an unobstructed (and absolutely gorgeous) view of Lake Tahoe. And don’t even get me started on the master suite, which takes up the entire top floor! Do you see that solid granite tub? I could sleep in that thing! I can picture making s’mores out back during the winter, and then having big family barbecues in the summer.

This list could go on and on… but those have been my 3 most favorite homes so far. Of course, I will most likely never be able to afford something like that, and in all honesty, I rather have a few small homes/apartments all over the world than have one giant mansion. Nevertheless, I will continue to daydream about my future home while searching for architecture content…

An Architect and His Tools

Tools2“What are these plastic triangles, and why do you have so many?” I asked my boss one-day while cleaning out a filing cabinet. He said they were 45° or 30°/60° triangles used for drawing. I immediately flashed back to my high school geometry class – yuck! But seeing those rulers got me thinking… what other special tools do architects use? I found a blog by Bob Borson to get some more information on the topic.

The first thing on Borson’s list: A big ass desk. “While you don’t need to have a big desk, it sure helps,” he writes. Here at Architect Larry LaDelfa, we definitely have big desks – actually we have 3 big desks, and a couple small ones up in the loft. Space to work is essential, in any profession, but especially in architecture. Most days my desk is clean. But on filing days, the surface is lost in a sea of papers and file folders. Larry’s desk is usually in disarray – project drawings, invoices, check books, and pens/tools scattered here and there. But hey, he is an architect! And a very busy architect at that, so he can have a messy desk. He hired me to help clean, organize, and file – so lately the office has been looking spick and span!

Number 2 on Borson’s list is tracing paper. “At any given moment in time, I have 10+ rolls of tracing paper in my office,” he writes. “I use this semi-transparent paper daily and can’t imagine doing my job without having some on hand.” I also found a roll of this tracing paper this morning while cleaning out a filing cabinet. It was my first time seeing it in the office – but I knew what it was right away. Larry does not use this much, at least not that I have noticed. All of the drawing is done on the computer! He got nostalgic on me after I showed it to him, pointing out the unused desk and the bar that held the paper in place. I could tell from the dust that it hadn’t been used in a while. Apparently the paper has several nicknames: onionskin, bumwad and trash paper, to name a few.

Next up: architectural and engineering scales. An architect’s scale is a specialized ruler designed to facilitate the drafting and measuring of architectural drawings, such as floor plans. An engineering scale is used in making blue prints in a specific scale. It is commonly made of plastic and is just over 12 inches long, but with only 12 inches of markings, leaving the ends unmarked so that the first and last measuring ticks do not wear off. “I don’t need this many and I can’t really explain why I have so many other than they secretly get together at night and reproduce (architectural scale + engineering scale = metric scale… I think),” he writes. I have one of these on my desk. I thought it was just a fancy ruler… well I guess it kind of is just a fancy ruler. I love how many new things I learn on a daily basis here!

The next tool on Borson’s list is his camera – a Nikon D90. “I love my camera and use it all the time,” he writes. “I’m pretty sure that the partners in my firm consider it the office camera since it gets used to take most of our project photos.” Larry also has a camera, but it is currently at home. He loves photography so it goes home with him a lot.

What other tools could an architect possibly need? Well we aren’t even half way through the list yet, so obviously a lot more! Next up are the tape measure, clipboard and a Fluke 416D Distance Meter. “We measure a lot of houses in the course of doing our jobs – even if we get architectural plans of the project we are going to work on, we verify everything,” Borson writes. “Having an assortment of measuring devices on hand makes the job go a lot smoother.” I have noticed a collection of tape measurers laying around the office. I even got to help measure one day on site! Larry has a snazzy clipboard too – it’s made out of some fancy type of wood with his logo engraved into it. I have not seen a Fluke 416D Distance Meter yet… but maybe I just discovered the perfect Christmas gift for Larry! Thanks Bob!

Up next are Architectural Reference Manuals. “Possibly the most boring thing on the list, but an important part of the process,” he writes. “Between code books, City requirement development code books, framing manuals, flashing guideline (SMACNA) manuals, etc. – half of the books on the shelf in my office are technical in nature.” The back wall of our office could be mistaken as a library. Larry has been in this business for 39 years – and he has definitely accumulated a book/manual collection to prove it.

Now here is something I can totally understand – a Measure Master 5 Calculator. As I have stated before, I hate math – mostly because I am not good at math. “I use mine all the time to add up dimensions,” he writes. “I used to do that sort of thing in my head, but once I realized that making a simple addition or subtraction mistake could cost a lot of money to fix, I don’t do it anymore.” Larry also uses a calculator when adding up dimensions. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

We are finally half way through the list. I bet you didn’t think an architect needed so many tools! I didn’t either! The next item is pretty obvious – pens! “Architects are nothing if not particular about the pens they use… and I am no exception,” Borson writes. “With the exception of two duplicated, I use each sort of pen shown here for a specific purpose.” The photo shows 8 different types of pens/pencils. Only a week into working for an architect, I noticed that many architects use the Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine pen (in black and red). That is the specific pen that is used in our office, and I see it in Borson’s photo as well.

Next up on the list is a smart phone. “This phone has changed how I go about doing my job and I am always amazed by architects I see who are proud as they announce that they don’t use a smart phone… and that makes you sort of a dumb-ass (pardon my language),” he writes, matter-of-factly. “It is a handy, convenient, and powerful tool.” I whole-heartedly agree with everything Borson writes. Having a smart phone is just a smart move in today’s business world. It is the equivalent to having a computer, in your back pocket. You can use it for marketing, social media, email, a calendar, a calculator… the list is endless!

The next one isn’t really a tool specifically used in architecture – but it is a common item you will see at an architecture firm – headphones. “When I was in a communal work space, headphones allowed everyone to find their own “zone” and get down to some serious production,” he writes. “I listen to a lot of music while I work, but I don’t actually hear it very often, it just becomes white noise.” I am the designated music player most days at the office. I put on Pandora first thing every morning, but keep it at a reasonable volume. Besides, my music selection is so awesome that headphones are not necessary around here.

The next architectural tool is tape dots (aka drafting dots). Drafting dots are self-adhesive and firmly hold drawings, fine art, and blueprints in place while you work. They are easy to dispense and repositionable, and come in a convenient pull-tab box. “What can I say… I love drafting dots,” he writes. “When I was in college and barely had enough money to buy an egg roll, I used a roll of masking tape to hold down my drawings. Now that I make enough money to eat all the egg rolls I want, I splurge and get drafting dots.” This is another item I have not seen at all in our office. But, again, all of the drawings are done on the computer, so these are not necessary (for our firm) anymore. I am intrigued by them, however, and hope to come across a box one day. The look like flimsy poker chips!

Up next is a cordless mouse. “If you work on the computer all day and you still have a cord attaching your mouse to your computer… well, to put it nicely – you are a caveman,” Borson exclaims. Hey – to each his own! Maybe some architects like to have the cord to save money in battery cost. Or maybe that is just what they like! Either way, one this is for sure: in today’s world of architecture, a mouse is a must!

Another useful tool for architects are magazines. “Getting to take a look at the work of others, new products, techniques, and technologies is a productive way to spend 30 minutes a day,” he writes. Larry has several magazine subscriptions. I agree with Borson – they are a great tool for inspiration and education too!

The last tools on the list are toys… wait, what? I will let Borson explain this one: “Lastly are the toys – things that serve no purpose than as diversion follies whose singular role is to keep your brain creatively locking up. In my office I have Lego’s, basswood fish, robotic bugs, etc., and etc., and Cubebot. Cubebot was a white elephant gift at the company Christmas party – except I bought it and Scott Taylor in my office ended up with it. I used to steal Cubebot and put him in “compromising” positions, but it drove Scott crazy so I went out and got my own.” I do not see any toys in this office, but Larry does have a large amount of art hanging on the walls.

After reading this blog post, Larry pulled out a clunky electronic, that looked like a mix between a hair dryer and a drill. It was an electric eraser! Arthur Dremel of Racine, Wisconsin invented the electric eraser in 1932. It uses a replaceable cylinder of eraser material held by a chuck driven on the axis of a motor. The speed of rotation allows less pressure to be used, which minimized paper damage.

Even as long as that list is, there are still more tools out there that every architect needs! And every person is unique, so they won’t always use the same tools. What tools do you use that Borson didn’t mention?

Paper Cuts and Carpal Tunnel

File_000I had no idea being an Executive Assistant for an Architect would be such a dangerous job. Okay, maybe it’s not dangerous – I am just accident-prone. But the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of paper cuts and carpal tunnel, brought on by excessive amounts of filing large, out-of-control drawing files (24” x 36” bounded stacks that can weigh up to 15 pounds) and hours of blogging and social media marketing. Have I mentioned how much paper work we save here? Oh, I have? Well, excuse me while I complain some more about my paper cuts and dig a little deeper into the reasoning behind an architect’s borderline hoarding tendencies…

Filing paperwork is a business standard. It’s smart to keep records of orders, invoices and correspondence. I totally get that, and architects are a prime example of excellent record keeping. My inner journalist wants some answers – are all of these documents/drawings a requirement for architects? Or is my boss just old school and super organized? Or maybe both? My carpal tunnel wrought fingers diligently type away and discover the website for The American Institute of Architects (AIA), which features a complete section dedicated to Contract Documents.

“The AIA publishes nearly 200 agreements and administrative forms that are recognized throughout the design and construction industry as the benchmark documents for managing transactions and relationships involved in construction projects.” No, that is not a type-o. Nearly 200 different documents can be used in the architectural process. “The AIA’s prominence in the field is based on 125 years of experience creating and updating its documents.” The organization dates back to 1888, the year they published the first Uniform Contract, designed for use between an owner and contractor. They published the first standardized general conditions for construction in 1911. They are on the sixteenth edition of those general conditions, published most recently in the year 2007 (A201™ –2007). Some of the original documents provided include: invitation to bid, instructions to bidders, form of proposal, form of agreement, form of bond (more on the subject at https://swiftbonds.com/bid-bond/); and general conditions of the contract.

“AIA documents maintain a symbolic relationship with the industry, each profoundly influencing the other. The AIA regularly revises its documents to account for recent developments in the construction industry. Standardized documents for design-build, sustainable projects, for different types of construction management, and for international practice have been published in recent years.” Of course, these documents are just suggestions for the architect – they are not required to submit them. They are merely guidelines to help them be successful. “AIA documents are intended for nationwide use and are not drafted to conform to the law of any one state. With that caveat, however, AIA documents provide a solid basis of contract provisions that are enforceable under the existing law at the time of publication.”

Another section of the AIA website provides information on how long you should keep project files: “From a legal standpoint, a primary reason to keep your records is to protect against risk of liability. Some state licensing regulations also may require that you keep project files for a certain number of years. In addition to complying with the applicable state regulations, you should keep project files for the number of years during which claims can be filed for damage on building projects. The state statutes of repose and statutes of limitation, which vary from state to state, describe that specific length of time. If any of your work was done out of state, the other state’s laws should be taken into account.”

According to Florida Construction Law Update, “In Florida, construction defect lawsuits typically must be filed within four (4) years from the latest of the following scenarios: the date of actual possession by the owner, the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or the date of completion or termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect, or licensed contractor and his or her employer (§ 95.11(3)(c), Fla. Stat.). If the action involves a latent defect, “the time runs from the time the defect is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.” However, in an effort to avoid creating what seems like an unlimited statute of limitations for construction lawsuits involving latent defects, Florida’s Statute of Repose requires these construction law actions to be commenced no later than ten (10) years after the latest of the above-referenced scenarios.

Each new project we acquire immediately gets a set of folders to keep track of documentation: accounting, bidding, construction, correspondence, general and meeting minutes. Sometimes other folders are necessary (depending on the project) such as RFIs, CCCRs, and shop drawings. All of these folders contain important information relating to the project. I have learned that it is very important to keep these files handy because of questions from any party involved that may pop up.

I conclude that my boss is not showing signs of hoarding tendencies. He is only doing what is suggested to succeed in his field and by law! Eventually my dainty fingers will form callouses and get used to large amount of filing that is required in my position. For now, I might need to invest in a first aid kit – I don’t want to get blood on any important files!

How to Write About Architecture

Writing has always been my “thing.” As a child, I would write stories and proudly read them to my parents. As a teenager, I would keep a journal to express my feelings via angst-filled poems or song lyrics. My passion for writing turned into a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and several years of freelance writing for Creative Loafing Tampa and tbt.

Now, as a blogger/assistant for an Architect, it is important that I acquire a valuable understanding of how to write, specifically, about architecture. I discovered an excellent article written by Paul Keskeys titled “How to Write About Architecture.” He offers five helpful hints for capturing the complexities of the built environment, without being repetitive or full of clichés. In the article, he explores the book 10x10_3 – an expansive volume on emerging architecture firms by 10 distinguished writers, which proves that it is possible to write about buildings and their architects while still engaging readers outside of the field.

1. A Personal Perspective – It is important to instantly engage readers by “conjuring up intimate imagery and adopting an unusual first-person perspective.” Don’t be afraid to use colorful language and add your own personal opinions. As an example, Keskeys sites Bart Goldhoorn (founder and publisher of Project Russia) because of his use of personal preconceptions of the avant-garde designers at CEBRA:

“A decade ago, when reflecting upon Danish architecture, I imagined quiet, pipe-smoking, corduroy-clad men, a bit dull perhaps, producing responsible and ecologically sound architecture with a light postmodern touch. At best one could expect neat modernism. The architects at CEBRA… do not fit this image of Danish architects.”

His approach to the subject painted a vivid and elaborate picture for the reader, making it more interesting and relatable. “The writer’s honesty and personal perspective adds clout to the visceral project description that follows.”

2. Visceral Imagery – Visceral by definition means characterized by or dealing with coarse or base emotions; earthy. “As a highly visual construct, architecture is best framed by words that conjure emotive images in the mind of the reader.” Bring the building to life in the reader’s imagination, as if they were standing right in front of it. Keskey quotes Shumon Basar as an example of this point:

“Hundreds and thousands of brightly colored confetti were strewn across the floor, a carpet of delicately disorganized paper detritus. A few black chairs were scattered about. The rest of the pavilion seemed empty, almost abandoned, bereft of the usual feverish desire to explain, show off, divulge, or disclose.”

This picturesque description breathes life into a simple office space.

3. Rhetorical Questions – “While most architectural journalists will be wary of Betteridge’s law ‘Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no’ – there are some instances in which questions can be utilized to strengthen an argument.” Asking the reader a rhetorical question can guide them into a deeper evaluation of the topic. They will ponder it in their head, and read on to see what you wrote on the subject, then compare. Keskey sites Joseph Grima, a New York-based architect and critic, as a prime example:

“To understand the true measure of the accomplishments of Bjarke Ingels… consider this: when was the last time reporters from every corner of the world were seen scrambling to cover the opening of a building by a thirty-three-year-old architect?”

The question presented does not need to be answered. It is simply there to emphasize the unsurpassed achievements of such a young firm.

4. Metaphors & Similes – It is very common for writers to use metaphors and similes to help the reader get a better understanding of what they are describing. “When trying an unfamiliar food,” Keskey explains, “we often ask the question: what does it taste like?” It is a natural human reaction to seek clarity via comparison – and this also applies in architecture. Metaphor and simile can provide beneficial observations into the many different qualities of a space. Keskey sites Andrew McKenzie, the editor-in-chief of Architectural Review Australia to illustrate his point:

“A good example is the Leaf Chapel in Kobuchizawa, a wedding chapel conceived as two leaves. One is glass and stationary, the other perforated white steel that lifts as the groom lifts his bride’s veil.”

For the large majority of readers who won’t have the chance to actually visit the chapel, his reference to leaves and the bridal veil offer a palpable vision of the building’s rare features.

5. Personification – Obviously it is important to describe the physical characteristics of architecture, but using more unique and playful adjectives and jargon will elevate your writing and bring it to life. Keskey uses a portion of an article written by Carlos Jimenez to portray how great of an effect personification can have:

“The SGAE Headquarters is a porch-like building whose elongated screen wall is a marvelous concoction of tumbling and irregular granite pieces, all held captive in a resilient dance of weight, light and gravity.”

The use of words such as “tumbling,” “held captive,” and “dancing” give the building dynamic, human-like qualities.

This article has given me a deeper confidence to write about architecture. Describing the different attributes of a building or space can be very similar to writing a reflective essay on a unique individual. Each structure can be treated as a living thing in order to help bring it to life in writing.

Here are the buildings that were described in article. Did you picture them like this when reading?

  1. Bakkegard School by CEBRA
  2. Agriculture School by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen
  3. The Mountain by Bjarke Ingels Group
  4. Leaf Chapel by Klein Dytham Architecture
  5. SGAE Headquarters by Antón García-Abril and Ensamble Studio

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10 Common Remodeling Mistakes (and Why You Need an Architect)

home improvementHow many people are guilty of bestowing themselves professionals of something they have watched extensively on television? I know I am – I watch Food Network all the time and tell people I am a Master Chef (obviously I am not even close to that). With so many television shows about home remodeling and renovation, there are scary amounts of people out there that think they can handle the daunting task on their own. Hey, I am not saying you can’t do it yourself! But, just in case, here are 10 of the biggest remodeling mistakes, with some helpful tips provided by David Baughman, Project Manager at BCK Custom Builders in Tucson, Ariz. (Read original article here).

 

Ignoring Safety Procedures: It is easy to ignore safety procedures when you are in the comfort of your own home, but it is really important to protect yourself. Wear safety goggles, don’t stand on the tops of ladders, and turn off the main breaker when fixing electrical problems – especially in situations where you are working alone.

“The biggest rule of thumb for any remodeling project is to make sure the job site is safe,” said Baughman. “Sounds obvious, but there are countless avoidable injuries from electrical lines being cut, because the breakers weren’t all shut off, or from structures falling in an unforeseen direction or area.”

Avoid injury by leaving some aspects of the work to professionals. An architect has a plethora of great contractors, plumbers and electricians in their address book. Take advantage of their endless connections.

 

Using Cheap Materials: Ever heard the popular expression “You get what you pay for”? Well, it’s popular for a reason: it’s true, especially in the realm of renovation. There are so many tools and materials out there, it is hard to even know where to begin. If you are doing a renovation on your own, do your research. Go online and read reviews for different products.

If the thought of doing research makes you cringe, hire an architect. They already have an extensive knowledge on great products, and might even get good deals on certain items for being a frequent customer.

 

Blowing Your Budget: It is important to create a budget before beginning a renovation project. You definitely do not want to run out of money midway through and get stuck with a half-done kitchen or bathroom. Estimate all costs, even small things like nails and screws – then add more money on top. If you are remodeling your bathroom and getting a new toilet then check out this new toilet that works for every budget.

“Have 30% more money than the budget begins with and start off with a wish list and a ‘must-have’ list,” advised Baughman.

Architects can work within your budget. They can come up with the most cost effective way to create the look you want. They can track down the perfect contractor for you – all while you don’t lift a finger.

 

Going Sledgehammer Crazy: Isn’t it scary how the people on T.V. make everything look so easy? They make it seem like every renovation begins with the swing of a sledgehammer. This is not the best idea.

“Swinging away with sledge hammers, as seen on TV, is not always the best method for demolition,” warned Baughman. “Identify bearing points (columns, posts, and even some walls) before removing unwanted walls.”

When you hire an Architect, they can usually get copies of the original construction drawing of your home from the local Building Department. They are able to figure out which walls can come down, and which walls can’t (because they are load baring). An architect can create a floor plan for you to see before the sledgehammer comes out. Instead of thinking that your design will probably look good, an architect can show you what it will look like.

 

Inaccurate Measurements: I hate math. And there is nothing more frustrating then realizing you measured something incorrectly, and therefor have to start over. Keep in mind the popular phrase “Measure twice, cut once.” Even being a half an inch off the mark is enough to derail the best-laid plans.

Architects have to take several intense math courses before earning their degree. They are equipped with the necessary skills to make sure the job is done correctly, the first time.

 

Avoiding Contractors: Even if you’ve seen every episode of a remodeling shows on HGTV, that doesn’t make you an expert. There are plenty of real experts out there that will do all of the dirty work for you. Projects like installing a roof, hanging drywall, and rewiring electrical are very critical to the value of your home. That’s a lot of pressure that should be sealed with help of seamless gutters company.

I know that finding a reliable and trustworthy contractor can be a nerve-wracking thing to do – that’s why you should hire an architect. They will once again pull out their handy-dandy notebook of great contacts and connect you with the perfect person to do the job. As Baughman puts it in the article, “Be the bearer of money for remodeling, not the bearer of expertise.”

 

Declining A Home Inspection: When buying a home to renovate, you should always get a home inspection from a professional. There are numerous reasons, but Baughman provides an especially compelling one.

“The other rule of thumb vital for surviving a modification of any building — do not trust the builder who came before you,” he cautioned.  “Just because a building exists does not mean it is sound and will be capable of sustaining any modification.”

Once the remodel is complete, it is wise to bring the inspector back for another look around.

 

Not Getting the Right Permits: This is a very important part of a home renovation. It may seem silly, but if your nosey neighbors report your construction, you could be asked to tear all of your hard work down, and start over with the proper permits. Not to mention that if an accident happens, your homeowner insurance won’t cover it without proof of a valid permit.

An architect can take this mundane task out of your hands. They are up-to-date on all of the permitting codes and criteria, so you don’t have to worry about all of that. Plus, they do this often and will probably have a faster turn around compared to an average Joe first timer.

 

Focusing on Aesthetics Only: When doing a home renovation, most homeowners have one thing on their mind – resale value. Baughman writes, “Upgrading the kitchen cabinets and installing a new tub in every bathroom is going to increase the value of the house, but if you don’t pay special attention to the things that really matter, like structural damage, electrical wires, and busted pipes, your investment could end up in the toilet.”

While of course architects are going to want the final result to look good, they also focus on the things that most homeowners would overlook.

 

Not Going Green: Everyone knows that the most popular trend in home improvement is “going green” – being environmentally friendly in as many ways as possible. When remodeling your home, take that movement into consideration. It isn’t hard going green these days, as resources and projects are available in all price ranges and can even be found in a local home improvement store. And the best part is that you can reap the benefits in the form of lower utility bills, a healthier, cleaner environment, and lower insurance premiums.

Going green may seem easy, but as soon as you realize the many different options you have, you may become overwhelmed. An experienced architect for home remodeling Tulsa, OK will be able to provide you with a list of their most recommended “green” products. All you have to do is decide which one you like best!

 

So please, put the hammer down and call an architect.

LinkedIn – The Business Savvy Social Media Platform

linkedin_logoAs a 26-year-old recent college graduate, I am fairly new to the “professional world.” For the past few years, I have finally begun dipping my toes into the corporate ocean. With that being said, it is hard for me to grasp the fact that LinkedIn is considered the social network of choice for working professionals. I created my LinkedIn profile towards the end of my college career, for the sole purpose of being an online, public resume. The only time I ever log in to my account is when I need to add new information, like a new job or skill. Now I am in charge of creating a content marketing strategy for a small Architecture Firm, and a colleague of the owner highly recommends daily use of LinkedIn to develop professional relationships and promote the company. I am very familiar with the use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for a business, but LinkedIn… not so much. So, naturally, I head to Google and search “What are the benefits of using LinkedIn for my company?” to get some answers.

An article titled “Five Benefits of Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Business and Your Career,” by Brian Hughes caught my eye (mainly because it was the shortest list, giving a mere 5 benefits, compared to the other articles boasting 7 or 10 benefits. If I’ve learned one thing about marketing it’s this: keep it as short as possible!). As my third week working for an architect comes to an end, I am realizing that my main role is to create a buzz for the company online. So with that in mind, what benefits will LinkedIn provide me in that role?

The first benefit is B2B (business-to-business) Networking. Many businesses have LinkedIn pages, which makes connecting with them quick and easy. You can search for vendors, suppliers, manufacturers and even competitors through LinkedIn. Hughes writes, “Rather than combing through a phone book and comparison shopping for days or even weeks before choosing a vendor, you can send a couple InMails and be done in just a few hours. In addition, seeing the vendors online presence gives a more complete picture of a company than just speaking to someone on the phone might.” Having trust worthy sub-consultants is a very important aspect of the AEC industry. If you are a new firm, just starting up in a new city, LinkedIn is a great tool to help you find and communicate with potential sub-consultants. It is also a great tool for checking out what your competitors are up too.

The second benefit is B2C (business-to-customer) Networking. Every company needs customers to stay in business, and in order to keep those customers, you want to build your brand and engage your audience with interesting and educational content. “By keeping active and posting often on the site, you can build your brand bit by bit, increasing likability and gradually building the trust of your potential customer base through timely, relevant, and interesting posts,” Hughes explains. On top of creating customer relationships, having a LinkedIn profile is also a great place to promote new products or services. Our firm can post photos of completed renovation projects, or post articles from the local newspaper that announce us as being on a new committee. It is important that I interact with our customers and keep them coming back for more.

hand shakeThe third benefit is Lead Generation. Your LinkedIn profile is a way of expressing what you do to the world, and naturally you hope that others are impressed. Hughes writes, “A direct result of continuing to build a more coherent and focused brand is the generation of new leads that will come about organically as people find you on LinkedIn and like what they see.” The more relevant and interesting content that you post, the more chances you have a generating new leads. I can post a recently completed project on our LinkedIn page and a potential customer might see that post and contact us with questions.

The fourth benefit is Staffing. If you are constantly updating your LinkedIn profile and creating interesting and exciting content, not only will customers take notice, but it may even attract applications to start rolling in. “Since LinkedIn is the social network of choice for business networking and career advancement, top tier talent is likely to come your way based on the quality of your profile alone.” Take full advantage of that by keeping an updated list of open positions attached to your company page, or create a post describing the position you are looking to fill.

The final benefit provided is Customer Satisfaction. LinkedIn provides a fantastic way to interact with your customers via surveys, messaging and comments. Use this avenue frequently – it shows the customers that you care! They appreciate feeling like their voice has been heard. It is also possible for customers to “endorse” some of your skills!

Although LinkedIn is still widely assumed to be a website for job hunters or recruiters, it’s popularity in the business world is increasing every day. It is another free and beneficial resource to help companies find new customers, new staff and build relationships with other businesses. Looks like I will be adding LinkedIn to my content marketing strategy from now on…

If you are also new to using LinkedIn as a social network for your business, here are some of the tips that a colleague gave me:

  • Do not create a company page – a personal profile will better showcase your company and skills
  • Create support statements in past jobs (show the client how past work experience will benefit them in your current position)
  • Use keywords that clients would search in a search engine
  • Change/update your profile at least once a month
  • Use bullet points so people do not have to read long paragraphs
  • Join up to (50) groups available on the site
  • Add personal touches that will help people connect with you

How I Can Bring More Business to Our Firm

telephone - CopyAs I start to understand the way things are done at my new workplace, I can’t help but want to jump in head first and start helping in as many ways as possible. I do not know how to use “Vector-works”, our CAD program (yet), but I do have the social media pages set up and am constantly posting engaging content and I am already caught up on all the filling. So what else can I do to help around the office? I found an article on Archdaily.com by Sabrina Wirth titled “9 Ways to Find More Business for Your Architecture Firm,” which has given me another good starting point as a “newb” (new person) to this industry.

I noticed that my boss is almost always working on drawings, RFIs and CCCRs. He is the only architect in the office, and has a substantial amount of projects that he is working on. Those things are important when running a successful architecture firm, but they are not the only influential part of the business. The article states that “the most effective business development strategies involve more time spent on proactive relationship-building (before the project is made public), and less time on responding to RFPs and RFQs, which are available to anyone.” That is where I can help! The article gives 9 helpful strategies to help us define a good business development approach that will ultimately win us more clients and projects. Here they are:

  1. “Identify the ideal project, and the work backwards – What are the ideal projects for your firm? Who are the people who can lead you to them? Do some research into their social environments and find ways to meet them there. The best projects or partnerships occur through direct commissions via a personal contact. Make the personal connection by networking in the same places that your ideal client spends time in. If you haven’t already, start thinking of everyone in your rolodex as a potential client, collaborator, or lead to new information; it may just be that the person who may lead you to the next job is someone you already know.
  2. Export your design as portable, and shareable, objects – Several companies design books that showcase their projects. Rather than make the book simply a portfolio, make the book a design object itself. Your design philosophy should be manifested in any tangible object (books, business cards, etc) your company produces, so that whenever you meet a potential client, you can offer them a small sample of what makes your firm so great. Follow up with well-designed emails, and be sure that your website is clear and easy to understand. The worst is for a client to be turned off by a slow or complicated website.
  3. Follow up – Always make sure to have business cards on hand, and after you receive a handful of business cards at networking events, be sure to enter them into your email list and stay in contact through periodic, personal emails. If you want to send out occasional updates with a mass mailing service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, be sure to ask if they’d like to be included in the mailing list.
  4. Turn your firm into a brand – Become an expert in a specific area of design. Determine the expertise available in the office, and the kind of projects your firm would like to be known for. Perhaps it’s environmental or urban design, master plans, residential, cultural, or civic. There needs to be something that potential clients can associate with your firm’s name. If you want to be more of a generalist, and be known for creative solutions and high quality design, then make “process” and “philosophy” your brand. To be able to successfully promote and market your firm, you have to be able to provide something that’s unique to only your firm that you can use to brand yourself.
  5. Create brand ambassadors at your company – Create a company culture that reflects your firm as approachable and fun to work with. Make sure there is fluid communication within the office so that when architects are traveling, they are comfortable discussing information about the firm, spreading the company’s vision, and creating new business contacts.
  6. Organize an open lecture series at your firm – Organize an open lecture series at your firm where you can invite anyone to your office and provide an opportunity to introduce your firm to a new audience. Better yet, make the lectures have nothing to do with architecture, but about something your firm believes in. This will make your firm more approachable and will also show a different facet to the practice.
  7. Book as many speaking opportunities as possible – You never know who is in the audience, and it’s a great way of reaching multitudes of people at the same time. At a school, you may find that you’ve attracted more students who want to work for you, but you may also catch the attention of a developer who is teaching a class at that school who may want to speak with you about a potential opportunity.
  8. Grow your online presence – More so than booking lectures, it’s one of the best ways to reach large audiences and catch the attention of many potential clients around the world at the same time. Think about maintaining a blog on your website to publish frequent updates and also use Instagram and Twitter to boost your online presence. Instagram especially is quick and visual, so architects can “seduce” clients with beautiful images that relate to their design aesthetic without having to spend so much time; the ROI (Return on Investment) on that is better than on any other platform, because it reaches so many people without much effort. With Twitter, you can retweet articles about your firm, drive people to your blog, or post updates and images as well.
  9. Network with colleagues – Other firms and industry professionals are great resources for staying on top of trends and new developments. Rather than considering other firms as competition, consider them as potential partners on future projects; the combined, complementary expertise from each firm can only help to strengthen a business proposal. Additionally, keeping good relations with other firms may also lead to information about new projects that you might not have known about before.”

Like in any profession, networking and keeping relationships is an integral part of success. Social Media has made this task increasingly easier. Word of mouth is a great way to get your name out there, and if you make a positive impact on a person (either face-to-face or via social media), they are going to remember that and talk about it to their friends. I can help this firm by continuing to make an impact via social media and this blog. If I engage with our audience, it will drive more and more people to our pages, and hopefully all the clicks will turn into clients!