ArchiTalks

✱ Dear Future Architects by Evan Troxel

It’s been a long time since I participated in the #ArchiTalks series. It just so happens that the Archispeak Podcast and ArchiTalks are always scheduled to get posted on the same day, and since I am deeply involved in the podcast it always takes precedence. I decided this time to write my blog post in advance… what a concept. I’m a slow learner, what can I say.

Dear Future Architects is our topic for this month’s #ArchiTalks post which comes from Bob Borson of Life of an Architect who is the official cat herder of this whole thing. Be sure to check out all of my colleagues’ blog posts in the linked list at the bottom of this page.

I’m just going to think out loud as I sit here at my computer sipping a cup of coffee. I hope you’ll play along and indulge my thinking. Let me know what you think in the comments.


I can’t help but be excited about the future of architecture. It seems to me that, generally speaking, the young architects-in-training (no, not interns!) of today are hell-bent on making our profession better in ways that most people who have already “arrived” don’t understand. And at the same time, with the speed at which technology is changing our practice, we are all wondering if there’s even going to be something to do once the young blood arrives. I mean, computers have already made our jobs so easy, what will be left to do? 

Of course the last part is a joke, and if you’ve worked in the profession for very long, you know that is an antiquated view and technology has only given us even more fine-grain control over every little aspect of our projects. In other words, technology hasn’t made things easier, it has in fact created more work for us to do. The plan sets that get submitted to code officials are no longer 30 sheets which were enough to create a dialog with the builder. No, not anymore. I mean, the set of drawings for my latest project is over 600 30"x42" sheets deep (and counting). It goes in at the end of April for a 9-month review cycle during which we will undoubtedly produce even more drawings.

There’s no shortage of things to do and technology is not going to be replacing us any time soon. There are many professions that are worried about this probability. While it may make certain decision-making processes easier, the fact is that we are drawing more and more instead of being smart about it. On top of that, the contractor/architect war only exacerbates the process of C.Y.A. mentality. 

Those issues aside, there’s so much for future architects to look forward to! My advice has to do with what you can do to make the profession better instead of blindly accepting what it is.

Care more

You can make this profession better if you choose to, and you have already exhibited this skill. You care more about yourselves and your profession than past generations have. You don’t simply take our answers for granted. You question them (sometimes endlessly). I love this about you. You don’t accept “that’s the way we do things around here” for an answer. It is obvious that you care, but I’m telling you that you’re going to have to care even more. Caring is what is going to change this profession for the better.

The best architects care: They care about the meaning in the work they do, they care about making their communities better, they care about their work/life balance, they care about the shared experience, they care about office culture, they care about solving good problems, and they care about true leadership. 

Technology can’t replace this part of humanity, and humanity is what architecture is all about. While a building may be able to be 3d printed in the future, this isn’t going to make buildings inherently better. It may give us architects more control over the process, but we still need to solve the problems that real people have with space and shelter. We need to listen to what people need and synthesize what we hear, often times from a multitude of inputs, into thoughtful responses. It is this, I believe, which you will be better at than your mentors.

Do everything you can to care for others, and in turn it will serve you and your chosen profession in ways that you probably can, but us in the older generations can’t even imagine. Then let me know how I can help you.


CHECK OUT MY ARCHI-FRIENDS' "Dear Future Architects" BLOG POSTS TOO:

Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Dear Future Architects: A Confession

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Dear Future Architects: You Need to Hear This

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Dear Future Architects: 4 Perspectives

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
dear future architects

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Dear Future Architects: 3 letters

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
future architects: #architalks

Jes Stafford - MODwelling (@modarchitect)
Dear Future Architect, Listen Here

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Dear Future Architect -- Remember Then

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
Dear Future Architects

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Dear Future Architects..

Michael Riscica - Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Dear Future Young Architects... Please Quit Screwing Around!?!!

Stephen Ramos - BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
Dear Future Architects: Don't makes these 4 Mistakes

brady ernst - Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Dear Boy in the Plastic Bubble,

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Dear Future Architects

Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Dear Future Architects, Be Authentic

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Dear Future Architects...

Anthony Richardson - That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
Dear Future Anthony

Drew Paul Bell - Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Dear Future Architects, Do Your Thing

Greg Croft - Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Dear Future Architect

Jeffrey A Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Dear Future Architects, Don't Forget to Treat Your Clients with Respect

Jared W. Smith - Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Dear Future Architects...

Rusty Long - Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Dear future architects, never lose your optimism

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Dear future architects, are you credible?

Adam Denais - Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
Dear Future Architect, a Letter to My Younger Self

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Dear Future Architects...

Ken Saginario - Twelfth Street Studio
Dear Future Architects...

✱ My Favorite Place by Evan Troxel

The latest ArchiTalks post idea was to write about our favorite place. That could be taken so many ways. Favorite architectural place? Favorite place for what activity? Favorite normal place or favorite place that I've only been once? Maybe it's my favorite place I've been to many times because I like it so much... I guess I'll have to pick one because I have all of these types of places zipping through my brain right now. Decisions, decisions.

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✱ My Favorite Things by Evan Troxel

This is yet another post in the ArchiTalks series, and this time Bob Borson from Life of an Architect has asked us to talk about our favorite things. There will be links to everyone else's posts at the bottom so you can find out what has captured all of us architects' attention. 

Cars, being outdoors, making things in my workshop, travel & tech top the list this time. 

The truth is that I could write about this subject for days because I’m into so many things, but I just don’t have the time to get way into it tonight. I still have laundry to fold, you see. Tonight I feel like writing about some of my favorite things that have nothing to do with architecture, which I hope will paint a more complete picture of me. So here are some of the things that I just can’t get enough of, and now that I think about it, find myself coming back to again and again throughout my life so far.

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✱ A Day in My Life by Evan Troxel

Today on #ArchiTalks we’re talking about a typical day in our lives. I’m just as busy as the next person which doesn’t make me unique, so I’ll try to give a flavor of what I think makes my day a little different from my esteemed colleagues who are also participating in writing about this topic (there’s a list of them at the bottom of this post). While many things I do are typical for everyone, I think I have some not-so-typical things going on in my daily routine.

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✱ It's Their Story by Evan Troxel

This is my third post in the ArchiTalks series where a bunch of internet friends in the online architecture world write an article and post about the same topic on the same day. We most definitely don’t write about the same things however. We’re given a topic capable of a wide range of interpretation which gives a lot of variation in the posts by all who are participating. Bob Borson over at Life of an Architect started this whole thing and it seems to be going well, so we're continuing to do it. Click through to read the whole article.

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✱ This is Exciting... Because It's Real by Evan Troxel

This is the second post in the ArchiTalks series where a bunch of internet-friends (no, we did not meet on match.com) post on the same topic that has to do with our chosen profession - architecture. Bob Borson over at Life of an Architect started this whole thing last month and it went really well, so we're continuing until it doesn't go really well.

As if.

At the end of my post I'll link to the other articles posted today by my friends so you can see what all of their "This is Exciting" posts are about, so hang on until the end.


For my second installment in the ArchiTalks series, I'm going to write about the most exciting part of my job. After all, the topic is called "This is Exciting" and I had to pick something to write about. I have to say that without a doubt, it's when one of "my" project starts getting built. The point when it goes from drawings to reality. When it gets out of the ground.

I say "my" project (in air-quotes) because it's never really just mine... I am but one person on an incredible team that worked really hard to create the plans and do all the behind-the-scenes work to get this thing to a point where it could be built. It takes years and thousands of hours to accomplish. It's huge.

But I've already digressed away from the main point.

Typically when a project "breaks ground" it's the ceremony for the uninvolved. This is not what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about a bunch of people standing around with a golden shovel who didn't do much (anything?) on the project, posing for PR shots. What I am talking about is when backhoes dig trenches. When steel goes up. When concrete gets poured. Framing too! The sound of a saw ripping sheets of wood on the job site. Yes, I'm talking about the sights and sounds of a building becoming a real thing.

A project I had a part in is now under construction near Los Angeles, and it's a community center for a very deserving, underserved area. It will, no doubt, be their pride and joy. They will love it for many, many years and I know they will take care of it like a newborn baby.

I had the opportunity to visit it the other day with my my friend/mentor/boss Mark, and potentially field any possible questions that might have come from the County Supervisor, and I probably spent more time ogling over the space than most of the other tourists. I tweeted this:

It's true. I have a bit of romance with projects I work on, and I didn't want our first date to end. I've been working, along with many others, on this project for years now and much like a child being born, it's an amazing thing to see it for real the first time. This isn't only true for this project. It's true for all of them. I think I actually prefer them when they're under construction because they're just so damn cool. It's like seeing beneath the skin of an airplane... there's just so much going on. For a while we get a glimpse of the stuff that makes a building what it is before it gets all covered up with a final coat of makeup. It's at this stage that we are reminded that these enormous things are built by hand.

How about some pictures?

Here are a few shots I posted on Instagram: The first one here is of the street-side entry and memorial wall for the local Veteran community. It is a giant, curved, monolithic wall that has an enormous window in it. This thing has what we call 'street presence.'

Here is a shot of an interior open-office with plenty of natural daylight streaming in through some clerestory windows, which make the space just wonderful:

And here's a shot of the main lobby roof from the street side. It's just floating away... Catch it if you can.

Here's the side where most people will enter around back and the cantilever shoots out beyond the edge of the world:

It's just unreal to me that I get to work on, and eventually walk through projects that actually get built. They are an unbelievable amount of work to get to this point, and I can't still can't believe they are really building this thing. 

As I was walking the site with Mark, he said that it feels like we got away with something on this project. I couldn't agree more. There are some amazing details, spaces, materials and so much more that will start showing up very soon here. The bones are there and it's developing at an incredible rate.

As we toured the site, the Construction Superintendent paused, holding his arms up in the air. He guided them in a linear motion with one eye closed as he talked about how the main roof material flows from outside in the plaza to inside the lobby through the main curtain wall past the front door. I wish you had seen it! When a freaking construction supervisor is excited about the architecture, you know you've got something special. You can tell this is going to turn out to be a great project because he can't wait to see how it finishes either. And on top of that it's ahead of schedule and under budget.

Seeing one of our projects in person is by far the most exciting part of my job. It's unbeatable.

Here's a peak of what it'll look like when it's all done:


Click here to see other posts on Twitter using the hashtag #ArchiTalks.

Check out what others wrote about the topic "This is Exciting":

Cormac Phalen - Archispeak Podcast 
@archispk and @archy_type
This is Exciting: The end is like the beginning

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design
@modarchitect
This is Exciting - It All Comes Together

Nicholas Renard – Cote Renard Architecture
@coterenard
This Right Here, This is Exciting

Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture
@businessofarch
This Is Exciting: Marketing For Architects That Works

Jeff Echols - Architect of the Internet
@jeff_echols
This is Exciting: 5 "RE's" to Change the Future of Architecture

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect
@bobborson
This Is Exciting - The Beginning of the End

Matthew Stanfield - Field 9 Architecture
@FIELD9arch
This Is Exciting

Marica McKeel - Studio MM
@ArchitectMM
From Dreams to Reality - THIS is Exciting

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet
@Jeff_Echols
This is Exciting: 5 'RE's' to Change the Future of Architecture

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect
@LeeCalisti
This Is Exciting :: Start + Finish

Oscia Wilson - Boiled Architecture
@Oscia_Wilson
This Is Exciting: They're Fighting It Out

Mark R. LePage - Entrepreneur Architect
@EntreArchitect
This Is Exciting - Making A Difference At Entrepreneur Architect

 

 

✱ Eleven questions about a career in architecture by Evan Troxel

The following Q & A is my take on 11 questions that are commonly asked of us in the field of architecture. This is a fun and informative post, and the charge came from Bob Borson over at Life of an Architect (thanks Bob!). Lots of other bloggers are answering the same questions from their point of view today as well. I'll have links to them at the bottom of this article so once you've read mine, you can go along to another to get their perspective.

You can also follow along on Twitter by searching the hash tag #ArchiTalks.


Q: What kind of projects were you doing when you first started as an architect?

I started interning in the same firm I work for now, although I did move to several other places over 12 years between my 2 stints. When I first started working at HMC Architects, I was not working directly on projects. Instead, I was working with the group that helped our school clients secure state funds to build their facilities.

Right after I graduated I was offered a permament position and I eventually moved into working for the studio that was responsible for K-12 schools. I was mostly working on details in the beginning. It was through that process that I began my career and have eventually ended up as a school designer, among doing other public building types.

Q: How many projects can you expect to be working on at once?

I work on as many as 3 or 4 projects at once, typically touching 2 or 3 lightly while spending the majority of my time on one. Right now I am working on one new K-12 school project while doing marketing and interviews here and there to help the office get new work.

Beyond my day job, I'm studying for and taking my licensing exams, co-hosting a podcast about all things architecture, running a tutorial site for architectural designers, and raising 4 kids with my amazing wife who has her own company.

Q: How often did/do you work in a team?

I am almost always working within a team. Very rarely do we have projects that only require one person. I think this is just the nature of public work... it's pretty complicated dealing with the various entities involved in moving projects forward and getting approvals.

Q: How important is an innovative mind to the company?

I love this question. An innovative mind, to me, is required. The architectural industry as a whole has suffered because of what I would consider a lack of an entrepreneurial spirit. We all should be getting out of our comfort zones and getting our hand dirty constantly trying new things, having a safe place to do it, and learning from failed attempts while trying. This is how we get better.

Oh, and always be learning.

Q: What key things do you look for in potential new hires?

I look for a few things, but above all the main one is passion. I want to work with architects who are passionate about doing great work for the people that hire us. We have an opportunity to change people's lives for the better with each and every project, and that is only going to happen if we really care about what we do. If you're just looking for a job, I won't be interested.

Q: How important is diversity to your company?

I can't speak for my company on this one, but for myself it's a big deal. Simply put, the more diverse the team, the better our projects are going to be. Creativity and problem solving come from experiences. Wider experience comes from diverse backgrounds, origins, upbringing, education, etc. 

Q: How big of a role does HR play in your company?

I stay away from that department as much as possible, but they really have our best interests at heart. They are our advocates, and we have quite a few people in our firm. I would say they are very busy people.

Q: Would you say Architecture is a field for everyone?

Absolutely not. When we went through school, there was a weeding-out process. It works for the most part. If you are not a good fit for architecture, why would you torture yourself and continue in it? That sounds miserable to me. My advice it to only do it if you love it. 

Q: What is the best asset in your company?

Someone with vision who can inspire others to do their best work.

Q: Describe your best employee in one word?

Passionate.

Q: What style architecture do you love most?

Googie - pay attention to the spelling because it's not the search engine. Check out John Lautner.