Lee is my hero.

think | architect

00 cover Skysight

Crafty? I’m not going to define it as cunning, deceitful or sly but in the obsolete as skillful, ingenious and dexterous.

If I might venture a guess, I would say I’d rather design a good project that is crafted and executed well than design a great project and have it built and crafted poorly.

Craft is important both in the quality of the instruments of design and service (drawings and models) but perhaps even more important in the actual execution of the real thing. Therefore, I thoroughly enjoy the construction phase of my work when the owner and contractor are equally concerned about craft as I am.  I’d like to share one of my projects where we had one of those great moments.

This unique project needs to be shared in two episodes addressing two different fiber-cement rain-screen systems that we used for two different reasons.

This was a re-cladding…

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move

 

Architect’s by nature like to change things, we like to call them revisions. After a few years (I know, they haven’t forced us to leave the internet yet, wow!) it was time to update our professional web site cogitatedesign– seemed like the ideal time to integrate the blog and web site to reside at one domain. The location of Architect’s Trace has moved to here –> Architect’s Trace  Over the next few months I’ll be editing/revising posts from this blog site and posting to the new forum… as well as posting new content.

If you’ve been following Architect’s Trace, thanks and please be sure to note/subscribe to the blogs new address. If you’re new to Architect’s Trace, welcome and I hope you find it of value.

—> New domain for Architect’s Trace <—

 

 

Design on,

 

New house/domain welcoming gifts accepted😉

A lot of other professions use the term ‘Architect,’ for many its sacrilegious. I have mixed opinions on the ‘titles issue’ as there are more pressing matters facing the profession. However, this is a great way to lighten the mood. In a prior post, In the Game , I offered up some suggestions for us architects to join in and play the game. I’m going to keep pilfering other professions titles and terminology and stay in the game… as the kids say, “Don’t hate the playa, hate da game!” They still say that, right… right? Thanks to Ron Lincoln for playing along and providing the additional titles.

 

 

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Have any to add? Post them in the comments section; if I get enough I’ll make up some more graphics.

 

 

Design On,

 

 

 

Keith Palma, NCARB, LEED AP, MD, DDS, MBA

 


photos from photostream on FLICKR and have been used under the creative commons license, in order erik ERXON , Herry Lawford, and  Matthew Burpee


General graphic layout inspired by Jody Brown at Coffee With an Architect.

In a previous post, Firm Advice, I offered up advice for those of you contemplating starting your own architectural firm. That post covered more of the legality and visions for your firm, long range planning if you will. In this post I’d like to offer up what I believe are five critical things every architect should be competent at to have a fighting chance at running a successful practice… I even offer up a bonus tip, whoo hoo! If you’re a potential client, consider this a list of a few things you should expect your architect to provide as part of their services.

Prelim Site

This is not meant as all-encompassing nor are they the only things you need to be able to do, but they are a solid >** insert pun here**< foundation that you will typically use on a daily basis. It’s also worth noting that this is primarily geared to single family residential projects and will differ slightly based on other project types. Without any disrespect to Vladimir John Ondrasik III (google it), I present my Five for Architect’in:

Contracts

Write/edit your contracts. Sounds simple and it can be. However, many architects aren’t exposed to this if they have been working for others at a firm. I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on this blog. Whether you use AIA contracts, author your own, seek the advice of a lawyer, etc. is a decision you need to reach yourself. The Purpose of a Contract is simple; defines scope, responsibilities, relationships, and compensation. My advice, have contract templates at your disposal for editing. I have templates for New Single Family Residential, Renovation/Addition Single Family Residential, New Multi-Family Residential, Commercial Tenant Fit-Up, Conceptual Design, Schematic Design, as well as several others, you get the idea. You want good contracts that you can edit quickly per project specifics.

2013-05-20_blog_image_disconnect jSketching

Free hand sketching that is. This isn’t a CAD/BIM issue/debate; it’s about communication on the fly. You need the ability to quickly get your point across; more often than not your point will rely on visuals and sketches not notes and definitions. You need to be able to sketch at a dinner table, coffee shop, swim meet, PTA meeting, airport etc. and you need to be able to sketch on paper, cardboard, skin, wood, drywall, etc. and be able to sketch with a pencil, pen, marker, chocolate bar, blood, etc. The point is you need to be able to sketch anywhere on almost anything with almost everything. This isn’t sketching to produce art; it’s sketching to communicate visually. We architects use visuals until the visual is reality.

1 FullSizeRenderModeling

I’m not talking about runway modeling, I mean build an architectural model. Not virtual models, as these inherently have a disconnect with the client and the process. Virtual modeling does have its place, and I often model in SketchUp, as you can read about here- SketchUp 101. However, I am talking about Real, Physical, Touchable, MODELS! The importance of physically crafting a model is every bit as important to the design process as the idea itself. This is a ‘touchy’ topic and some architects won’t agree on the value of actually building architectural models. However, for me, it’s part of the design process and I suggest all architects give it a try if they don’t already. An architect needs to be able to craft form to the idea. More of my thoughts on physical modeling- Architect’s Next Top Model. Another great read on the value of physical architectural models ‘Why We Still Model…By Hand’ by Build LLC.

2 FullSizeRenderConstruction

Converse intelligently about construction means/methods. To be a Credible Architect, you need to instill trust in your clients and contractors that you know what you’re talking about. It’s hard to get projects built, it’s extremely difficult to get projects built the way you want them built. If you’re taken for your word, and are knowledgeable, your project has a better chance of being successful. You need to know the what and why of everything contained in your Construction Documents… if you don’t, find out or remove it. Most importantly, visit your projects during construction. This will afford you the construction knowledge. However, this gets to be a ‘gray area’ if you’re not contractually obligated for Construction Observation services. Which leads to my final point, you should have at a minimum (ideally full construction observation services) the following six key points of construction observation in your contract- Foundation and Footings, Substantial Completion of Framing, Pre-Electrical, just prior to Drywall, Trim work approximately 50%, and at Substantial Completion. I rarely engage in a project without those minimum construction observation services, if you do, be sure to have a contract clause addressing the Limited Construction Contract Observation Services.

IMG_1935Messenger

Own up to errors and bad news. This is a tough one but you need to be able to own up to your mistakes and be the bearer of bad news. Clients expect their architect to give them good news. Good news is, well it’s good. Usually no big hooray from the client when it’s delivered, that’s what they want, and expect, to hear from the architect. Bad news is… well… it’s bad and most are uncomfortable addressing. However, to be a successful architect, you need to be comfortable with bad news. Construction is a complicated process and bad stuff will happen, best if the client hears it directly from you, along with solutions as to how to remedy the situation. You need the ability to have open and honest conversations, especially when it’s a difficult issue/situation.

2013-04-02_blog_image_PMT 2 conc**BONUS** Learn

Learn how to learn. Sounds simple, but it’s easy to get set in your ways. Things/means/methods/etc. are constantly in flux. Embrace learning new… well just about everything. Each project you do should be a learning experience about something. As one of my college professors was fond of saying, “Your next project is your best project… always will be.” It’ll be your best because you’re constantly learning.

 

So as a new or seasoned architect running your own firm, what advice do you have to offer up? Post ‘em up in the comments below!

 

Design Business On,

** Learn to know when you don’t know and ask for advice.

What can I say, a post by Lee, so you know it’s worth reading!

think | architect

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Did you ever turn down a commission?

There is more being said these days on social media about architectural professional practice. I like it. To be honest, apart from Mark and Enoch there’s little being written (that I’ve found) for small or solo practitioner firms, so I love any dialog that helps. Most of the time the discussion focuses on how to get more work or get THAT project. When we don’t have enough work, it seems every project must be taken so we can continue to eat. I used to believe that. I suppose at times that is still a valid reason. It is not that simple.

As a means to strengthen our place in this industry and reach out to our profession, my friend Greg addressed the subject almost a year ago by writing 7 Reasons Why Architects Should NOT Abandon Small Projects as a response that some architects might be…

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Ideally I would provide full architectural design services for every project. Let’s be honest, that’s the want of every architect for every project. However, for several reasons, I realize this is not always an option, nor is it always necessary. Cost is typically a primary issue on every project, and usually the first thing to be eliminated is professional design services of an architect. However, as a client you need to be aware of options that do not eliminate the services of an architect.

The primary means of reducing the design fee is to reduce the level of service provided. However, that in turn will result in more responsibility for you and it becomes crucial (even more so) to have a competent contractor. Obviously, the greater amount of detail included in the drawings, the clearer the procedure for construction. The design drawings are vital in assuring you that your house is built the way you want it. The more detail in the drawings the more control you have over the resultant house. Anything not included in the drawings is at the discretion of the contractor. You’ll have less control over the final outcome of the house because you have given the contractor fewer instructions/information to follow.

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In this installment of the ‘Hiring an Architect’ series, I address typical levels of service available from an architect. Keep in mind not all architects are willing to work on a project where their services are limited- and there are some projects I won’t either. However, it does afford potential options to a client who is not in a position to hire an architect for full services, but does realize the value of an architect in the design of their home. Outlined below are differing Levels of design service available to you:

LEVEL 1: SCHEMATIC DESIGN DRAWINGS

This level uses an architect’s special training to problem solve, but the task of producing drawings for permitting and construction is the responsibility of others and is hired by you. This level is appropriate for simple designs. This level of service is appropriate if you want a house designed for your particular needs, but want to either draw the plans yourself or to have the builder, or a drafting service perform the drafting.

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These drawings are by no means enough for permitting or actual construction. The drawings indicate the design intent of your home. Prior to building, you will need to hire someone to think through how the house will be constructed, and to document those decisions in a set of drawings, suitable for obtaining the permit and building the house. This approach is appropriate if you wish to have standard finishes and details. Services typically include the following phase and associated deliverables:

Schematic Design (SD)

Schematic Design Drawings provided. Room sizes will be indicated but not dimensioned. The Schematic Design Drawings will be formatted at a size of 11×17, hand drawn, and consist of the following:

– Floor Plan(s)

– Roof Plan(s)

– Exterior Elevations- at each exterior façade

LEVEL 2: SCHEMATIC DESIGN + SCHEMATIC DESIGN RESOLUTION PACKAGE

This level of service is appropriate for those seeking a house with standard construction and finishing details. Like Level 1, this level of service is recommended for simple designs, where everything is straight forward. This level of service is the same as previously described in Level 1. However, once a design is agreed upon, a Schematic Design Resolution Package is provided.

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The Schematic Design Resolution Package contains additional information to lessen the burden on someone else completing the drawings. Even though you will still need to hire someone else to complete a set of drawings, suitable for obtaining the permit and construction, major dimensions will have been determined to aid in the creation of drawings. Services typically include the following phases and associated deliverables:

Schematic Design (SD) + Schematic Design Resolution Package

Includes services and deliverables as indicated in Level 1 , in addition, a  Schematic Design Resolution Package is provided. The Schematic Design Resolution Package will be formatted at a size of 24×36, created via AutoCAD/BIM software, and consist of the following:

               –  Floor Plan(s)

               –   Roof Plan(s)

               –   Exterior Elevations- at each exterior facade

               –   Two (2) Building Sections

               –   One (1) Wall Section

LEVEL 3: SCHEMATIC DESIGN + DESIGN DEVELOPMENT DRAWINGS

This level of service is the same as previously described in Level 2. However, once a design is agreed upon, a set of Design Development Drawings is created. The Schematic Design is developed so it more precisely fits your desires and needs. Preliminary materials are indicated/selected for your house.

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The Design Development drawings illustrate and describe the refinement of the design of your house. They establish the scope, relationships, forms, size, function, and aesthetic character of the house. These documents will outline the major materials and the building systems proposed. While these drawings are still not suitable for permitting and construction, they do start indicating additional information that assists in alleviating the contractor making assumptions. Services typically include the following phases and associated deliverables:

Schematic Design (SD) + Design Development (DD)

Includes services and deliverables as indicated in Level 2, in addition, Design Development Drawings will be created. The Design Development Drawings will be formatted at a size of 24×36, created via AutoCAD/BIM software, and typically consist of the following:

– Preliminary Architectural Site Plan in CAD (plot plan provided by Owner)

– Floor Plan(s)

– Roof Plan(s)

– Exterior Elevations- as needed

– Building Section(s)

– Preliminary Wall Sections and Details

– Preliminary Electrical Plans- locating outlets, telephone and cable only

– Preliminary Ceiling/Lighting Plans- locating lighting and switching only

– Preliminary Schedule Sheet(s)- including door and window schedule, interior finish schedule and interior elevations as required

– Preliminary General Specification Sheet- major materials and systems and establish their quality levels

 

LEVEL 4: FULL SCOPE OF ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES (psst… psst…this is the one you want)

This level of service is the same as previously described in Level 3. However, once Design Development is complete, a set of Construction Documents is created. These drawings are also used for obtaining a building permit and for construction of your house. All of the information obtained throughout the previous phases of work are incorporated and coordinated to create a set of drawings and documents that set forth in detail requirements for the construction of your house. This also includes structural engineering of your house.

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This level of service offers you the greatest amount of specificity regarding your house, and consequently the greatest amount of control over the end ‘product.’ The resultant home will reflect who you are and how you live. Services typically include the following phases and associated deliverables:

Construction Document (CD)

Includes services and deliverables as indicated in Level 3 , in addition, Construction Documents consisting of Drawings and Specifications setting forth in detail the requirements for your house, including Drawings and Specifications that establish the quality levels of materials and systems required for your house, will be created. A typical Construction Document set will include:

– Cover Sheet

– General Specification Sheet(s) or Book Specifications

– Architectural Site Plan

– Foundation, Floor, and Roof Plan(s)

– Exterior Elevations

– Building Sections, Wall Sections, and Details

– Electrical Plans- locating outlets, telephone and cable only (circuitry by electrical subcontractor)

– Ceiling/Lighting Plans- locating lighting and switching only (circuitry by electrical subcontractor)

– Schedule Sheet(s)- including door and window schedule, interior finish schedule and interior elevations as required

– Selection sheets indicating what fixtures, appliances, lights, etc. that you need to select.

– Structural Framing Plans and Details as required (services provided by a structural engineer)

CONSTRUCTION OBSERVATION

This is the construction phase of your project. Basically, we are involved during this process to see that the builder is following the Construction Documents during construction. Ideally, at a minimum, visits to the site would occur at; Foundation and Footings, Substantial Completion of Framing, Pre-Electrical, Before Drywall, Trim work approximately 50%, and Substantial Completion. This service is only provided if Level 4 is selected. There are far too many liabilities to be involved with the construction unless we are the author of the Construction Documents.

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HOURLY CONSULTING

For any other services not indicated, and for any situation where our experience in residential design and construction would be of value, we are available on an hourly basis.

 

Ideally you would select Level 4. However, even limiting design services, there remains inherent value in employing the services of an architect. As a future client, you need to be aware of the options available such that you can realize your dream home. If you are considering/making such an investment, why not hire an architect to assist you in getting what you want? If you want your home to reflect who you are and how you live, hiring an architect is something you cannot afford not to do.

All of the previous posts in the ‘Hiring an Architect’ series can be found here:

Hiring an Architect: Part 1- The Search

Hiring an Architect: Part 2- Q&A Yourself

Hiring an Architect: Part 3- Ask the Architect

Hiring an Architect: Part 4- A is for ‘Architect’

Hiring an Architect: Part 5- “What? Me, hire an architect?”

Armed with this series, a residential client should feel at ease about hiring and working with an architect. Architects will listen to your needs/wants and in the end you’ll have the home you wanted because your architect was able to assist you in bridging the gap between your budget, your vision and reality. You’ll end up with a home that fits you and your lifestyle. If you still have reservations or questions fell free to comment below or send me an email!

 

Design On,

** Even limiting services an architect will bring value to your home, it won’t come with large fries or a super size drink, but it will be value.

Anyone that reads this blog will know that I am a firm believer in actual physical models. However, I also realize the benefit of virtual models- a chipboard model is tough to attach to an email. I use SketchUp quite a lot. While BIM is the final presentation model, SketchUp is the down and dirty study model. I equate SketchUp to the electronic version of chipboard. In a previous post I covered the basics of SketchUp, you can read that here Sketchup 101.

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Since that post, I’ve had numerous requests to provide more info on using SketchUp. As such, I thought it would be a good idea to go over a few of the basics in a bit more detail. I know some may be saying, “What the heck, this is basic info who needs a post on this?” There are plenty of resources/manuals available for SketchUp, however, I believe my perspective affords insight into real world implementation as an architect (whoa, settle down, those were big words). Keep in mind, there are people learning the software for the first time every day, so if I can make it a bit easier for them than I’ve done my part helping the world visualize in the third dimension!

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With any luck I’ll continually add to my SketchUp resource and hope that others can benefit from it. Note that this post is based upon Trimble SketchUp version 8.0.16846 and may differ slightly from the most current version; it is also not meant as all encompassing, but rather a broad overview of some general tips and information.

With that I bring you SketchUp 102, Groups and Components! When modeling in SketchUp, make use of Groups and Components, they will become your friend. Go back and read that sentence again. SketchUp is inefficient if Groups/Components are not used, especially when trying to select entities. So what is a Group vs. a Component:

Group: a combination of several objects together into one ‘piece.’  For example you can create a window that is comprised of a frame and a piece of glass. You can than make a group out of the two ‘pieces’ which than makes it easier to edit and move it within the model. Groups can be copied and edited.

Component: a type of group that when copied and repeated, if one component is edited all of the other components will change as well. This is useful for windows that are used repeatedly and is very helpful when creating units for multi-family buildings. For instance, you could create a Double Hung window unit and place it 40 times in your model, if you than edit one component to be a casement window, the other 39 update as well- however, there is the option to make any one, or several of the components ‘unique’ such that their editing does not alter the other copies- perhaps a future post on that topic. Components can also be mirrored using the Flip command. The mirrored components retain their definitions, and are updated whenever an un-mirrored version is updated.

Creating/Editing:

1. To create a Group or Component, select all the objects that you want included, right-click the mouse and select Make Component or Make Group, it’s also found under the Edit drop-down menu at the top of the screen. You’ll also have the option of naming the Group/Component.

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2. Groups and Components can be edited by double clicking them. If you have Groups/Components nested within each other, you’ll have to double click the appropriate amount of times to get to the Group/Component you wish to edit.

 

Window Assembly Example:

Window 1:   I’ve created a window frame and sheet of glass, each of which is composed of separate faces and planes. Notice when you try and select it only one line or plane is highlighted (keep in mind you could hold the shift key to make more than one selection, however that’s not the point of this example).

Window 2:   The window frame and sheet of glass have each been made into separate Components. Notice when you try and select it the entire frame/glass is highlighted.

Window 3:   The window frame and sheet of glass have been composed into a single unit and a Component created out of the two pieces. Notice when you try and select it the entire assembly is highlighted. Materials have also been applied to each of the window assembly Components.

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Group Example: Edit a Group and all copies of that Group remain as they were.

The window Group (the window on the ground) has been copied and placed within a wall. Note that the window Group has also been copied and flipped about the horizontal and vertical axis for one of the windows. This example is comprised of 4 copies of the window Group:

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I’d like to see what it would look like if the windows had a ‘window box’ surround. If I edit the window Group on the ground- for simplicity I’ll just extrude the frame- you’ll notice that only that window Group is updated, none of the Group copies update:

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Component Example: Edit a Component and all copies of that component update, regardless of flipping the copy about the horizontal/vertical axis, or mirroring the copy. Keep in mind, any copy of a Component can be edited and all copies of it will update.

The window Component (the window on the ground) has been copied and placed within a wall. Note that the window Component has also been copied and flipped about the horizontal and vertical axis for one of the windows. This example is comprised of 4 copies of the window Component:

2015-01-12_blog_image_sketchup 102 bI’d like to see what it would look like if the windows had a ‘window box’ surround. If I edit the window component on the ground- for simplicity I’ll just extrude the frame- you’ll notice that all copies of the window component update automatically, even the window that was flipped about the horizontal and vertical axis:

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While this window is a simple example of Groups/Components, it’s evident that this is a powerful feature for modeling in SketchUp. For example, I’ve worked on numerous Multi-Family projects and my method is to create the individual units off to one side and then assemble the building from the units, which are Components. This makes it much easier to work on, units are able to be flipped and mirrored as need be and I only need to create one of each unit type:

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Armed with this information one should feel comfortable using Groups/Components while modeling with SketchUp. For regular users, hopefully this serves as a refresher. Once you start using SketchUp on a consistent basis, you’ll realize that there is a lot more you can do with Groups/Components- i.e. you can nest Groups/Components within each other, you can make Groups/Component unique, etc. However, you’ll also realize how efficient using Groups/Components will make your modeling. SketchUp is an invaluable design tool and should be in the ‘toolbox’ of every designer.

So what tips/advice do you have for using Groups/Components in SketchUp? Post them in the comment section, I’d love to learn some new tips and read how others use Groups/Components SketchUp.

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Design On,

** go download SketchUp and get your 3d on!