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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.

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!

My goal at the beginning of 2014 was to gain more exposure for Architect’s Trace and reduce time spent on social media. Seems like a contradictory goal, but I know it can be done… I just took it to an extreme the second half of 2014. There were 23 new posts and 72 images uploaded on Architect’s Trace in 2014. In 2013 there were 41 new posts and 145 images uploaded. While the posts/ images are down for 2014, I attribute that to those being so awesome that I had to re-post them in 2014 as well as more quality posts!

I no longer look at myself as The Poster, I consider myself a blogger now. However, I’m still not sure what that means. Do I offer T-Shirts? Do I ‘sell’ something? Do I create a podcast? I’m not sure. A major benefit of writing this blog is the dialogue with peers and friendships that have come about as such. I’ve even done some consulting work with those ‘met’ online. However, it’s the dialogue fostered and conversations had that are far more valuable to me than the actual post that sparked such. I use this blog as a creative outlet for myself and to educate as to what it is we architect’s do and how we do it- hopefully for 2015 I will continue such.

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The friendly stats helper interns (yes you’re still an intern no matter what AIA/ NCARB say and that’s okay… deal with it) at WordPress prepared a 2014 annual report for Architect’s Trace blog. I’ll admit that I don’t pay much attention to the stats of my blog, but it’s clear that I’ve out-performed last year’s.

An excerpt from the interns report:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 30,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

I think they could pack twice as many people into the opera house if Frank Gehry did a spoken word performance comprised of “98%… modern architecture… shit” and flipped off the audience over and over. The number of performances could then be cut to 6 to equal the number of my 2014 blog viewers. I’m good with Architect’s Trace headlining the Sydney Opera house…however, I’d like to go on prior to Frank pissing everyone off… wait, what… okay I got off on a tangent there. Compared to the 30,000 views in 2013, that’s a 200% increase- I’m proud of that number!

 

sydney

Click the link to learn more about the Sydney Opera House

A few more intern provided facts about Architect’s Trace:

Busiest Day was January 16th with 2,975 views. The most popular post that day was SketchUp 101 Wait, 2,975 views? That’s about 10% of my total views for the year, not sure how that happened but I’ll take it! While awesome, it boggles me and I need to figure out how to re-create and maintain such viewership… perhaps I should consider more ‘how to’ SketchUp posts.

Visitors came from 162 different countries, up 31 countries from 2013, BOOM! This was the year I cracked into Papua New Guinea, Iceland heard me last year and I’ve got 4 followers from there as well! Most visitors came from The United States. India and the U.K. were not far behind… must’ve been all the business cards I ‘lost’ while travelling in London last year. I’ve always wanted to visit Italy, seems I have 611 people I can ask lodging from, someone’s got to yes.

Top 5 Posts of 2014 were 1) SketchUp 101 2) Dear Architects, I am sick of your shit 3) ArchitecTypes- what kind of architect are you? part 1 of 4 4) What an Architect Does 5) Design Process 103- Design Development. There were some good posts in 2014 and the most read posts discussed how and what we architects do. These posts have been read by both potential clients and fellow architects. I’d like to think that I’m educating others on the architecture profession and not just taking up bandwidth.

1280px-Gehry_House_-_Image01Click the link to learn more about Frank Gehry

I don’t ask anything from my readers, however, for 2015 I’d ask that if you don’t already write a blog, write one. Write about your passions, your personal life, anything that interests you. The people you’ll engage with and discussions that follow will far outweigh any fears you may have about writing a blog. Don’t wait start a blog, in the words of Dr. Seuss:

“You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…”

I’d like to specifically thank Lee Calisti, author of think | architect, Marica McKeel, author of The Architect’s Notebook, and Mark LePage of Entrepreneur Architect, they were my top referring sites for 2014, thank you! If you’re not already following Lee, Marica, and Mark you should be, they each have great blogs! In fact, I re-blog many of Lee’s posts, he’s smarter than me and can explain things much clearer than I. Architect’s Trace was also found by people searching for ‘B-Vent,’ I’m not sure what to think of that so that’s all I’ll say.

My main goal of this blog is to trace my experiences as an architect- how it a/effects me, my design ideologies, the built environ, and all I encounter. Hopefully, others along a similar path, or those just curious about architects/architecture, can benefit from my trace(s). Along the way this blog as become more than me being an architect and architecture. It’s been a vehicle to ‘meet’ others and be part of a larger conversation. It’s been about my trial and tribulations as the best dad ever, trying to be the best husband ever, and well, just being part of the human race. Judging those goals I consider my blog a success!

So what now, a grand re-vamp to the blog? I don’t think so, I’m happy with the blog as it currently stands. Sure, I’d like more exposure and I’ll work on that. This year will be a challenge, I want to gain exposure of Architect’s Trace at the same time I want to reduce time spent on social media- [Dis]Connect. Perhaps a follow up post to clarify my intentions. A new web site is in the works for my firm and how I’ll integrate this blog into the site is yet unknown but a task that will be accomplished.

Of course like all architects, I’d like more work in 2015, but I’d also like to just be happy and content with where I am and how I got here. To my readers, thanks for being part of the journey and if you’re not already following Architect’s Trace, I hope that you do and become part of this Trace, cheers and here’s to a great 2015 and this thing we call Architecture, I mean LIFE!

Design On,

 

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I don’t get to draw all day. I’m not a cartoon maker. Honestly, I’m getting tired of hearing clients and architects say “Isn’t that great, you/ I get to draw all day and get paid!” I know it’s typically stated flippantly, but we, or at least myself, need to really think about that. That’s not what we do and it’s part of the perception problem that the public has with what we architects do. “Don’t you architects just do some drawings?” No, no we don’t. Now before you get up on your soap box and start calling me out, I admit… I’ve been guilty of stating the same thing. However, I’m making a conscious effort to not say that anymore, it marginalizes what we do. Part of our role as architects is educating the public what it is we really do… we fall short on doing so, I know I do.

We architects get excited about meeting new clients and voicing our thoughts on the design problem and the solutions we have. We prepare awesome drawings that represent the vision for the project, with any luck the client loves them… and… pause…that right there is part of the problem. The problem is quite simple; it’s the ‘awesome drawings’ the client sees. Even worse, if we’ve been good at the design solution, the resultant drawings look effortless and as if that was the only solution. While awesome drawings are… well, awesome, they can also be a detriment. We need to do a better job at explaining the architect’s value to our clients lies well beyond the drawings created… and that we don’t just draw all day.

 

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An architect’s value is lost on the client if they only see the drawings and aren’t fully vetted as to the process/experience that ‘created’ the drawings. It’s the drawings backed by such that instills value. Yes architects draw. However, drawing is part of a larger process of architecture. A process backed with experience and expertise. The process involves problem solving, addressing your needs/wishes/budget/schedule, and complying with local building and zoning codes- all while designing an aesthetically pleasing efficient structure. Architects help you design/discover a structure that works for you and fits your individuality and preferences. The value of an architect’s services is occasionally related directly to cost savings. However, typically our value is in questioning, planning, clarification, detailing, and ‘solidifying’ numerous moving ‘parts’ into a cohesive design- which ultimately results in cost savings to you. This in turn enhances the value we bring to a project. Drawings play a supporting role in the overall process.

Drawings themselves do not bring value to architecture. It’s the due diligence, experience, role of the architect in the design/construction process, and the thought(s) that created the drawings that bring value. Many people seem to be under the impression that drawings are cheap, and they’re right. Drawings themselves are cheap. However, it’s the thought and expertise that ‘back’ drawings created by an architect that’s going to cost. You can have cheap drawings; you’re just not going to get them from me or any other architect who has your best interests in mind. As a client, you need to look past the architect’s drawings and be cognizant of the process that created the drawings. The drawings themselves are cheap, heck I’ll even pay* for the paper myself. What you’re paying for is the architect’s expertise that created those drawings.

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No, I don’t get to draw all day everyday, my typical day looks more like this- Drawing Baths and Architecture. Yes I do get to draw, but my drawings are more than graphic representations. They are a wealth of knowledge and are backed by a solid thought process. Architects offer a service in which drawings are a tool to reach a conclusion… a conclusion that ultimately brings value to your project. Drawings are a product; architects provide a service, a valuable service!

 

Design On,

* Offer only applies when my services are rendered for the project, cannot be combined with any other offers unless Neutra comes back to life and wants to collaborate.

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Lee Calisti had a great post on his blog think | architect about the negatives of being a sole practitioner. You can read his post here- 10 challenges to working solo. He asked for others thoughts on the matter and I needed a post topic accepted. If you read my post the other day I also listed my +10 for being a sole practitioner- Solo Architecture Practice +10

With all the positives, much like everything in life, there are also negatives to being a sole practitioner- not the least of which is having someone else write my blog! However, the majority of negatives can be resolved relatively easily. For example, you need to become well versed in delivering bad news to a client, you can read PMt No. 2- Who’s Bad! for some tips. Another must is to align yourself with good GC’s, you can read my thoughts about that- GOODgc BADgc. Well before I link to every post I’ve ever written **spoiler alert, numerous links below** here are my  -10 for being a sole practitioner:

1. When I have a lunch and learn I have to buy lunch and be the teacher.

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2. No big firm resources- books, software, supplies, etc.

3. No one to bounce ideas off of or offer constructive criticism (Facebook and Instagram comments don’t count).

4. I’m the architect, receptionist,  business development guy, PR department, admin department, good cop, contract writer, AR/P department, educator, bad cop, night cleaning crew, IT guy, intern, model maker, lackey, CAD/BIM manager, CA guy, marketing department, general whipping boy, spec writer, etc.

5. I have to buy trace, scales, and sharpies.

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6. No intern to pass grunt work off to mentor.

7. No Friday morning **insert favorite breakfast here** paid for by others.

8. Nobody to foot the bill for the annual holiday party.

9. Firm retreats are extremely lonely.

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And the final, and reason I don’t like being a sole practitioner…

10. No room for advancement within the firm unless I take a pay cut and demote myself first.

There are solutions to each of these… well maybe not #5 or #8 unless you’re open to committing petty crimes. Like anything, as long as the +/- tend to weigh slightly more to the +, it’s most likely worth doing. I’ll admit, it’s tough working on your own and its not for everyone. There are days I question it. However, if you do go this route it will be extremely rewarding!

Are you a sole practitioner, if so, what do you miss out on from being such?

 

Design On,

** One other negative is that I always know what my end of year bonus is… it’s another year of doing this, wait… that’s a positive!

2014-06-09_blog_image_solo 10+_ solo man

Lee Calisti had a great post on his blog think | architect about the positives of being a sole practitioner. You can read his post here- 10 good things about working solo. He asked for others thoughts on the matter and I needed a post topic accepted. There’ll also be a follow up to the ‘negatives’- come on, you saw that coming.

Like Lee, I’m a sole practitioner. It wasn’t by any great desire I had, it came out of survival instincts. The economy was bad and my daughter likes to eat and have clothes. So a few fees here and a couple of forms there and BOOM! Legal entity to practice architecture. I was off and running to secure my own work. ** cue wavy dreamy sequence*** Ah, that was 2009… seems like yesterday… but I digest. I know, I know sounds awesome… well for the most part, it is! So what are my top +10 for being a sole practitioner, here you go:

+1. I get to resolve all the ‘bad’ issues that arise- it’s the best learning experience.

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+2. No random principal comes to me at the 11th hour saying “I’m not sure I agree; let’s give this scheme a try.”

+3. I can refuse projects that aren’t a good fit.

+4. I rise and fall… I get credit for both!

+5. I get full authority on creativity… as well as veto power!

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+6. I can sleep go for a run or mow the lawn whenever I have to clear my head.

+7. When I take pens and trace from the office, no one knows but me… shh.

+8. All my days-off for vacation requests are approved.

+9. I’m in control (however loosely) of where my practice goes… such as my design value menu concept.

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And the final, and best reason I enjoy being ‘da man’…

+10. It allows me to be more actively present in my daughter’s life, attend her swim meets, dance recitals, volunteer at school, etc.

 

Are you a sole practitioner, if so, what are your reasons?

 

Design On,

** One thing I didn’t mention is that my boss is sometimes a bit over demanding about ‘billable time,’ he just doesn’t get this whole blog thing. And remember kids, much like a battery, in order for things to run well you need both a positive and a negative.