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cogitatedesign


No little turn on the cat walk, no sexy shirt, no tush shake, and no Right Said Fred- oh yes I did! However, there are some words of advice. If you’re working with an architect and there are no models in the office, slowly drop your gaze and retreat to the exit. Grab some magazines, markers, trace, whatever you can hold, and get out now! Go, Go, Go! How can you trust someone to craft space for you if they cannot themselves craft a representation of it?


I am not referring to virtual models- these inherently have a disconnect with the client and the process. Virtual modeling does have its space place, and we use it as well. However, I am talking about Real, Physical, smellable, Touchable, MODELS! The importance of physically crafting a model is every bit as important to the design process as the idea itself. An architect needs to be able to craft form to the idea. Modeling is important as, dare I type it, sketching!

Our projects typically begin with loose sketches indicating the distribution of the program as it relates to the site. Once those relationships are established, form is developed via models. Clients often participate in the creation/ re-creation/ destruction of the form. Models don’t need to be museum quality, in fact we rarely do a ‘presentation model.’ Rather, we employ many ‘design models’- models that are built, examined, ripped apart, glued back together- models that are tools in the architects’ arsenal.

So stop reading, go build a model- chipboard, #11 blades, bass wood, cuts, glue, bleeding, etc. Seriously… go… build it…who knows, if you build it maybe Ray Liotta will come!

Design On,

** under 18 please consult an adult prior to using a #11 blade, we assume no responsibility for severed pieces

Fresh on the heels of the two previous highly acclaimed posts- Signs of an Architect and More Signs of an Architect. I have decided (due to overunderwhelming requests) to make this a weekly occurence here at RAR. So I present the initial Sign Of The Week post, SOTW no. 34:

Before I’m inundated with emails, you didn’t miss 33 previous SOTW posts- I picked a random number, graphics work better that way! And yes, we will still have the other higly informative filled posts here on RAR.

All requests for signs accepted- except for freebird, no freebird requests!

Design On,

** Trademark pending. Shirts being printed, back off! FYI

As I caught up to Dr. Banner (cue Joe Harnell’s “The Lonley Man”), I was mindful not to make him angry… he said I wouldn’t like him when he was angry. Honestly, I think he was all hopped up on mountain dew and fun dip. We continued waxing philosophically about the missed opportunity of street signs…

(If you missed the first post, you can catch up here, Signs of an Architect.)

What signs would you see?

Design On,

** Trademark pending. Shirts being printed, back off!

Would you trust Art Vandelay as your architect? Maybe. After all, he did do the Guggenheim and it didn’t take him that long. However, I doubt you would not trust him as your architect. Why? Credibility.

If you aspire to be a well respected architect and deliver successful projects, your credibility is crucial. Especially knowledge about construction. Early on I had, as the kids would say, ‘mad street cred.’ I was well respected by clients and most importantly, contractors on the job site. Did I have this from being the greatest designer? No. Was it that I sported a goatee? No. Were my CD’s really pretty? No, I mean yes, but No. Was it that I was an expert code guy? No. Was it that I dressed well? No. It wasn’t any of these. What it was can be attributed to three simple things:

1. As a kid, I learned all I could from my dad- he was a master carpenter and cabinetmaker.
2. In high school, I worked at a real lumber yard, not a big-box home improvement store.
3. In college, I was a laborer for a construction company.

How did these foster my credibility?

 1. My dad taught me the basics of construction and materials. Sounds simple, it is, but you need to know the basics. From an early age I knew what a 2×4 was vs. a 2×6, a screw from a nail, etc. It meant I could talk to contractors intelligently.
2. Working at a real lumber yard broadened my knowledge of materials and how/where they were used. In addition, it gave me the basics of material costs.
3. This construction experience underscored the fact that what is on paper gets built, but not necessarily built as it is drawn. I learned how things actually go together and the construction scheduling process.

These three combined afforded me knowledge which instilled to clients and contractors a sense of trust that I knew what I was talking about. It’s hard to get projects built. However, it’s extremely difficult to get projects built the way you want them built. If you’re taken for your word, and are knowledgeable and correct, your project has a better chance of being successful.

Having credibility as an architect is one of your best ‘tools’ and crucial to the success of a project. On the flip-side, having no credibility can ruin the best of all projects. Are you a credible architect? If so, why do you think you are?

Your credibility may be suspect if you…

a. Think a 2×4 is 2” by 4”
b. Think lines on your CD’s are just that, lines
c. Were asked if a beam was upset or not, you felt ignorant, as you had no idea beams had feelings
d. Think those changes won’t cost that much
e. Can’t draw a legible revised detail on site on the back of a ½ torn subway sandwich wrapper using a carpenters’ pencil
f. Think a grease trap is used prior to the taping of the Jersey Shore (I’m a legit Italian, so I can state that)
g. Don’t want to walk the site because it’s muddy
h. Forgo a pre-construction meeting because there is nothing to talk about because nothing is built yet
i. Are asked why there is no cricket indicated on the roof plan, you respond “Cricket? (covers phone and turns to colleague), “I think the contractor has been drinking, cricket, it’s a freaking stupid English sort of baseball game, phhh! He doesn’t know what he is talking about, I knew we should have selected the cheapest guy!”

P.S. This list is not all encompassing, feel free to submit your own in the comment section.

Design On,

It was that time of year again when my driver’s license required renewal. Sitting in the local DMV and contemplating the possible resurgence of new brutalism, my mind started wandering. Street signs are a missed opportunity. Why not construct with LED displays that can post various relevant messages? I asked for paper and pen. Contrary to popular belief, not all architects carry such at all times, at least not real architects! I started doodling and wondering.

If I wandered the country like Dr. Bruce Banner…
(cue Joe Harnell’s “The Lonley Man” and wavy film sequence)
what might some architecture related street signs look like…

What signs would you see?

Design On,

** I already have this niche covered. Don’t you dare try to make t-shirts out of these or pilfer the idea in general…it’s mine, all mine!
Mwaa Haa Haa. Trademark pending.

I’ve committed to becoming a more semi-consistent blogger Poster for 2012. As such, I am pulling back the curtain and formally introducing myself. My intent is to afford readers a glimpse into my professional and personal experiences. Personalizing the ‘voice’ behind the posts should allow for a more open dialogue between us. However, you will not see inside my refrigerator, and there is no Cristal.


Personal Brief: Happily married father of the greatest daughter ever- funny how we all have those. Currently reside in Raleigh NC, formerly lived just outside of Washington DC. I have been ‘practicing’ architecture since 1994 and a licensed architect since 2004 (huh, long internship… perhaps a future post). I tend to have a parched sarcastic sense of humor, hopefully it will come through in my posts!

Professional Brief: By choice, my architectural experiences have been broad and varied. I have been involved with commercial, retail, residential, well you name it I have most likely been involved with it at some point. I have worked on XS, S, M, L, Xl, XLL, sized projects and everything in-between. However, I have always remained involved with residential single family projects. I keep coming back to them and find them extremely rewarding- perhaps a later post as to why. I consider myself a well-rounded architect, who rarely capitalizes the ‘a’ in architect. I take my work seriously, myself, not so much.

My daughter can further add to the introduction per a previous post- “Meet My Dad, Mr. Beard Maybe”

The other day I was throwing out filing old papers/artwork/collections, etc. of my daughter’s (aka reminiscing and weeping slightly) and I came across a piece she did when she was in pre-school. She was four. She was asked to draw a picture of me and then answer some questions. While ‘re-discovering’ this gem I began to smile and laugh…..kids they’re so smart.

His name is “Keith”

He “has dark black/brown hair. I think he has a beard”

He is very handsome “when he wears his work clothes. It’s a tie that he can knot on.”

At work he “use to work at klein design but they were mean to him. He draws buildings.”

For fun, he likes to “watch star wars”

He doesn’t like “to do klein design anymore.”

When we are together we like to “go to the beach and swim and sometimes collect shells.”

Dad, I would like to tell you “Do you want to play golf with me?”

In closing, Hi, I’m Keith, nice to meet you. While the intro was brief, I’m sure more exciting facts about me will surface in future posts- can you really levitate and juggle at the same time? Now that we have met, let’s enjoy the party…where are the free drinks?

Design On,

** I just copied the Wizard of Oz image from Google… let me know if it’s copyrighted and I will send an apology card and some ruby slippers ASAP!

2012’s first post is well overdue, so much so it should have been the first post of 2009. Shocked that this blog is 3 years old? That makes two of us- three if my mom is reading… mom? Me, I’m more surprised the internet hasn’t demanded a refund, or at least an apology. So why don’t I blog more? The thought never crossed my mind until a friend and I were having dinner. The discourse of what is modern architecture (a future post) quickly crashed into: Why don’t you blog more?”

Hmm, I thought (elbow on table and devilishly scratching goatee (come on, you saw the goatee coming))… should I order the veal or chicken… focus, focus… well, for one I am not a blogger… I am a Poster (thumping chest and grunting like a silverback), I am a Poster… holy crap, that’s it!

“Because I’m a Poster, not a blogger, can we order now?”

“Oh, a poser, I still don’t get it? The veal looks tasty.”

“NO A$$CLOWN! A Poster, not a poser, a Poster! I’m going with the chicken.”

“What do you mean? Poster, blogger- same thing…” No, two entirely different angels. Think Farrah vs.Cheryl. I explained the key difference of verbs and nouns- a verb conveys action. A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea. He still wasn’t getting it, so I defined the two:

Blogger [blawg•er] verb: to add new entries, on a consistent basis, to a blog

Poster [poh-ster] noun- a person who posts information in a public place

“Oh, now I get it. So why don’t you become a blogger?”                                                                          (It sounded so magical, John Forsythe’s voice over a speakerphone says you’re a blogger, and poof, you’re a blogger)

I paused. I hadn’t ever tried to explain to someone why I am not a blogger. Lord knows I’ve plenty to say and some darn good opinions! So why don’t I? Maybe because I work at a firm and just don’t have the time? I work for myself, so that can’t be… besides, Bob Borson works at a firm and has arguably one of the best Architecture blogs, Life of an Architect– he finds time. Maybe because I am busy running my own firm and just don’t have the time. Nope, that’s not it. My friend Jody Brown runs his own firm and has a great blog, Coffee with an Architect–  he finds time.

Is there a time bank that knows no account of mine? Actually it’s pretty simple. I’ve made being a Poster my choice, that’s it. No transcendent reasoning behind the curtain.

Hi. My name is Keith. I’ve been a Poster since 2009, and I’m okay with that. I mean, everyone wants a Poster in their bedroom, don’t they?

Blog Post on!

** A resolution for 2012 is to become a more semi-consistent blogger Poster, let’s be realistic. With any luck I won’t go another 5 months without another post. No it’s not a threat, okay maybe it is…