Square, Crescent or Nugget? How do you like your ice?

Bob Borson —  February 11, 2010 — 18 Comments

just letting you know this post isn’t really about ice…

One of the rituals when you go to architecture school is to stand in front of a bunch of people (typically made up of your classmates and other professors) and present your design. As soon as you finish presenting, your project – and how you presented your project – would be critiqued. This process is very important in the education of an architect – this is when you learn how to articulate your reasons for making esoteric decisions (click here for more on that). Depending on the style of the professors, these juries could be brutal and emotionally damaging. I can still recall from my sophomore year design studio watching “Mable McTerriblepants” (not her real name) present her design for a community bathhouse. The first words out of the mouth of the professor (he had earned the nickname Professor Chainsaw) were:

“Let me show you where you f*cked this up” (actual quote)

Oooooohh Snap! I can’t say if Mable McTerriblepants ever recovered because I don’t remember hearing from her

….ever

….again.

There were all sorts of lessons and skills that evolved from these critiques but one of the things I learned to look for was the type of comment, if not necessarily the way it was delivered. Since the professors that were critiquing your project generally were not that familiar with the intricacies of the project, they didn’t stray too often from talking about the big ideas – the Concept. It didn’t take long to learn that following the rules and playing it safe didn’t get you very far and that in the end, a successful design was all about the concept and not about the detailed fine points. If after presenting your project, nobody is talking about your big idea but rather focusing on your bathroom layout….well let’s just say that your project sucked (and that Professor Chainsaw wasn’t on the jury panel).

This lesson comes in handy almost everyday but in the course of doing residential design, it’s really useful when listening to the questions and comments of the homeowners. You can tell pretty quickly if they understand what they are looking at based on the specificity of the comments they make. If a homeowner is paying too much attention to one specific item, you know that they have latched onto something they do understand and are strenuously vocalizing their opinion on the matter in an effort to participate.

One of the most common details a homeowner will drill down into is the specifics of the ice cube. I have spent an exorbitant amount of time dedicated to ice cubes (and the equipment that make them). Square, crescent or nugget shape? Clear or cloudy? Production capacity, noise level, internal or external drain? Under counter ice maker or Freezer? This is a serious subject for some people and we take solving it seriously – but I know that no matter how much they love their cloudy nugget ice, they don’t understand what we have just showed them and that means they aren’t able to participate the way we want them to during the design process.

For the record, you can now get an under counter nugget ice maker from Hoshizaki – the gods were listening and have answered your prayers.

even better

  • Scott

    Interesting post. Your analysis applies to other professions. I am a tax lawyer and I prepared a large, multi-state tax return for a wealthy client. It took hours and involved a number of complex tax theories. His comment when presented with his tax return as thick as a phone book? I had misspelled the name of a street where one of his rental properties was located. We always bill by the hour.

  • gibsosb

    I work in a facilities office and have had the exciting task of picking out ice makers. I thought “really is this what all my classmates are doing with their architecture degree!?!?!?” MIsery loves company, so it made my day to know I’m not alone! Love the blog!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AT5KWF6XMNCXL5T3U47BV6ZTP4 Zhao Yiyi

    Automated ice making machine plant is non-corrosive and has lengthier company lifestyle. Regarding the approach to salt h2o ice producing, the brine tank ought to be taken care of each year, meanwhile, ice buckets also should be transformed each 4 a long time.

    Automation diploma of this automated ice machines is a lot larger, as a result running personnel is going to be decreased by many situations, apart from, the costs of maintainance are lower than classic devices, so the creation price is lower.

    When utilizing this automated ice maker, its pace of including ice instantly is quite quick, as well. This swift velocity is much better adjusted to these events that require speedy including ice in relation to fish harvest or alter to tidal versions along coastal locations.

    Ice particles may be crushed evenly by automated ice block making machine, these ice particles have big make contact with region to air and also other supplies that are susceptible to become melt when thermal load is higher. As a result of this, it’s advantageous to fast cooling of new captured fish along with the railway wagons, what is far more, it could also enhance the top quality of frozen meals.¬†

  • Good_wood

    Correction: Make that the Arthur Andersen auction, Enron’s enabler.

  • Good_wood

    I have gotten quite good at fixing the older ice makers that produce the clear cubed ice I and the owners of these machines have grown to love. And I owe all of my expertise to one Richard Kinch who makes the case for clear ice better than I could. It has to do with purity. http://www.truetex.com/icemachine.htm

    http://www.truetex.com/icemachine.htm

    He is not only an ice aficionado but a home carbonation guru as well. (One detects…)

    Anyway, his site is worth a read if only for the way in which he acquired his knowledge of this particular genus of the ice machine kingdom. (Paragraph 6) He already owned one of these machines and wanted to buy a sacrificial spare at the Enron bankruptcy auction. The auctioneer would have none of that and forced to be sold as one lot ALL of the machines that once populated the cushy suites of the infamous company.

    So he bought ‘em for cheap and made a nice profit selling them on Ebay. Love the guy, and I’ve never met or spoken to him.

    Like you, Bob, I’m from Texas and I like ice. This sh*t’s important.

    Great blog.

  • http://twitter.com/DMS_StructEng David Sharpe

    I want to know what happend to Mable McTerriblepants in the end. And also what happend to the homeowners hole. And, seriously, ice-cubes? (at the mo it is -5degC / 23 degF outside in sunny Birmingham, England)

    • Anonymous

      Did you notice the little edit? I’m sure you did because you are observant that way – but let’s not discuss that edit hmmm?

      I have not heard from or of Mable McTerriblepants since college and I am reticent to say whether she graduated from my alma mater. And as far as ice cubes go, I live in Texas and ice cubes are very important.
      Very Important.

  • Sarah Harper

    this calls to memory a prof that would simply say a project was sh*t and not comment any longer if he didn’t like it. in fact, he would say it BEFORE you started the presentation, to keep from prolonging any misery or giving any false hopes.

    other phrases of critique:
    “this looks ‘stuck on’ ”
    “this looks as if i were to put my hand in it that it would come out a bloody nub” (wth???)

    • Anonymous

      wow – not only is that unnecessarily harsh, you didn’t even get the chance to practice presenting. That, my friend, makes your professor an as**hole.

      Yeah, I don’t understand that last one either. It’s as if he was trying to be funny and just missed the mark quite badly.

  • http://twitter.com/Alexandrafunfit Alexandra Williams

    I can’t hear anything you’re saying because I have cloudy ice nuggets stuck in my ears.

    • Anonymous

      yeah – but they are “fat free” cloudy ice nuggets.

      Silver lining

  • Tonystefan

    I have had the ice discussion too! Literally…this client wanted the (no larger than) 3/4″ clear ice cubes…for the wet bar of course.

  • http://www.overlapstudio.net/ariadnesthread/ gmoad

    The question becomes, if the homeowner has seized upon an “irrelevant” detail in order to feel like they are participating, what do you do to get them back on track?

    You don't just lead them down an ever darkening road do you?

    • Anonymous

      I change the manner at which I am explaining things – this could mean models instead of drawings, perspectives instead of elevations, or it could simply mean I need to slow down and work my way up to the point I am making instead of just blurting it out.

      You can never just abandon them on an ever darkening road – nobody wins with that.

  • bborson

    Paul,

    It's amazing how often that ice cubes are the things that homeowners latch onto. I heard a funny/ alarming story about a contractor who said that whenever he starts a new project, he kicks a big hole in one of the new walls. The homeowner will come in, see it, and ask what happened and when will it be fixed? The contractor will say that he doesn't know what happened but will fix it right away – only he doesn't. As a result, that hole becomes the only thing that the homeowner will focus on.
    It just goes to show how easy it is to manipulate people if you are that type of person.

  • bborson

    Paul,It's amazing how often that ice cubes are the things that homeowners latch onto. I heard a funny/ alarming story about a contractor who said that whenever he starts a new project, he kicks a big hole in one of the new walls. The homeowner will come in, see it, and ask what happened and when will it be fixed? The contractor will say that he doesn't know what happened but will fix it right away – only he doesn't. As a result, that hole becomes the only thing that the homeowner will focus on. It just goes to show how easy it is to manipulate people if you are that type of person.

  • Paul Anater

    I've always been mystified by the study of ice too. I never knew how seriously some people take it but I know never to dismiss those concerns. Seems like overkill to me, but I get paid to internalize other people's concerns, not mine.

  • Paul Anater

    I've always been mystified by the study of ice too. I never knew how seriously some people take it but I know never to dismiss those concerns. Seems like overkill to me, but I get paid to internalize other people's concerns, not mine.