What does the typical architect’s day look like? Depends on how you define “typical”, the architect, the market sector where they practice, their experience within the profession, and any particular day of the week. Quite honestly, there isn’t a typical answer to this question so, in an effort to paint a picture of what you could expect when imagining your life as me (admit it … who hasn’t done that?!?) I have selected Tuesday, November 25th as my day to portray.
It started early … what I like to call “every day”.
I get to work early because I try not to work late. It’s a pattern that has developed over the years since I have a kid and my wife and I have an arrangement where she drops my daughter off at school in the morning and I take care of the evening pickups. I go in to work early so I can leave on time (with a minimum of guilt), and she goes in to work a little late and she can stay a little later.
It doesn’t take me long to get ready in the morning and I am typically sitting at my desk by 7:15am at the latest unless I have an early morning appointment out of the office which on this particular Wednesday morning, I did.
I had to sketch out a quick graphic image for my annual “What to Get an Architect for Christmas” post. Somehow I had forgotten to do this when I was putting everything else together and every single one of my posts has to have a thumbnail graphic identified. I thought about making some bacon for breakfast but …. wah-waaa. A Christmas ornament seemed Christmas-y enough so I sketched it up, took a picture of it with my phone, brought it into Photoshop where I added some color, and then BOOM … the graphic was created. (okay, maybe that was a bit more fanfare than it deserved…). I didn’t have all that much time for this exercise so from beginning to end, this only took about 10 minutes.
Every Tuesday morning I have an 8:00 construction meeting at the KHouse Modern job site. Except this week I didn’t actually go – I had Ryan from the office go instead of me because I had a scheduling conflict. So that meant that I needed to swing by this morning – these projects move fast and you can miss a lot if you stay away from the site for more than a week. Weekly job site meetings are really important to the flow of a successfully managed project. Rarely does our office take on a project where the clients want to cut out the construction administration portion of our jobs. This is the time when the clients get to see the house evolve and come to life – sometimes it becomes apparent that they might not have understood the drawings as thoroughly as was believed. It’s not too often that these projects stop evolving at the end of the construction document phase – and being around to make sure that the contractor has the answers they needs – when they need them – and we can make sure that the design vision is able to be carried through into the finished project.
I went over to the house of Dallas chef and restaurateur Richard Chamberlain to talk about kitchens … more specifically “A Chef’s Kitchen.” I have an idea for a post I am planning on writing on the sorts of things a Chef would want in their own kitchen – the sorts of things that are important. It stands to reason that if a chef thinks it’s important, so will you. This morning I was talking with Chef Chamberlain about just those sorts of things – not only should it be educational, it should make me a better designer.
Back in the office where I had just a few moments to read through some emails and return a few calls. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to any of the really important emails or phone calls because those would have taken more time that I had before my next appointment.
I am well aware of the irony.
The good news is that we have been going through a massive pile of potential new employee resumes over the last few months. The bad news is that we have been going through them slowly because we are so busy it’s hard to get all the necessary people in the same room at the same time. Today the stars aligned and we had a potential candidate in to the office for a chat, portfolio review, and lunch. Sounds pretty fancy to take an interviewee out to lunch – we didn’t do it because he’s awesome, we did it so that we could take advantage of needing to eat while at the same time, conduct the interview. It has other benefits besides being a timesaver – it allows for a more informal setting at which to conduct the interview and typically allows all the partners to meet the individual at the same time and under the same circumstances.
There are few things as terrible and life-force draining than writing up meeting minutes … which is the next task that I tackled. We have started working on a 4 phase renovation and addition project with a local church and these were meeting minutes and notes from our first design development construction cost estimating meeting. This is turning out to be as wonderful a project as we could imagine but the process for collecting information and presenting what we have learned and designed back to a building committee is slightly different from the norm. Today was about making sure that our cost assumptions on size, scope, sequence, and process where correct, so we presented our very early design development drawings to a contractor (who is part of this church’s congregation). It was a 2 hour meeting that was incredibly valuable and a terrific use of our time so typing up these notes was important … but as valuable as this was and excited as I was to actually type these notes up, eventually it got boring and I lost the will to live.
I will be traveling to San Jose this week to collect some as-built site data and dimensions for a major renovation and addition project. While I will be in town, I thought I would double up and try to have a meeting to discuss another project I am working on – the Wisconsin cabin project. We have made some fairly radical design changes (which made the project considerably more awesome) but our focus has been on the California project rather than the Wisconsin project and I really hate to lose momentum on any project. Does this mean I’ll probably be working over the Thanksgiving Holiday? Yes. But this is the cool stuff and I’d rather be doing this than raking leaves.
There is another project I recently started – a new house here in the Dallas, in an area called Preston Hollow. This was the project that I used when talking about sketching during schematic design. The client’s have had a chance to review the drawings and there will be another round of plan development (we are currently on round #3). Despite the fact that my brain was already starting to get fuzzy thinking about the holiday that was physically starting in about another hour, I wanted to get some new ideas off to the clients since they were out-of-town with relatives and no doubt they would be sitting around the Thanksgiving turkey talking about their project. The change they are interested in exploring isn’t all that earth-shattering, but we don’t really want to blow the entire plan up and start over either (even though, sometimes that’s best for the project). The sketch above was one of the solutions I was exploring but ultimately failed to meet my expectations so I sent them something different.
Did they love the new plan I sent them? No. But it kept the conversation moving forward in a positive manner.
I left the office to go meet my family and my Mother-in-Law out for dinner. It’s a family tradition started by one of my sisters that the night before Thanksgiving, we all go out for margarita’s and Tex-Mex … but it’s really more for the margarita’s.
It’s time to make the pies. I should “The Pie” because my favorite pie is chess pie (which is the pie of choice for all modernist architects). One of the variations of the classic chess pie recipe was the lemon chess pie that my mother used to make (and that I now make) every year at Thanksgiving. Never had it? Do yourself (and everyone who has taste buds and lives in your house) a favor and make one. I actually dedicated a post to this pie a few Thanksgivings ago, so here’s the recipe and the back story on my Mom’s architectural lemons chess pie.
This pie entry – along with the previous entry – really don’t have anything to do with being an architect. The only reason I included them is because I think it’s important to show people that you can be an architect and take on outside interests. I like to work, but I also like being at home so in my job, I can actually do both – even when we get really busy. Other than writing today’s post, I hardly pulled my computer out or checked my email for the last 4 days – a pattern that I will most likely replicate itself come Christmas time. You don’t have to give up everything to do what I do for a living – but there is some dedication involved. But can you think of any pursuit or interest that doesn’t require some sacrifice and dedication? I will venture a guess that if you can, there would probably be other things that would benefit more from your time and energy.
So there’s a look at a fairly typical day of mine …hopefully you thought it was kick ass and you’ve decided that you’ve made a horrible mistake and should have followed your dreams of becoming an architect.
This was the 4th post in a series of posts called “ArchiTalks”. There are a few other architects who maintain blogs who were given todays topic “A Day in the Life of …” with very loose instructions as to what they are to talk about. We have all agreed to publish our responses on the same day – that way none of our articles will influence somebody else (as if!)
If you would like to see how other architects responded to this topic, just follow the links below. As the links get sent to me, I will come back and add them to the list.
“Marica McKeel – Studio MM
A Day in the Life of a Small Firm Residential Architect“
“Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture
A Day in the Life of FiELD9: architecture“
“Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
What To Do When You Lose Your Job In Architecture: A Day In The Life“
“Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect
a day in the life…part 2“
“Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect
EA054: A Day in the Life of Mark R. LePage [Podcast]“
“Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL
A Day in My Life“
“Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
A Day in the Life of: An Almost Architect“
“Andrew Hawkins, AIA – Hawkins Architecture, Inc.
Day in the Life of a Small Firm Owner“
“Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture
a day in the life of a rogue architect“
“Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design
A Day in the Life of MODarchitect“
“Collier Ward – Thousand Story Studio
A Day in the Life of an Architect“