I’m an architect who historically does not travel much but the last few months have included a heavy mix of flying in and out of various destinations. I am currently sitting in seat 13D flying back from presenting and acting as Master of Ceremonies for the AIA Potomac Valley Design Celebration. My schedule this weekend was kept full and action packed; I shared the stage with Steve Dumez from Eskew Dumez and Ripple, an award-winning firm from New Orleans, participated in a Master class lunch at the AIA Potomac Valley chapter house, attended a lecture at the University of Maryland School of Architect, Planning and Preservation, and toured around the Washington DC and Baltimore area.
I am pretty tired and I’m not firing on all cylinders at the moment – seems like the perfect time to put together today’s Life of an Architect post.
What I’d really like to do is take a nap but the seats do not recline on Spirit Airlines, and my attempt at catching up on a little rest resulted in my head flopping forward as I dozed off, and in that split second as I jerked myself awake, I bit a hole in my lip and I’m currently holding a napkin to my bleeding lip, typing with one hand. Pathetic really.
The real topic that is on my addled mind is the topic of “As Required”. These two words are too familiar to architects although they shouldn’t be. Frequently I see this note in architectural drawings and if you don’t already know this, you should never use the phrase “as required” because it is one of my red flag phrases (along with “100% Complete – Construction Drawings”) and I think it typically means that the author doesn’t really know what’s required. Seeing these words, you might as well have written “I don’t know”, “Whatever you want”, or “Is it okay if I just leave this blank check out on the counter, feel free to fill it out”.
“As Required” … is never required. If you don’t know what is required, then writing as required will not be the right thing to write. This sentiment can be applied to other areas of your life – a lesson I would be wise to reflect upon. A while back I wrote an article about how important it is to say “yes”; that everything would be a little better off if we all said yes a little more often when people ask us for help. It’s a sentiment that I still believe in strongly but as I sit here holding my bleeding lip, I think the philosophy of quality over quantity needs to be evoked.
On a far more positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed my tour through the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation building. I didn’t bring my real camera with me so all of these are taken with my phone.
I can’t tell if I am forgetting all the bad parts about being in an architectural studio because walking around and talking to some of the architecture students sure did charge my batteries quite a bit. There is always a certain charge in the air in college architecture studios – maybe it’s the unbridled creativity … people don’t know what they shouldn’t be doing and as a result, everything that is pinned up seems to have merit and energy to it.
I’m thinking about starting a project where I post pictures from any and every school of architecture that people care to submit. If you would like to have your school “featured” this is my plan:
- Send me between 10 and 20 photos from your school of architecture. These need to be 300 dpi and for the love of Le Corbusier, in focus and if you are savvy enough to make them 600 pixels wide, I will make a karma deposit for you in ‘Bob’s Bank of Awesomeness’.
- These pictures should show a variety of student life in an around the studio. I think it would be a good idea to take a picture of a pin-up crit session but it should be generic in nature – not focused on a specific project.
- Because I am an upbeat guy (most of the time) I would prefer the pictures to be upbeat in nature. That means I would rather have a group photo of people smiling over a picture of someone who has cut their hand with an X-acto knife.
- It would be nice to include a picture of your actual architecture school building – something that identifies it as whatever school it happens to be. I regret not having done this for the University of Maryland.
- Think of the photos you send in as part of your design curriculum. While I know you (most likely) are not a professional photographer, you stand a better chance of getting your school featured if the pictures look good and were tastefully – if not artfully – composed.
- Make sure that you tell me the names of any people who want to get labeled in the pictures. I am going to assume that everyone who shows up in any of the submitted photos has given you their permission. If someone contacts me and lets me know that they don’t want some picture they’re in on my website, the whole thing is coming down.
- While you are assembling your images, the overriding strategy for image selection should be this: think of what someone who is thinking about visiting your school would like to see – what is the culture of the architecture program, and what is studio like … pretty simple. In short – what makes your school so awesome.
- If you would like to participate and send in pictures of your school, send me an email letting me know – bob [at] lifeofanarchitect.com
I am excited to see what everyone’s architecture studio looks like, let’s get this going!
Cheers (my lip finally stopped bleeding),