It’s possible that I have lost my mind by showing you this project. Not only does it time stamp me as someone who pre-dates computers, but it also could potentially expose me to vast amounts of ridicule.
When I decided to select “My First Project” as the topic for this month’s ArchiTalks theme, I knew instantly which project I would choose to focus on – not because it’s so good, but because I had all sorts of attachments that I could refer to (which is an important consideration when writing an architectural blog). The project that I decided to highlight was the first project that I can claim 100% responsibility for – design, client communication, construction drawings, and construction administration. About the only thing I didn’t do was sell the job – but that would have been an amazing feat since I was only two years removed from college when I did this project.
All of the images in today’s post can be clicked and will open much larger in a new window … which is important because I don’t think you can truly appreciate my linework in these small images. I should also confess that I have had these blueprints in my possession since 1994 and when I dug them out and discovered that there was some water damage on the first few pages, I was more than a little disappointed.
This is “Occhiali”, which is Italian for “glasses“, which makes sense because this is an eyeglass store. Back in my early career, the firm I worked for (which was the earliest incarnation of the firm where I am now a partner) focused almost exclusively on retail jobs – and we did a lot of them.
I was trying to figure out just how much time I spent designing and preparing the drawings for this job – I don’t think it was more than two weeks total time. Do I look at them now, 22+ years later and think “Wow – theses are really great looking drawings … so thorough and complete!”
I will say that I can reflect back on these drawings with a great deal of fondness and a bit of pride. I thought this was a clever project; it was certainly unique. This was a fairly high-end eyeglass store and as such, the owner didn’t want people just walking in and having access to all the glasses – they are fairly easy items to stick in a purse or pocket. As such, everything is protected behind locked cases.
This eyeglass store didn’t specialize in having a limitless assortment of product to choose from, but rather they focused on highly curated fashion lines and as a result, their customer service was incredibly focused and attentive.
The display cases I designed were very basic in concept – recessed open-faced cabinets – but there were large swinging glass doors that either completely covered the case ,or swung completely out-of-the-way of the case so that you could access the entire line of products.
When I look at this project now, it makes me think of a highly refined architecture school project. And by “highly refined”, I mean that there are drawings that someone could use to actually build this project … as evidenced by the fact that someone DID actually build this project.
There are times when I think that working on these sorts of projects when I was younger didn’t do me any favors. The quality of contractor we typically were able to work with was extremely high. As a result, if I drew something that was even close to what it needed to be, the guys who built these jobs took it to where it needed to go. That’s not to say that they didn’t ask questions – maybe this is part of the reason I have a healthy attitude towards collaborating with contractors to this day.
Here’s a plan view of one of the wall cases … pretty simple stuff.
Clearly my love of indicating hatches spans back to my formative years. Unlike preparing drawings using computer drafting software, all the dots shown in my drywall were lovingly hand-applied.
Notice how I almost made it all the way through this post without mentioning my hand-lettering?!? There’s a reason for that … I lettered for speed and don’t think my lettering ever reached that tell-tale architectural appearance.
So here it is … my first project actually made it into ‘The Dallas Morning News‘ so this clearly meant that I was destined for superstar status. Since this was obviously just the beginning of my career … just how many more projects of mine would make it into the newspaper? It must be a lot, right?
It hasn’t been a lot … maybe I peaked too early.
If making it into the paper wasn’t enough of an indicator of my impending stardom (and well deserved stardom according to me), how about making it onto the cover a magazine? Not just any magazine, one that cost more than a $1, but less than $2 … I’m talking every bit of $1.50!! The two guys in the photo above … that’s Paul the owner on the left, and Danny on the right. In 1994, those guys were literally like the coolest guys ever.
This is the article from within the Park Cities Avoir … Can you believe that I have this sort of stuff? In case you don’t want to read the article (and I can see why you wouldn’t want to read an article from 1994) this is the only part you need to know:
“If you’re one of those people who is fashion conscious and who likes to make a fashion statement that expresses your individuality, this wonderful boutique is definitely worth a visit. Like me, you may feel like you’re in a temple – one dedicated to the ultimate fashion look in eyewear!”
Was the first project you ever designed compared to a temple??
As if it couldn’t get any better, I actually have some pictures of my first project. I don’t know who took these pictures – which is why they haven’t been attributed to anyone. I’m actually not too worried about that attribution based on the quality … I don’t think a professional photographer is going to clamor for credit of these beauties.
Based on this picture, I think that whoever took these pictures is the same person who provided the images for the Park Cities Avoir issue – either that or Owner Paul really likes that same flower arrangement.
The floor is stained black concrete in case you were wondering.
The last thing I will tell you – and I saved for the very end to let those of you who are really, really clever and observant feel superior – is that the plan of this project is a diagrammatic representation of an eyeball.
Did you figure that out for yourself or are you going to go back and look at the plan for yourself? C’mon … you can lie to me but you can’t lie to yourself.
Now that you’ve seen that my very first project was a retail interior project, I have no doubt that if you go back and read “My Secret Life as a Hooker-Architect” that post will make much more sense.
Happy First Project … or Hooking – whatever.
This is the 14th entry into a series titled “ArchiTalks”.
One of the overarching goals that I have in place for the #ArchiTalks series is to present architects as individuals, not automatons who roll off a collegiate assembly line. All of these posts – and by extension, the themes that are selected – are hopefully interesting, 1st person narratives that engage a broad audience (not just other architects, but the public-at-large) and paint our profession as a diverse group of individuals who are made up of all sorts of different kinds of people demonstrating a variety of gender, nationality, education, and area of practice.
If you would like to see how other architects responded to the topic of “Why I am an Architect”, just follow the links below.
Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
#ArchiTalks: My first project
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
first project first process
Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“My First Project”
Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
[first] project [worst] crit
Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
My First Project – The First Solar Decathlon #Architalks
Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
Why every project is my “First”
Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
My “First Project”
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
My First Project – Again
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Our First Architecture Project [#ArchiTalks]
Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
The First One — A Tale of Two Projects
Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
The Early Years of My Architecture Career – My Role
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
My First Project – Again
Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent)
my first project
Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Top ten tips when faced with a challenging Architectural project
Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
6 Major Differences between my 1st School Project & my 1st Real Project
Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
My First Project – The Contemporary Cottage
Nisha Kandiah – TCDS (@SKRIBBLES_INC)
The Question of Beginning
Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist)
Fake it ’til you make it
brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
I Hate Decks