The end of the year is almost upon us and it is time to reflect back on last year – that a look at what worked, and what didn’t. Did you know I wrote 48 articles for this site last year? In the seven years that I have been writing articles here on Life of an Architect, that is my lowest output. I’d like to say that this is a matter of quality over quality, but that seems oddly self-serving. The truth is that I was busier this year than I have ever been and even writing one article a week proved to be challenging.
I went back through every single article I wrote this year and ranked them according to all sorts of different metrics, things like word count, number of images processed, comments left, shares, views, etc. just to see if there was some sort of pattern that emerged. All that I discovered was that different types of posts resonated with different sorts of individuals. There were sketching posts, technical posts, career advice posts, and general observation type posts … none of which represented a category of runaway favorites, but they definitely had their own “user” group. Another pattern that showed up was that the effort I put into a post was not necessarily represented in the view count or reader comments. I was just as likely to write an article in 15 minutes that was just as popular as one that took my 6 hours to prepare (that’s a bummer).
In the end, I thought I would assemble “the greatest hits” … with hits being a euphemism for visitor counts. Each of the following articles represents the most read articles on my site for 2016. Does that mean these are the best articles from 2016? Who knows, but I’ll let you be the judge.
In reverse order by view count, I present to you …
#10 Architectural Sketches – Sketchapalooza II
Published: 29 November 2016
Why You Should Read it: If you are an architect, everyone thinks that you draw for a living. While that’s not really true, it’s a stereotype that most architects warmly embrace. But when I say “drawing”, what comes to mind? Trace paper and pens, or computer screens and a computer mouse? The first is completely analog and has a lot of nostalgia associated with it, while the latter is possibly more relevant in today’s digitally driven architectural profession. Truthfully, I don’t really care which one you prefer, although I have a strong preference for hand sketching and feel that I could successfully argue that unless you are a sole practitioner, there is considerably more upside to pulling out your trace paper and rolling up your sleeves.
#9 Floating Wall Shelves – They Only Look Simple
Published: 27 June 2016
Why You Should Read it: We’ve all been there … walking some lonely aisle of despair (with 3,000 other people) within IKEA looking for the Ekby Järpen floating wall shelves. Everybody knows that if you’re cool, really cool, you have floating wall shelves. Except there’s a problem with floating wall shelves that you buy for $9 … they don’t hold up anything other than some dusty beanie baby collection.
Luckily, I apparently like to write informative architecturally charged blog posts in my spare time, because I’m going to show you how real floating shelves are done.
#8 I Want to be an Architect, Where Do I Start?
Published: 16 August 2016
Why You Should Read it: So you think you might want to be an architect but don’t know where to start or how to prepare yourself … what to do? Should you focus on your math? What about your sketching? Maybe it’s your presentation skills …
Well, this is your lucky day because I have the answer to the question “I want to be an architect, where do I start?“
#7 What to get an Architect for Christmas
Published: 5 December 2016
Why You Should Read it: Last time I checked, I am a real architect and I know what other real architects want – at least I know what this architect wants for Christmas. So take a chance with those highly questionable gift lists put together by “not-an-architect”, or follow my lead and get that extremely picky architect in your life something they’ll actually not make fun of behind your back for buying.
Published: 12 July 2016
Why You Should Read it: It’s really hard for people to find an architect; at least that’s what the emails in my inbox are telling me. To further get to the point, it’s not hard to look one up that’s in your hometown – that’s easy. What’s hard is trying to figure out which one you should hire. That’s when people email me with questions, asking for advice and guidance. Rather than try to convert everyone into the Church of “Bob the Architect”, I genuinely try to tell people how to go about finding a local architect and so as I sit in my favorite chair, I am going to turn those emails into the post … “How to Find an Architect.”
Published: 23 August 2016
Why You Should Read it: When designing a new house, does an architect work the plans to fit the idea they have for the elevation? Or is it the other way around and the plan dictates the elevations? Chicken or egg …
#4 Graphic Standards for Architectural Cabinetry
Published: 18 January 2016
Why You Should Read it: Architectural drawings serve the obvious purpose of conveying specific information in a linear and direct manner. I also believe that they serve the additional purpose of letting everyone know that I take my drawings seriously and they had better take them seriously as well. In our ever expanding desire to have our drawings look a particular way (while at the same time conveying the sort of information that we believe will ultimately lead to a better built product), in this post, we are going to be turning our attention to cabinetry.
#3 Being an Architect is Hell … My “New” House
Published: 4 April 2016
Why You Should Read it: Being a residential architect is normally awesome … but not when you buy yourself a new house. You easily see every bad decision the previous homeowner made … in vivid shocking detail. You’ll have to excuse these “before” photos, I haven’t had a chance to create the “after” photos yet since I haven’t won the lottery.
#2 The Front Door of Your House is Important
Published: 25 January 2016
Why You Should Read it: How often do you think about your front door? I bet it’s not all that often … and that’s a pity because the front door to your house is important. Besides being the gateway to your home, it helps provide the first exclamation mark of the entry procession. When thinking about a front door, there are certain self-evident objectives that should be met – things like security (both real and perceived), protection from the weather, warm and inviting entry.
I am not going to focus on the obvious objectives that your front door serves – I think that would be like me telling you not to touch a hot pan or you will get burned. You should know most of these items well enough already, so instead I am going to focus on the visual aspects of a front door, and I am going to use a door that we are currently building as the example of what can happen when you have some fun.
#1 A Case for Building Architectural Models
Published: 1 February 2016
Why You Should Read it: When architects are in school, they build a lot of models during their coursework. I don’t have an actual count but I bet that over the 6 years I spent in school that I built a few hundred models. That’s what architecture students do, they build models. Cardboard, chipboard, foam core, museum board, basswood … you name it, I’m pretty sure I used it to build a model. Fast forward 20 years and I look around and think:
“What happened to all the architectural models?!?”
There it is – the top ten posts from 2016 according to the readers. Now, it’s only fair to admit that I don’t truly think these are the best, they were only the most popular. However … one significant consideration for the posts making this list was that the older a post is, the more time it has for people to find and read it. That means that the most recent posts aren’t getting a fair shake.
Oh well, that’s life.