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How to practice architecture

White_Snowman

If you want to get good at an instrument, you practice scales, chords, songs, etc. What are the scales, chords, etc of architecture?

I don’t know if there’s an easy answer for this, just wanted to see if anyone had any insight into how to get better. 

 
Jan 22, 20 5:01 am
threeohdoor

Eh, by your analogy, either the drafting table or AutoCAD/Revit would be the instrument of architecture, much the same way a piano is an instrument for music.

If you want to practice CAD/Revit, there are plenty of avenues to do so. Most involve just continuously drawing up projects/details that either come from work, or just random stuff in your life.

Other skills that "improve" ones ability to do architecture things include sketching (both big things and small), walk-by building analyses (How do you think they built that? How did they build that? What are the differences?). Next time you walk into a new space, ask yourself why you are there and if the room helps you do whatever it is you're doing, in a pleasing way.

On a stretch note (ha!), I'll say that cooking parallels a bit. Planning a dinner and nailing the timing, quantity, quality, and cost is difficult. Appeasing your guests (clients) while not losing your shirt is fun hurdle. Ask yourself what ingredients are most important relative to others, what's your budget, when do you need to start the grill/oven/range, when to cut/prep, how long per task, how do they plates look, are there special situations to account for, etc etc. Many "architects", especially young ones, severely lack the ability to anticipate and control for various externalities. Training your brain to think more clearly about how multiple components/tasks/projects come together (even for small ones like cooking!) is crucial. Do anything you can to exercise that muscle. 

We put a hold on a project due to "client liquidity problems" - apologies for the long response.

Jan 22, 20 10:18 am  · 
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tduds

As an architect who cooks, I strongly agree with the cooking analogy.

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joseffischer

I'm thinking about how practicing songs relates to buildings and would love to see some song titles tied to building images.  Like, what song is the Parthenon?  What song is the local 5+1 stumpy apartment donut?

Jan 22, 20 11:45 am  · 
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Go build something.

Then apply what you learned and do it again.

It’s not rocket science.

Jan 22, 20 11:54 am  · 
1  · 
Chad Miller

That advice is rather fatuous.

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Not as much as your comment.

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Chad Miller

I don't think so. Someone could learn something from my comment.

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daer

@ Chad, go easy on Miles. He's not even licensed.

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threeohdoor

This is akin to "bootstrapping" mumbo jumbo. OP was, seemingly, asking about smaller scale pursuits that could improve his/her skills. I know you've got a lot to offer the forum and architects/designers early in their careers, but you could add a little more to the conversation than tautology.

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Chad Miller

I'm just messing with Miles. Seriously though, threedoors comments hold true.

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Building your design is the most direct way to experience the transformation of the abstract into reality and all of the properties of that: scale translation, material properties, functional performance, etc.

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Chad Miller

True, but it you know NOTHING about design and construction it would be a rather unproductive and slow way to learn.

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whistler

I'm with Miles all the way on this one. No better way to learn than to design and then build it... don't care if its a bookshelf or a house. The process is basically the same and gets more complicated by the regulations, # of people, consultants etc. involved. It's why we as a profession typically don't hit our stride til later in life. Trial and error is a big factor.

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Right, because actual experience is worthless.

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Chad Miller

Actual experience with the appropriate process is great. Now go learn genetics by creating a test tube baby.

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It's not rocket science and it's not biogenetics. Raising a child would be a better metaphor. But it doesn't make any difference because you’re arguing out of ego rather than intellect.

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whistler

If you are talking about "creating" a baby I have been working on that with my wife for years and keep telling her I need more practice but she keeps ignoring my needs???? Raising kids is more like a real time adaptive process because most of us don't get to see it all the way through to the end before we get to start again. So it's really have to make changes on the fly with child A/B/C in various stages of their development hoping that they become the best he/she or they that they can become!

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Kind of like design/build.

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whistler

Without detailed plans! or schooling!

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White_Snowman

Y’all go hard in this forum haha. I see what Miles is saying, you have to learn songs to play music. Unfortunately for me I just sat down to the instrument so I’ll get the basics down first and build from that.

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Chad Miller

Sit visits. See how things are built then compare them to the drawings. You can learn a lot in the field.

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threeohdoor

Again, I'll point back to my comment about the smaller scale activities that one can do to practice. To continue the analogy, a pianist doesn't just play Moonlight Sonata on blast until perfection. There are many steps, practices, scales, techniques, etc to practice, some of which occur prior to practicing the piece, others occur during. I suppose it's not rocket science, you could just brute force your way through, and sure, you'd learn something, but let's not be silly and think that's an efficient way of improving the sets of skills that make a pianist "good".

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mightyaa

Observe and evaluate:  Design is a mental exercise and understanding of the built environment.  Flex your brain.  So, start paying attention to spaces and how people interact and why this space is better than that space for whatever the function is.  Basically, a mental trick I use when I’m out and about is just evaluating the space.  What is it that makes that space feel right (or wrong)?  Lighting, volume, acoustics, details, and so forth.  The more you do this, the more you’ll start to understand and build your ‘good architecture’ vs ‘bad architecture’ ideas.  It can also grow into how things function; elevator cores, bathroom locations, and progression through spaces; parking, entry, reception/lobby, wayfinding (directories), passages/hallways, office entries, etc.  Eventually, you just do it all the time and don’t really turn it off.  I’ve yet to meet an architect who hasn’t mentally critiqued the building they are currently in and formed an opinion about what was right or wrong and how to improve the space. 

Next step would be learning to sketch.  Start taking some art classes.  These help define proportions, figure ground, positive and negative space, arrangement, shading, emphasis, etc.  It’s not so much dialing in technique as it is to get your brain to start to understand compositions and visual impact.    

Jan 22, 20 12:19 pm  · 
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thatsthat

Use sketching to try to understand not only how to represent a building, but how it can work functionally. Walk through spaces and sketch a bubble diagram of how different programs are related.  What observations can you make? Where are the circulation spaces and how do they connect to different rooms or areas? Sketch out a rough floor plan of your living space, including door swings and window opening using standard architectural drawing conventions. Try to get the proportions of the spaces right without measuring.  Sketch out small details you see (window/door jambs, etc.) and figure out how things are constructed. Again, try to use architectural language and drawing standards. Its not only about what you see, but how you are able to record and communicate to others.

Jan 22, 20 12:53 pm  · 
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White_Snowman

I have been sketching a lot and I find it very helpful. Part of the learning process for me of figuring out why a building is shaped the way it is and I think like you said a lot of it is just learning the architectural language

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White_Snowman

You know out of context this looks like the ramblings of a mad man. Either way it was very helpful, thanks!

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JBeaumont

Those are the ramblings of someone who once designed a house with no bathrooms, in which the living room looked out onto a view of the entirely blank broadside of the garage, and the main entrance entered directly into a bedroom hallway. That, and a $250k semiconductor lab in a strip mall, are lessons on what happens when one spends 20 years avoiding getting any real job in an architecture firm or in any professional setting even vaguely related, but plays architect anyway.

The architectural equivalent to practicing a musical instrument is working in a setting with one or more experienced architects, on increasingly advanced tasks on real-life projects. There is absolutely no substitute for that, no matter how many pdfs you read and forums you haunt.

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JBeaumont

The architectural equivalent to practicing a musical instrument is working in a setting with one or more experienced architects, on increasingly advanced tasks on real-life projects. There is absolutely no substitute for that, no matter how many pdfs you read and forums you haunt, or wikipedia entries you plagiarize, or tweets you propagate.

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JBeaumont

I've never heard of one who got any good without instruction by and/or real-life interaction with other good musicians.

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JBeaumont

While I'm sure that's how you would approach learning a musical instrument, I can assure you that you would not advance any farther than hobbyist-level mastery without an in-person, human instructor, and without in-person exposure to and interaction with other musicians.

In learning music it is important to be present to hear others play, as well as to have others hear one and provide continuing feedback on one's own progress.  It's the same with architecture - one can only go so far in a vacuum, and as far as one does go without present guides may be in misguided directions.

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tduds

"We are now being philosophical." No, you are. Everyone else is still just talking about architecture.

 · 
eeayeeayo

Rick is electively and selectively autistic. When it suits him, he fails to understand common phrases and analogies, because it allows him to dodge the meaning of what's being said to him and go spinning off into space (literally, in his most recent post above.)

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That describes the recent tangent on planet vs dwarf planet too. 

*gasp* 

is Rick studying to become an astronomer?

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tduds

Rick your process of carrying on reminds me of the old parlor game, exquisite corpse.

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tduds

QED

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JawkneeMusic

recognize it is & isn't about arch, instead also what u know

Jan 22, 20 4:08 pm  · 
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White_Snowman

What?

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JawkneeMusic

it is ur integrated self

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White_Snowman

of course

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Non Sequitur

words

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JawkneeMusic

by words you meant something sequitor

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Non Sequitur

I did. Unlike you.

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sameolddoctor's comment has been hidden
sameolddoctor

jerking off regularly helps...

Image result for lebowski i still jerk off manually


Jan 22, 20 5:54 pm  · 
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tintt

Trial and error. Paying attention.

Jan 23, 20 3:40 pm  · 
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.

Jan 23, 20 3:55 pm  · 
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5839

It's a reliable rule on any forum that the longest posts come from those with the least to contribute.

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Non Sequitur

Comment of the week. Both of these.

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Chad Miller

Holy fucking huge blocks of text Batman. 

Jan 23, 20 4:22 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

My commute home is too short to read it, but I like the angle of literally comparing the saying “learning in a vacuum” and actually trying to learn something while being in the vacuum of space.

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tduds

I want to see the "30 minute house" plan. I think that happened before I started wasting time on here.

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Non Sequitur

30min house designs sounds like a great bar game. Sit around with several pints and a large pile of markers and pens and every one races to design a house by the time their second pint is done, then critique and start over.

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It got linked a while ago over in TC but the link is broken. Discussion is still good though; https://archinect.com/forum/thread/33434/a-html/59350

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Non Sequitur

EI, there are some names on that page that have not graced the forum for some time. Where did Josh and David go?

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tduds

Non: In grad school I did a one day workshop where we took over a bar table and practiced napkin sketching. It was one of the most useful days of my education.

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I don't follow them, but they occasionally come up in my Twitter feed when one of their tweets is liked or retweeted by others I do follow. Not sure why they haven't graced us here lately. 

I can count on one hand the number of known archinect regulars I've met IRL, and while I haven't met David, I think we did cross paths a while back. I recognized him from his photo, but thought it would be weird if some random guy came up to him and started chatting about archinect. I do recall he was taller than I was expecting.

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Non Sequitur

Tduds, we did the bar round-table sketching thing once a week for over a year while in M.Arch. It was great to roll out the yellow trace between the guinness pints.

EI, I've not met anyone, likely due to the very small networking scene here and the whole "not living in the us" thing but I have many standing "will share pints" offers with some.  8-)

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tduds

Literally on napkins though. We got a huge pile from the bartender and went to town.

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tduds

Going off on a tangent now, but if you want to see the artistic potential of a simple ballpoint pen and a napkin, follow https://www.instagram.com/tripp_arch/

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The old man used to throw me a sketch on a napkin (literally, and occasionally a restaurant placemat) for me to turn into a building. In hindsight many were likely done in a bar.

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liberty bell

I thoroughly enjoyed that trip back to TC history, Everyday. Thanks for that.

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kjdt

Found it in the Wayback Machine:  Villa Balkins: 

https://pasteboard.co/IREYuOu.jpg 

https://pasteboard.co/IRF0eUm.jpg

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Thanks for finding them again kjdt

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tduds

lol "Not For Construction"

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atelier nobody

Have a little fun with it...

Jan 24, 20 2:18 pm  · 
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tduds

Got this as a Christmas present a bunch of years ago. It's a blast.

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atelier nobody

I've worked in offices that actually used Lego and other toys for quick study models. Not bad as long as you like all right angles...

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JawkneeMusic

alright, sketch unlimited time limit or yo mama is mía

Jan 25, 20 6:03 pm  · 
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JawkneeMusic


i think this is the worst

Jan 25, 20 6:20 pm  · 
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JawkneeMusic

ya i did it right then

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Non Sequitur

It's hot garbage

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tduds

I, too, think that is the worst.

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White_Snowman

So in summation:


Practice CAD/Revit


Sketch, Sketch, Sketch


Actively think about a building while you’re in it


Go build something, it’s not rocket science


You can’t learn in a vacuum


Sketch more


Whatever Jawknee is on


Go to a bar and draw on napkins with other Architects

Jan 25, 20 8:59 pm  · 
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You forgot, "Ignore Rick Balkins"

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Chad Miller

More.  

Jan 30, 20 1:57 pm  · 
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joseffischer

This is the type of sketch that makes me die inside, a design so bland and copy paste that I know my next month is going to be all about discussing 1 3/4" vs 2" profiles and moving that hard canopy up 3", then down 6", then up 4", and then "back to where we drew it in Option 2B, but with Option 3C's storefront" and finally VE'd out of the project for awnings installed NIC.

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joseffischer

Not to say it's a bad drawing, thanks for the image Chad, it's just the Owners typically attached to the drawing that makes me get the chills

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tduds

Nothing wrong with a good fabric building. Nice sketch, Chad.

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Chad Miller

To be fair is was a 15 minute concept sketch showing a 'typical brick building' look that the client wanted. With more development I would have done more masonry detailing, better proportioning, and had more interesting metal panels. The site is very small and surrounded by 1930 - 40's style masonry buildings.

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Chad Miller

Oh and you're right joseffischer - the client was one of 'those' types. The project didn't go much farther than this - thank god.

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wynne1architect@gmail.com

Marry wealth, is my suggestion.

May 9, 20 8:28 pm  · 
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