Archinect
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What are you embarrassed to admit you don't know about architecture?

102
caramelhighrise

Maybe someone else can even help you out! :) For me, I have a pretty sad lack of knowledge in codes beyond IBC/IECC, and I could learn a hell of a lot more about MEP coordination and budgets.

 
Nov 14, 20 11:36 am
apscoradiales

History of various architectural movements/styles...

Codes never presented a problem here. You learn when you're doing a project somewhere different than your home ground. In a bind or if the project is too complicated, you get your client to hire a code consultant.

MEP's the same - co-ordination and sitting in meetings help...take a Architectural Technology course at a school - they teach that stuff.

Budgets?

Speak to contractors - pick their brains...dunno if you have Yardstick for Costing by Hanscomb. If you do, use it. Do they still have that publication in Canada? Anybody know?

Nov 14, 20 2:12 pm  · 
1  · 
newbie.Phronesis

Looks like they do, seems quite a useful resource. 2020 version: https://www.rsmeans.com/products/books/2020-cost-data-books/2020-yardsticks-for-costing-book

 · 
citizen

Electrical.  I know to leave room (there's never enough, according to an electrician in my family) for the various components, but power systems themselves I never really learned.

Nov 14, 20 3:51 pm  · 
3  · 
archanonymous

I don't even understand how electricity works. It may as well be magic. And yes, I aced my chemistry and physics classes back in the day, but that doesn't mean I really understand it.

4  · 
citizen

[not sure why i'm unable to post hilarious pic.]

 · 
citizen

.

Archanonymous and me trying to figure it out last summer.  Non Sequitur could've helped if he wasn't passed out already.

 · 
Non Sequitur

How and when was I passed out?

 · 
proto

Can anyone explain electrical math? How many circuits of a given size determine a panel size? It doesn’t seem to actually add up...maybe need some continuing ed in this field...from an electrical meth-amagician

1  · 
citizen

Amps, volts, watts... ugh.

1  · 
apscoradiales

Forgot about that one. That is pure voodoo to me as well.

 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

I still think electricity comes from a guy on a cloud.

 · 
citizen

Glad to know I'm not the only one. One scintilla of self-esteem: restored!

 · 
Almosthip

Magic.....

 · 
atelier nobody
citizen

.Power strip floating on foam flip flops... - Webster Electric, Inc. |  Facebook

[Take 2]  Archanonymous and me trying to figure it out last summer.  Non Sequitur could've helped if he wasn't passed out already.

1  · 
archanonymous

Contracts. I see the words in the templates my firm uses and I see where to sign and date but I don't understand (or care) what any of it means.

Nov 14, 20 4:46 pm  · 
1  · 
JawkneeMusic

Non-Sequitor's true identity.

Nov 14, 20 6:00 pm  · 
2  · 
Non Sequitur

If that’s all it takes to embarrass yourself, you must have one helluva long list of embarrassments.

1  · 
lower.case.yao

i don’t know why transfer beams work. Structure sometimes is magic.

Nov 14, 20 7:19 pm  · 
 · 
Almosthip

SKY HOOKS

1  · 
citizen

Apparently I'm not so hot at posting on Archinect, either.

Nov 14, 20 8:16 pm  · 
 · 
apscoradiales

.

 · 
luvu

I once met a UK-registered architect (ARB) who didnt know what a scissor staircase is ... just baffled me


Nov 15, 20 12:00 am  · 
 · 
apscoradiales

I once met an American architect who didn't know what a "lift" is.

1  · 
caramelhighrise

My PM just asked a design leader the different between precast and tilt-up the other day if it makes you feel better. But I didn't have the audacity to speak up since I'm sure I regularly ask even dumber questions.

 · 
randomised

What I don’t know about architecture is how to get commissions.

Nov 15, 20 1:22 am  · 
1  · 
apscoradiales

Start playing golf on Wednesday afternoons...amazing who you can meet on a golf course; fire chiefs, police chiefs, works department directors, bank managers, some assholes...good way to make contacts.

4  · 
Non Sequitur

^ this.

 · 
caramelhighrise

I just finally picked up a golf club
recently for this very reason.

 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

I do so little entitlement, early phase things, that by the time the project hits my desk, issues are magically resolved. Hence my realization, and to my embarrassment, I had a rather pedestrian understanding of FAR.

Nov 15, 20 9:50 am  · 
1  · 
tintt

Managing consultants.

Nov 15, 20 11:03 am  · 
1  · 
bowling_ball

It becomes a little easier if you really study their contract for the tangible items like site visits (they never included enough). I've also found that having a call with them after receiving their fee proposal, but before signing it, that suggesting they add a little extra fee to cover the inevitable changes, would be a good idea. That way, they're more likely to respond well to late charges without to much argument, and they can't ever say they didn't have a chance to reevaluate their fee and scope. No excuses and it costs a fraction of a fraction of project costs.

1  · 
midlander

managing staff :/

1  · 
mightyaa

The tiny details and pro/con of elements in specifications like architectural concrete mix designs, steel finishes, what sealant, etc. to achieve the look I'm after and will hold up over time.

Nov 16, 20 10:45 am  · 
 · 
archanonymous

At least for concrete mix design, there are fairly clear standards, I always reference this PDF: https://ascconline.org/Portals/0/ACI%20347.3R-13%20Guide%20Formed%20Concrete%20Surfaces_5-4-2017.pdf?ver=2017-06-07-100257-223

 · 

Glad you posted that. I've been looking at this and wondering if I should start referencing it or not. Have you had any pushback from contractors in following it? Things like this have made me delay actually getting into in on any projects so far.

 · 

This is also a good explainer of the guide archanonymous posted.

 · 
archanonymous

Oh yeah that's a good summary/ explainer too! 

We get fucked on bid documents no matter what, so we try to include what we actually want in the project.

 · 

We never get what we want with concrete. I'm not convinced adding additional references would change anything (currently we do the surface finishes in ACI 301). Once it's poured, you're getting what you get whether it meets the requirements or not. I've never had a client that would back us up and make the contractor take it out and do it again. They have always accepted a remedial finish like a sack and patch.

1  · 

There is so much I don't know much or enough about so here is a short list of my big things I don't know enough about related to architecture. 

MEP systems

How to write a good spec (all those ASTMI standards!)

Cost estimating

Architectural history

Any work done by BIG or ZHA. 




Nov 16, 20 10:52 am  · 
2  · 
citizen

^ I also can't keep up with the growing list of Recent Projects By Important Firms I Should Know About. ("Say, have you kids ever seen the Seagram Building? It's really boss.")

1  · 
archanonymous

Part of the "problem" is you look on Archinect or Dezeen or whatever and all the projects are just so good. How could anyone keep track? What differentiates some of the really stunning local and regional firms from the stars that get most of the attention? Does it even matter?

2  · 
gibbost

Door hardware and fire codes.  But mostly hardware.  There's a vendor here in town that I go to for every project.  Knows the stuff backwards and forwards.  He's close to retirement--which has me worrying.


Nov 16, 20 11:39 am  · 
1  · 
citizen

Those guys are irreplaceable. Time to look into a reanimation kit for your basement... for when his time comes. It's either that or telling clients, "Locks and hinges are soooo last year, you know?"

 · 
bowling_ball

Totally agree. That shit is brutal. I have no idea what the difference is between a hardware group and a heading. I have to confess that I've never put together a door or hardware schedule. Oops.

 · 
tduds

Same. I still can't ever remember what the difference is between LH and RHR. If you turn around they're the same!

 · 

Always determine/notate the handing as if you are going from outside the room into the room. https://www.archtoolbox.com/materials-systems/doors-windows/door-handing.html

This is the extent of my knowledge of door hardware.

 · 
tintt

I can remember the handing but often I don't know which way is best to swing a door if it isn't obvious. I have one right now I think I switch it every time I open the drawings and hate it both ways.

1  · 
gibbost

@Everyday   I literally sit here at my desk and do a little do-si-do with my arms to determine which way the door is swinging and how to properly document it.

3  · 
rictor

Project Management apps (I'm still a pen and paper person) and the whole system of paper trail forms and templates for design to construction documentation

Properly formatting/writing Cost Estimates/Bill of Quantities in Excel (I got so used to collaborating on this one with a project manager or a contractor who usually puts it in Excel) 

Properly formatting/writing Specifications 

^ Properly "formatting/writing" - basically putting it together as a full document. (Okay I don't know how to use Excel. There I said it.)



Nov 16, 20 12:12 pm  · 
1  · 
atelier nobody

I came up through an Architectural Technology program and, while I think I'm a reasonably competent designer, I often wish I had the years of design studio most of the rest of you have.

Nov 16, 20 1:17 pm  · 
1  · 
apscoradiales

Based on the building design nowdays, you are not missing much!

At least you know that bricks and mortar go together or that 3 metric modular brick courses = 200mm - many design architects don't have a fuckin' clue how a wall goes up.

 · 

I know basically nothing about procuring work and getting it to the end of SD. The earliest I get involved is usually the tail end of SD (usually middle of DD). Big hole in my knowledge with this is initial code research. I can help you figure out lots of code things later in the project, but I couldn't do an initial code analysis without a lot of help at this point.

I also know very little about costs. I usually know enough to know that "X" is more or less expensive than "Y" ... but not much more. I commonly get questions about the increase or decrease in cost from "X" to "Y" (people trying to figure out if something will fit in the budget) and I just have to say go ask your estimator/contractor/product reps. 

Finally, I know basically nothing about scheduling or managing a project. That's ok. I don't really think I'll ever be a PM so I'm not worried about it. Though it might be nice to be able to follow some conversations without just nodding like an idiot. 

Nov 16, 20 3:30 pm  · 
1  · 
archanonymous

Of those three (and based what I know of your preferences per your forum posts) I'd focus on #1 first and #2 second and, well don't worry about #3. I think there's actually a ton of potential in that early code research. It can determine so much about the project aesthetics and cost and most people give no consideration to that. At one of my past jobs it was like "Big building, just make it type 1A or 2A" but that constrains the project so early. If you actually set it up correctly, you could have exposed architectural steel or timber without fireproofing, or no need for ceilings, or you could use a cheaper framing system, or squeeze more area out for your client.

 · 
SneakyPete

#3 is really helpful when you enter time in time sheets and estimate your time vs. The project's schedule and budget, especially if your firm uses software for planning and such.

 · 

TBH, I'm not really worried about any of the three. #1 is probably something I'll focus on developing only to move up to a role with additional responsibilities and/or oversight. Currently, we have people to do it so I don't need to worry about it. Pretty happy where I'm at anyway. #2 is something that would be nice, but also not something I want to focus on. I'm fine sending them elsewhere to research their costs. #3 is something I can do well enough for my portion of work on projects, when I have enough information, and not something I'll likely ever want to take on more of.

1  · 
citizen

Once, when I was a teenager, I stole a car.





Oops!  Wrong confession thread.  Nevermind...  =o/

Nov 16, 20 3:48 pm  · 
1  · 
apscoradiales

gibbost,

"Hardware Consultant"...same category of help as Structural Engineer!

Nov 16, 20 4:10 pm  · 
 · 
apscoradiales

Chad Miller,

Wasn't bjarke ingels who was going to redesign the World in his image?

What a fool!

Nov 16, 20 4:19 pm  · 
 · 
citizen

This thread is very edifying, in at least two ways.

  1. It reminds me how wonderfully(?) complicated architectural history, design, practice, systems, and construction are. 
  2. It reassures me that I'm not the only one who doesn't know everything, or even close to it.
Nov 16, 20 4:40 pm  · 
4  · 
mightyaa

You'll never know everything. My boss has a photographic memory, but will still see or learn something new regularly with buildings and construction. Even me, who's been trained since birth to be an architect, has to still look up things all the time. Hell, I consider it a win if I know enough to know I should look something up... like mix designs for thin concrete, elevated, on a slope, pumped, exposed to the elements, with a snowmelt system shouldn't look like the same mix for the sidewalk on grade. Just knowing when you need to ask questions is half the battle.

2  · 
Wood Guy

Who the superstar architects are and what they design. I know about many of the important architects of the past. I know a few names that are big today, but for the most part I don't know what they are doing and I don't care, I just focus on doing what I do. 

Nov 16, 20 6:22 pm  · 
2  · 
Stax

I don't think this is anything to be embarrassed about at all. In my opinion the notion of the 'starchitect' is just garbage. The buildings and projects that are doing amazing things in 2020 are never the brain child of any individual; they're the outcome of a great collaborative effort, where the result is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

4  · 
citizen

The whole "stardom" notion is not from our profession, of course.

It's a much larger cultural phenomenon applied in many arenas.  (Dr. Phil, anyone?)  Fame requires fans, and our field's are supplied in quantity by architecture school studios. This process is probably inescapable, but should be (IMO) poked, prodded, and deflated at every opportunity.

2  · 
Stax

Constructing something is kinda like a boxing match - you go in with a plan, take lots of punches, then at some point the match ends and project is complete - hopefully there's no blood involved. If the 'fans' were privy to the commercial nature of a construction project they'd know there's very little to be excited about once a contract is in play, and that its one of the most litigious exercises in existence.

3  · 
Stax

I'm not really embarrassed to admit this, but my construction knowledge is not as strong as I'd like it to be.  I've been in the profession over 10 years and have a basic understanding of many construction types/methods (framed, load-bearing, tilt-up, curtain wall, pre-cast, and post-tensioned concrete), but I often find it difficult to connect my knowledge of these to design as its coming to life.  More practice required  :)
What excites me more is new technologies in construction, such as CLT and engineered timber products.

Nov 16, 20 8:37 pm  · 
 · 
SneakyPete

If you start researching now, you'll soon become the CLT COMMANDER!

4  · 
Quentin

Shoot, every month it's something new. This year alone I had to figure out for the first time:

- Chimney, a large and very custom one

- Wood stairs, always have done concrete/steel

-Fiberglass windows, always have done storefront 

-Shingled roof, always tpo or mod bit or standing seam

So yea I feel pretty small, pretty often lol. But it's cool, always learning (at 7 years experience). Depending on your field sometimes you just don't do XXX so you just don't know much about it.

Nov 17, 20 9:39 am  · 
2  · 
bowling_ball

You're never going to know every detail of every option available. That's impossible. So long as you know how you get that info and make it work for the project, you're ahead of the curve.

2  · 

I completely agree that you will never know everything, and I don't think you should try. If you know how to research (and I don't mean how to google details), you'll go very far in this profession. One thing I'll never be embarrassed to admit is when I need to pick up the phone and call an expert.

 · 
Bench

EA - this targeted research is something I am trying to improve on. Are you calling manufacturers/dealers directly most often? And how do you know they're not just angling you towards their products but giving general good advice?

 · 

Bench, I usually start with MasterSpec's evaluation sheets to get a decent overview. I also look up referenced industry or ASTM standards that are referenced in those sheets or in the specs when possible. This all helps direct any googling that I'm doing and also any questions I might have for manufacturers' reps. Yes, calling reps is important and most of the time the key is in who you talk to. 

Build up a network of trusted reps that you know are giving you good info and not just marketing fluff. Joining CSI is a good way to build your network (not everyone in CSI is a good rep, but it helps in finding them). It also helps in putting you in situations to "talk shop" when it's not about a specific project or they aren't necessarily trying to sell you on something. If you've done enough preliminary research you can ask the right questions to cut through the fluff anyway. 

If you're calling a general contact number at the company or technical hotline where the person on the other end is obviously just reading from the product data sheets in front of them, ask to speak to someone else who understands more. Eventually you get to (stereotyping here) the old guy who's office is in the basement or out on the shop floor and is probably minutes away from retirement. Keep their number on hand. Most people would think they are grumpy, but they usually open up when they can tell you're looking for information, and not just a quick answer. 

I'd also say reach out to your favorite spec consultant, but I've found that to be hit and miss. Sometimes they give excellent advice, but other times it's just what they've heard without questioning it. You can usually ask enough of the right questions to figure out if they're just regurgitating info without really knowing what they're talking about.

2  · 
thatsthat

EA is right on the money. I will add that some manufacturers have 'specialists' in their office and sometimes you can ask to talk to them. For example, there is a masonry cleaning company we use frequently; they have a specialist that focuses only on historic projects. I only work with her at that company because I know she knows what she is talking about. If you only work in one building type or you have a project in a new building type, it may benefit you to ask for a rep who has more experience with what you are looking for.

 · 

Every time I talk about asking the right questions to reps or your spec writers, I remember my 9th grade earth sciences teacher who would talk about the scientific process and say, "Coming up with answers is easy, it's coming up with the questions that is hard."

1  · 
BabbleBeautiful

I remember a moment my boss thought it was weird I didn't know how to draw a pocket door in a stud wall. I had drawn it as a slider. I was embarrassed at the moment, but then I realized that I've just never drawn one before because I've never been part of a project that called for a pocket door in a stud wall.

Nov 17, 20 10:24 am  · 
2  · 

One of the premises of a thread like this is that you know what you don't know. That by itself is an amazing bit of knowledge in this industry.

Nov 17, 20 12:11 pm  · 
4  · 
Non Sequitur

Just spent 3hrs pouring over my building code's small building (residential) energy design requirements and still feel like I know absolutely nothing.  Sure... wall and roof construction + moisture control is easy, but outsource energy modelling because your window ratio is greater than 22% sounds excessif. 

Nov 17, 20 12:34 pm  · 
 · 
archanonymous

I am going through this now. I never do residential. The modeling exercise was not difficult, and without doing anything too fancy (pretty typical window wall, well-designed and detailed wall and roof) we are exceeding code by like 70%. This was my first time doing any of this (or doing a model to confirm code compliance) and it went surprisingly smooth. And now I know!

 · 
Almosthip

There has been a lot of cursing in our office in relation to the energy code. Mostly due to the extra time the NECB takes to confirm compliance and we haven't been able to increase our fees to compensate for that time. I personally am getting the hang of it, created my own spreadsheets to help me wade through it.

 · 
Non Sequitur

Thanks... now I know even LESS.

 · 
apscoradiales

N-S,

New OBC?

1  · 
Non Sequitur

Yes Aps, SB12 specifically.

 · 
bowling_ball

I put together a spreadsheet for NECB tradeoffs that we use for any commercial projects that we don't get modeled (and we don't model very often at all... Like twice?). It's very handy but gets all weird when the numbers aren't moderate vs reference. Very helpful and didn't take more than a day, total.

 · 
thatsthat

I only work on old buildings which means I don't know a lot about non-historic materials. I know a lot about traditional masonry, concrete, and heavy timber construction, but I've done very little in the way of membrane or asphalt shingle roofs, rain screens, or EIFS. It all just sounds like chemical goop to me.

Nov 17, 20 12:37 pm  · 
1  · 
bowling_ball

It is and it isn't. But you have more specialist knowledge in this area than a lot of us, so it all evens out

2  · 
archanonymous

...

Nov 17, 20 1:46 pm  · 
3  · 
Jaetten

why paddle stairs are allowed  

Nov 18, 20 1:29 am  · 
 · 

I'll admit it (not embarrassed to either), I had to google "paddle stairs." The are what I thought they were ... alternating tread stairs.

2  · 
mightyaa

I love alternating tread devices... I do a lot of field work, so carrying a kit of tools to the roof is much easier to do versus a ladder. They were the replacement for the older ship's ladders; the issue with those is your foot could slide between rungs resulting in injuries.

2  · 

Does anyone in Oregon know if they allow alternating tread devices for roof access? I think they won't allow ladders (vertical). They do, or did, allow ships ladders ... I'm just not sure on alternating tread devices. It's been a while since I last worked on anything in Oregon so my memory's a little fuzzy on the details. Might have just been Portland rather than the state at large.

 · 
Non Sequitur

Today I learned about rural manure nuisance setbacks and found out we have an 85m setback (280 freedom feeties).  So, while not embarrassing, I'm now aware that I don't know shit about airborne moo-moo cows shit distribution patterns. 

Nov 19, 20 12:30 pm  · 
2  · 

Now I'm curious. Where does this type of setback occur? Around farmland for manure spreading as fertilizer? Around pastures? Dairies? Feedlots? What type of project are you working on?

1  · 
tduds

Provincial parliament, perhaps?

2  · 
Non Sequitur

We're looking at large-scale distribution centers. Since covid, this type of client exploded so we're all over the place with similar projects because there is no major port or freight in my area. Everyone is shipping products and trucks need to go somewhere and our city is already bookended with 2 massive Amazon centres.  That business model is very attractive to those with big sites.

Anyways, this particular site's setback is due to an existing dairy farm (small scale) and was created in the late 80s. The real setback from the livestock barn is 150m of which 85m falls on our client's property. The 150m is determined through a long list of calculations based on the existing agricultural uses and their potential nuisances to neighbouring properties so it will certainly vary.

1  · 
citizen

Could we apply that rule to everyone in public office?

 · 
Non Sequitur

Citizen, perhaps it could be if your coworkers stored liquid manure at their desks.

 · 
citizen

My hunch is that many carry it around and don't need the desk drawer for storage.

 · 

"carry it" or are just "full of it" ... ?

1  · 
Non Sequitur

According to my research, that would be considered a type H1 storage situation which, due to their large uncovered surface rain-water catchment area, have a very high odour potential . They are commonly associated with swine, dairy, beef, and mink livestock. TIL that mink are just as smelling as cows or pigs.

 · 

'freedom feeties' NS - you win the internet for today.

2  · 
tduds

This might be my new favorite thread. It really gets at the heart of what's exciting to be about being an Architect. I've been working on and off in this field since 2007, and rarely does a month go by where I'm not faced with something - a product, or a code, or a method - entirely new and unknown to me. Some types might find that demoralizing, but for me it keeps the job fresh. I've never had the same project twice, and I probably never will.

Nov 19, 20 1:15 pm  · 
3  · 

There was another thread (maybe tintt started it) called "today I learned" or something like that. That was also a good one and worth resurrecting.

Edit: Architects learn new things everyday

2  · 

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