Confessions of an Architect


I once seriously dated a Chemical Engineer. She was and still is HOT!

Apr 24, 14 9:06 pm  · 

I went to an AA meeting thinking it was Architects Anonynous.

Apr 25, 14 11:40 am  · 
1  · 

There's a full ht mirror at the bathroom of the office i work in. When I need a break, i go in and practice some popping and locking. Word to your mother

Apr 25, 14 8:17 pm  · 
george zheng

no matter to be a interior designer or interior Architecture, first thing you need to have

ability and then you try to let yourseft to be famous. and at last , no matter a interior

designer or interior architecture. you will be matter you to be a important

employee in a big company or own yourseft career.

Apr 26, 14 4:26 am  · 

I am a recent graduate and like what I do. I believe my compensation is fair, and I am enjoying the learning experience. 

My confessions,


Apr 28, 14 11:35 am  · 

It's been a long time since my last confession (in fact, prior to even getting into school!).

My confessions:  

The pay is terrible but I get a lot of small perks that make the day-to-day grind a little easier; At this point in my career, I really don't mind being a lower-mid-manager; I have no idea what the future holds for me, once I get my stamp.

Apr 28, 14 7:14 pm  · 

Ok, my confession:  I had a particularly nasty client where I could foresee not only a bad reference coming down the line, but a ton of redtape.  One of those who wasn't ever satisfied and hired his own Project Manager who flat out told me his job was to bleed me and the contractor.  So, I added "blood money" into my contract (as well as a ton of limitations on services) just so I'd come out with something for all this brain damage.  It bought me a new M3 and a lovely family vacation to Hawaii when the project finished.

Apr 29, 14 11:11 am  · 

I had an interior designer ask me if I could stamp and sign her drawings on a project. I said sure, just drop them off at the office and I will take care of it. I said,  we can figure out what it will cost once I see the scope of the work.  So she dropped off the drawings,  I put stamps on them and signed them and told her they would be ready in the morning but I would be out of the office, so she could just stop by and pick them up.  I rolled them up all nice and put an elastic band on them.  She picked up the drawings and went for her permit.  Rolled them out in front of the Building Official and realized I had put Postage Stamps on every drawing and signed them.  When she called I chuckled and side,  you ask for a stamp and a signature.  That should run you  about  five dollars for the stamps, and   two hundred and fifty dollars for my time.  She hung up on me...and to this day I really don't know why.

Apr 29, 14 7:10 pm  · 
4  · 
Johnnie Moonlite

Sometimes Charlatans produce good design and architecture. 

Jun 18, 21 4:38 pm  · 

i don't actually care about sustainability in architecture and construction - i just go along with it as a social convention that helps other people feel better about living their lives. it assuages the guilt of comfortable life in a world where misery exists.

to be clear, i totally accept the scientific consensus on artificially induced climate change and most of the implications. i just think it's 95% an energy-sourcing problem which our work has very weak influence on. and i'm ok with the idea that we might not solve that problem, which will lead to irrevocably changing the earth so that it becomes a place unrecognizable to us in 300 years.

Jun 18, 21 10:38 pm  · 
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I do to a degree. Actually, the problem of our climate change isn't just in energy sourcing but also in the demand. Using fossil fuel sources for energy supply is also a factor in how people use energy and not just where it comes from but architecture impacts how efficient energy is used and dependency on energy sources to heat your home that draws on sources that may include fossil fuel and carbon footprint impact. When you draw on wood harvested on the other side of the world or even from your locality but shipped all the the way to the other side of the world before it comes back is not sensible. The impact, there, is in the transportation. I don't blame climate change itself on humans. That's part of natural cycles. However, I do hold humans as responsible for the thing they done that has exacerbated the climate change situation. Humans contribution to 'global warming' cycle is clearly documented for the past 200 years. I don't blame humans for creating global warming. Humans didn't cause global warming. They contributed to greenhouse gases that are basically making the global warming cycle and climate change issues worse than it would have been otherwise. Architects and designers, having been key part of the built environment shares responsibility to what we did and what we do and what we do will do to the environment. We need to look towards being more responsible but it is not just us..... the clients. The people and the way they live. As a designer of homes, it makes sense to me to approach design with the mindset of using passive solar energy to heat up homes and where possible.... ground-source heat pump (geothermal heating & cooling). If homes can generate more of its own electricity, with less dependence on fossil fuel sources or from public utilities which often has some portion of its energy infrastructure coming from fossil fuel and energy sources like nuclear which has its own environmental impact problems as well.... the better we are but its not just homes. Using renewal materials like wood (where possible) from local harvested wood that is local and did not go out to say.... China.... before coming back to U.S. I would go with harvesting local like from my county or otherwise within a 50 mile radius.... to a reasonably local milling like Longview/Kelso WA or where possible... more local than that and then to the local lumber/hardware stores and ultimately to being used to build homes locally. Similar model applied elsewhere. Less dependence on things you have to process like metals/steel where you have to process it from rock ore containing iron ore into steel. I may be more inclined to using stone masonry that can apply good interlocking nature that is resilient to earthquakes.... great. I know the Incans were able to do it. Why can't we? We imposed codes demanding and requiring what can be inferior method. I wouldn't recommend making stone masonry walls that are super tall but I think we can do some nice masonry that interlocks without requiring rebar OR mortar. The Incans did it over 5 centuries ago and their structures survived the most powerful earthquake in seismological record. Why don't we use our intellect and make use of such construction methods with a well thought out design that helps with stability and foundation work? Wood will survive earthquakes fine especially if we are smart about how we frame a structure. The biggest problems I see up here is the wooden cripple wall system in between foundation walls and say.... a balloon frame wall. It probably would have been better if we either build the balloon frame starting at the masonry foundation or made the masonry wall the full wall height. In which case, we make the masonry wall adequately stout. The key is to not have halls that will act as a hinge point in lateral movement. It is all doable. I would strive to use natural material as they are with only the tooling to shape the material than using something processed if we can avoid such problems. I'm up for designing structures that are sustainable and more environmentally friendly. I know my example may not always apply in all locations yet we do have local material resources that would be sensible to use in those locations. The more industrial processing required, the more carbon impact and well.... environmental impact.

Jun 18, 21 11:27 pm  · 

seismic mitigation and lumber transport are not important factors in ghg emissions even within the limited subset of buildings. i am not sure your text describes a belief in or skepticism of the goals of sustainable architecture at all - it simply notes that it is possible maybe in some circumstances.

Jun 19, 21 3:43 am  · 
1  · 

I have skepticism of politics but not science. I may have some skepticism of interpretations of scientific data but I have read the IPCC climate reports. (not a small read at all) I have looked at the climate data but also data over time period from before the last great ice age.... put it simply, over the last 1 million years including data that has been researched since as far back as we can go, at this time, in collecting data about the Earth's climate. I can't say humans invented global warming or climate changes. That would not be scientifically true or factual. We contributed to it with all the GHGs emissions and also other environmental impacts over the past 10,000 years and the especially in the last 300-500 years and our industrialization. Industrialization most certainly the driving factor in human contribution to GHGs and various environmental impact. It is not scientifically possible to have the industrialization that we have that drives our economy and life style without an impact on the environment.

I agree that seismic mitigation doesn't have any direct factor but it can contribute to buildings with longevity in mind. The longer a building can be used and adapted easily, the better it will be on the environment including ghg.

Jun 19, 21 3:17 pm  · 

Transporting material is a contributing part of GHGs. As architects and designers, we work on the built environment. Some might work on industrial facilities and their work or the projects they work on are major factors of GHGs but also how we consume energy is another. This is why how we design buildings matters. Transportation and sources like getting wood from local sources that are FSC certified or whatever is part of the process of sustainable design and building process. However, it's not just that. 

The biggest part of it is DESIGN. Designing a building that isn't ridiculously large because designing a house that is 15,000 square feet for a house hold of 3-5 is just not sustainable and is ridiculous and it's not really or truly sustainable or environmentally responsible to design a house were only maybe a third of the home would be used and yet.... you're heating up some 12,500 to 13,500 sq.ft. of that 15,000 sq.ft. structure (assuming some portion of that 15,000 sq.ft. being the uninhabited garage). 

McMansions / Mansions are not sustainable buildings from a sustainability stand point. It is one thing for a few ultra rich people having a mansion designed and built. Their collective impact (as in the ultra-rich with mansions like some of those in Florida or southern California for the movie stars and sports star athletes) on the environment is relatively small compared to the immense number of people in the world. I'm not alarmed, from a scientific data point of view, by a billionaire making a 25,000 sq.ft. mansion. I am alarmed if everyone is wanting one. 

If everyone was living that way.... the environmental impact would be beyond ridiculous and atrocious. At 15,000 sq.ft. home discussed earlier, I would rather design 3 to 4 homes or one that is multigenerational where there maybe common spaces like a larger common living area (community) for the 3-4 generations like grandparents, parents, and children generations and so forth. An adequately designed home that is multi-generation can be nice if we have multi-generations living in the same community instead of the relatively contemporary trend of migratory lifestyle.

Jun 19, 21 3:51 pm  · 

A lot of it has to do with transport of goods and materials, so in a sense you are right it doesn't directly relates to the action of building, but now we build more, bigger and farther, and it adds up.

Jun 20, 21 6:53 am  · 

The whole transportation mileage from when the tree is cut down in the woods where it was to its destination of use such as in a building. The less mileage and carbon emissions per lineal mile of travel, the better. In the early days before industrialization and even milling, the trees used to build a home or other buildings was literally harvested from the site and used so the distance in more measured in yards, not miles but I understand it would be practically unrealistic to assume we can always harvest suitable wood for a building on-site but if we can still get them from locally harvested and milled sites where the lumber hasn't traveled from our local area to another country across the ocean before coming back to us... it makes sense to me. Not only transportation of goods and materials within the project but also all the travel prior to it getting to the project site from the moment the tree where the wood came from was cut. 

It all adds up. I am not as concerned with "mileage" when it comes to reclaimed wood because it's applying another avenue of sustainability, recycling/reusing. Re-using beams from another structure that is being torn down is a good way to being sustainable so it doesn't go to waste or sometimes the cheap ass typical way people tend to do with lumber..... burn it. I rather see good structural material continue to be used as long as it can be in service. This is why I also support historic preservation, restoration, renovation, and adaptive reuse. 

I also know new construction is an inevitable part of reality and when new construction is done, it should be designed from start with sustainability in mind. I usually approach this with passive solar based design and where appropriate, other methods of heating and electricity generation which can be wind or water (small scale hydroelectric especially if there is a waterway (stream/small river)) but likely wind generation is something where I am, it can actually make sense. 

In my more immediate local area, geothermal power is not likely to be a viable option for individual homeowner clients or most clients because it would take deep drilling going through hard rock layers to get to depths where the temperature difference in the heat exchange process can result in essentially a steam-electric power generation. However, we can potentially do geothermal heating and cooling in the local area but that partly depends on the underlying geology and size of the property. In any case, where possible, my primary basis for heating & cooling is going to be passive solar-based heating and cooling.

Jun 20, 21 6:12 pm  · 
James Bragg

I'm actually a mythological creature: half man, half liberal-democrat.

Jun 22, 21 10:57 am  · 
1  · 

I got really high on edibles and watched several episodes of Fixer Upper on HGTV.  

Jun 22, 21 11:16 am  · 
1  · 

only licensed architects should be allowed to make confessions of an architect...all the others can make confessions of an architectural designers or something.

Jun 23, 21 3:25 pm  · 
Dan Blather

Can I make confessions as a planner?  Maybe you can relate.  Or not

* I'm a champion of New Urbanism, but I live in a vehicle dependent suburb.  Why?  It's still kind of close to work, and around here, most houses in walkable neighborhoods that my wife and I could afford are beyond functionally obsolete.  Not "House Hunters couple thinks a 10 year old kitchen is dated" obsolete, but 6' 6" ceiling height, main bathroom off the living room, no right angles, 10 mismatched types of cladding, 60 amp electrical service with no grounded outlets, weird smell that can't be tracked down obsolete.

* I don't think "grit" is an asset in the built environment.  Most Americans aren't hipsters or bohemians.  American downtowns in the 1970s had a lot of "grit", and it drove people away. 

* I kind of like "fast casual" and "one plus five" buildings.  They fit into an urban context much better than anything else most North American cities have seen since WWII.  I think people hate on the style because of what is symbolizes (stereotypical "basic" folks), not because of any flaws with the design.

* We planners often write like we're old-school lawyers.  We're not.  I write in plain English. I wrote an entire form-based code using plain English. No legalese, (almost) no passive voice, no Latinate terms just because they sound "more official", no walls of text when tables or bulleted lists are shorter and easier to understand.  Attorneys that have seen the code *love* it.

* The most energy-efficient, sustainable, earth-friendly, ethically sourced, fair trade, free range building isn't "green" if it's out in the boonies.  There's also nothing "green" about tiny houses on 20 acre lots.

* I think gentrification brings far more benefits than shortcomings to the affected neighborhoods and the people who live there.  I think the integrationists of the 1960s-early 2000s had it right; socioeconomic and ethnic diversity in neighborhoods and the public realm is a *good* thing.

* Zoning in and of itself isn't bad.  There's just a lot of bad zoning out there.  Zoning is a tool, and too many communities are using the Harbor Freight version, not the good stuff.  Young planners need to look at some Sanborn maps from the 1920s and earlier to get an idea for what the "glory days of American urbanism" was really like.

* Modular / pre-fab houses don't look a thing like site built, no matter how many articles in architectural, real estate, and builder-related periodicals claim they do.  90% of modular houses I see are variants of HUD doublewides.  The untz-untz postmodern modulars that architectural magazines always gush over seem almost mythical, at least outside of California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Austin metro areas.

Jun 25, 21 4:18 pm  · 
2  · 

"I think people hate on the style because of what is symbolizes (stereotypical "basic" folks), not because of any flaws with the design." - this is my feeling about so much of the architecture community's views.

Jun 25, 21 4:51 pm  · 
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