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Urgent Survey: Repositioning the Institute

23 Apr


As promised, I have received notification that the AIA has released their survey to gain input for informing discussion for their campaign Repositioning the Institute. Here’s the catch: the deadline is Tuesday, April 24!

The survey takes 5-10 minutes and allows you to very insightful, so PLEASE do it! The survey can be found here:

Here is their quick description:

This survey begins an exploration of the perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, needs, and value of “the Architect.” The goals of the repositioning are a greatly enhanced communication platform and clarifying what architects do, thus building understanding and appreciation of our vital roles.

I encourage you to complete the survey at your first convenience so we can include your insights and opinions. They will help us determine where gaps exist in the perception about who architects are, what they do, and what opportunities should we pursue (or not) to close these gaps and ensure the ongoing relevancy of our profession. The survey should take only 5-10 minutes to complete. Please complete the survey by Tuesday, April 24 by Noon EST.

Thank you, in advance, for sharing your thoughts and moving our profession forward!  – Ryan

Time for Change: Repositioning Architects and the AIA

16 Apr

The economy has been rough.  Tensions have built between architects, owners, contractors, consultants, etc. Much of the public has limited understanding of what we do, and the architecture profession is going through some turmoil right now. There are even segments of our industry that feel that architects aren’t needed. Many architects and building professionals are ready for something to change and are looking for an avenue to make that happen.


The AIA has announced a year-long initiative titled “Repositioning the Institute” aimed at discovering how to truly move the architecture profession forward. Many people believe that the public definition of the architect and the profession is outdated and inadequate, and Jeff Potter, FAIA, puts it rather beautifully:  “The public thinks design is a noun – we know design is a verb.”


Why is everything WHITE?!

26 Mar

As a designer, I have always found some semblance of an appeal to white.  It provides an open canvas, gives a “pristine” appearance, and creates intriguing contrasts and focal points in relationship to it’s adjacent surroundings.  But seriously, when is too much white TOO MUCH WHITE?

Case in point: I have been glancing at my CONTEMPORIST email subscription for, basically, one minute per day. Not much time, I know, but it is enough to get a quick inspiration or moment of disgust at the design the email is presenting to me.  The last three emails in a row presented some beautifully designed homes, except for one thing…they were all white.  No, I’m serious, inside and out, all white. Now, again, I understand SOME appeal to white, but three in a row as all white…isn’t that a bit much?

Below are the three houses (and my quick opinions)


“We found our architect”

14 Mar

The contractors said they couldn’t do it. They hated the designs from many of the architects. The Zielinski’s wanted something different, but no one seemed to bite.

Then they talked to Mr. Fisher of Fisher Architecture. Ms. Zielinski recalled her reaction to the paper towel drawing from Mr. Fisher:

 ‘I was very calm, but my whole insides, there was like a party going on. I went out to the factory and said to Bob, ‘We have our architect.’

An Industrial Strength House in Pittsburgh

What a reaction! Consider this … a large percentage of the general public does not get to experience a working relationship with an architect. Therefore, we have a responsibility to go out there and create great architecture for our clients. For the Zielinski’s, many of the architects they spoke with were producing bland, boring, or otherwise terrible architecture that did not meet their needs or wants.  How disappointing … but then Fisher Architecture came along and showed them a path toward their dreams. And what a success it was!

Now, I’ll be honest…


Shadows of Doom

14 Mar

What makes a heritage site? In some cases I would agree the sun is important but how important is the sun to a place such as the Tower of London? Does it really make a difference if a skyscraper is put up next-door?

Tower of London


Parametric Legos

6 Mar

Ever since I learned about parametric design I have struggled for a good way to explain it to someone who doesn’t know what it is. I could always come up with decent explanations that would make sense to those who knew what I was talking about but still left those who hadn’t dealt with parametric design in a confused state. Who know this might just sound like gibberish again but I think this exhibit of students variations of Lego towers could be just the visual I needed.

KRADS | Open The Tower


Building or Off-Ramp?

22 Feb

What happens when a building and off ramp are designed to take up the same space?

Gate Tower Building



10 Feb

Being green doesn’t mean you always have to make a statement. I came across this article about the largest solar array in Manhattan. What struck me is that even though this is so big it was very well blended into the current architecture. It is simple moves like this that are so powerful, hiding some solar panels among a similar colored south facing roof.

Deutsche Bank Solar

Developers! Developers! Developers!

31 Dec

How often can you look at the initial design and then redesign of a project and say “The developers sure did a good job with the redesign”?

The redesigned Hudson Yards


Memorial Design…is there a wrong way

19 Dec of Capitol from Memorial=167051688

Architectural Record posted on its site an article from the Washington Post voicing concerns about the planned Eisenhower Memorial set to break ground early 2012. The preferred design by the memorial commission was created by Frank Gehry in collaboration with set designer Robert Wilson.

The main concern voiced by 2 grand-daughters of Eisenhower is that the memorial doesn’t to them truly represent the essence of who their grandfather was. And there not to thrilled about the statue of their grandfather being a representation of him as a “barefoot boy from Kansas”.  This idea stemming from a quote Eisenhower said during a coming home speech following WWII…

Eisenhower Memorial

“Because no man is really a man who has lost out of himself all of the boy, I want to speak first of the dreams of a barefoot boy” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, June 22, 1945



I couldn’t find a picture of the proposed statue, but their concerns over the memorial bring up the question, at least to me, is there a right way or a wrong way to memorialize a person through design?

Memorials can be as large as the recently opened September 11th Memorial in New York, or as small as a tombstone or a sign saying that this place is in remembrance of a person. So many corners and streets throughout New York City I have seen named for people and I have no idea why. Older memorials think back to the idolatry the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans had for their Gods (The Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Washington Monument for examples). More recently memorials are becoming more artistic, and open to interpretation, for lack of a better word, you could call them modernist or avant garde. Personally while I think the design is beautiful and that it would be a very interesting space to experience first hand, if I was to look at these images and not know their context, to me its a new design for the park space that is already there and getting an upgrade. Would I have known it was supposed to be a memorial, not at all, let alone one for one of the past Presidents of the United States.

So truly is there a right way to design a memorial?