The big story in today’s news, at least for us inner-city fishermen, is the guy in Chicago who caught a record carp out of the Humboldt Park lagoon. I decided this incredible event was worth memorializing in entourage. Here’s a free download of Humboldt Park Record Carp Guy as 2D entourage. Enjoy.
The Biennial BIM Upgrade Movement Starts Here
When annual subscription plans came for the BIM authoring tools, all BIM managers entered a hamster wheel that spins faster and faster with each new yearly cycle of “new” software releases. It’s expensive and exhausting, but there is a way to roll out of that hamster wheel and, after tumbling around a bit, find your way with a much more manageable pace of software adoption. With this article, I’m presenting my case for a new movement amongst BIM managers that get us out of this endless race and might even convince the software developers to slow the fuck down already!
I’m old enough to remember when BIM and CAD tools weren’t updated annually, and while that didn’t prevent the occasional turd of a release version, it was certainly easier to manage deployments and integrate new features into workflows when you actually had time in between new versions to use the current version and catch your breath. Those memories got me thinking about how I could game the current system where we get a new version of software every year…
…so we update our templates and libraries through crashes and unstable environments…
…and then we get updates and patches a few months after that…
…and THEN the aforementioned new software is (mostly) ready for prime time (months after it was released, mind you)…
…so we deploy it and make use of it and just start to get acclimated to this new version…
…and then we get teasers for the next new version…
…and then the cycle repeats.
It’s exhausting! It’s also obvious that these developers are tripping over themselves and the unrelenting pressure to be new and flashy every 12 months to appease those who so generously (forcibly?) give to the collection plate that gets passed around every year — these folks could clearly use a change of pace too!
Anecdotally, I think every other version of these yearly releases is okay — stable and usable. And in between those good years we usually get downright unusable releases. That’s where I got my inspiration to…
…now, get this…
SKIP USING EVERY OTHER VERSION OF MY BIM AUTHORING TOOL!!!
Here’s the deal: I keep my yearly subscription. After all, I get that it takes a steady flow of cash to the developer to support their efforts to create new features and fix what was working until they broke it — aww, who am I kidding? Yearly subscriptions are about returning shareholder value (joking, not joking). But I mostly ignore every other release (I settled on the odd years as skip-able for my purposes).
In my biennial system of upgrades, I still review the new features of the versions I skip and prepare notes and sample files to inform future template and library updates for the years that I do upgrade, which works pretty well in that I don’t feel like I’m missing a thing or getting stretched thin by being in that hamster wheel of upgrades.
So…what if all BIM managers everywhere just started doing this, regardless of what software they’re using? Further, what if we all agreed to skip the same years and were loud about these choices we’re all making together? That right there is the start of a movement, people! ✊🏻 Join me!
There’s no way that developers wouldn’t take notice of the fact that: A.) customers were skipping every other version; and B.) said customers were still happy to pay annually. Look! Your customers just solved your problematic backlog and brought stress levels down in your engineering department! You’re welcome! Now fix this goddamn BIM software and give us the features that we want!
Sidewalk Patios for Everyone
This season’s hottest restaurant accessory is the sidewalk patio. We all experienced laughter (?) (horror?) at the site of restaurants slapping together ramshackle ice fishing shacks on the normally trash-filled sidewalks of NYC for use as outdoor (read: indoor) dining rooms for “safe” dining during the pandemic. Since those peak patio shenanigans this past winter, the trend has continued and grown nationwide with designs like parklet-style patios taking over street parking spaces and elaborate roofed patios on sidewalks.
Architects and planners fawn over sidewalk and on-street dining because it gives us a glimpse into how great things would be if we prioritized people over vehicles in the built environment, and I love this; but we’re missing something here and that’s universal design — you can’t prioritize some people to the detriment of others.
Independent restaurants (like those doing all the viral sidewalk patios in particular) are notorious for their sloppy implementation of accessibility regulations inside their buildings where it’s actually quite easy to get universal design right, so it was always bound to be a disaster once they ventured outdoors with sidewalk patios. But it doesn’t have to be this way! It’s easy to design an accessible sidewalk patio, so let’s review a few key design concepts…
First, if you can’t afford to elevate the parklet to the sidewalk’s height, then don’t do it at all. Second, if you are able to elevate the parklet to the sidewalk’s height, then don’t forget to make the gap between the curb and the patio deck accessible. I’ve seen carpenters scribe the deck boards neatly into the curb so there’s a smooth, ADA-compliant transition between the two, but if you’re not able to do that, then you’d need to bridge that gap with an ADA-compliant threshold, which is a unique but easily addressed challenge. It’s possible that a very small gap that runs for a very short length could be spanned with an off-the-shelf full-saddle threshold of some sort, but the more common case would be a larger, awkward gap created by the curvature at the top of the curb. For these larger gaps a couple of possibilities are shown in the details below:
In both of these details, it’s important to note that the steel must comply with the ADA’s requirements for change in surface elevation as shown below:
Umbrellas, Canopies, Roofs, etc.
Shade is more important than ever in our warming climate, so it’s a major sidewalk patio fail to exclude it in your design. I’m not going into shading methods here as that’s a whole other article all on its own, but what I will focus on is the accessibility aspects of shading design. It’s painfully common to see shading devices (usually umbrellas) that aren’t tall enough to be ADA-compliant. The ADA requires 80-inches of overhead clearance along circulation paths (the aisles one takes to and from seats in this case) and umbrella manufacturers have totally ignored this requirement. Fortunately, there are umbrellas out there that do meet this requirement or can be modified on site to get enough clearance, so make a point of using the ADA’s 80-inch clearance to filter what you look for in an umbrella. I’ll also mention that hanging lights (AKA the ubiquitous Edison bulb string lighting) need to abide by the 80-inch overhead clearance rule too.
Just like indoors, thoughtfulness is key when integrating accessible seating into your sidewalk. Diners love booths more than life itself, so I understand when restaurant operators want to build booths on their sidewalk patios, but they need to be accessible too. There are a couple of approaches to making a booth accessible: one is to widen the table to allow clear floor space for a wheelchair user to roll in at the end of the table; and the second is to switch the booth to a banquette, with one side having chair seating and use a table with ADA-compliant height and knee/toe clearance. I’ve included examples below:
Outside of booths and banquettes, table-and-chair seating groups need to be accessible too. The powder-coated steel patio tables and chairs have become a go-to for restaurants because they’re plentiful, inexpensive, and reasonably durable. Many manufacturers in this realm offer accessible tables, and guess what? Just like all the best universal design, those accessible tables are better for all of us. The typical non-accessible steel patio table is tiny and has a leg structure that runs right down from the table center and spreads out as it reaches the feet — you bump it when you sit down or move in your seat and it sucks — none of this is an issue with accessible tables so just use them instead and kill, like, a lot of birds with one stone. Here’s some examples of accessible tables from one contract patio furniture company, Emu:
There’s a lot more to accessible seating, but I have a post on restaurant seating coming up soon, so I’ll elaborate there.
Other Building Blocks
The sidewalk (and deck if you’re doing a parklet) need to be accessible (see ADA Standards for Accessible Design chapter 4) and you need an accessible path between your restrooms and the patio too; and of course, the restrooms need to be accessible as well (see ADA Standards for Accessible Design chapter 6).
This is probably a good spot to wrap up our look at the right way to think about sidewalk patio design. So, go forth and make universal patio design…universal.
Lots of work has meant delaying the launch of ALL CAPS’ new website, but it’s finally here. The whole site has been reconfigured to put the business first and give this blog it’s own dedicated location (which you’re at if you’re reading this).
With the website rebuild complete, I can dig into the backlog of articles I have to finish up and get published here. There’s lots to talk about in the world of rollout development, restaurant and retail design, and of course, all the other random stuff I go into here on the blog.
The new setup means links to old articles that are out there in the world probably won’t work now, but things will be staying in this new configuration, so relink away and be assured I won’t mess with the article links again!
More to come soon!
One Year Down the Series of Tubes
I launched this site one year ago today. To be sure, I felt like my small but growing business needed a web presence, but it was mostly an excuse to restart my blogging that began at Shoegnome and continued at ALL CAPS’ tumblr. I averaged a little over one post per week during this first year, and I’m ready to evolve this website to what it needs to be going forward.
The blog will be getting reorganized with new categories and tags to make it easier to find stuff. I’ll also be shifting the focus of my writing as I have a growing backlog of articles that are more specific to ALL CAPS’ line of work, which is helping chain concepts (with an emphasis on restaurant chains) doing rollout development. So expect to see more blog posts on that kind of subject matter, and of course a smattering of the other random stuff I’ve written about over the past year — I am, after all, a generalist in a generalist’s profession.
While I’ve previously posted about your favorite articles, which you should absolutely check out if you haven’t already, today I’ll put out a list of my favorite articles from this first year back at the blog. So, here we go in no particular order, and it’s a short list since I’m my own worst critic:
👽 2 Future 4 U: A Perspective on Technology, Production, and Business Models in Architecture
I arrived at a similar conclusion that many others have regarding how architecture’s business model should evolve in the future, but I got there from a different perspective, and I like that perspective a lot.
🪨 Guest Post: Unfrozen Cavemen Architect Takes Issue with Our “Modern” Drawing Techniques
Architects who take issue with digital drawing and production techniques (we’re “losing beauty”, it’s “unnatural”, whatever — pick your trope) are stupid, and that’s an indisputable fact. If you’re one of these people, Unfrozen Caveman Architect has a few choice words for you about how dumb your hand-drawing techniques are to his generation.
🎪 “We Need to Talk About Your Flair” — The Story of Chain Restaurant Design: Exteriors Edition
This was a great repurposing of some old notes from a design exercise I did a few years ago. I love this article and I hope to do an interiors edition sooner rather than later.
The Month in Buildings: February, 2021
Who likes looking at pictures!?! In this semi-regularly occurring series, we look at pictures and drawings of buildings from the wonderful world of tumblr.
From before we branded these micro-apartments…
Plants on balconies…
Colors and shapes…
Absence of colors, but still plenty of shapes…
January, 2021 Beer Can ABI Starts the New Year Off with Sub-50 Numbers and Crappy Beer
It looks like the first Beer Can ABI for 2021 has arrived with the same crappy beer we suffered through in 2020. Didn’t we just decide we’re all workers and nothing more? Pick up the pace, people so we can drink like the good ol’ days of 2019!
Profit and Loss
Lately I’ve been thinking about a couple of events in my life that I never previously thought about together and it’s kind of interesting.
First Anecdote: Yeah, About That Bill…
In the rapid downfall of real estate development that precipitated the Great Recession of ’08/’09, my employer at that time had been working with a developer who abruptly closed up shop and walked out on hundreds of thousands of dollars of the firm’s bills. The people behind this development company had other ventures in different markets to fall back on and today operate all sorts of random businesses around town. Almost every architect eventually runs into a client that walks out on all or part of a bill. If you’re diligent and lucky you can file a lien and maybe you’ll recover pennies on the dollar for that debt in a couple decades as a part of some transaction on the client’s property. In this instance, the developer client’s unpaid bills caused extra harm to the firm at a time when most of the other clients were having to call off or indefinitely pause their projects too — layoffs and pay cuts were the worst they’d ever been in no small part due to this client’s enormous outstanding debt — people were put out of work specifically because of these unpaid bills. Such is the way, and it’s one of the many risks of our business. You’ll even find opinions that are sympathetic to the client as their work dried up and they went out of business — it’s not uncommon to hear something like, “it’s an unfortunate situation all around” or, “nothing you can do in a catastrophic economic collapse like that.”
Second Anecdote: Go Directly To Jail
Here’s a story from even further back in time. In the early years of my architecture career (we’re talking more than 20 years ago now 😳) I worked a lot of overtime. The extra pay was helpful to my situation as a working young adult who was still living with and financially supporting a parent. One weekend I had to skip the OT on a big project in order to drive out to the edge of town to pick up someone from jail. This person ended up there after a depression-fueled perilous financial situation made them desperate enough to write a few bad checks for things like groceries and gas; and those checks added up to a sum just large enough that it was a crime punishable by a short jail sentence since they were broke. I had a lot of time to think on the long drive out to the jail. I wondered what it was like in there. I wondered why a few days in jail was considered a suitable punishment for this particular wrongdoing — it felt like a medieval holdover, something a king’s court would order upon a commoner. Of course, I wondered what this jail was going to look like (I could ask about what the inside looked like too). There were lots and lots of questions, I’d never had to do this before.
The jail and attached buildings were a relatively new government campus at that time. The exterior was done in Minnesota’s trademark Kasota limestone, and like every half-assed Kasota design before or since, that meant it was paired with a red clay brick. It’s an enormous property, with courthouses and other government infrastructure and all the bells and whistles. There’s no doubt it was a big, big project for the firms who did the original design and the subsequent remodels since my visit. I navigated the sea of asphalt and signage pointing me in every imaginable direction all at once and eventually found the sidewalk where this newly freed person waited and helped them into the car. I asked about some of the stuff I had been wondering on the way there and I learned that they were in a corridor of jail cells where there was no one else around for the entire time they were in there. It was very quiet, but also incredibly lonely. A guard would come by with food (sometimes it was fast food drive-thru burgers), and that was about it for human interaction unless you count a TV. They said everything was painted white and the cell they were in was smaller than any bedroom they’d ever had. They kept referencing how lonely and isolated it made them feel. We ended up changing the subject for most of our ride back to civilization because they were feeling really stressed out by the ordeal and needed to think about something different, so that’s about all I learned. In the months following the jail stint, this person ended up spiraling deeper into poverty and was even briefly homeless before they got help to rebuild their life. Such was the impact of those few days sitting in the brand new jail out amongst the farm fields past the edge of town. I haven’t shared this story in a while, but whenever I tell it, there’s a decent chance someone will say something critical like, “they did basically steal so that has to be punished in some way, right?”
The Design of Human Warehouses
The cold, hard truth is that for most careers in architecture, a lot of the day-to-day work is nothing like what one imagined it would be when they initially thought, “I’m gonna be an architect when I grow up.” Society needs all sorts of buildings and many of them aren’t fun or glamorous at all, but they pay the bills. I thought about that a lot this time that I worked on a ginormous waste treatment facility (un-ironically referred to in the industry as a WTF) that basically dried poop to be bagged up and used for fertilizer or something like that. There are many more unglamorous building types out there, but someone’s gotta design them, right? Maybe this is how one gets into the jail and prison design business — after all, someone’s gotta design those too.
The two stories I began with represent two of the ways our society chooses to deal with debts for goods and/or services that go unpaid specifically when the wrongdoer has run out of funds. For a poor person with mental health issues who writes checks for groceries when they don’t have money to cover the checks: go sit in jail and, in the process, get a stain on your record that makes it almost impossible for you to get a job or housing once you’re free. For a profitable but over-leveraged company in an economic bubble who takes hundreds of thousands of dollars of A/E services without paying for them: maybe you’ll get less money from the sale of your building that was made possible by those services; no biggie though, let’s move on from this unfortunate episode. One punishment is ridiculously harsh and the other is surprisingly lenient, but that harsh one creates a steady demand for a building type, among other things…
…As architects design more and more human warehouses (an apt term I’ll use for the remainder of this article) to put more and more people away for things like not being able to pay rent or stealing hedge trimmers or passing bad checks to pay for groceries, there’s a whole economy of businesses that provide goods and services to the human warehouses, thereby contributing to the enormous cost of keeping people locked up. It’s US taxpayers at the federal, state, and county levels paying for this multi-billion dollar industrial complex, and I’ve previously written about how much money’s out there for architects willing to do this ghoulish work. For these architects in the human warehouse economy, I’m sure it’s very good business. After all, the government ain’t gonna walk out on the bill and it wants the really large, well-built buildings that command the big fees too — that’s a win-win from a business standpoint. It’s a safe bet that the firms involved in the design and remodels of the human warehouse I visited out on the edge of town have had some great years provided by this line of work where staff got good raises and maybe even some nice bonuses. It’s the money alone that brings architects to this building type. It’s not glamorous and no one wakes up in the morning and is like, “pRiSoN deSIgN iS mY PAsSiON” before they head off to work. The problem though is not that this is unglamorous work for architects, it’s that these human warehouses do real harm to people.
How do you get something that’s really bad to stop when that something also makes people a lot of money? It’s gonna be really hard. In the architecture community, we have to make a moral and ethical choice: profit or health, safety, and welfare. So far, we’ve been unable to let go of the profit, and that is our collective shame as a community.
The Month in Buildings: January, 2021
Who likes looking at pictures!?! In this semi-regularly occurring series, we look at pictures and drawings of buildings from the wonderful world of tumblr.
Articulated beyond belief…
A plethora of pyramids…
The Troubling Message Behind AIA’s “Pause” on ArchiPAC
On January 13th, 2021 the American Institute of Architects announced it was putting an indefinite pause on all ArchiPAC activities. In the AIA’s announcement they mention that the reason for the pause is because they’re conducting “further review of the political situation and to enable the development of protocols to address this and future events aimed at undermining American voters”. This is the bare minimum response that AIA could’ve provided given that they’ve not only lined the pockets of dozens of the 147 members of congress who voted to overturn the results of our country’s democratic process; but they’ve also consistently failed to meet their stated purpose, which is to give to candidates “who support our legislative agenda outlined in the [AIA’s] Policy Platform.” The AIA’s announcement refuses to acknowledge that ArchiPAC funding efforts to throw out election results is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dysfunction of the AIA’s participation in our country’s system of legalized bribery. In fact, when it comes to its stated purpose, ArchiPAC is an abysmal failure.
The three legs of the AIA Policy Platform are “A Future Economy”, “Climate Action”, and “Healthy Communities.” As I’ve covered previously, ArchiPAC giving contradicts Healthy Communities and Climate Action goals when its giving supports legislators who have desires for both expanding the world’s largest prison infrastructure and abandoning important commitments to the environment in favor of profiting off of pollution.
I haven’t yet pulled an example of the damage done by ArchiPAC to the “A Future Economy” leg of the AIA Policy Platform, so let’s take a look. The December, 2020 stimulus package passed by congress is loaded with both direct and indirect support for low-income housing, which aligns with the Platform’s desire to “invest in low-income housing tax credits.” Not to mention that the package renews the popular PPP program, which many architecture firms have utilized to save jobs (including some real eye-popping ones). And of course it also contains provisions for stimulus checks too, which benefit the often criminally underpaid architecture professionals whose good work makes the names behind all those letters in the big firms’ acronyms so successful. Seems like a pretty important vote for ArchiPAC’s beneficiaries in congress to approve, right? But ArchiPAC gave $109,000 over the last three election cycles to members of congress and their PACs who voted against this critical legislation. And there you have it, I’ve kicked out all three stool legs from under ArchiPAC — note that these are just three examples, and there’s plenty more out there when you dig into the mud. If you’ve donated to ArchiPAC in the past based upon their stated purpose of bolstering the AIA’s Policy Platform through PAC giving, then you should be upset.
Members of Congress & Their PACs Who Voted Against Stimulus & Affordable Housing & Got 💰 From ArchiPAC
|Name (Party – State)||Contribution Year(s)||Total Contributions|
|Kevin Brady (R-TX)||’16, ’18, ’20||$16,000|
|Steve Chabot (R-OH)||’16||$2,500|
|Garrett Graves (R-LA)||’16||$2,500|
|Sam Graves (R-MO)||’16, ’18, ’20||$10,500|
|Mike Kelly (R-PA)||’16, ’18||$5,000|
|Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA)||’16, ’18, ’20||$8,500|
|John Shimkus (R-IL)||’16, ’18, ’20||$6,500|
|Joe Wilson (R-SC)||’16||$1,000|
|Tim Scott (R-SC)||’16, ’20||$6,500|
|Mike Conaway (R-TX)||’18||$2,000|
|Virginia Foxx (R-NC)||’18, ’20||$7,500|
|Kurt Schrader (D-OR)||’18||$2,500|
|Mike Simpson (R-ID)||’18||(Returned)|
|McMorris-Rodgers American Dream Project PAC||’18||$1,000|
|Tomorrow is Meaningful PAC||’18||$1,500|
|Jodey Arrington (R-TX)||’20||$1,000|
|Don Bacon (R-NE)||’20||$2,500|
|Troy Balderson (R-OH)||’20||$2,500|
|Mike Bost (R-IL)||’20||$2,500|
|Vernon Buchanon (R-FL)||’20||$1,000|
|Buddy Carter (R-GA)||’20||$8,500|
|Mike Gallagher (R-WI)||’20||$1,000|
|Darin LaHood (R-IL)||’20||$7,500|
|Devin Nunes (R-CA)||’20||$1,000|
|Adrian Smith (R-NE)||’20||$1,000|
|Lloyd Smucker (R-PA)||’20||$1,000|
|Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)||’20||$1,000|
|Scalise Leadership Fund PAC||’20||$5,000|
PACs can be a rather nebulous and inefficient way of maybe influencing change, which might be one reason why you don’t see ArchiPAC touting any concrete success stories. Every PAC has to be completely unscrupulous in its bribery with the futile hope that the money will bring back more benefits to the PAC’s funders than it does harm to them. Unlike a corporate PAC, an architecture PAC doesn’t even have a corresponding security on the stock market from which a member of congress could gain an (illegal) inside trader’s profit should they support the PAC’s legislative desires, so the slim odds of success in the bribe biz get even slimmer for architects. In the current era of politics, it’s not like congresspeople are out there hiding their intentions or ideology, so we’re all but assured how they’re going to vote even before it happens despite the flow of cash to their pockets. None of this seems like something that architects should be getting involved in. So many of the recipients of ArchiPAC’s money are so deeply troubling that you have to question the decision making that went into them in the first place. Over the years ArchiPAC Steering Committee and Fundraising Committee members and their firms along with AIA staffers at both the national and local levels have consistently been some of ArchiPAC’s biggest donors; they should come out and explain themselves if they’re going to keep doing this dirty job. But what I really want is for them to stop and for ArchiPAC to go away forever, and so should you.
Here at the start of 2021, ArchiPAC’s annual fundraising competition remains active, as does its online donations portal. It’s giving for the 2022 election cycle had already begun prior to the so-called pause. These are important details because, according to the Federal Elections Committee, a PAC can only shut down when it no longer receives contributions and it no longer makes expenditures. It’s clear that all the AIA wants to do is wait for the uproar over ArchiPAC to subside and then quietly go back to
business bribery as usual, which means ArchiPAC continues giving in ways that undermine AIA’s Policy Platform. This is why I demand that we #DefundArchiPAC, and it’s why I need all of you to speak up and demand the same. It’s time to end ArchiPAC forever.
December, 2020 Beer Can ABI Remains Stuck Below 50 — This Beer’s So Weak We Can’t Get Drunk
The December 2020 Beer Can ABI numbers were delayed a day due to the inauguration, but they’re so bad it would’ve been better to bury the lede and just put them out that day and no one would notice. So we remain in the realm of beer so cheap and weak that cases of it couldn’t get us drunk, which is exactly what we need when getting slapped in the face by these depressing numbers.
Inauguration Bernie 2D Entourage Free Download
I wished upon a tweet and granted myself my wish. I present to you Inauguration Bernie entourage ready to download and insert in your next presentation drawing.
Guest Post: Unfrozen Caveman Architect Takes Issue with Our “Modern” Drawing Techniques
I’m thrilled to bring this provocative guest post from a fellow architect with strong opinions on how we draw and the importance of traditional methods and tools. Also, if anyone out there with mad cinematographer skills would like to help me make this into a piece for the next AIA Film Challenge, hit me up! We would definitely win.
Greetings! My name is Glorp. It’s quite a culture shock, to say the least, when one is unfrozen and reanimated by a mad scientist some 10,000 years or so after getting iced over during a particularly frosty winter next to a herd of mastodons. As I’m sure you, my fellow architects, are well aware we never truly retire. I wanted to get right back into the swing of things, pick up some new clients, design them a cave of their own, and maybe string together enough projects to get a firm going with some other unfrozen cave people.
I was thankful to quickly find a group of architects who helped me get up to speed with what architecture practice means in the 21st century. You don’t have to worry about me being out of touch or irrelevant — these architects explained that the proper, indeed the dominant, style of today is called “classical” and is based upon design concepts first developed in Europe a couple thousand years ago (boy, am I glad that today’s pace of progress isn’t much faster than it was back at the dawn of the Holocene). They helped me learn the modern, high-tech drawing and drafting techniques of today as well; so I know all about t-squares, vellum, and pencils, all good there.
At this point, I’ve given these pencils and vellum a shot, but they are vastly inferior to the techniques of my time. In fact, this new pencil-on-paper technology really interferes with a caveman architect’s ability to properly design, which is the last thing an architect wants from their tools. Perhaps the nutty clans who designed and built those ugly, new-fangled stick-and-leaf huts may like the precision of these modern tools, but they’re not for us real architects.
With the pencil and vellum, There’s no longer a need to carefully consider one’s next move of the hand because these tools take all of the thought out of that act and you can simply erase if you make a mistake. None of this elevates the architect to the respected position of finest artist in the cave. Since we cave architects didn’t do much else thousands of years ago, where does that leave us!?
Your pencils, with their synthesized graphite encased in precise, machine-honed wood and tipped with rubber to conveniently undo what was just laid down are cold and completely disconnected from my traditional tools. Do you think this stupid graphite is going to stand the test of time like my generation’s work? Hell no! What are you going to do if you erase something only to later realize that you needed it? You can’t get it back now, it’s gone forever! FAIL!
I’ll be continuing to use my clay and stones on cave walls because, unlike today’s high-tech architects, I understand that being an architect is all about design concepts freely flowing through one’s entire body to convey ideas in beautiful cave-drawn form in unison with nature. The clay ochre tipped flint stone comes from Mother Earth, just like me, and is an extension of my body in the creative process. You have no such unity with these damn machine-made pencils so you do not have real architecture, it’s that simple.
I hate to cut this short, but I have someone coming to the cave shortly to help me get all these words on the cave wall into something called the Internet for you to see. Thanks, and please join me in a return to traditional drawing techniques.
Toothless Prison Design Policies
The AIA recently revised its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to prohibit its members from designing several specific pieces of prison infrastructure. The move was warmly greeted in the press and on social media. But it was a meaningless move on AIA’s part. The only acceptable ethics for AIA members are ethics that forbid any work on jails and prisons.
While I won’t speculate on who kept these changes so watered down, it’s important to remember that we architects are a timid bunch — it doesn’t take much for us to get spooked and back off. Remember, there’s a lot of money in the design and construction of prisons, and AIA’s ArchiPAC has been a strong supporter of politicians who also benefit from the support of the for-profit private prison industry.
Anyone who thinks that “prohibiting members from knowingly designing spaces intended for execution and torture, including indefinite or prolonged solitary confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more per day without meaningful human contact, for more than 15 consecutive days” is sufficient when you have a prison machine capable of the macabre creativity displayed in this recent article from ProPublica is pulling the wool over their own eyes. Also, I had to laugh at all the adjectives and conditions written into the definition of solitary confinement — it was clearly influenced by lobbyists. This new verbiage is designed to leave a nice, big loophole for the prison industry while giving its architects a pass. I can already see RFPs and programs from the for-profit prison industry describing rooms sized for gurneys and IV stands, but omitting what specifically the room will be used for — so that’s a-okay ethically! Wink-wink, nudge-nudge! Come on…
There are millions of people locked up in this country. We have no shortage of jail or prison capacity. What we do have a shortage of is built infrastructure that supports world-class education, technical training, quality affordable housing, and places for kids to go after school — all of which are proven to reduce crime and/or recidivism. Until the AIA puts some teeth into its policies on prisons and jails, it’s tacitly endorsing this country’s fucked-up, racist, and corrupt justice system. Let’s do better.
The ALL CAPS Top 10 Articles of 2020
Who’s ready for a listicle!? It’s that time of year when everyone everywhere is reminiscing on the best whatevers of the year. Of course, I’m getting in on that action with a list of the top ten most-read articles of 2020, the year of ALL CAPS triumphant return. Here we go…
10. Rethinking Access to the Architecture Profession
My opinions on how the three pillars of prerequisite experiences to becoming a licensed architect need to change were a popular read — even if not everyone agreed with me!
9. The Smartsheet for Rollout Development Series
It’s no secret that I ❤️ Smartsheet and I was happy to see that you all liked this series on building the absolute best friggin’ system for managing rollout development! (seriously, all other systems suck and this one rules)
8. A Spoonful of Content Makes BIM Exchange Absurd
People love venting about the closed BIM world created by divergent objectives and proprietary file formats. I do too, so I did…in this article!
7. Information-Driven Design: Distributing Design Criteria Via Smartsheet – Part 2
More Smartsheet! This look at the direct pipeline of information exchange between Smartsheet and BIM is my favorite Smartsheet trick!
6. Revisiting Software Costs
I did my own take on a cheap tech stack to try and help Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost’s fuzzy math work better…and I did it! Just not using any Autodesk products. Sorry, Andy!
5. The Mike Brady Compensation Index
We all like to see how much others are making, and I was happy to lift the veil that had long been concealing TV architect Mike Brady’s earnings from us. Turns out Mike is a cash machine! 🤑
4. On Architects Being “Good at Math”
It’s the question for the ages: do you need to be good at math to be an architect? I hate this question. You love this article!
🥉 3. Grab a Drink! Let’s Peruse Architecture’s PPP Data
The Paycheck Protection Program was one of the few morsels of good news we had in 2020…until we saw who was taking all that dough. In my tabloid-esque look at who got what in architecture, we see that there’s some architects out there making Mike Brady look downright poor!
🥈 2. Searching the Soul of Your Software Developer
There’s no question that THE STORY of 2020 for the AEC software world was the angry architecture firms’ open letter to Autodesk. It was real tip-of-the-iceberg shit. One of my favorite things I wrote this year was this article, so I’m glad you guys liked it too.
…and now, the most-read story of 2020 at ALL CAPS…
🏆 1. The Software Obituaries of an Architect’s Practice
This was one of those article ideas I felt really satisfied with, and it was a lot of fun to think back on all these titles. I had to dust off a lot of old spreadsheets and notes to find all the failed software. Every architect knows the struggle of finding good digital tools to get the job done.
Thanks for reading! In my look back at the site’s statistics I found one article that doesn’t have a single view! I’m not saying which one because now I’m paranoid that it’s really bad! 😂