Architectural Design Process : Form, Orientation and Sunlight

Learn how you can use the Sun to locate, orient, shape, and inspire the details for your architectural design. In this video, I walk you through the design process for a project whose form, orientation, and details were all developed by carefully analyzing the solar path on the building site.

Floor Plan Design Tutorial

In this design tutorial I'll show you how I develop and sketch floor plan ideas quickly. From diagram to rough sketch and on to more formalized plan layouts, you can follow along as I show you everything you need to draw a floor plan using one of our new residential projects as an example.
 

I discuss in detail: 
- why you should start with diagrams (and not floor plans)
- information you'll need before drawing
- tools I use and recommend
- tips for developing better ideas
- form, space, and order (of course)
- using grids
- scale
- and what I listen to when designing...

Book Review: Operative Design + Conditional Design

Reviewing two architecture books: Operative Design + Conditional Design and sharing my thoughts on the kit-of-parts design methodology they promote. Together these volumes are an excellent primer on architectural form making, iterative design, and can serve as handy portable, pocket-sized reference manuals. The diagrams are beautifully composed in full-color and the accompanying text - although brief - offers enough information to guide the reader / viewer on the book’s use. Recommended for: architecture students, teachers and professionals looking to revisit first principles or reinvent their own tired formal language.

**Operative Design: A Catalogue of Spatial Verbs**
**Conditional Design: An Introduction to Elemental Architecture**

Be an Amateur (Architect)

Learning from the life and work of Charles and Ray Eames, in this video I discuss why it's important to approach problems with the mind of an amateur. The Eameses believed in never delegating understanding and that one must learn by doing. It's this ethos of experimentation and the use of various media types for artistic expression that's fueling my architecture practice today. And, it's positively effecting how many people I'm able to reach and impact in the world. You'll learn how I've applied the amateur strategy to release my first film and to make better architecture.
***I'm also proud to announce that my short film: A Choice to Make (you've seen it on YouTube right?) was selected to be screened at the 9th annual Architecture and Design Film Festival held in NYC (adfilmfest.com) on November 1st through 5th of 2017. I'll be there and if you're in town, I'd love to meet you there too. Come say hi and feast on some architecture films at the CINÉPOLIS CHELSEA, 260 W 23RD St, NY, NY.

Architectural Drawing Tutorial | How I Draw Floor Plans

In this architectural drawing tutorial I'll walk you through the exact settings, line weights, pen styles and layers I use to develop architectural drawings digitally for my practice. I focus on how to recreate the floor plan you see in the thumbnail image below. You'll also learn how architects choose what to draw, how we approach our drawings conceptually, and how we organize information. This one is filled with drafting tips and tricks you can use everyday, whether you're a seasoned pro, an architecture student or just curious about how architects work.

ARCHITECTURE DRAWING GEAR:
* Prismacolor Markers: http://thirtybyforty.com/markers
* AutoCAD LT: http://amzn.to/2dxjMDH
* SketchUp PRO: http://amzn.to/2cRcojz
* HP T120 Plotter: http://amzn.to/2dBGf1O
* Adobe CC Photography (Photoshop/Lightroom) Plan: http://amzn.to/2dhq5ap

STARTUP TOOLKIT:
* Architect + Entrepreneur Startup Toolkit: http://thirtybyforty.com/SPL

 

Best Computer for Architects

A guide to choosing the best computers for architecture. Whether you're a student, pro, or in a related discipline, this video will walk you through my methodology and selection criteria. I discuss in detail:

  • Laptops vs. Desktop Systems
  • Mac vs. Windows
  • Software (commonly used and requirements)
  • Hardware: CPU, Graphics Cards, Monitors

Discover why I chose the system I did and what it means to my architecture practice and daily workflow. A behind-the-scenes look at how architects use computers. 

LAPTOP: 2017 MacBook Pro
DESKTOP: 2017 Apple iMac

How I find Architectural Ideas

Eight strategies I use to find architectural ideas and confront - the intimidating - blank page.

Topics covered:

  • Bisociation 
  • Trusting the design process
  • Embracing constraints
  • Inventing deadlines
  • Doing the opposite (anti-project)
  • Subtracting to solve
  • Stealing (like an artist)

These are just a few of the design tricks I use to help grease the creative wheels and instill the confidence I need to keep moving forward. What's great is these techniques work for a whole host of disciplines and creative fields, they're not exclusive to architecture.

Books mentioned: 
The Art of Thought: http://amzn.to/2xabSYi
The Act of Creation: http://amzn.to/2glShdP


ARCHITECTURE GEAR:
* Prismacolor Markers: http://thirtybyforty.com/markers
* Timelapse Camera: http://thirtybyforty.com/brinno
* AutoCAD LT: http://amzn.to/2dxjMDH
* SketchUp PRO: http://amzn.to/2cRcojz
* HP T120 Plotter: http://amzn.to/2dBGf1O
* Adobe CC Photography (Photoshop/Lightroom) Plan: http://amzn.to/2dhq5ap

DRONE: 
*Mavic Pro by DJI: http://amzn.to/2hW3dTA

DSLR CAMERA:
* Canon 80D: http://amzn.to/2fBWGMQ

LENSES: 
* Canon 24mm f2.8 Lens: http://amzn.to/29l7ac5
* Canon 40mm f2.8 Lens: http://amzn.to/29x2QcI
* Canon 10 - 18mm f4.5 - 5.6 IS Lens: http://amzn.to/2vyErvS

AUDIO:
* Rode VideoMic Pro (hotshoe mtd.): http://amzn.to/29qlNM3
* ATR-2100 USB (dynamic mic): http://amzn.to/2dFDaKp 

Frank Gehry MasterClass Review

An architect's review of the Frank Gehry Masterclass: what to expect, what you’ll get, who I think it’s for, my favorite lessons, and whether I think it’s worth taking.

Gehry is a polarizing figure in the architecture world. But, whether you love or hate his work, the fact that he’s realized - what are sure to be - some of the timeless architectural icons of our time demands respect and further study.

Watch the video to see whether I think the course delivers on all that it promises.

Storing Architectural Samples in the Studio

I'm limited in the studio by the amount of space available to store things and material samples can take up a lot of room. I've seen many types of storage racks used in studios where I’ve worked and tried a number of things myself here in the studio – from metro shelving, to archival folios and wooden, felt and cardboard boxes and bookcases. The problem: they all keep the materials hidden. So although they’re great from an organizational standpoint from a creative standpoint they're stifling. I’m much less likely to grab a material while designing to help me solve a problem or during a meeting if I have to dig through boxes to find what I’m looking for.

Watch the video to see exactly what I chose and why I think it makes a great storage solution for spaces with organization needs similar to those we find in the design studio.

How to Choose Architectural Materials

Architecture can’t exist on a page it must be built. Transforming drawings and tiny cardboard models into physical reality means choosing materials to represent our ideas. In part four of the architecture short course I discuss materials – how architects choose them, how we know what’s right, how they can shape how we feel in a space, how they influence our designs, and a rubric you can use when selecting your own.

Instead of an abstract exercise, I walk through the precise process I used to choose the materials for the case study project we’ve been following throughout the course.

Links to all my favorite material resources.

Drawing Like an Architect

In this video I share my essential tips for better architectural drawings. It's easy to forget that architectural delineation is part of our craft and - I believe - beautiful drawings communicate more clearly. 
Important concepts discussed:

Making a Short Architecture Film | Behind-the-Scenes

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of a short architecture film. I commissioned this project - a collaboration with Trent Bell Photography - to introduce a little creative friction in my life and architecture practice. I've been thinking about making a documentary film for a long time and this was the year I decided it was time to stop talking about it and make it happen.
Along the way I learned the importance of story and script, how to craft an emotional narrative, how to collect and compose stunning visuals and I expect there's even more ahead as we edit and turn our ideas into reality.

This short vlog catalogues the two-day shoot.

The process indulged my curiosity about film-making and forced me to engage and learn from other professionals with far more experience than I in story-telling and film production. 

This project was treated like everything in my architecture practice: as an experiment and it proved to be a wellspring of new ideas and approaches; exceeding my expectations.

Architecture takes a long time to make. In this way, the short film is a much more immediately gratifying creative outlet. I'd encourage all architects, students and fans of architecture to experiment with it in practice. If you ask similar things of your architecture that you do of a film you may find some surprising inspiration and outcomes.

My deepest thanks to Elise DeRosa for helping me find the story amongst a sea of ideas. To Corey for all his technical support, his keen eye for detail and for fearlessly facing the ravenous bugs here. And, special thanks to Trent for his expert vision and relentless drive to get things aesthetically perfect. I so enjoyed working with you.

I'm excited to share the finished product with all of you shortly. Stay tuned and thanks as always for sharing and supporting my work.

Drones and Architecture | How Creatives Are Using Technology

An in-depth gear review of - what I think - is the best drone on the market today for architects, architectural photographers, and creatives. I discuss the factors that influenced my decision to purchase the Mavic Pro from DJI, unbox it, and describe the use cases and features architects and creatives will care most about.

Factors influencing my decision to purchase the Mavic: cost, portability, camera quality, ease of use, and flight time. The Mavic Pro managed to come out on top in each category almost every time. 

I purchased the Fly More Combo which included extra batteries, a four-hub charger, a car charger, extra propellers, carrying case and a power hub. See the video for the entire unboxing.

I'm using the Mavic Pro as a portable drone for:
- Project documentation
- Presentation + marketing
- Architectural cinematography
- Site analysis
- Topographic mapping
- Construction observation
- Educational tool
- Lead generation (working with Realtors)

I also discuss the essential accessories and apps you'll need to operate the Mavic Pro: 
- ND filters by PolarPro, Airmap, DJI Go 4, UAV Forecast, SunSeeker

I close the video by reviewing current FAA regulations regarding hobby and commercial use of drones in the USA.

Essential Architecture Books

The books in an architect's library provide context for their work: history, precedent, theory, technics, best practices, fresh perspectives and creative stimuli. The ones I return to often are like harmonic frequencies, which continue to vibrate and resonate over time even as my ideology is evolving.

Is it a coincidence that some of the most emotive connections to books and architectural writings were forged in architecture school many years ago? You know how they say the music you’ll listen to the rest of your life is the music you were into when you were 18? That’s how many of these books are for me. So, these precise books may not find the same resonance with you, but as a thought exercise, consider what your library currently says about you, your interests and your blind spots or your knowledge gaps one you might want to fill in.

Books feed the intellect, and a studio full of books assures we're surrounded by the ideas of many – the masters, colleagues, artists, entrepreneurs, performers, and documentarians. They’re a great equalizer when it comes to education and at a fraction of the cost of architecture school.

Be sure to check the resource page for links to all the books I mention in the video. 

Developing the Concept: Architecture Short Course (part 2)

Developing the architectural concept into floor plans, designing the form, and refining the spatial ideas are all covered in part 2 of our architecture short course.

The first step in making the abstract concept real is to sketch a floor plan and then give that plan a three-dimensional form. A floor plan is a quick way of describing the hierarchy and relationship of spaces and it begins fixing their real physical dimensions and shapes. Throughout the design process architects must continually consider the design in both the plan, or overhead view, and the sectional, or volumetric view. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to begin by sketching a plan and then construct a three-dimensional version of that plan either in model form or by sketching.

In order to get to three dimensions, we have to make some decisions about form, space, and order. When we speak about form we’re referring not only to a building’s shape but also to its size, scale, color, and texture…basically, all the visual properties of an object. Form has a direct relationship to space in that it influences both interior and exterior rooms. And lastly, order is how we choose to orient and relate the forms and spaces to each other. This directs the inhabitant’s experience of a place.

We'll review strategies for refining the floor plan, designing meaningful building forms, editing, and converting two-dimensional abstract concepts into three-dimensional buildings.

Architectural Model Making Techniques + Tutorial

One of the driving forces behind my desire to become an architect from a very young age, was model making. Architecture was one of the few professions where sketching and constructing scale models out of cardboard and balsa – what I viewed as playing – was not only acceptable but encouraged.

Although many architects have abandoned physical modeling in favor of computer modeling I've kept it alive in my daily practice. In this video tutorial, I share the techniques I use to make models in hopes that the craft persists as not only a design tool but so we all can experience the pleasure of seeing the world from a different perspective.

 

Architecture Short Course - How Architects Begin the Design Process

All architecture begins with a concept. If you’re struggling to find one, curious as to what one is, or simply wondering how architects begin their projects, this short video course will walk you through the process I use and some of the techniques I rely on to develop architectural concepts all illustrated with one of my residential projects.

Very simply stated, a concept is an idea that underpins your project. To an architect, the concept is what distinguishes a work of architecture from a mere building. At its core, architecture seeks to solve problems. It’s the questions we ask that will determine which problems our architecture will solve. Developing a concept allows us to frame the questions we’re asking and it guides the design process. Choosing the starting point for your design can be intimidating and an early stumbling block for designers of any skill level. But it doesn’t have to be.  

A concept shouldn’t be rigorous; the more malleable it is, the better. In fact, most architecture can’t be reduced to one singular concept diagram rather it’s informed by many concepts working in concert. There may be organizational concepts, material concepts, functional, or structural or formal concepts. Don’t fret if your design idea isn’t reducible to a single elegant black stroke on the page. It’s best to illustrate concept development with a real project as I said. So, we’ll use our Squid Cove Residence as an example. Before we can develop the concept, we have to first understand the practical constraints.

My design process begins only after gathering and assessing all the given parameters for a project. Now, this primarily consists of three types of information. There’s information derived from the site - things like: local climate, the prevailing winds, the solar aspect, vegetation, neighboring structures, the site’s history, and any unique liabilities or opportunities. The site of course also comes along with legal frameworks for development, which describe where and what we can and can’t build. The second type of information we’ll gather is from the client. Every client has a set of cultural beliefs and preconceptions, preferences and agendas. Of course, we’ll want to determine their budget, and understand the personality traits and organizational politics which might also shape the design. The client and the building type together determine what architects call, “the program” which is essentially a detailed accounting of all the spaces the building will contain.

And, the third type of information I gather is related to the building typology – is it a museum, a home…or a school for example? To learn about a building typology we often conduct an analysis of notable or relevant historical precedents. We want to know the essential problems these types of structures grapple with. Understanding the history of the archetype allows us to approach a problem from a fresh perspective. All of this is necessary information that we collect for every project. This inventory can also serve as the progenitor for the design concept – our seed idea. Rather than shunting creativity, these constraints often incite the creative process.

As with a good film, the setting, the characters, the cinematography, and the plot all conspire to make it what it is. It’s the experience you’ll recall rather than the concept per se. Sure, the concept sets the film in motion and it’s the starting point for all that follows. But this concept – the one or two-line description – can’t possible capture the richness and depth of the finished film…or in our case the architecture. Yet without it, the work is unfulfilling and so it should be clear that the concept is necessary for all our work as architects.

Be sure to watch the video for an inside look at how I craft an abstract idea into a home.

Exterior Lighting Concepts

There are two fundamental points to understand about outdoor lighting. The first is that we actually require much less light in outdoor living situations than indoors, which means the overall lighting can generally be more theatrical and less focused on tasks. 

The second is that in lower ambient light situations, we actually prefer lower color temperature light (warmer); it’s actually visually more comfortable. Whether it’s our primal draw to the flickering flame of fire or the fact that warm light renders the skin so naturally, our outdoor design objective is to aim for low, warmly toned lighting levels.

In this video we'll review the general concepts pros think about when considering how to light outdoor spaces. Specific topics covered are:

  1. The Lantern Effect - using a structure's glazed walls to provide ambient light to nearby exterior spaces.
  2. Layering of light - ambient, task and accent light tips.
  3. Path lighting
  4. Color (and) temperature
  5. Object or sentinel lighting
  6. Fire
  7. Wall washing
  8. Dynamic range and dimming
  9. Uplighting
  10. Light pollution

Simplicity - An Architectural Manifesto

A short musing on simplicity; illustrated with residential architecture. Simplicity builds no more than necessary. Simplicity makes room for living rather than things. Simplicity is rational. Simplicity values craft... and material. Simplicity rejects excess. Simplicity invites reflection. Simplicity appears effortless. Simplicity is efficient. Simplicity lends small gestures... great importance.