Modern Practice Series - Ep 1 Eponymous Architecture

In this new series, I’m visiting architects and design professionals asking them to share the choices, challenges, failures, successes and failures that have shaped their careers. Too often we hear from only those architects elevated by the media to superstar status. These so-called 'starchitects' account for a small percentage of design professionals. And, the stories from the bulk of our ranks - a great many talented architects and designers – remain untold. This series gives voice to their stories. 

We uncover early inspirations that led them to choose architecture, experiences in architecture school, internships, what firm typologies to look for, advice for taking the Architectural Registration Exams (ARE), how to find work and clients, working for and with others, networking and struggles building a business.

In the inaugural video of the series we meet John Clappi, a licensed architect living and working in Brooklyn, New York. He has more than 20 years’ experience practicing architecture in both Boston and New York City at a variety of scales from large developments to award winning Record Houses and private residences. He’s worked for two starchitects: Richard Meier of Richard Meier and Partners and Brad Cloepfil at Allied Works, both high-end, boutique design firms. In part 1 he recounts the school years and his early career pivot points as well as his experience working for Meier and Allied Works and time working on large scale developer projects in New York City. 

In part 2, we’ll discover why he set out on his own, how he secured his first commissions and the challenges he’s facing as he builds out a larger vision for his nascent architecture studio: Eponymous Architecture, PLLC.

It’s a rare and candid look into the struggles designers and architects face as we seek to become licensed professionals and to find a life of true, creative fulfillment.

(Architecture) Conferences. Why Bother?

I used to thumb my nose at conferences, but this year something changed. I decided the island I've been living on felt a little too isolating; a little too small. And so, I thought brushing up against 26,000 other architects might be a good excuse to get out of my own head and see what everyone else in this profession was up to. I secured a press pass to attend the 2018 AIA (American Institute of Architects) national convention in New York City and I came away surprised by just how much I enjoyed it.

If you're an introvert - like me - it’s easy to avoid large groups of people, but even introverts need to network with others and to hear new ideas. I've learned time and again that whenever I'm able to step outside my comfort zone, great things happen and this experience didn't disappoint. I met viewers of this channel, students, interns, and architects from all around the world of all ages.

A few of the things I came away with:
+New ideas + inspiration
+Larger network of connections + contacts
+Deeper connection + appreciation of NYC
+Behind the scenes info. on buildings & systems
+Cutting-edge information via seminars + thought-leaders
+New product info.
+Some really amazing food
+Chance to meet & collaborate with IRL an amazing friend and mentor from down under.

Stick around to the end for details on how you can help shape the future of this channel and a chance at one of five, one-on-one chats with me, here's the link.

 

(Another) Day in the Life of an Architect vlog

In this installment of the vlog, look through a drawing set for a project under construction and learn how I approach and draw architectural details. I discuss one of the most common struggles of working alone, what happens when a project is delayed, how to create a balanced practice, and I share my thoughts on the innovative business plan presentations I reviewed as a juror for the architecture business plan competition.

Don't miss the view from my mid-day hike (!) and what I learned on the podcast I was listening to.

Why Do Architects Make Models?

Architects build scale models for many reasons: they're a form of three-dimensional sketching, they help us visualize how light will illuminate spaces, they help us analyze the best forms, spatial and material relationships. Even with so many digital tools that are faster, more accurate and easier to change architects still build physical models, why?  In part, because the act of making and manipulating things with your hands has been shown to produce more efficient, more creative, and insightful solutions to problems.

Learn more and watch as I build this tiny model in the video.

Architecture Photography Tips

Looking to improve your architectural photography? Learn the stylistic and technical fundamentals to help you take better photographs of architecture whether it's your own work, or someone else's. In this video I share with you some of the amateur mistakes I made when I was first starting out so you can avoid them in your work. 
Photography is an essential meta skill I think every creative needs in their toolkit, it teaches you about light, composition, texture, color and narrative and it will help you document your surroundings, your design projects and your travels in a more professional style.

Links to the gear I use:

DSLR CAMERA:
* Canon 6DMKII http://thirtybyforty.com/6dmkii
* 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
* Canon 24-70mm f2.8L Lens: http://amzn.to/2DMt0Y5
* Canon 16-35mm f4L IS Lens: https://amzn.to/2Emj9Ev

Day in the Life - An Architecture Vlog

Follow a typical day in the life of an architect. Part architecture vlog, part behind-the-scenes look at some of the tasks architects work on each day: from designing a set of elevations to managing projects in construction, to writing specifications, to managing an office, and how to deal with the inevitable creative blocks creatives face on a daily basis.

I intentionally structure my day to be divided between making in the morning and managing in the afternoons, with a mid-day transition break for exercise. Learn why this works for me and follow along as I work through some of the most common struggles an architect faces in daily professional practice.

For aspiring architects, architecture students, and those curious about exactly what it is that architects do each day.

Featured gear in this episode:

 

No Longer (Just) An Architect

An excerpt from a conversation I had with Maleick, a 22-year old architecture student from Baltimore. He’s preparing to graduate architecture school this spring, making plans, weighing his options and struggling with the anxiety of not knowing what’s next.

Twenty-two years ago, I stood where Maleick stands today, entering the profession with the same concerns, the same worries. And today - twenty-two years later - I’m no longer an architect. Yes, I have the degree and the license and buildings I’ve designed, but the profession I stepped into back then no longer exists. There are no more architects in the singular sense of the word. Today I’m a photographera graphic designer, a marketer, a filmmakera writer, a negotiator, an editor, a curator, and a creator. Professional practice is anything and everything we design it to be.

Approaching practice with a creator's mindset has allowed me to explore a spectrum of influences and interests and incorporate those into my work as an architect. In much the same way, my architectural training informs and colors my other creative pursuits.

The uncertainty remains though as a part of life. What do you think? Did I get it right?  What advice would you offer a soon-to-be graduate?

Happy New Year - 2018

After a brief break for the holidays, I'm excited welcome 2018 and get started on everything I have planned. With my design boards full of new work + new collaborations, and a renewed vision for the YouTube channel, I wanted to share one of my favorite videos from 2017 here on the blog. Cheers...!

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.