Stacking up 50+ layers of cork to create a site model for our new residential project: The Outpost located on a remote island off the coast of MaineRead More
A conversation between two architecture school graduates with similar approaches to work + life who followed two very different paths. This video is an excerpt from my conversation with Trent Bell an award-winning architectural photographer (Trent Bell Photography) as we chat in my studio. You'll also join us behind the scenes as he photographs one of my residential projects. For the full interview be sure to check out Trent’s Architecture, Design & Photography podcast, (video here) a project he’s launched in cooperation with Maine Home + Design magazine. See all the photos we captured that day here.
Gear used during the photo shoot:
White Lightning 3200 (X-series) Strobe - Paul C. Buff
Architects build two fundamentally different types of models: presentation models and study models. Presentation models are often used in client meetings to convey a finished design in miniature while study models are used by architects as part of the design process. Study models are the equivalent of a three-dimensional sketch and allow us to explore and iterate design ideas quickly. We often begin these by collaging ideas using planes of cardboard and wood.
In this video, I share my best tips for building architectural models something I’ve done professionally for close to 30 years.
Building models remains an important tool and part of my personal process for making architecture. And while many have moved to completely digital forms of modeling, I’ve maintained the habit of building models. Here’s why: there’s a sensory feedback loop between the hands and the brain known as embodied cognition. It’s been shown that our motor system influences our understanding and cognition in much the same way the mind can influence our physical actions. I build models to unlock creative inspiration I can’t otherwise access (they’re also pretty fun to build).
Many of the above can be found directly in my model shop on Amazon
Chipboard .05” thick + .03” thick
Guitar strings (wire accents)
Flat nose pliers (bending wire)
White glue (I prefer Elmer’s)
Self-healing Cutting mats (12”x18” + 18”x24”, taped together)
*Note: the above are affiliated which means - at no additional cost to you - if you purchase anything using them you’re helping to support my work on YouTube. My humble thanks (I really appreciate it)!
I've always found satisfaction in turning scraps of wood and cardboard into a tiny model, but I haven't always loved the finished product. If you've struggled with this too (or if you’re just curious about model making) you'll appreciate this week's video where I share my model making techniques.
I'll show you the materials I chose, why I chose them and a few - less expensive - alternatives. I discuss why you would choose one modeling style over another, how to conceptualize what to model and how a few simple tweaks can make a big difference in the esthetics of your architectural models.
Learn how to write like an architectRead More
Studio Joy Works, an architectural book reviewRead More
Sharing a side project of mine and a holiday tradition I have in the studio. Side projects - for me - are a reminder that my entire creative life isn’t wrapped up in a singular project, rather who I become as a designer, as a person, is the result of a long winding path as I travel from one idea to the next. I’ve found it liberating to slip between definitions of what I am professionally. I’m an architect, yes, but I’m also a typographer and a filmmaker, a paper cutter, a UX designer, a writer and a photographer.
And this is why I love side projects so much, they allow me to be any or all of these things. There’s no pressure to perform or even to share the results, the lessons can be all mine. As the creative director, I set the constraints, the budget, and the schedule.
Your side project may be as simple as making a holiday card or it could be as life-changing as my YouTube channel has been for me. That too started as a side project. Side projects add dimension to your creative life and at some point you may discover that your side project has transformed into your main project. This jockeying for attention amongst opportunities means you’re always left with fulfilling, interesting, engaging projects to take on each week.
Materials List *:
Letterpress plates - custom designed by 30X40 (Eric) + fabricated by Boxcar Press
Red embroidery thread
Guitar String (18 gauge nickel)
Letterpress machine (the original machine you see in the video is no longer available, the link brings you to the cassette which I really like and would work with many machines available on the market today.
Scissors (new favorite)
*Links are affiliate links and cost you no more, but send a small commission my way which supports the creation of videos like this one. Thank you!
Cheers my friends…wishing you happy holidays and a prosperous 2019…!
I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately so in this video, I wanted to share some of my architect travel habits for sketching and photography. These tips apply even if you’re not an aspiring architect and will help you wring the most out of any trip you take, near or far. (And, be sure to stick around at 4:46...wait for it...)
My travel kit is as lean as it’s ever been, just a sketchbook, a few drawing tools, my camera gear (more details here) and a small laptop. You don’t need an expensive camera or special tools though to do what I do. The DSLR is an intentional choice for me as it forces me to slow down when I'm traveling. It makes me think about lens selection and composition, the subject, the lighting. It’s probably the single best investment I’ve made in the past 10 years (aside from travel).
For lenses on this trip I brought a wide zoom, a medium zoom, a telephoto and a macro. And this was way too many. Lenses are heavy and to lug these things around in a backpack in the tropics is…well, sweaty. Of the four I brought along, I used the 24-70mm and the 100mm most of the time. The zoom is great because the 24mm end on a full frame camera is wide enough to capture landscapes or interiors and the 70mm is perfect for details. Then you have the right around 50mm is great for portraits. So this one lens covers a lot of situations.
You'll learn why I reject guidebooks in general, my process for observing, documenting and then cataloguing my travels and you'll see what I do in the downtime between destinations.
0:22 Start Now. Don’t wait until you arrive at your destination to start taking photos or sketching.
0:42 Follow 30by40 on Instagram: http://thirtybyforty.com/instagram
0:49 Travel Essentials.
1:28 My Routine (Shoot then Sketch)
1:55 Subjects. Not everything has to be architectural.
2:53 Details + Materials = Experience. Learn to observe the world this way.
4:46 Wait for it…
4:55 Has this ever happened to you? Relaxing on the beach and out of nowhere…!?
Sketchbook - 50pages from Strathmore (trying something new…I quite like it)
White pen - ink isn’t semi-transparent, but flows nicely, not gummy at all
Copic Marker Set (grays) - essential (this is a set of 5 and includes a non-smudging Multiliner pen too)
Mechanical Pencil (a personal favorite)
White colored pencil (wood-free)
SIDE NOTE: The Williamsburg Hotel (at 3:16) in Brooklyn, NY was designed by the London Architecture Firm: Michaelis Boyd and completed in 2017. We actually had no plans to stay here, but we arrived in NYC to an early season snowstorm and our connecting flight back to Maine was canceled. Our flight the following day wasn’t due to leave until 10pm, so at my better half’s urging, we traveled from JFK airport to Williamsburg in Brooklyn and spent the next 24 hours exploring the neighborhood and staying in this fantastic hotel. Completely worth the little bit of extra effort to get there from JFK.
Tag along on a client meeting and site visit to a very special location on a small island miles off the coast of Maine. Together we walk the site, sketch and discuss the strategies for building in such a pristine environment. You'll hear the questions I ask, the ensuing discussions and discover the ideas that shape the design process and ultimately our architecture. And, perhaps surprisingly, it's more than just a solving of functional problems.
This is a side of the architectural design process rarely seen and a wide-ranging discussion that questions local architecture and building traditions, how to design for experience. We cover everything from the mundane and practical to the conceptual.
Looking for all the links to my essential sketching tools? ( Here they are )
Below you’ll find the images shown in the video along with the media and tools I used to create each.
A look inside my sketchbook as I start a new project and review my current favorite sketching tools. See my go-to paper, pens, pencils, markers; everything in my everyday carry kit for sketching.
Instead of the chronological approach I've used in the past, I now dedicate entire sketchbooks to individual projects, tasks, or idea categories. I've found this helps me to organize information and find it quickly when I'm searching for it later.
Here's what I'm currently recommending (it's a substitute for my favorite, but still quite good) Although the Muji A5 dot grid with elastic is my all-time favorite, lately the stock on Amazon has been outrageously priced (in-store, they're ~$4 each).
Pens + Markers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
* Canon 6DMKII http://thirtybyforty.com/6dmkii
* Canon 80D: http://amzn.to/2fBWGMQ
* 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
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:
- DRONE: *Mavic Pro by DJI:
- DSLR: * Canon 6DMKII
- LENS: *Canon 24-70mm f2.8L
- MUSIC: *http://thirtybyforty.com/music
- MIC: *Rode VideoMic Pro
- MARKERS *Copic Markers
- CAD *AutoCAD LT
- 3D Visualization * SketchUp PRO
- PLOTTER: *HPT120
- GRAPHICS: *Adobe CC Photography Plan (Photoshop/Lightroom)
- CAD Drawing template
- DOCUMENTS *A+E Startup Toolkit
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 photographer, a graphic designer, a marketer, a filmmaker, a 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?
A review of one of my all-time favorite books; one I think every designer should own. Part review and part personal reflection, it's a continuation of my previous video on goal setting. As I struggled with my traditional goal setting exercise this year, I stumbled on a new methodology and consulted a formative book in my library for guidance. In this video I share how that book has shaped my architecture practice and my approach to life.
I view books as the raw materials of creativity. Looking at and learning from the work of others is crucial to the development of your personal style and sampling from every possible source you can: graphic designers, authors, engineers, sculptors, every field is essential. The deeper your understanding of what’s out there the more source material you have to draw upon and the more things you can smash together to craft your own style. Study those you admire, not to replicate their style (you don’t want to look like them) but to see like them.
A special thanks to my grandfather, whose counsel I miss each day, but who will always live on in my studio and work.