Architecture

A hard lesson in project management from a maid service

There are two truths in any project.  A project that is managed well, however lovely the experience, is unspectacular.  A mismanaged project, on the other hand, is like a car wreck.  Everybody talks about it. I was reminded of this recently when I used a new maid service.  House cleaning is a simple exercise in project management.  Like any complex project though, it’s about planning, managing the tasks, the time, the expectations, the big picture and the little details, and instilling confidence in your client that they are in good hands. Here’s the scoop… A few months ago I decided to try...

What’s better than architecture after school? #ArchiTalks

As I’ve mentioned on #Architalks posts before, kids and architecture are a match made in heaven. After-school activity: Now that everyone is back to school, parents are wondering what their kids are going to do between when school lets out and they get picked up.  What better than a little architectural exploration after school?  Bring a little artistry from the art class, a little knowledge from science class, a little creativity from the heart, give it a good mix, and see what happens. That was the thought that prompted me to offer an architecture afterschool program at my daughter’s...

Glass in Architecture – Summer Wonders #ArchiTalks

Phew! I made it through 2 whole weeks of summer school.  You see, I’ve been busy teaching a class for Summer Wonders at Ace Academy, a local school for gifted kids, called “Architecture Through The Looking Glass“.  Here’s a peek into my class about glass in architecture. The course introduces young kids to a world of architectural studies, where the boundaries between science and art are blurred, just as much as the separation between discovery and imagination.  It’s a space where I believe kids thrive. They effortlessly juggle reality and fantasy.  And that makes for a great architect. Course curriculum summary Over 10 days,...

One last thing before you head out on vacation

Have you a taken a break this summer?  It’s that time of year, when everyone I know is either out or leaving soon before things get crazy again and life has to go back to routine after school starts!  I just got back from a much needed vacation with my family.  And while it’s fresh on my mind, I thought I’d share the one precaution I take before I lock the house and head out the door.  If you are going out of town this summer, be sure to take this simple measure to safeguard your home and avoid coming back to a bad situation. Prevent catastrophe,...

A summer of architectural sketching in Italy

This summer marks 15 years since my study abroad program in Italy.  It’s a time that is very special to me, not only because it was 3 months in food/ culture/ fashion/ landscape/ architecture heaven, but it’s when I really refined and owned my architectural sketching skills. It has served me well all the years since. So, to commemorate, I would like to share my collection of sketches from Italy. Not just the best ones, but the scrappy sketches as well, because they tell the story of a rough start and how I got good. Italian splendor Churches with domes, arches, columns, spires,...

How safe is your house from water damage?

My neighborhood listserv is ablaze with people asking for help with repairs due to water damage. The recent rains are a good reminder that Austin gets an average 32.5″ of rain every year, which is to say that our buildings are pretty susceptible to rainwater damage. It’s common sense, yet, everyday I see houses built using risky construction details and building designs that ignore this significant element of our weather. How you deal with bulk water* at the roof, walls, and foundation (near grade) is very important to the durability of a building. If you are in the process...

Architecture and Kids #Architalks

Last Summer, my 5 year old daughter attended a camp at Ace Academy in Austin called Summer Wonders.  I had heard great things about the program and it had won “Best Summer Camp in Austin” for 4 straight years.  But what convinced me that it was an absolute must-do, was that they were offering a class in architecture.  Specifically, “art in architecture”.  Teaching kids architecture? Oh, what fun! I regularly indulge in sketch and design exercises with my kids.  We’ve designed playgrounds, neighbourhoods, pools, doll houses, etc. It’s usually a 15-30 minute endeavour, and ends up looking like this. Clearly, they...

Topics on the blog

Being an architect is like being a photographer – you are constantly zooming in and out, looking at things near and far, trying to find your spot and focus to crisp perfection. You are thinking about the big picture and the minutia, the future and the past; understanding the world, people, culture, and space; being a scientist, an artist, and the conductor of an orchestra; and trying to find new and better ways to communicate your ideas. It’s like being a landscape photographer and a macro specialist at the same time. It’s about bringing the important things into focus...

New Year, New Business

New year, new beginnings. I am excited to announce the launch of my own architecture practice in Austin, Texas.  Watch this webspace – Architecture By George is officially open for business! I have submitted my resignation at work and I am wrapping things up in the chapter of my life titled ’employee architect’.  Over the last 16 years, I’ve had many titles – Intern, Architectural Intern, Intern Architect, Project Manager, Project Architect, Lead Architect, Senior Architect, Director of Architecture, in that order. As fancy as the title “Director of Architecture” sounds and is, and as many opportunities, responsibilities, and authority it has given...

‘Tis the season…for allergies – Indoor Air Quality

A few nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible feeling that I couldn’t breathe.  Very soon I realized I had a terribly stuffy, itchy nose, and a sore throat.  I’ve been suffering from these symptoms for a few days now.  While everyone in my household has taken a turn at a viral fever over the last few weeks, I know for a fact that I am suffering from allergies, not a viral infection. It’s that time of year again, when environmental airborne allergens are high.  Having lived in Austin (the allergy capital of the world)...