Architecture

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,...

Talking to kindergarteners about architecture

I went into my daughter’s kindergarten class today to talk about architecture.  I wanted to share my love for architecture with these wide-eyed 6 year olds.  My intent was to whet their appetite for creativity and design. Maybe one of these kids might get inspired to become an architect.  As you might have heard “it’s hard to become what you don’t see”.  Actually, as I write this I am realizing that in 20 years, when these kids are 25-26 (and I am 60!), I could be hiring and working with one of them! I also wanted to create an awareness about what...

My First Project – The First Solar Decathlon #Architalks

I suspect this Architalks topic was meant to induce nostalgia – shuffle through some old pictures (remark on how young and thin we were back then), dig up fading memories, and reminisce about good times.  Why else would one want to revisit their first project? Well, I would like to talk about my first-ever design project that got built.  It was a competition project that I was involved in when I was in graduate school.  We slogged over it for 4 long semesters, including a sweltering summer of hands-on construction. At the end of that project, I was tanned...

Citizen Architect #ArchiTalks

If you are wondering what “citizen architect” means, and I had to look it up too, below is how the AIA (American Institute of Architects) describes it.  Sounds like a soapbox kind of topic, doesn’t it. The Citizen Architect uses his/her insights, talents, training, and experience to contribute meaningfully, beyond self, to the improvement of the community and human condition. The Citizen Architect stays informed on local, state, and federal issues, and makes time for service to the community. The Citizen Architect advocates for higher living standards, the creation of a sustainable environment, quality of life, and the greater good. The...

Why I am an Architect, when I could have been a Mathematician #ArchiTalks

The short answer:- I am good at math and I like to draw!* To draw, draw, raw, aw…. Not only do I like to draw, I can draw well, a talent I inherited from my father.  That skill came in handy when I had to draw a still life, to prove that I was worthy of attending the College of Architecture.  I remember sitting at a drawing board in a studio, alongside a batch of other applicants, sketching the objects that were carefully arranged on the table in front of us.  That was 21 years ago, so I don’t...

You spec me to buy that?

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on the designs for a spec house in Houston and another in a new development in Austin.  “Spec” is short for “speculative” and the term “spec house” refers to a custom house designed and built based on speculating what a potential buyer, looking in a particular neighborhood and price point, would want in their house.  Stick to the bare minimum, and they will buy the other house; add all the bells and whistles, and you bust your budget.  The key is to find that sweet spot and a design that people will fall in love with.  They are custom in that...

Inspired Innovation

I like to draw parallels.  Literally and figuratively.  Literally speaking, it’s a habit from doing line exercises in first year architecture school.  Figuratively speaking, it is comforting to see what lines up, who is on track with you, the familiar, that which follows expectation.  On the other hand, it is very interesting to see where things starts to veer off in another direction, why and how, the twist in the tale!  Is it new?  Is it novel?  Is it exciting?  Eyes peeled, ears perked up, everyone wants to know, we make the time to find out. Last weekend, I went...

Architects in all shapes and sizes – architect avatars

This should come as no surprise, but not all architects are created equal!  I’m not referring to the product of their work, but the process of their thinking, the difference in the “kind of mind”.  Broadly speaking, on one end of the spectrum, there are the architects who design using their right brain, and on the other end of the spectrum, the architects who use left-brain processing to solve problems.  No matter where an individual is on the spectrum, he/she brings value to the architecture profession in general and their projects in particular. Most architects fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum and put...

Architecture daily – more discovery, less creativity

Many of my non-Architect friends (some* of who went to Architecture school with me, but no longer practice architecture as they had the good sense to pursue a lucrative career) carry the impression that architecture is a field of  creativity – a profession where the creative genius roams free and untethered; that imagination is the agenda for the day; that if inspiration does not strike, there is no need to go into the office. Kind of like design studio back in architecture school – headphones, coffee, hoodies and jeans, trace paper crumpled up in the trash can, sketches all over the drawing board, books showcasing the works...