nuts and bolts architecture

One of the really simple statements I can make with delight is that as an architect, I provide service to people.  This family in the photo above is smiling and full of hope for a new restaurant I designed for them some years back.  I love these photos because they are tactile reminders of what I do and inspire me throughout the process of getting to this photo opp moment.

I love the craft of architecture and want to take a moment to expand on what that means to me by using this project as an example.

If you are a sole practitioner architect like me, the project types you take on can be quite small or pretty good sized. When we come out of architecture school, most of us have visions of changing some part of the world at the scale of designing the next Notre Dame Cathedral or the next Guggenheim Museum.  Some of us do that and some of us eventually shape a career around a life view that balances the daily work environment with project types and all the nice parts of non work life.  For me the independence and freedom of working alone is a powerful force.

Small projects are a great pleasure for me.  I embrace the idea of the total architect, having the skill and vision to step along a path that includes


client engagement

measuring and drawing the existing conditions (bare ground site, building, or empty spaces in a building)

studying and visioning the new design

working with client on the new design

creating the construction drawings to be built from

permit review with the government agency

working with contractor and client to build the project

seeing the client in their new building; a dream fulfilled.

Architecture is about the art of making places.  What many outside the profession do not realize is that once the vision is shaped and focused during the design phase, the work has only just begun.  There is a tremendously technical process that must be embraced to achieve the smiling faces of your client in a memorable photo.

This is the presentation (pretty) version of the floor plan intended to show where things are but not a document to construct from.

Here is part of that same floor plan as a construction drawing showing the contractor some of the information needed to build the restaurant.

Here is that same partial plan with all the “digital layers” of information turned on.  I will go into the layers topic in another post, but the short explanation  is that these layers are turned on and off as we create a series of 3-6 floor plans that convey different types of information such as finishes, wall locations and ceiling design.  Yousa!  This is hard to look at right?  Too much info in one place.  We architects, artists that we are, love digging into the fine grained detail of this information and are constantly sharpening our professional (and digital) chops towards making drawings and specifications that get our clients and their projects something to smile about.  It took about thirty one sheets of drawings to get this job done including all the engineering work too.

Here is a photo of the interior on opening day when the chefs were cooking up a storm and I got to sit down to a tasty meal.

There is, with any project, a fair amount of work and even a little bit of struggle to pull it off.  That effort applied over time drills down into a person in a good way and comes back out as a pretty deep feeling of making a difference when I walk into a project and see a lovely finished product like this.

This then is a little sample of the nuts and bolts of architecture.


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The Architectural Adventures Of Saxon Sigerson

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