Architalks #19 : Dear Future Architects

Note: This is the nineteenth post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all have to post our response. This month’s theme: “Dear Future Architect”

Dear Future Architect,

Welcome to the brave new world.

You have made a choice- a complicated choice. Architecture is never a job, rarely it’s limited to a career, and almost always a lifestyle. Education will teach you that sleep is for losers, work-life will forever be a fine balance between the brown of the coffee and amber of the Whiskey.  Within the choice are a hundred hurdles- lack of diversity, generalized gender roles, pay and equity discrimination. Thousand rewards await as well -. you are appreciated, you are honored, and you are needed to create a community. Built environment is after all a necessity, not a novelty.

Architecture is all about buildings – but, architecture will never be only about buildings.

A license to sign and stamp the drawings, a good understanding of Building Codes and accessibility requirements to uphold the safety of the occupant, and coordination with the consultants and contractors to ensure that your building will be strong and efficient – this will be a very basic outline of your responsibilities. Sometimes voluntary, and sometimes mandatory will be a step towards sustainability.

You still haven’t noticed, but Architecture has another side also – the ethical side.

There is a Code of Ethics that you will adhere to when you design. It’s your northern light, guiding you while you guide a community with your design. You will adhere to it, but if you make a little effort, you will uphold it, you will support it and you will promote it. You might think it’s something only for the Architect of record to worry about, or for the company you work for to adhere to – I will tell you otherwise. You – the intern, the designer, the project manager.. all of you have the power to propagate it. Just like equity and equality are not issues limited to certain gender, code of ethics is not limited to only people liable for the design.

Read them, understand them, know them and be them.

“Rule 1.401 : Members shall not discriminate in their professional activities on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation.”

This one in particular, I want to elaborate on.

Architects are people too- we have our own religious and political affiliations, and cultural influences. But, on a broader and much bigger scale, we have a responsibility that transcends our personal opinions – small informed decisions that we make have the ability to influence a generation’s acceptance of societal changes. It’s activism when led by people – it’s an accepted change when it finds a place in your building. Be that change, bring that change.

Restrooms are a mirror to the social and societal conditions of a community.

Third world is struggling to design safe restrooms for women and children. Developed countries have provided access to public restrooms as a right- in fact plumbing code is a law of the particular jurisdiction that adopts it under the building codes. As we stabilize on a magical formula to decide the perfect number of restrooms needed for a buildings, we realize that there is more to restrooms than what we intended to provide. Gender is no longer limited to male and female, and sexual orientations have evolved. But the restrooms we provide are still male, female and sometimes family depending on the plumbing calculations and code requirements. We, as a society aren’t completely ready and open towards the idea of gender neutral restrooms yet. We are still evolving, and so are our ideas and ideals.

So, dear future architect, realize that future of architecture is not only about video game inspired futuristic design ideas and blending technological advances into built environment. Future of architecture is more than how we draw and how we build – it has been, and will always be about how we design, and how we live- help live. Future will be helping the community blur “separate but equal” treatment of citizens through intelligent and ethical design.  Yesterday it was about erasing “colored only” restrooms and segregated drinking fountains. Today it is about inclusive design for LGBTQIA+ and saving the polar ice cap . Tomorrow is open to your imagination.

Educate ourselves with the physical, mental and emotional requirements of the occupants, identify the areas that need change -some of you will lead, some of you will follow and some of you will abide reluctantly when it becomes a “code”- and some of your ideas will remain ideas forever. So, future architects, educate yourselves- educate yourselves about people, about what people want, about what people need – today, tomorrow and in the future.

Recently I was on the UCLA campus. Restroom signage never brought so much happiness before- this one was special.  A “Unisex” bathroom was rechristened as an “All Gender Restroom”, Braille ADA requirements incorporated. As much as we hate labels, there are labels that help than harm. Unisex is gender neutral, but All-gender is gender inclusive. Little things like this are not something your client will ask for, or your building official will look for, and you probably won’t even get a pat on the back for that extra effort. But, in the long run, your contribution in not only appreciated and valued, it has also helped ease the acceptance of the changes.

In short, eat the whale – by choice.

Building design will be an on-going process where life will imitate architecture sometimes, and architecture will imitate life sometimes. The key is to continue the efforts towards a greater cause – be it within the industry, or within the society, or anywhere in the world that we can hear a cry and respond to. You, the future architect are not limited by walls and ceilings, or building systems – Think beyond what your scope of work is.

Be a catalyst in integration, not isolation.

With love,

Your ever-evolving community

Read what my friends have to share with the future architects:

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Dear Boy in the Plastic Bubble,

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Dear Future Architects: A Confession

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Dear Future Architects: You Need to Hear This

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Dear Future Architects: 4 Perspectives

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
dear future architects

Evan Troxel – Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel)
Dear Future Architects

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Dear Future Architects: 3 letters

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
future architects: #architalks

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
Dear Future Architect, Listen Here

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Dear Future Architect — Remember Then

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“Dear Future Architects,”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Dear Future Architects..

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Dear Future Young Architects… Please Quit Screwing Around!?!!

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
Dear Future Architects: Don’t makes these 4 Mistakes

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Dear Future Architects

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Dear Future Architects, Be Authentic

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
Dear Future Anthony

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Dear Future Architect,

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Dear Future Architects…

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Dear future architects, never lose your optimism

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Dear future architects, are you credible?

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
Dear Future Architect, a Letter to My Younger Self

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Dear Future Architects…

Ken Saginario – Twelfth Street Studio ()
Dear Future Architects…



Architecture and Mathematics – Architalks #18

Note: This is the eighteenth post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all have to post our response. This month’s theme: “Architecture and  _____”.


Geography and culture influence the architectural expression of every civilization, and in turn, the design intent of any building becomes an extension of the beliefs of the culture they represent. If not for this diversity of beliefs and ideas, all buildings in the world would look the same. But, in spite of the diverse materials and methods, there is a force that unifies all architecture in the world under one universal language – Mathematics.

India, the land of diversity – the land of mathematics and architecture. Languages, religions, subcultures dictate Architecture.

Nowhere else in the world will you see temples, mosques and churches along with Buddhist monasteries coexisting peacefully in the same community along with new construction. Growing up an adamant agnostic, I visited these religious edifices with family and friends, but to me the God was in the Architecture-God was in the details of these structures, not in a idol in front of me.  Every religious monument that has survived the brunt of nature and lived to tell the story of a culture has always offered much more insight into the level of their mathematical advancement than the God they chose to believe in.

South Indian Hindu temples have followed the principles of fractals in design, and Trigonometry. Education later explained Fractals as “infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales”, but fractals were explained to me through architecture much before that. Prime knots and Borromean Triangles adored temple pillars as carvings. The walls and ceilings had elaborate geometrical motifs. It makes you wonder, was there a Design Guideline for Temples on how to incorporate Advanced Mathematics in Architecture to educate the community?

Tessellating polygons were used in motifs along the expanses of the walls of a mosque. Advanced concepts in Geometry were used to form innovative dome shapes like the eight-point star instead of rotating ribs. The monuments also combined acoustics with geometry, incorporating elements like whispering galleries and echo chambers. Were they given algorithms to use in design and construction? What was the intent of mathematical extravaganza at a mausoleum?  Were art and mathematics integral components of Architecture much before the push to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) STEAM (STEM +Art and Design)?

The Golden Ratio. Fibonacci Sequences. Symmetry. Alignment. Hyperbolic Paraboloids. Hyperboloids. Arches. Domes. Tetrahedrons. They are not all parts of a Mathematics book, they are design principles and components used in Church Architecture. Construction methods advanced heavily using the mathematical principles. Did mathematics evolve to help execute design ideas? Did design evolve based on mathematical discoveries? Were the pioneer architects mathematicians, architects and masons with extensive work experience?

Architecture is, is a three-dimensional mathematical model that is abstract and absolute at the same time. The proportion and massing of buildings is an abstract idea, but every building detail is an absolute solution to that idea. Under the banner of Architecture, every building is a time capsule to showcase the philosophical, mathematical and artistic developments of that era. All you need to do is look up, and look around to see the relation.

Architecture and Mathematics turned into Religious Architecture and Mathematics. Alright. I will leave you with a smile on your face. Did you know that the Chinese Architects used the “Theory of Geometric Progression” to design Harems so that the Emperor didn’t have scheduling issues for his nightly pleasure?

Want to read what my Architect friends thought about when Bob Borson said “Architecture and ________?” Visit the links, share them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook if you can – According to the Theories and Principles of Statistical Data mining, Architects can benefit from that kind of love:

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Life of an Architect

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Architecture and a Future Without Architects

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
architecture and __

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Architecture and Travel

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
Architecture and Gaming

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
architecture and m&ms

Rosa Sheng – EquitybyDesign [EQxD] (@EquityxDesign)
Architecture And the Era of Connection

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 18: architecture and… the bigger picture

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks 18: Architecture and Mathematics

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
Architalks 18: Architecture and … Parenting

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Architecture and Yoga

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Architecture and Ego

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Architecture and Ego / The Architect’s Unique Struggle with ‘Good’ Design

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Architecture and Kids

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Architecture and More

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Architecture and the Myth of the Master Builder

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Architecture and Interior Design

Samantha Raburn – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Architecture and Wrestling

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Architecture + Memories

Adam Denais – Defragging Architecture (@DefragArch)
[#ArchiTalks 18] Architecture and Strange Travel Etiquette

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Architecture and…my Generation.

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
Architecture and Photography


Tools of an Architect – Architalks #17

Today’s post is the 17th entry in the #ArchiTalks series, a monthly writing event that Bob Borson of Life of an Architect ( created back in July of 2014. The idea behind this series is to take a singular word of phrase and distribute it to a group of architectural bloggers, and let them take it in whatever direction they interpret.

I don’t need much. I am a happy camper as long as I have my ….Canary Trace + Ultra-fine Sharpie + Prismacolor Red Carmine Pencils + 2B Pencils + Staedtler Mars erasers + a good computer with two monitors + a comfortable chair + latest software +++ and the list goes on and on and on about a few very basic tools of survival. A minimalist when it comes to everything else in life (Almost trying the capsule wardrobe), I am a hoarder of sorts with an array of writing, drawing and measuring tools, and a stack of reference books that vary from Building Codes to a ten year old Architecture magazine with something that I found inspiring. I store enough drafting supplies to last an apocalypse. Hard to pick one.

So what is my “tool”?

I spend the day glued to a screen even though I love my drafting supplies. “Proficient in AutoCAD”- that’s a line from my resume, and that line has kept me employed. The fact that I know my pencils has only translated into expressing my line-weights architecturally. I still sketch my ideas- whether I am revising a floor plan, or working on a construction detail. But mostly, it’s a CAD day. It’s been so for the past sixteen years.

Is AutoCAD my “tool”?

Probably not anymore. Recently I went from being a consultant to being a full-time employee. And it happens so, this is the last project we will do in CAD. I will be trained in Revit soon, and we will using Revit for most of our future projects though CAD will still be available for incidental use. Will Revit be my tool ultimately? Time will tell. Ultimately whatever it is will only be a program to convey my ideas. Pencil, AutoCAD or Revit – if it’s a 2-HR wall, it’s still a 2-HR wall irrespective of the color of the pencil or line weight.

So, is the “ability to draw” my tool?

To draw is to convey our idea to the client.
To draw is to represent our intent to build.
To draw is to communicate to the contractor.
To draw is to convince the Bank that this project is feasible.
To draw is to create something that engages generations to come.
To draw is to uphold life and safety over all other things, and be approved by the authorities that are in-charge of life and safety.
To draw is a responsibility.

And thus kicked off a Saturday. #architecture #siteplan

A photo posted by Meghana Joshi (@meghanaira) on

On a lighter note, tools an Architect always needs, but rarely talks about: A good stapler, an excellent staple remover, and an efficient carrier to shuttle the drawings to the City for submittals. We have all hurt a finger trying to use a screw driver in lieu of a good staple remover (OK, maybe not you, just me and others). Just a few months ago, I went to “slip sheet” at the City Office, and ruined my own stapler, and jammed the City’s stapler. They don’t deliver what they promise usually- so if you find a perfect one, hold on to it.  Then there are hand trucks- always buy the one double the capacity of what you might need. They tilt, they go out of balance..Not funny when that happens.

Meet my new best friends! #plancheck #monochrome #bnw #blackandwhite #whatanarchitectdoes

A photo posted by Meghana Joshi (@meghanaira) on

Super Bowl 50 ended. No more food and drink service for the day – and now comes the moment of clarity.  Basic tool for my survival, my CHAIR!

A couple of years ago, I became a Consultant, and started working from home. Without much thought to what I really wanted, I walked into Costco and picked up a chair that promised comfort, support and fit my budget. Thanks to the two year old who constantly stood on the base while I was sitting on the chair to keep her engaged with my hair, the chair broke in less than a year. Same story next year. After breaking three chairs in three years, now the daughter in school for the most of the day, and more money in the pocket thanks to the economy, I looked up for inspiration to “do” my home office.

Almost all the posts I scanned, and the images I looked up had very uncomfortable looking chairs. I don’t know how anyone could sit on an ” Eames Molded Wood Side Chair ” no matter how beautiful it looked. Another favorite among the bloggers was the wire chair. I know the wire chair- someone I know has wire chairs as dining rooms chairs. Without cushions. It’s a torture throne of sorts. Or maybe that was the intent to keep calorie intake low. I don’t know. But I couldn’t imagine sitting down for ten hours a day on such chairs, and not being able to move around my “L” desk comfortably.

I bought Herman Miller’s SAYL chair. At $649, it was not affordable as the website suggests, but it was “within” reach. It’s been almost three years now, not a single creak and nothing broke.

I rambled on. I know I did.

But when you start a blog this late in the day, and try to catch up with every Super Bowl ad, and Half-time performances, it’s hard not to ramble. Next time, I will plan better. The “break” ends soon (tonight), and I will hit the books from tomorrow to get on path to Licensure. Hopefully with full time employment, kids and the puppy I will stay on track- thankfully I am surrounded by friends and family that do their best to keep me motivated. After all resilience is the biggest tool in anyone’s toolkit right next to ambition. It’s time, and it’s high time. Three fails in a line have broken my confidence, and I did want to forget the answers to all practice questions before hitting the books again. A fresh start can add better on previous knowledge than opening a book and groaning that I know all this and I don’t know how I failed..

Want to know what other Architects have in their tool kits? Check out the links below..

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Why An Architect’s Voice Is Their Most Important Tool

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
3 Tools to Get Our Clients Engaged and Involved

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The Best Tool In Your Toolbox

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The Tools That Help Make #AREsketches

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
tools #architalks

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
One Essential Tool

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Architools – Mind Over Matter

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
10 Power Tools to Kickstart Equity

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 17 “Tool”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Tools of an Architect #Architalks 17

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #17: Three Tools for Change

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Can we talk?

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
it’s ok, i have a [pen]

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@simplybrinn)
Synergy: The Value of Architects

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Tools for Learning

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Something Old and Something New

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Helpful tools found within an Architecture blog

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Sharpen Your Tools

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Super Tool

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Construction: An Architect’s Learning Tool

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
(CTRL A) (Command-A)- Edit

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

New Year, New Plans

New Year, New Plans. And for us Californians, El Nino season!

Black Swan events, slight imbalance in plans and actions for the year of 2015 has pushed some of list items into 2016. I am moving in to 2016 knowing two goals for the year, and an outcome. 3 of my ARE tests, California Supplemental Exam- and the definitive outcome of these two being a legal change of name from IRA Consultants, LLC to IRA Architects, LLC. IRA just turned five, and the fifth year was nothing short of adventure. 2015 taught resilience, patience and accepting failures with the same grace as triumphs.

Time to plan 2016!

00000.0 Priority Numero Uno: ARE and CSE.

00000.1 ARE Exams: BS/ SS/ BDCS. Finish the mandatory break on Jan 15th and resume studying.Start using the new Hay Yellow Moleskine Planner to make a schedule and stick to it.

00000.2: Pass the exams, or repeat 0000.1.

00000.3: Form a CSE Study Group at local AIA

00000.4: Take Funkaar class + Gather study material

00000.5: Register for CSE and take the test

00000.6: Pass the test.

00000.7 Patiently wait for license.

00000.8: Legally change name of the company to reflect licensure

If done with the top priority item, then add other items to the list, or rinse-repeat until done. Meanwhile continue with work-life and other necessary deviance to stay on task, and stay focused.


This month the #ArchiTalks blogging community is joining together on this month’s post to help a friend. It’s a simple life- work and family, but sometimes simplest things come with the most complex of demands. Having brought a child home from NICU, I know the pain first hand. Here are more details about Rusty and his wonderful baby boy Matthew.

Matthew Long was born May 29th, 2013, happy, and seemingly healthy. Less than two days later his mother and I found ourselves in an neonatal intensive care unit waiting room, listening to a rushed intensive care doctor explain how our son needed immediate dialysis to save his life. The disease, he briefly explained, was one of a group of disorders called Urea Cycle Disorders, which impact the way the body breaks down protein. We later discovered that Matthew’s particular variant is called OTC Deficiency, a particularly severe form of it in fact, which results in a rapid rise of ammonia in the blood, called hyperammonemia, resulting in devastating neurological damage. This form of OTC is so severe, Matthew has virtually no peers who have survived it. Once the immediate crisis was arrested, we came to find out more about the disease and the impact of this initial event.

The disease is inherited, and the damage is permanent. Treatment consists of a combination of medications, low protein medical diet, and ultimately a liver transplant. Matthew was fortunate to experience no additional hyperammonemic events in the following fifteen months of life, and had a liver transplant on August 24th, 2014. The cure for the disease, a transplant, isn’t so much a cure as trading one condition for another. While we will never risk the chance of another ammonia spike, Matthew is on a half a dozen or more medications at any given time to avoid rejection. Despite these challenges, intensive daily therapy for cerebral palsy (a result of the initial damage), limited motor function, and various other challenges along the way, our son is remarkably happy and has changed all our lives for the better. He’s taught us to be stronger than we ever thought possible, to have faith beyond human understanding, and the immeasurable value of life.”

The #ArchiTalks community is hoping to raise $5,500 to help Architect Rusty Long and his family reach their financial goal on If each reader of this post contributes a small amount, our impact will be massive and we can make a difference for Matthew’s family.

Click here now and donate $2.00.

What are my other Architalks friends planning this year? Read their blogs and get inspired!

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
New Year, New Community on Business of Architecture

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
New Year, New CAD

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
New Year, New Adventures

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
new race new year new start

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
New Year. New Budget.

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
New Year, New Goals

Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
New Year. New Gear.

Cindy Black – Rick & Cindy Black Architects (*)
New Year, New Casita

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
New Year, New Underwear

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
New Year, New Era

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“new year, new _____”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
New Year, New Plan

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
New Year, New Adventures

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
New Year, New Life!

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
New Year, New Home

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
New Year, New Adult Architect

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Little Premature

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
New Year, New Business

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@simplybrinn)
New Year, New Perspective

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
The New New

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
New Year New Reality

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
New Year New Desk

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
New Year, New Goals

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
New Year New Office

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
New Year, More Change

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
New Year, New Office Space

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
New Year, New Reflection

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
New Year, New Direction


















Architalks : From an Architect’s table

When I opened my eyes and searched for the morning light in distance, there was none today. It was dark, and cold. I heard the usual morning sounds of the newspapers being delivered, of the neighbor starting his car and letting it warm up before he drove to work, and the clanking of the charms on the leash of my neighbor’s dog. I didn’t want to get out of the warmth of the blanket and take on the world and my multiple roles for the day. On mornings like this, I want to lie down in the bed and wait for someone to make coffee for me. I want to lie down in the bed and wait for the morning light to wash away the darkness of the night. We have taken a week off from work, and the children have a week off from school. But all vacations are canceled, and all drives are local (two hours, considering LA-OC “local” traffic”) – we brought home a Pekingese puppy last Wednesday, and the only item on the agenda for this week is to adapt to the little royalty.

And of course, Architalks. From the Architect’s table…

I don’t cook for Thanksgiving – I am always the guest, and I am always the guest who can bring “whatever she feels like”. Somewhere between super-foods, health-foods, organic-free range talks, I have lost my credibility of trustworthy Thanksgiving potluck cook- perhaps no one tells me, but everyone fears a vegan dish, or something with spirulina or chia. I am not offended. I dress my best and show up with a Mango Pie made from organic mangoes- it’s slightly Indian, it’s slightly American, and it’s delicious. It represents me.

But this year, I have decided to take a break from my usual Mango Pie, and redefine my holiday tradition. Of late, between all the work-life balancing, I have found that my slow cooker is my most trustworthy dinner plan – I have a decent collection, nothing that would tag me as a hoarder, but a little more than one slow cooker somewhere in the garage.It’s easy to throw in a few things that go together, and come home to well cooked scrumptious dinner- sort of like third set of CDs for the same client for similar projects.

I put my slow cooker to work the week before, trying my own twists to traditional recipes. And, I am loving this new tradition of making a hot cocktail every night in the name of recipe experiment! – What’s not to love..A little Bourbon/ Whiskey/ Rum never hurt anyone, and not every night has to be a wine night.

Pomegranate Toddy



4 Cups Pomegranate Juice
2 Cups Orange Juice
1 Orange, Sliced
3 tsp Pumpkin Spice (Trader Joes)
20 Cloves
20 Malabar Pepper Corns
1/2 cup brown sugar, if desired
1 Cup Rum, or more if desired

Tie all the spices in a cheesecloth. Add them to the slow cooker along with the juices and sliced orange. Simmer to 2-3 hours, remove the spices. Add sugar if needed, and add rum. Stir and serve!

 Spicy Apple Cider Toddy


4 cups Apple Cider
3 Tsp Ginger-Serrano paste
(Serrano packs medium heat)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 cup Bourbon

Add all ingredients except Lemon Juice and Bourbon to the slow cooker. Simmer for 2-3 hours. Add Bourbon, squeeze lemons and mix well- Serve!

I do have a few more hot alcoholic slow cooker cocktail recipes, but time and space are both premium tonight.

Sixteen years ago, I was a new bride, and a recent graduate, and a recent immigrant. My knowledge about Thanksgiving was limited to “four days off”. My husband had taken me to his friend’s house for my first Thanksgiving dinner – I hadn’t met any of them before. Raised a vegetarian all my life, my jaw dropped when I saw a whole bird sitting on the counter- it was a culture shock of sorts, but I also learned to sit at the table, share what I am thankful for, adapt to what I can, and adopt new traditions, and still value my own.

The world around me has changed drastically in the past sixteen years. As you may have noticed, I am rereading Kite Runner.. A decade ago, when I read the book for the first time, it felt like a different world, completely detached from my own. There wasn’t a single passing thought about “what if everything we worked for, and everything we have is taken away from us just like that”

The recent turn of events in Syria, and in Paris, and everything that happens between the place I call home to the place I used to call home-there is an uncertainty about what’s in store for tomorrow. Living in Irvine, a multicultural city that’s home to more than fifty nationalities, there is always someone with family in one of the troubled placed, or someone who fled the violence. It pains the heart to know these stories first hand..

This Thanksgiving, I am truly thankful to have a place to call home..

Ever wonder what’s on other architects tables?  Check out the rest of the #ArchiTalks crew below.

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
giving thanks and [wine]ing

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
Unplug Tradition

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
The Architect’s Postmodern Thanksgiving!

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Archtalks from an Architects Table

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“From an Architect’s Table” Dolly Brown’s Pumpkin Pie

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
Hacksgiving – A Hacker’s Thanksgiving

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Archi-Table – Any Berry Salad

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Bourbon. Every architect’s friend.

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
From My Table To Yours

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
This Thanksgiving: Something New

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Thanksgiving Feast…

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

EQxD: Get Real Series

This article originally appeared on the Equity by Design website:

Last night, at the AIA Orange County office, I was browsing through the reading material in their library, and “Women’s Architectural League” caught my eye. It is a red leather bound scrapbook with pictures of women in the Architectural League, and newspaper clippings from early 1960’s Mad Men era. Women in beautiful clothes, and women in beautiful hair-dos meeting for luncheons to celebrate local architecture by organizing “home tours” and “helping their husbands” in their chosen field. It was essentially an unofficial AIA club for Architects’ and Associates’ wives. It was the time and era of transition of women from, “work if you need money” to being a, “professional.” There were women in high places, but for an average woman, it was a tradeoff between work and family. You were not expected to do both successfully.

This picture in particular caught my interest:

“Little Jeffrey Bell, 3-year-old son of Mrs. Stanley Bell of Costa Mesa hangs on to Mrs. Bell’s apron string as he tries to convince his mother that she should stay home with him instead of attending the annual meeting of the California Council of the Women’s Architectural League.” Mrs. Bell was a delegate to the event. There is another picture of Jeffrey Bell along with Annette Bell and Lisa Woodman tied up in a big ribbon and shown as “precious charges” to the babysitter as their mothers leave for the parley in Coronado. I don’t know these women, but with the network they formed, and the events that they hosted, I can safely tell that their mission was to educate the public about architecture – they were playing a supporting role to their husbands’ careers mostly because of the societal bias against privileged women going back to work after having children more than anything else.

Fifty years later, the world has changed.

Women are underrepresented, but they are present in almost every profession of the world unless it is gender prohibitive. NCARB numbers for women in architecture are reassuring – more women are entering the profession, and more women are making efforts to stay in the career, get licensed and be mentors. The percentage of women completing AREs has doubled since 2000. We are still at a measly 35%, but I have trust and faith in the next generation for not being the “Missing 32 Percent”.

What still hasn’t changed? – The mom bias.

The pinch points for women in architecture are still “licensure”, “caregiving” and the “glass ceiling” – all tied up mostly to parenting duties. Speaking about my personal experiences – my privilege is my bias and my bias is my privilege. That’s the hardest truth of my life. As an entrepreneur, I work hard – but then there are times when my decision to be an entrepreneur is pegged to motherhood making it a “convenient way to balance work and life”. It’s not so. It’s not so for any entrepreneur, male or female – parent or not. We are in the business because we are passionate about the business and creative sides of architecture- we take risks. Not because we want to be able to pick up the children from school, and save daycare dollars. I don’t know how many men in business hear that, but if I had a dime for every time I heard that, I would be a ….

Then there is the mom guilt.

Have you stayed at work past six? Have you shown up to work before sunrise? Let’s assume your employer is all for work-life balance, but also lets you call the shots on your project schedule. Let’s assume you are doing something you are so passionate about, you refuse to leave your desk simply based on the clock. Let’s assume your co-parent / your parenting support system and you have it under control. I don’t know why I am adding “assumptions” since it should be nobody’s business. But still, for argument’s sake, how many times have you heard “I could have never done that – Timmy needs me.” or “Wow, you are lucky, my husband would never do that”.

A simple suggestion to all working mothers: don’t call the other woman lucky if she has a good support system. Like everything else, it needs hard work too; to have and to maintain a support system. Don’t ever tell a working woman when she needs to go home, or who needs her at home. Architecture being what it is, sometimes cannot be an eight hour job with a fixed schedule. If someone volunteers, if someone involves themselves more into the profession than treating it as a job to pay bills, be supportive. Reword your “wow, you are lucky” to “I am glad you can make time for things you are passionate about”. No one is lucky- even lottery winners bought several tickets before they won.

The mom privilege.

The mom privilege is actually bias in disguise. Finally after working for fifteen years, and two children, the time is right for me to pursue licensure. As I take care of my projects and parenting along with studying for ARE exams, I do hear things like “At least you have a reason for not doing it”. No, children aren’t and shouldn’t be a reason for anyone to stop in their tracks. I didn’t work on my licensure so far because I didn’t have the drive to. Of all the women that changed the world, many didn’t wait for their child to grow up and be in high school and not need them anymore – it doesn’t work like that. But that’s a “privilege” that I deal with as I continue my journey;, my migration from the “Missing 32 percent”, currently as the Test Taking 38%* and one day adding to the number of licensed women architects.

In a nutshell, while I do what I want to do in my life, at my own pace and at my own timing and methods, please don’t guilt me – or have bias against me – or treat my parent tag as a privilege. My gender, my reproductive accomplishments, and my age – they should all be background noise. Same goes for other women – or men.  Architects have the privilege of changing the world with their careful planning and execution of community components. Let’s use that privilege to end bias – not end each other’s career with bias against people of color and/or gender.

No one should go “missing” in a profession because they were not accepted by the tribe.

* (Based on NCARB By the Numbers 2015)

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Moving on, moving forward

Dark clouds gathered in the sky last night, and I reflected the many moods of the world around me with a gray and black ensemble. A cup of coffee couldn’t lift me up, neither could chatting with friends. A hug from the little one fixes the worst things in the world, and so does the smile of the older one.. but there was a little bruise in the heart that wouldn’t go away with my trusty band-aids. I don’t know if it was depression, or the blues, or just the extended nurturing of emotions of an entitled life. It’s been so for the couple of weeks now, and I haven’t been concentrating on things that I should, I am not letting go of things that I should, and I haven’t been moving on or moving forward.

I am pretending that life is at a standstill when it’s not.

I haven’t been studying well, I haven’t been eating right, exercise is the last thing on my mind, I am going on life without focusing on my goals, or my interests. Bed- desserts-coffee, and burning the midnight oil with Carrie Bradshaw- I can’t even watch Ted Mosby anymore. I am supposed to write an article that fired me up so much a month ago- I haven’t written a single line. I am supposed to attend my study group- I lose my interest every now and then, and then regroup to drag myself back to the meetings. I am canceling the lunch dates with my husband for a month now. Not today, not this week.

There is a hole in the heart that will never mend.

Mark was very close to me. We went to Architecture school together. In a classroom full of people for whom architecture was all about graduating, there was this person in the corner occasionally attending the class but understanding the concepts better than those who burned the midnight oil. A couple of weeks ago, when I got that message that he was no more, I wanted it to be a prank. I wanted it to be some other Mark even though I don’t know another Mark. I wanted it to be some celebrity that everyone mourned on Twitter and forgot seven tweets later- not my friend. I didn’t meet him in the past fifteen years, but we have always stayed connected. Marriage, children and our careers took different paths – none of that ever affected us.

He was the happiest person I know. His happiness was contagious.

There is sadness frozen in me beyond my words can express. These incidents will forever change me as a person. Eventually I will regroup my thoughts, learn to express my sorrow and learn to move on. But a part of me will always be broken. A part of me will always be scared to know what future holds for me, or for anyone at all. I can’t hurt publicly for a man that I am not related for more than a certain period of time. It pains, but I can’t show or share the pain. I will probably still spend time looking at the family pictures of Mark- I haven’t removed his contact from my phone, or my social media. Other than look at what he was, and what he could have become, there is no point in it, but it makes me happy to know he was happy- and remember his happy moments.

Will colorful clothes and a bright lipstick heal everything like it happens in the movies? I tried.

I am developing a routine, trying to put my plans on paper so that I can train myself to focus, but it’s been an uphill battle. There are three more ARE exams, and then the California Supplemental. I want to write an article about Women in Architecture in Orange County- I did the ground work, but I never progressed. I haven’t read a single Architalks blog after the news. Last week I gathered courage to commit to the exams- I have all three scheduled for December. It will not be easy, but nothing has been easy in the past few months. There are times in everyone’s life when they feel shipwrecked and alone- this must be mine. Whatever is happening is temporary, must be temporary. I haven’t done much, I want to do so much, and I don’t know if I have the time and energy to do it all. But I want to live in hope, and be an eternal optimist.

BS, SS, BDCS in four to six weeks. May MEEB heal.

People often talk about taking the AREs while planning weddings, being pregnant, and other relatable milestones. Mine have been the weirdest milestones. I dropped the Freshman at High School and went to the Starbucks close by to study. I am dealing with loss of a friend, grieving and taking AREs. My parents visited and children had summer vacation during the last one. We plan my test dates based on my carpool days, and husband’s work related travel so that one of us is still available for parenting duties. Point is, licensure is a long commitment- life goes through different stages during that time financially and emotionally.

I want to go to Sagrada- the state of mind resembles the work in forever progress.

Architalks: Meet Jane Doe, Citizen Architect

This blog is a part of “Architalks: Citizen Architect”- Architalks led by Bob Borson of Life of an Architect.

AIA says “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.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Jane Doe, and I have taken this name to signify that I am your everyday architect.

I am the mastermind behind designing those buildings that don’t make you stop on your evening runs to watch against the sunset and post on Instagram. I am the keeper of your safety and well being who spent  numerous hours designing that exit staircase- exit lobby- exit discharge to public right of the way – but that Type X wall system I added to the staircase will never interest you enough to touch and feel it on your way up and down the stairs. I am the one sitting at the City office waiting to submit the drawings that if approved will end up generating significant revenue for the City and create employment opportunities in the community- yet you will drive past the construction activity without noticing the building envelope. I am the person who designed your average grocery store, your typical bank, your everyday office, your familiar school and sometimes your library..

I, Jane Doe was your average architect until I decided not to be.
Now I am Jane Doe, the Citizen Architect.

Jane Doe, Citizen Architect, takes responsibilities- your building is more than another avenue to show her design and management prowess and earn revenue. She decided to get her license. She decided that even though she designs regular buildings, if she is designing more than three hundred thousand square feet per year, she should add more to her superpowers to help you make the best decision. Jane Doe will not be one more team member in a group of yes-masters that take orders from a person who stamps and signs the drawings even though they don’t always agree with master’s decisions. Jane Doe is empowered, and makes ethical decisions- decisions that Jane Doe the Project Manager might not always be able to do.

Jane Doe, the Citizen Architect struggles to answer the simplest of all questions: What do you do?

Jane Doe always replied with details about her next project, the location, the client, etc. But it’s hard for Jane Doe, Citizen Architect to explain her job, or rather her profession using a mere two words and three sentences. A project is not just four walls and a roof. No way, not without those interwoven- interconnected social, environmental, and economic characteristics that lay within the walls and roof. From worrying about the environmental impact of choosing that virgin land to stressing about the footprint of the building material sourcing, to pondering over the social impact of having a diverse team of architects/ consultants and contractors, to agonizing over the economic impact of illegal and undocumented labor, Jane Doe, Citizen Architect has a lot of things on her plate.

But through thick and thin, she repeats to herself “volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, and lead. ”

The mantra for all Citizen Architects is to be the change they want to see in their communities. We all have different ways of doing this- some of us engage in activities with AIA, or are on the Board of Planning Commissions. Some of us take the time to go to classrooms to inspire and lead the youth. Some of us fight passionately for what we believe in- be it equality in pay and equality in profession. Some of us take  it upon us to write blogs to educate the public.

But my point is, we all go above and beyond, and do something more to be that Citizen Architect. There is more to Architects that using a Lamy on a Moleskin, with a cup of black coffee and fierce eyeglasses. We have more to share with the world than what our professional outline demands.

Jane Doe knows you care about the origin of that apple you are eating, and you frown when you see titanium oxide listed as an ingredient in your cereal. But what about the building you live in? Have you thought about what makes up the walls and ceilings? What about the site your house was built in? Are you aware of the native vegetation and wild life that thrived before you called it home? These are things that are seldom talked about by your builder, but literally make up the foundation of your life. Given that you spend over 90% of the day in built environment, shouldn’t you be more concerned about the origins, ethics in practice and life cycle analysis of the same?

Jane Doe, Citizen Architect knows miracles can happens.

They might not happen overnight. But Jane Doe and John Doe, Citizen Architects can make it happen. Your neighbor, your neighbor’s neighbor, your best friend, your bartender- what do they know about what surrounds them? They have a stand on LGBTQ issues and women’s reproductive issues- but do they have a stand on VOCs? Are they well informed to make that decision? Surely no one will throw PSAs at prime time the cause. Will that mean they should under-informed or ill-informed? Isn’t it their right to know where they live if they have a right to know the truth about what they eat and what they wear? We assume they know, but they barely know. They know HGTV, and they know Frank Gehry. They need to know Jane Doe and John Doe, Citizen Architects. Time to step up the game beyond that AEC world and involve the general citizens without generalizing them as clients and end users.

Jane Doe and John Doe, the Citizen Architects are the hope of the world. They are the sum total of the character of the Citizens they represent.

Jane Doe
Citizen Architect

Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it. – Martha Gellhorn

(This post is loosely based on the idea of  the speech in “Meet John Doe”)

To read what other Architalks Architects shared on the same topic, click on the links below:

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Architalks: Work-life, imbalanced and uninterrupted

Note: This is the twelfth post in a group series called #ArchiTalks in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect gives a group of us architects a theme or a set of questions and we all have to post our response… this month’s theme: work/life

A couple of months ago, I wrote these words probably under the influence of work-life circumstances pertaining to that period:

“I have completely given up on work-life balance. There is no such thing. There should be no such thing.

My children are nowhere near their milk guzzling diaper dirtying days when responsibilities didn’t become thoughts that looped endlessly in my overactive brain imagining potentially dangerous situations they could be in.

My work is not dictated by redlines or a chunk of work to be finished in the next two days. It’s overwhelming scope from schematic design to construction administration is not something that can be shut down with that computer, or rolled away from my mind like I roll them up on my desk.

It stays on my mind. Everything around me stays on my mind, throughout the day, and yet I go through everything I want to do with a little mental checklist. Integrated work and life, and hobbies. There are no compartments. Even if there are, they are all headed in the same direction, interconnected.”

Post summer, nothing has changed. Paycheck comes in, pay check disappears. Twenty four hours of the day begin and vaporize. Year is almost nine months down and I may not be nine items down on my checklist. So, when Bob said it’s going to be about Work-life, I had no idea what I would share that I hadn’t already shared on my personal blog in the past several years. So, do I want to write another blog about the great imbalance of my integrated work-life?

Probably not.

Life is beautiful. When you do things that you love to do, even though at times it might be challenging and overwhelming, there is a certain content in that exhaustion. My work-life blog will highlight exactly those little things that make work and life- beautiful.Sort of life this picture – Stretch comfortably to claim a little bit of everything, with a smile!


Archi-License-so that I can be sued.

How can it be about Architecture and not about licensure? You can have a Doctorate, but if you don’t have a license from the State Board, you cannot practice the profession legally.

I am done with my IDP requirements – NCARB reduced the required hours this summer! Finally after consulting with two different firms, I have gathered up the experience to finish the IDP (or whatever it will be called after the board agrees on a name and title). It took me two years and seven months to finish. It’s done. It feels good to be done.But it was not easy to finish- even though I was working more than ten hours a day and weekends at one point in time, I could only report so many hours. Being in the field for almost fifteen years now, I didn’t really have much to learn from the “intern” hours, but the experience taught me a valuable lesson of prioritizing what’s important to me in work, or in life. There were times when I couldn’t make it to Site Visit because “life schedule” clashed with “work schedule”- then there was the balancing act of egos and communication. And then there was a point where I worked with only one goal of “staying at work”. IDP was all about work-life balance to me, and ARE will continue to test the resolve further- only difference is, the only ego that can be broken or will need to be stoked is my own.



My job is simple: I work- You pay- I say thank you and rinse-repeat the process for the next project.

Architecture is multi-faceted. I don’t want to wake up and go to work- said no Architect ever on a Monday morning. I will detach from the profession this weekend- said no Architect as they clinked glasses with friends on a Friday evening. A part of us is always at work- always trying to find inspiration in the weirdest places, always trying to understand a building component. It takes some time for your family to understand and adjust to your needs – it’s not a disability, in fact it’s a super power. I have stared at my Burberry scarf long enough to find inspiration for the color palette of a Storage center – and I have made mental notes about interior details when I watch movies- Vogue is not at all about skinny models and negative body image to me, because I am busy looking at colors working together. Sometimes this super power has adverse effects- when you mentally rearrange your friend’s furniture, or remodel their entire house in your mind while you enjoy their hospitality.

Rain or shine, your Architect is always caffeinated and thinking!


So what happens when I am not busy earning to pay for the exorbitant fees for the personal lessons for piano, chess and Taekwondo, or not driving my taxi from one place to another transporting my children?

I actually enjoy my time with my children!

If one is in a class, I enjoy ice-cream with the other, or I just sit down in the waiting lounge listening to her thoughts flow like dissertation. I know the assignment in her AP English class, I know how she missed her parenthesis and got an error in her AP Computers class, and I also know how she didn’t finish last on her two mile run in her NJROTC class. Oh, I know about boys and the boy troubles too. The younger one has educated me enough about the endangered animals – that happens during the twenty-five minute drive to Fullerton to pick up her sister. She tells me about animals, boys that pick their nose, what dad made for breakfast, what her teacher’s husband said that morning to the teacher.. everything about everything.


This, keeps me going. Since he is not a reader of my ARE blog, I can safely say that whatever I do in life, I can put my energy into it, because man is behind me one hundred percent in whatever my ambitions are except when I want to third baby, or a husky- my either-or condition doesn’t stand a chance. What does the Archi-wife do in return? She adores this man, and makes him feel like the luckiest man in the world.

Married life is all about balance too, especially if you need work-life balance.


I have always been a part of support systems for my friends, and been that four a.m. friend for a few. I have been to soup kitchens, I have written checks to causes I believe in. But this year, after fifteen years from my last membership, I paid out of pocket to be a member of AIA. I always thought volunteering long term with AIA would be for youngsters without family, or empty nesters- because how can anyone with a family find time for anything other than work-feed-rinse-repeat. I was wrong. You find time once you know what you want to do- David inspired me (Thanks David!), when I met him for a study session, and I joined the Communications Committee- I disappear once in a while when life overwhelms, but AIA on Instagram has gone from a 12 followers to 200+ and we are talking Architecture via pictures – Very soon we will find a structure to our postings, but I am glad we continue our efforts!


Architects love their extracurricular activities. You wouldn’t find a single one of us who doesn’t have a passion besides architecture. It’s amazing, how we find time and energy to devote to our little side interests even as we greatly suffer from the work-life imbalances.

I guess that’s how we nurture the artist within us.

So, what’s the Archi-work life?

Archi-life is calling the City office in a car full of carpool children who quiet down when your phone connects and checking on the permit status – because you care.

Archi-life is waking up at the darkest hour of the morning, and dressing up the T to show up at work so that you can finish early and find time to do other things on your priority list.

Archi-life is taking your entire family to the newly opened commercial project of yours, and let them identify what the challenges were, and how you overcame them.

Archi-life is living an integrated life, never compartmentalizing it unless it overwhelms.

Archi-life is having several interests in one job, and taking care of all while you do the job.

Archi-life is all about being happy while you make everyone around you happy, and most importantly those that use your expertise to build..your client and your end users.

So, the next when an Architect says I am trying to seek work-life balance, know that their work has one hundred things trying to find a balance, and their life is overwhelming with relationships, interests and causes they believe in. Our lives aren’t as easy as others- we don’t leave work for life, or life for work – we don’t take it easy.

Smile and sparkle, and keep marching to the beat that makes you happy- everything eventually balances out if hasn’t already. If it doesn’t, it becomes the baseline of the new balance of your life.

Read the views of my Architalks friends about Work-life here:

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC) #ArchiTalks: Work/life…attempts

Bob Borson – Life of an Architect (@bobborson) “Work | Life – Different Letters, Same Word“
Jeff Echols – Architect of the Internet (@jeff_echols) “The One Secret to Work – Life Balance”
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect) “Living an Integrated Life as a Small Firm Architect”
Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM) “Work/Life…What an Architect Does”
Lee Calisti – Lee CALISTI architecture+design (@leecalisti) “work | life :: dance“
Matthew Stanfield – FIELD 9 Architecture (@FIELD9arch) “Work / Life : Life / Work”
Evan Troxel – Archispeak (@etroxel) 
Cormac Phalen – Archispeak (@archy_type) 
Andrew Hawkins – Hawkins Architecture, Inc (@hawkinsarch) 
Jeremiah Russell – Rogue Architecture (@hawkinsarch) “what makes you giggle? #architalks”
Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect) “Turning Work Off”
Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch) 
Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX) “I Just Can’t Do This Anymore“
Michele Grace Hottel – Architect (@mghottel) “work/life”
Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA) “Architalks: Imbalanced and uninterrupted“
Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar) “ArchiTalks #12: Balance is a Verb”
Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@Missing32Percent) “Work Life Fit: A New Focus for Blurred Lines”
Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC) “An Architect’s House“
Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz) “I am what I am…”
Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs (@Parthenon1) “On Work: Life Balance – Cattywampus is as Good as it Gets”
Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w) “midnight in the garden of [life] and [work]”
Brady Ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA) “Brady Ernst – Family Man Since 08/01/2015“
Sharon George –Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge) “Work = 1/3 Life “
Emily Grandstaff-Rice – (@egraia) 
Collier Ward – Thousand Story Studio (@collier1960) “Work/Life“
Eric T Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome) “Work/Life — A Merger“
Daniel Beck – The Architect’s Checklist (@archchecklist) “Work Life Balance: Architecture and Babies – 5 Hints for Expecting Parents“
Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept) “Work is Life“
Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@thatarchstudent) “studio / life“
Lindsey Rhoden – SPARC Design (@sparcdesignpc) “Work Life Balance: A Photo Essay“
Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell) ” Work/Life”
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Architalks: Why I am an Architect

This month, when Bob Borson (Life of an Architect) sent the Architalks topic, the seemingly simple question had me stumped for answers.

“Why am I am Architect” – to be a Starchitect and be an award winning queen of curves.  

If I were to answer this question just stepping out of teenage, in Architecture school, that would have been my answer. But, twenty years in education and in the industry, my life as an architect is that of a melting pot. Instead of being that Starchitect that my education prepared me for (or spend my life drawing toilet partitions for a Starchitect), I have become a jack of many trades, hacker of many tools- from lifting weights so that I don’t shy away from dragging 150 lbs of drawings to the City office, to finding the best coffee that doesn’t give me acne while stay up the night- architecture thankfully hasn’t merely been a means to pay mortgage. The point being, you don’t be an architect because you love to draw or you love buildings. Those are precisely why I wanted to be an Architect according to my college essay, but frankly no, that shouldn’t be the reason- architects draw to convey a readable idea to the contractor, much like a doctor scribbles code to the pharmacist. Ours look beautiful and presentable, that’s all. So twenty years after that college essay, how do I answer the same question in another continent?

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who want change, and those who want to be the change. Those who want change identify what needs to be changed, and convey it to the world standing on a podium, driving the idea into the minds and hearts of their audience – they stage protests- they create awareness. Then there are others, who put efforts into understanding what’s wrong, and then dedicate every little step of theirs thereafter towards the change they want to bring. I am the second type of activist. The participant activist. In the past twenty years, the focus of my attention in a building has shifted from “Oh, pretty” to “Oh, Sustainable!” But, that doesn’t mean I have a list of net zero projects under my kitty, or I have patents of sustainable building systems.

Sustainability can’t be like some sort of a moral sacrifice or political dilemma or a philanthropical cause. It has to be a design challenge – Bjarke Ingels

Buildings. From the moment you were born to that moment they hold your wake, your life is boxed in buildings yet you don’t realize how much thought and how many efforts go behind the planning and execution of these buildings so that you, the user, are comfortable. Buildings also contribute to 39% of the carbon emissions, and 72% of the total electricity consumptions. If I am designing four buildings a year, each one roughly a hundred thousand square feet, I will be responsible for two hundred buildings, and a total of at least twenty million square feet of changed space in my career. If I don’t care about the ways that project can be executed, and if I don’t talk to my client about being environmentally friendly and ethically responsible while building what he wants to build, no one else will. “Business as usual” will always be the client’s motto, and “business as usual in a safe and healthy environment” is mine.

I am an Architect (NotLY) to save the world, one building system at a time.

Saving the world is a doctor’s job, or a politicians. Not an Architect’s – right? At least as shown in media we are quirky-romantic-beautiful-slightly smitten by the dark side superheroes always working on a sky scraper and alternating between death wish coffee and something on the rocks. Selfless doctors save the third world. Ethical lawyers take on conniving corporations. Teachers bring a change in the world. What about us Architects? According to the media, our profession is not about saving the world- it’s about romance, grandeur. It’s about Ted Mosby in How I met your Mother. Unless it’s a Ted talk, or documentary, no one talks about how an Architect saves the world – or for that matter that polar ice cap from melting or the seasons from changing- or designs your buildings to be resilient against the changing seasons.

So, when I say that I want to change the world through my design, it comes as an overstatement when it’s truly not.

Architecture perhaps is the only profession that brings a positive change to the world while it takes care of life and safety- so next time you walk in a bar and have a gala time, thank an architect when you reach home safely.. without the roof collapsing on your head. Next time you have a productive day, know that your architect has designed your light, your HVAC and your surrounding spaces so well that you could focus on your job. Next time when your child comes home sharing stories of what happened in school, know that we contributed by designing a space conducive for learning. And most importantly, when you come home and relax, don’t forget to thank us- even if you bought a cookie cutter, there is someone who designed it, and signed on that design owning the idea. Media hasn’t shown you our cape yet, but we do have one – and that exactly is the reason why I am an Architect. Architecture really is more about your life and safety, and your well being than the pantone color board for your interiors.

Not every green revolution will be about minimalist off the grid shipping container and no architect will ever leave this world without being the change or bringing the change.

-Meghana Joshi

Why am I am Architect- here is a list of other Architalks blogs. Each one of our responses are unique like our practices. Please visit them to know why people become Architects:

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