Dec 17, 2010


Let’s face it. We work in an office all day. For the most part, we seat in front of a computer, draft construction details, and roll large sheet plans. The most dangerous thing that can happen to us –besides the possible earthquake, hurricane or tornado –  is a PAPER CUT. Terribly inconvenient and uniquely painful. The fix, LIP BALM. Most lip balms have vitamins and menthol to help heal your skin. It seals the cut and keeps it germ free.

Nov 18, 2010


Back in August, a buzz was going around, AutoCAD® for Mac® coming soon!
Now that's here, how does it look? Something like this:

Pretty Mac-esque I say. Even the layer and properties palettes have a true Mac flair:

A few commands may be not be supported in the Mac version, but in the overall the traditional Autocad user should be alright handling it. Ideal for architects and designers who are in love with Mac and had been waiting for this for years. You can find a full review of the latest Autodesk release here. For more infomation on the subject by Autodesk, click here.

Nov 17, 2010

Door Hardware - Locksets and Latches

Door hardware sets tend to be convoluting to many architects out there, so many terms: office/entrance, office/privacy, store lock, service station... To make life easier, we have door hardware consultants. They make sense out of the intricate door nomenclature, and can tell you model numbers in a heart beat.

For those who are NOT so proficient in this specialized trade, check out this weblink by LaForce - explaining all the different types of hardware set you may need in your project. Hope you find it helpful.

Schlage door hardware

Fire Rated Doors

All the basics you may want to know about fire rated doors, here in pdf format. 
Great summary by the Steel Door Institute.

Oct 21, 2010

Find of the Day

Best Google find today... a webpage that translates Autocad commands from/to:
EN: English commands - CZ: České příkazy - DE: Deutsche Befehle - FR: Français commandes - ES: Español comandos - IT: Italiano comandi - PT: Português comandos - PL: Polskie polecenia - RU: Русскиe команды

Click here, brought by the CAD Forum.

Oct 20, 2010

Backsplash Design

"Little" things as blacksplash details escape some people's minds. However, they matter and make a difference. These days, the traditional 4 inch high backsplash doesn't appeal to everybody. If that's your case, go "fullsplash". Houzz has some fantastic full height backsplash ideas for home improvement junkies - all in tile. Of course, tile is just one of the options, you have glass, metals or more natural stone.

Keep in mind tough that whether you like your backsplash to be 4 inches or 24, definitely do something about covering your drywall. If you like the 4" look that matches your 3/4" thick counters, I recommend using 1/2" thick backsplash. It'll look less "chunky" while still doing the job. Details do make a difference.

Oct 10, 2010

The Architect Quiz

Yes, take it.
There I am, browsing online, reading as much as any slow reader can read 5 tabs at a time, and voila, showing up in my google chrome search with an infamous "architect quiz"...!
What was it about? (pun intended) Apparently, being a good listener and a good communicator are big pluses... For a career quiz, I found it somewhat superfluous, and yet somewhat intriguing.

Oct 1, 2010

Find of the Day

Finding out whether your concrete walls contain rebar is a simple process, use a metal detector. But if you want to know what size rebars are, you'll be glad to know that for the modest price of $3,0725.00, your questions are answered with great accuracy.

There it is, a rebar locator designed to meet all your site visit inspections at once... anyone?

Sep 20, 2010

Adobe Illustrator Tip

Have you guys (illustrator gurus) tried this one? Turning a PDF plan into DWG linework.

1. Open your PDF in Abode Illustrator,
2. File> Export> DWG
3. Open in AutoCAD

From there, the options are amazing. You can take this new DWG file into sketchUp, Revit, 3DViz... The quality of the scanned dwg has a lot to do w it. Just tried it w some old milliard scans, and it didn’t work - no surprise there I guess. But try perfect PDF exported dwgs, and it’s a high tech breakthrough!

Aug 24, 2010


You have to check this one. How NOT TO build a website and why. This article tears apart several architecture related websites, and says why they sting... among the black listed, Zaha Hadid's website and MIT's School of Architecture.
Take a look. Interesting critiques from a web designer's angle, click here.

Jul 14, 2010

REVIT Translator

Central File Motherboard of all of your project’s building information, do not erase backups or rename.

Local File Saved in your C drive, file thru which information is transferred to the Central File. Save to local, then Synchronize w Central.

Synchronize w Central Save to Central. Yes, just new fancy word in R2011.

Families Blocks

Family types Subtypes of the same block

Parameters Properties of a family

Model Elements Elements part of the model, w 3d properties, and visible in other similar views. See tab under Visibility Graphics (VG) for whole list.

Annotation Elements Elements that can be part of your view only, w no 3d properties. See tab under Visibility Graphics (VG) for whole list.

Model Line Line that will become part of the model, w 3d properties, and visible in other similar views.

Detail Line Line that will only show on the view you are working

View View of the model, it can be a working view or a sheet view.

Working view View of the model, not assigned to an architectural/engineering sheet.

Sheet view Viewport added to an architectural/engineering sheet

Legend Legend

Schedule Smart Schedule

Keynote Smart directional note linked to a txt file.

Symbol Annotation Element.

Trim Autocad's Fillet command

Jul 10, 2010

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health by Gehry

The July issue of Healthcare Design magazine makes mention of Gehry’s latest work, this time in the healthcare biz.  A new one in the list for Gehry’s observers: the 100M Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.

Find more pictures and studied analysis on the project here - by Design Boom. To play devil's advocate, you can find a more positive story by the LA Times here.

I’ve always wondered what starchitects would do when assigned the design of a seemingly highly restricted health care environment… Now we do. His unruly style comes through again.

As a side note, did you know he is 81? He doesn't look half as bad for someone twice his age. Just kidding Frank!

Jun 20, 2010

Revit 2011 - the New by Autodesk

Click here.

Revit 2011 - the New

Some exciting new features that are part of Revit Architecture 2011 that I wanted to share with you:

  • Repeat last command – via right-click or enter
  • Entering commands – In previous versions, you had to select the object, then the command. In 2011, you can first select the command, then the object.
  • Easier modification to the hotkeys/shortcut keys
  • Additional structural components
  • Customizable elevation tags
  • Text improvements
    • Auto-numbering
    • Lists with bullets
    • Text justification
    • Leaders off both sides of text
    • Easy modification to location of leaders
  • Sheet list improvements – don’t need to create dummy sheets to get the consultants’ drawings to show up on the index of drawings
  • Easy modification to the look of temporary dimensions
  • Realistic texture is a view style so you don’t have to do a rendering
  • Can add background images (of beautiful scenery or the surrounding city, etc.) when rendering
  • Linked Revit files
    • Can tag through linked files – walls, doors, windows, etc. (Must watch for duplicate numbers though)
    • Can apply view filters to linked Revit files
  • Sunpath – easier modification
  • System enhancements
    • Faster program startup
    • Faster file opening
    • Faster save-to-central
  • Reporting dimensions in families – do not affect the geometry but can be used in schedules/formulas.

Jun 18, 2010

Architect's Seal Stamps

This one is just funny. After paying for your IDP, paying for your NCARB files, paying for your ARE exams, why stop there?... you also have to pay for your own seal stamp.

It is not like it costs an arm and a leg, but it may be just a matter of principle. What if along with you shiny certificate of registration, you could also get your stamp? A nice way to say thank you and congratulations you made it this far, your state recognizes you as a registered professional.

Architectural Stamps and Seals-Guam

The upside is that I can now choose my own seal stamp, as fancy or cheap as I want it to be. If you are looking for one, google architect seal stamps. Just be sure to follow your state's seal requirements. And if you recently got registered, congratulations to you!!

Jun 8, 2010

Seeking licensure

Is it all that? No. Absolutely not. Finally the weight is off your shoulders and you can say, yes, I am the architect, the non plus ultra, the one people look up to, yes, you can say “wow that's cool” after I say I am an architect... but in the back of your mind, you'll know reality is not as cool as it may sound. But that’s my personal opinion. Being an architect is like being a firefighter, a lawyer, an engineer. It is a profession, and as the career it is, it shall remain. Just that. Mud we were, and we will be. But don’t let me get sidetracked here…

If your goal is to be an "architect", you have 2 options. You can ask yourself what you aspire to be. One, a NCARB registered architect that seals plans and has registration reciprocity in all states, or an WY or AZ registered architect that wants to say he/she is an architect?

Your call.

May 28, 2010

You Should and Shall

Years ago, I went to a seminar about proper language included in Construction Documents... it was a lunch seminar. Somewhere between dessert and the 160 calorie chips, I may have forgotten it all. Going thru the b/w NFPA chapters, it clicked back again. When detailing, especially exterior envelopes IMHO, we shall note carefully. Don't just copy paste from another project, we should verify that the information still applies to the current project, weather conditions, and desired aesthetic outcome.

As NFPA clearly states:

3.2.3 Shall. Indicates a mandatory requirement.

3.2.4 Should. Indicates a recommendation or that which is advised but not required.

Happy detailing!

NFPA home page link

Apr 27, 2010

Layering & Façade Design

There are façade design specialists in the design market. And not all projects can afford that type of consulting services added to the design team fee. At some point or another, we find ourselves designing the exterior of a building, be it a house, a commercial building, a restaurant...

Window shopping this weekend, I realized designing façades and layering clothing have some similarities.

Naysayers, don't be so quick. First, let's understand layering as a fashion term. Women tend to layer more than men. Combining different layers helps create a variety of outfits. One layers clothing to produce different looks and color combinations. We all layer in winter. Now instead of clothing, think materials... Voilà!

A few rules that apply to layering can also be applied to the fun task of working with façades:
  1. Do some research... find out what others are doing.
  2. Explore with color, textures and materials. Exact color matches will not work well together.
  3. Lighter colors work better behind dark ones.
  4. Mix shapes and sizes.
  5. Search through what you have available (as this relates to cost)... find out what your possible combinations are.
  6. Don't clutter... less can be more.
Maybe this is a oversimplification of the subject matter, and there is a façade designer out there frowning in their seat as they read this... oh well. In the mid time, I'll keep making sense of good design. It so happens to be the intricate combination of elements to come up with something beautiful and harmonious... alike layering.

Apr 26, 2010

Thought of the Day

Time goes by: steadily, unwavering, and even unappreciated... But that's definitely not the case during construction administration...

Apr 23, 2010

Five Fun Facts

Architect is a verb.
For every 5 architects, one is self employed.
Still most architects work in firms of 5.
Intriguingly, only a third is NCARB certified.

But most important, we are the sexiest profession out there!

Apr 20, 2010

The Intern Dialog

- ... and what do you do?

- I'm an intern architect.

- When will you graduate?

- That's the way it's called for those who have already graduated from college, but are still to file training hours and take architectural licensing exams.

- Really?

- Once you file your training and pass these tests, you can call yourself Architect.

- That sounds like a pain.

- Tell me about it.

Apr 19, 2010

Thought of the Day

Do poor professionals make a poor profession?

Mar 19, 2010

Is BIM right for you?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been around for years. When it became the trend in the Construction Industry, some embraced it almost immediately. Others wanted to wait it out and see how the more adventurous would do first. It seems to be everywhere nowadays. But what exactly is BIM? It is a computer-aided process that generates and manages building data information throughout the life cycle of a given structure. True or not, this proposed function sounds suspiciously broad to many professionals. In more practical terms, BIM is currently used with the upgraded Computer-Aided Design (CAD) in 3D; game changer in design and construction management. There are several programs that can offer BIM integration.

Today, we have building proposals and client requests wanting us to work with BIM. And sometimes, even more specifically, we are told in which BIM program the work has to be. It’s definitely a different way of working with building information. It offers team sharing flexibility, interdisciplinary coordination, the obvious 3D advantages, not to mention all the possible 4D, 5D, and green analyses you can imagine. Those of us working with BIM couldn’t do without it now. It seems intuitive and direct -at times.

On the other hand, those faced with the decision of picking one BIM product, usually pick between two of the most popular options in the US market: ArchiCAD (by Graphisoft), and Revit (by Autodesk).

Which BIM can work for you?

The answer: It depends. It is hard to say which program is better without comparing them side by side. After working with both, I would hand pick features of one and implement them in the other to create a sort of super-charged version to meet my specific needs. Each program comes with a set of particular advantages that you can tap depending on your delivery model(s). Definitely, be informed before moving along.

When is it a good BIM time?

Typically, a learning curve moves at a positive exponential rate. And there is no difference when learning this program. Account for additional upfront time, a new design process with your team, and new delivery outputs. There are transition bumps along the way. New is different, but can also be more efficient. Be in a change-ready mindset. Anytime something new is put into place, there is going to be an interval of integration time involved.

The same old still works.

Yes. And same in, same out. These are changing times in a market where distances seem to be shrinking. Competition is everywhere, more so than ever. BIM is becoming an industry standard. That being said, it is likely we’ll have a standardized interchangeable platform in the near future. Similar to the interchangability of word documents in PCs and Macs, this platform would allow all types of BIM products to co-exist and extrapolate data without losing information. This could be achieved within a common frame.

The more we engage in BIM, the more we will multiply its advantages for the benefit of the industry and our services. I believe BIM is still in its infancy and that the best of it is around the corner. There is still work to be done in the BIM-sphere.

Mar 12, 2010


This is a happy day. The day I open the mail and it says go ahead, you can finally call yourself Architect. What did it take? Seven years of education, over 3 years worth in IDP hours, 2 years of shear torture and examination, and lots lots of determination...
Feels like someone should be calling me not just architect, but your honor, or something.

Just as if I were getting the Pulitzer Price, I am very excited if you can't tell, thank you family, and an special thanks to the ARE forum, a great source for tips and moral support.

To those still in the process, hang in there captain, it is possible.
mvs_the Architect, AIA

Mar 9, 2010

Healthcare Guidelines 2010

Around this time last year, architecture firms were asked to send suggesting revisions to the 2006 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities. But architects were not the only ones invited to the round table. Nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, neonatologists, infection preventionists, administrators, facility managers, consulting engineers, safety and security professionals, risk managers and over 25 state, federal and private enforcing authorities have participated too. Finally, the 2010 FGI Guidelines are here.

It's said that the 'significant' changes from the 2006 edition are marked along the sides. For the Health Facilities Management article on the 2010 Guidelines, click here. Also try their official press release back in November 09. Both links list their mayor changes. For $168, you can get it on the FGI website.

Last year I sent a few suggestions on quiet and isolation rooms in Mental Health Facilities... I'll have to check and see if they were added. :)

Mar 4, 2010

New Model Practice

Recession, what recession?

The latest issue of Architect magazine has a catchy title on its cover: New Model Practice, Great Recession? Let's Start a Firm. Three young firms got started when their principals decided to stop knocking on architectural offices's doors, and started looking for project opportunities on their own.

No money, no problem. Today's online freeware is proven to be a great deal. Why pay when you can get it for free? It helps them connect to clients and their own team from each of their satellite 'offices'. Sure not all features will be available, and that's the price of free. International competitions are helping them gain visibility and experience. Small and government projects provide them with a source of income. A new book project is in the process. And a design co-op has been established and helps them network and seek more project opportunities.

I like that positiveness. But are these new practice models? We have heard of freeware, co-ops, satellite offices, competitions... What we don't get to hear much of is a positive attitude in the midst of the economic slowdown that directly affects architects and designers. For that, I appreciate the article.

It could be that after all architecture can be recession-proof... at least some.

PD: another article on similar subject.

Feb 16, 2010

Architect, you must be good at math

There is more to architecture than just math. When you get a chance, take a look at any architecture program near you. Mathematician, author and professor John Allen Paulos has said, "Mathematics is no more computation than typing is literature." If there is something deterring you from an architecture career, let it not be math.You can do it with the help of a calculator too.

Feb 15, 2010


It's been over a month since the fatal earthquake and aftershocks in Haiti. Global support has come to the rescue, while Haitians try to recover physically, morally, and emotionally.
Design competitions are now coming to surface. Already google-able:

Any lessons learned for the design sector? We will look back and reexamine current emergency facility planning and infrastructure, soil analyses, and seismic design systems to avoid repeats.

What the AIA can do

I have ran into an article about the AIA Minnesota chapter and their efforts to respond to the current times in the profession.

Can we turn this into a national effort?

The Minnesota chapter is giving a few great ideas. A step into responsive change. An excerpt from the link above reads:

In response to such challenges, AIA Minnesota has mounted an unprecedented strategic campaign to get architects back to work. In the winter of 2009, the organization launched its Members in Transition Group, a monthly gathering aimed at providing resources for the unemployed. Continuing education is its prime concern, and the group hosts free software training sessions, sponsored by product vendors and smaller firms. The Members in Transition arranged a deal with BWBR architects, a St. Paul firm, who over a two month period allowed unemployed AIA Minnesota members to come in and train on the firm’s computers.

Aside from software training, the group has brought in the chief AIA economist from Washington, D.C., for small group financial consultations, as well as invited high-level industry people from Minnesota’s Council of Firms to meet face-to-face with job-seekers. Other resources include interview preparation workshops and an online “skills matrix,” which allows employers a more efficient way to find talent for contract work and short-term projects.

A “Recovery Task Force” has been formed at the state level as a sort of think tank to address the larger issues facing the industry. AIA Minnesota President Rich Varda, who is also Target’s Chief of Design, has arranged for a graduate class at the Carlson School of Management to research the changing nature of the profession.

But with the outcome of these measures as uncertain as the employment picture, the only thing that local architects are certain of is the need to evolve.

How do you think the AIA can help you?

Feb 12, 2010

Selecting All

The Select All Instances tool does in fact select all similar elements in your ENTIRE model. If you are modifing model elements (stretchers, lavatories, windows, walls, etc), or annotation elements (dimensions, keynotes, tag, etc) and decide to ‘select all instances’, you will be modifying elements in the entire file, all floors and all sheet views.

Sure it'd be nice to Select All Instances in this view only, but that's not the case... yet.

In AutoCAD terms, Select All Instances is like CAD’s Quick Select tool across the board. Quiet useful... and potentially harmful.

Jan 5, 2010

REVIT Surprises 101

So this one happens a lot in Revit: “where is it? I know I drew it in there, but now it’s gone.”

A few troubleshooters:

1, change the scale

2, change the detail level

3, show hidden elements

4, check the view template or visibility graphics (VG) for the view you are in

5, check that you are in the right construction phase

6, are you looking for a model element, or an annotation element? You might be in the wrong view if you are only looking for annotation elements.

7, if possible, use the “show” button in the program

8, change the “model graphic style” of your view to “wireframe”, maybe the element you are looking for is “underneath” something else.

9, zoom out (ZE), it could be far from your building/project.

...But most importantly, whatever your solution is, think about how you can proceed next time, so you don't have to go through these steps again.

Happy 2010.