Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fall semester comes to a what?

Many long nights and days of drafting...

So yesterday I took my last final. ARCH 300, which is a history course.
Went pretty well, considering I am not one for memorizing things straight out, I am better at really taking the time to get to understand something. I find that way you come to the realization of "do I really need to know this or is this a stepping stone?" This class had some excellent lessons, so I am glad I put in plenty of time and plenty of notes. I actually enjoy taking notes as it is  a wonderful excuse for practicing lettering! I have been doing that for the last four and a half years now, and my lettering is getting pretty decent. Straight across the page, no guidelines needed anymore. Now my boss, HIS lettering is amazing. I love to look at it, it's a font in itself. I aspire to write like that father always stressed the importance of handwriting, how it is a sign of one's character. You can always tell who the writers are, just like you can usually tell who has done a sketch or two ;)

This semester was a transition point in my career as an architect in training. It was a constant struggle to shake the 'office constraints' as my teacher called them. It is tough to forget about code and structure and just try to focus on form in its simplest existence and how it creates space and what that space can do and how it makes you feel and what it signifies or doesn't and why that matters and if it doesn't well it should because it is important. And somewhere along the way, it begins to make more and more sense.

I feel very lucky to be 35 and in school for Architecture as a full time student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Especially with 17 years of building experience under my belt. It seems like everything I was so anxious for is just falling into place now, and while that does not make me any more patient it surely makes me more grateful for all the steps I took to get here. There are no wasted moments.

I have a habit of researching my instructors to try and figure out which one I consider to be the best fit for me. I look at where they went to school, how long they have been practicing, any accomplished works/publications, basically anything I can easily look up. Then after I figure out who I believe I stand to learn the most from, I do my damnedest to get in their class. I write emails, ask for referrals, whatever. Usually this can work because no one else does it. I look at it like this, you are already spending a lot of money for the class, why not try and get the most of it? The most bang for your buck? So far I haven't had a bad pic...maybe there aren't any to begin with. I still feel better trying to cover my ass.
 These are the four main projects we
had this semester. We went from defining form, to creating space, to creating space in relation to form, and finally to creating relationships of form and space. The model building is a lot of fun, extremely time consuming but at least it reminds me of building... on a much smaller scale.

 I have turned the apartment pretty much into a design studio/home office. Love it. The NEOLT drafting table I have is 60" wide, and I can stack 11x 17 drawings above each other- wonderful for transferring lines. When its not being used for drafting I adjust it flat and just throw the cutting mat on it and BOOM model time.
Get good tools for building models, and don't wait until the last minute to do the heavy cutting. I KNOW my neighbors did not appreciate the jigsaw at 10 pm, at which time I felt bad and broke out the coping saw...and finished all the pieces by hand sawing ( not recommended, but actually works pretty well with basswood)

You know it amazes me still how many architecture students simple cannot draw to save their lives. Most of this is coming from not practicing at all, and just resorting to creating a SKU model and printing it out and then tracing it. Congrats, you got it done and didn't learn shit. Well maybe you are a little faster at SKU now.
Now I know a lot of people do this, but I also know that there is something to said about being able to draw. Its a tool in your kit, an important one, and you are going to use it all the time to communicate. There is no other tool as fast as sketching at being able to get your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper for you to scrutinize and ponder. Its also an impressive skill once you get good at it, and I know that it played a big part in my getting hired at the firm where I still work now. Once you get out of school, you are going to be on a computer all the time. Take the time and learn how to draw while you can. Develop the skills of perspective and sketching to scale and being able to do a quick interior layout, these are gonna come up when you least expect it. I personally love the hand drawing illustrations, sketches, watercolor renderings, marker renderings, perspective drawings, etc...they are personal and they are one of a kind. The computer will never replace that. Don't get me wrong, I am on Revit for work every day and have been learning that software for the past 5 years now along with SKU and CAD and now 3ds max but even so, I am still the guy who will spend 1500 to go spend a week out in Vegas with Mike Lin and study hand graphics for up to 14  hours a day and love every minute of it (well most minutes). Learning these tools is seat time, there is no way around it. The better you know the tools, the easier you can get your ideas across. The better you can communicate. The better you will become.

 So, what will I be doing over break? Well I have six weeks to work, run, and unwind. I plan on running a project I have been working on in Revit through 3ds max. I have a few video tutorials to go through beforehand and hopefully sometime next week I can post a pic of the trial run of the rendering. Most of the renderings I do currently are in Revit, then I  touch them up in PS. I have 3ds max on my home PC and at work, so I have been WAITING to get the free time to invest the seat time and learn it. At least the basics of bringing in a model and rendering it through max. So I am excited about that...and I hope to get another marker rendering out. Been awhile and I need to keep those skills in the front of my mind, cause you never know when you may need them. And its fun, which is just an added bonus to working in architecture!

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