On Designing Evil Lairs

The Elrod House by John Lautner, the murderer’s lair in Diamonds are Forever, 1971. Image Courtesy of Expoint Realty

This article, by , originally appeared on as “Evil Lairs.”

New plan.

From now on I will ONLY design evil lairs. Because all the best architecture is designed for the evil.

My work will have moats, and concrete, and glass and steel. I will design 16-story one-bedroom homes, with helipads, and lots of electronics. There will be a retractable roof, maybe lasers.

I will completely ignore the building code, because you know “evil”. Building codes are for the common people. Not for the evil.

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Architect Valentines 2014

Courtesy of ,

Thanks to the popularity of last year’s Architect Valentines, Jody Brown has come up with a whole new batch for you to enjoy in 2014. This article originally appeared in Coffee with an Architect.

Architects are a romantic bunch. But, we tend to be busy. We know we should stop working on this design for a while and go buy some flowers or chocolate or something. We know that. But, we have a deadline. Maybe we can pick up a card from the internet on the way home.

Here you go.

You’re welcome:

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Christmas Cards From Famous Architects

via Le Corbusier, it’s one of his five points of

Happy holidays from the architects! We made you a card.

To celebrate, here’s a few Christmas Cards from famous architects from the popular architecture blogs Life of an Architect and Coffee with an Architect.

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What Architects Do Doesn’t Count

Yesterday, a good friend of mine wrote “It doesn’t count, unless it’s built.”

I read this, and thought. “I completely agree with this”. And, then my head began to hurt. More.

Because, what does that say about my work? (I don’t mean the obvious reference to my lack of built work the last few years). No, I mean in general, my work isn’t about a built project. It’s about a vision of an unbuilt project. Or more specifically, my work is about visualizing an as yet realized building. My work isn’t a physical thing that you can order from Amazon. My work is not a thing at all. It’s a path to a thing.

I meet with a client. I listen to them describe their idea of this thing that doesn’t exist yet, and then I begin to work. I slowly use the tools of my trade to bring into focus an image of what that idea can become. It’s a poetic endeavor really; making these images of forms and light that point towards someone else’s hopes for their future. It’s a translucent profession, not an opaque craft.

more after the break

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More Postcards from the Architect

I know It’s only been 2 weeks since my Architectural world tour, but, I was still emptying my suitcases this morning. Sorry, I got caught up in the pressure at the office and just had not gotten around to unpacking. Mainly, because I’m awesome. And,wouldn’t you know it?, right in the bottom of the suitcase, were 6 more postcards that I totally forgot to mail. No wonder Herzog was so pissed at me…

Anyway, I’ve scanned them here for you to enjoy… (here’s the one’s I did mail, in case you missed those - HERE )

More Postcards from Coffee with an Architect after the break:

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What are buildings trying to say to us?

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They say great architecture has meaning. That buildings, when well designed, can speak to us. But, what are they trying to say? What if we could really hear them?

Jody from Coffee with an Architect translates some of the buildings thoughts after the break.

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Postcards from the Architect

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I just returned from a whirlwind tour of some architecturally significant places. This time, I remembered to send some postcards. I thought I’d scan a few and share them. Please enjoy.

more postcards from COFFEE WITH AN ARCHITECT after the break

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Architecture Flashcards

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Here are some simple flashcards I’ve made, to aide the young student in their study of Architectural styles.

more flashcards from Coffee with an Architect after the break

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The Death of Modern

Modern was probably dead to begin with.

But, in his youth, he achieved fame by removing elements, simplifying, and arranging order. We were infatuated with his purity. With Modern, we stood in front of a blank canvas that seemed to clear away our past regressions, and promised a future of precision and clarity. Modern was singular and lovely, like silence.

At his height, he traveled extensively, leaving simple white calling cards as far aboard as Switzerland and Barcelona. (more…)

Architect Valentines

Architects are nothing if not romantic.

And, over the last few days, Architects across the world have stepped up and tweeted their affection. You can peer into their angsty souls by searching for the hashtag #architectvalentines on Twitter (which was started a few days ago by Bryant Turnage aka- @turnageb).  Obviously, nothing says romance more than sleep deprivation and illusions of grandeur. So, this , we Architects are getting in touch with our sensitive side. Check out some of the softer sides of the profession HERE.

To commemorate the love-fest, I’ve assembled a few of  mine and Bryant Turnage’s quotes here. Feel free to print them out and give them to that special someone. And, please add your own in the comment section below, or tweet them with the hashtag #architectvalentines.

And, If you still need proof of the romantic inclinations of Architects, just ask “Architecture Ryan Gosling” (HERE).

Much love, & Happy Valentines, from the Architects.

more love from coffee with an architect after the break

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Architects are, do, and/or do not…

Architects are not funny

Architects do not fish

Architects do not understand velvetta

Architects do not hunt, they do peck

Architects have not seen ”Two and a Half Men” (more…)

Use white, or very white

What color should you paint the walls? …, that’s a trick question….

You’re an Architect. All walls should be white.

Of course, they should. Obviously, that’s the only choice, The ONLY choice, no options, no other possiblities, none, nothing, just go with white…

whitey, white, white, whitey, white with extra whiteness. WHA-ITE! (more…)

Approaching the Architect

With the Holidays upon us, many of us gather together, drinks in hands, and celebrate together. Except the architects. We tend to be the sullen looking ones at the party, clustered together, over in the corner. Granted, architects aren’t the easiest group to approach, but it is possible, IF you know a few simple conversation starters:

So you’ve seen them standing over there in the corner. Morose and bi-speckled, sipping a cosmo and looking out the window towards a distance church steeple. They seem pensive and dapper at the same time. They’re an architect, but no one’s talking to them? It’s too much pressure? I mean, what do you say to the most interesting person in the room?

Well, here are some possible conversation starters for approaching the Architect, each one sure to start a fascinating and intellectual chat. Go ahead, give it a try: (more…)

Talking to your Architect

Excuse me architect, but you’re being an ass.

Yes, kind of…sort of…maybe a little bit

Am I bothering you with my petty contract? Is this job just not your “ideal” project? Doesn’t it fit into your “body of work”? your “oeuvre”? Is this project not going to win you any awards?

I know you’re talented. I know you know more about building and design than I EVER will. In fact that’s why I hired you. I need your help. I need you to help me realize this project. I need your skill. I need your experience. And yes, I need your passion.

But, I don’t need any more of your bullshit.

I don’t want you to show me what to build. I want you to include me in the process. I’m not paying you for the privilege of your “vision”. I’m paying you to help me solve this. I assumed I would be a part of that process.

click thru for more angst from coffee with an architect

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Oath of Modernism

I, modernism, being of sound mind and having a firm understanding of what should be, do solemnly swear to ignore the needs of poor people and democrats.

I, modernism, will not knowingly or unintentionally promote the excessive ornamentation favored by the nostalgic and simple-minded.

I, modernism will remain pure, and separate, loosening my tie, only after a few drinks, or when feeling comfortable, or under the influence of a potential high-profile client.

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Talking to Clients

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First of all, they probably don’t know what they’re talking about anyway. And, I think they asked for some kind of pastel. So, just nod often, eventually, they’ll go away.

If not.

Say things like:

“Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”

Or:

“No, that’s not going to work.”

Or:

“No, because it doesn’t fit with the “vocabulary” of the building”.

(Put “vocabulary” in “air-quotes” and raise your eyebrows.)

Try to look aloof. (well, of course)

When the client opens their copy of “Home and Garden” magazine to show you the kitchen that is “not exactly what they want, but it kind of gives you the overall idea”… try not to appear as if you want to stab them in the eye. Mention that Martha Stewart came up with a line of pottery while she was in prison. It was a custom line of nativity figurines. This might shift their attention. Then, spill your coffee on the magazine.

more tips on talking with clients from coffee with an architect after the break

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Important Places

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What are the important places, the places that define who you are?

In 1969, when my father was at war overseas, my mother and I were on the front porch of our 1910 Bungalow in Kansas. The wind pushed my toys over the edge and into the grass. My mother was leaning on the railing, talking quietly to our neighbor. I crawled across the painted wood and reached through the rail and felt the soft tops of the wheat-colored grass.

In 1970, I walked into a dark bedroom and stood at the foot of my Grandfather’s bed. I reached through the rail to touch the top of the quilt my Great Grandmother had made. I watched the quilt rise and fall with his breathing.

In 1971, I placed my hands and feet on opposite sides of the door casing at my Grandmother’s house. As soon as the “grown-ups” were paying attention, I climbed to the top of the frame and reached up to touch the ceiling.

more places from coffee with an architect after the break

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Architecture Sounds Dirty

So I just asked a simple question. “Are there any Architecture terms or phrases that sound unintentionally ….. ummm… dirty?”

Yep, 12 hours later I had 150 responses. The internet is awesome. And, you guys are disgusting.

So, here goes, I’ll list the terms I have so far. In fact, I’ll even include a pdf you can print and post in the breakroom – (HERE >> architecturesoundsdirty).

Feel free to add more in the comment section down there, or you can tweet them with the hashtag #architecturesoundsdirty

Scheduling the hardware
Nailing studs
Pipe penetrations
Fire-rated penetrations
Thru-wall penetrations
Undulating facades
Undifferentiated wedge (more…)