A Conceit of Architects


What do we call a gathering of Architects?

When animals gather in groups, we refer to them by an array of elegant terms: a Flock of Birds, a Herd of Sheep, a Swarm of Bees, a Smack of Jellyfish, an Array of Hedgehogs, a Pack of Elephants, a Clan of Bears, a Troop of Chimpanzees, an Exultation of Lark, an Unkindness of Raven, a Murmuration of Starlings, a Building of Rooks, a Fling of Sandpipers, a Wreck of Seagulls, a Gulp of Swallows, a Mutation of Thrush, a Brace of Ducks, a Piteousness of Doves… Piteousness? damn, the birds get the really good ones…

But, what do we call a collection of Architects? I think we need a name for it….

{some suggestions from coffee with an architect after the break}


A brief guide for recently hired interns

A brief guide to recently hired Architectural interns at Svehn-Björner-Rödskägg Design Collective:

- If you take the last cup of coffee, make a new pot, and return your key-card to Anneka. She will escort you out of the building.

- Remove shoes prior to entering the contemplation gallery. Do NOT place shoes on the stainless steel bench outside the glass doors.

- All details will be drawn full scale, using standard Swedish proportions.

- The Lutefisk in the refrigerator is left over from last night. It’s supposed to smell that way, do not throw it out. (more…)

Modernist or Convicted Felon

Modernist or Convicted Felon?

1. His room is spare, clean, and well lit.
2. The dining area is spacious and white, with a subtle, almost imperceptible low humming drone.
3. He eats alone, although he is often surrounded by others.
4. He spends time in isolation.
5. Daily, he shuffles aimlessly in the enclosed yard, trying to avoid eye contact, until it’s time to go back inside. (more…)

2012, New Plan

Hey Architecture,

Let’s be honest, 2011 could have gone better. For me, the wind came out of my sails somewhere around June (or February, whatever…) I did not do the best work of my career in 2011. I didn’t define the character of my generation in elegantly proportioned board-formed concrete, mainly because I was exhausted. Somehow, my highly held ideals seemed beside the point in 2011, so, I put them down for a while, and decided to feed my family instead. My work in 2011 was not the most innovative of my career, to say the least. Except for the restroom addition I just finished, that was epic. In 2011, I could have been the poster boy for the recession, or the new normal, or whatever they’re calling it now.

In 2011, I put my passion aside, lowered my head, and pushed forward.


Twelve Days of Architecture

On the first day of Christmas,

my Architect gave to me

A study guide for the A.R.E.


On the Second day of Christmas,

my Architect gave to me

Two turtlenecks,

And a study guide for the A.R.E.


On the Third day of Christmas,

my Architect gave to me

Three French Curves,

Two turtlenecks,

And a study guide for the A.R.E.



This Foyer is going to be Epic

I don’t think you understand what I’m telling you. I’m not trying to open the door here. I’m trying to open your mind.

It’s a simple problem really. Just keep the rain off of them as they enter the building. That’s all you really need to do, right?. Hardly… This is the first impression this building will make. I’m not going to waste it. You’re not going to open the doors and just walk inside. You’re going cross this threshold into the rest of your life.


Thank you Public Plaza

Thank you public plaza, for being so unnecessarily spacious, and for allowing me to park so far away from the entrance. I probably needed to walk that extra 30 minutes during my lunch hour on my way to the DMV.

Thank you public plaza, for changing levels occasionally, just to keep me alert.

Thank you public plaza, for your simple paving pattern articulated by oily puddles, and the homeless. It makes passing through SO whimsical, like an obstacle course, designed for the lonely.

Thank you public plaza, for obscuring your entrances. It’s like a treasure hunt. Is this my bank here? nope, that’s a dumpster enclosure. Fun! Signage is for losers anyway. (more…)

Modernism and Postmodernism



Graphic Representations of Modernism and Postmodernism - {via - coffee with an architect }

Common Misconceptions of Minimalism

Minimalism will not require removal of all of your possessions: They will simply be made to feel inadequate and trite and eventually they will move on.

Minimalism will not be cold and aloof: However, It may be aloof, and then cold.

Minimalism will not match the furniture you currently own: No, in fact the presence of your furniture may make Minimalism feel uncomfortable. Your furniture should leave Minimalism alone.

Minimalism will simplify your life: No, but it will make most of your life harder to access by placing it in multiple boxes carefully labeled and stacked in an unseen corner of the attic. (more…)

Alternative names for Architecture

Photo by jamesmelzer - http://www.flickr.com/photos/melzer/


Preconstruction musings


Spontaneous Justifications of Form




{ more after the break }


Ten Representations of Minimalism




Less is More stupid

Less is more.

Congratulations, you have officially alienated 75% of the population. Now if you can make Less cost more? You’ll knock out another 23%. The remaining 2% are married to an Architect. Clearly, your practice is off to a good start.

Reducing everything down to the purest, most elegant form is difficult, and only a truely gifted Architect can achieve that level of perfection, and that gifted Architect probably designed a glass house for a crazy lady in a robe, but she died, and now the house is a museum, and, yes, I just called Philip Johnson a crazy lady in a robe, and I think the facts will back me up on that. (more…)

Missing: Architecture – Have you seen me?


PLEASE POST!. And, send me a photo. First person to post it at the Architecture building at Yale gets a T-shirt.

Jody { coffee with an Architect }


photo from Lauren Manning’s photostream on Flickr (used under creative commons license)

What is Design?

What is design?

Design is about finding a balance. There’s a Japanese word for the place in between – “ma”. It’s the interval of time between two things. It’s the point in the swing of a pendulum when the object switches from an upswing to a downswing. It’s the pause just between. It’s the moment just before something happens, or changes, or becomes clear, or comes into focus. But not yet. It’s the best part of the rollercoaster, right after the climb, and just before you fall. It’s anticipation. The space between. – Ma

I think that’s where “design” is. When you design something, you start with a blank page. The options seem endless and the task can seem too complex. In fact, most of us never get past this point. But, as you look at that blank page, memories of everything you’ve done before begin to enter your mind. Everything else you’ve seen, and (more importantly) experienced begins to flood the blank page. Everything you know about the project wells up in your mind; the details, the interconnections, the opportunities, the obstacles, the patterns, and the context. Eventually, you’ll sense a change in direction about to happen. That’s when you start to draw…

Right at the moment between what you knew before you started and what you are about to learn. – Ma

Jody { coffee with an architect }

If Architects

If Architects designed highways, they would be straight, scenic, and would take you somewhat close to your destination. I mean, you’d arrive where you probably should be, even though it might not be where you thought you wanted to go. Ah, but the view….

If Architects designed cruise ships they would be sleek, and dynamic, and inspire awe as they drifted aimlessly ashore into the rocks.

If Architects taught kindergarten kids, Kindergarten kids would be more sullen.

If Architects ran the National Parks, geysers would be more predictable, and bears would probably die.

More after the break. (more…)

The Craft of Architecture

It didn’t start out this way for me.

When I was younger, I had an idea of what “Architecture” is – Architecture with a capital A. I held that idea in front of me throughout my career to serve as a guide, as I worked on my craft. To me, Great Architects were those that refined their concepts and details and forms with each new project. Occasionally, jumping forward with an innovation, but, usually building a career one client at a time, one building at a time. In school I spent hours in the library flipping through a 25 volume photographic archive of everything left in Le Corbusier’s flat files after he passed away. The volumes contained: every sketch, every construction detail, and every project. His whole life was there in light awkward drawings in pencil on translucent paper; all his failures, his incomplete thoughts, his grand gestures, his moments of pure clarity. I was amazed at the craft developed throughout a career; the gentle arc of a man’s life.


Architecture in Charts

Definition of Architecture

I can’t believe I’ve written this blog for over a year and never bothered to define Architecture. A glaring ommission to be sure. Perhaps I could get some help on this one? What’s a good definition of “Architecture” ? (more…)