Baby, I Got Your Money

money-pile

Now that I have your attention, please forgive.  Sensing I may have a captive audience today thanks to the weather, I am compelled to step up on my soapbox for a moment and discuss getting paid.

For better or worse, the law is a tool. If you are not prepared, it will likely only be to your detriment. Unfortunately, too often it is esoteric or unwieldy and the expense of lawyers prevents many from seeking counsel when they could most benefit. Few things pain me more than meeting a client who lost a significant advantage in recovering funds rightfully owed, either through an aversion to the cost of legal counsel, inexperience or just plain ignorance.

Mechanic’s liens are an area this seems to happen time and time again.

State law (specifically Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 38-22-101) grants construction professionals the right to put a lien on property for unpaid services or materials rendered in the improvement of that property. In essence, this allows construction professionals to become a secured creditor; which infinitely better than merely hoping a hand shake and good will can get delinquent invoices paid.

Too often professionals hesitate to file a lien because they do not want to tarnish a “relationship” or other emotional reasons. I would implore any would-be lien holders to consider the business and financial implications of failing to file a Mechanics Lien. It is akin to a mortgage lender releasing security in the purchase property for fear of losing popularity. (And in the case of a mechanic’s lien, the debtor has already defaulted on payments – isn’t the relationship already going downhill?)

Because the Mechanic’s Lien is a creature of statute, there are certain “magic words” and deadlines that must be satisfied to preserve your legal rights. However, once you have completed the process a few times, it becomes rote. Every professional should have the forms, processes, and procedures in place before the necessity arises. In that way, a Mechanic’s Lien can be swiftly executed in the brief window after the work is completed before the opportunity to become a secured creditor has passed forever. Educate yourself and accounting department about the deadlines involved in filing a Mechanic’s Lien to take full advantage of the law.

Before you can file a lien, the owner(s) of the property and the principal contractor must be notified via registered or certified mail (return receipt requested) or via private process server. Information about the owners is readily available through the public records. The statute outlines precisely what you need to include in a Statement of Lien and Notice of Intent to File. Ten days after serving the Notice, you can file your lien.

Once you’ve filed your lien, you will have to file a court action to foreclose on the property within 6 months of filing the lien, or completion of the construction project, whichever is later.

Even if the debtor has become insolvent, Bankruptcy Code Section 362(b) allows a creditor “to perfect, or to maintain or continue the perfection of, an interest in property.” This exception has been applied to Mechanic’s Lien creditors to allow the filing of a lien even after bankruptcy proceedings have begun.

The next time accounts receivable get too aged, use a Mechanic’s Lien as a legal tool; do not allow emotions or hollow excuses to forfeit your legitimate business interest.

AIA Colorado AEF Scholarships

DSC00079

It’s that time of year again and the Architectural Education Foundation Scholarships are due soon! If you have the desire to travel and explore, make sure you seize this opportunity to apply for the AEF Scholarships!

Available scholarships and grants for 2015 are given to students and practicing professionals every year. This year’s scholarship and grant applications are due Monday, March 9 at 4 pm. 

Here is a link to the website and application:

http://aiacolorado.org/resources/career-resources/

SONY DSC bamberger-aec-03 DSC_0439

“The Problem with Parametricism”- Guest Post by Bill Allen and Tobias Hathorn

Is Colorado the last to jump on the parametric bandwagon?  Here is Bill and Tobias’s demystification of the parametric design process and its seemingly limitless iterative possibilities.. (and by the way, the answer is no, Colorado’s grassroots design community is already on board, with 1-2 people per firm that seem to be familiar with the tools, as well as a handful of fabricators and engineers locally.)  Is that going to be enough to push Colorado’s design forward in terms of form and fabrication?  The jury is still out, but as I see it, the more tools our design and construction community has in their repertoire, the fewer limitations they might have in creating designs that transcend the limitations of software and machines to create design that responds to the needs and potentials of the 21st century.  – Beth Mosenthal, AIA Colorado blog contributor

“The Problem with Parametricism”  by Bill Allen and Tobias Hathorn

Is parametricism the new bee’s knees?  If you have attended or taught at any University in the last 5 years, you are well aware that the University is pushing this idea of parametric model building with their students.  They are using such tools as Grasshopper and Dynamo coupled with Rhino and Revit.  Students are coming out with this knowledge in technology, however you may ask yourself the question as an Architect in this industry, is any of this really applicable to what I do day to day?

Undulating BeamsThis idea of parametricism is in fact is not a new concept at all, but in recent years has definitely become more main stream.  My journey began about 6 years ago when I attended an ACADIA parametricism conference in 2011.  I saw much value in the process during the conference, and decided to build my first parametric model using grasshopper.

My most recent parametric building….(clear throat)…“table” was a Design After Dark project with our team at OZ Architecture.  We used grasshopper to parametrically model a unique profile for every carpet tile.  We also programmed the tool to tag every carpet tile with a unique identifier and layer for fabrication of the table.

Build Table

You may be looking at these images, and saying to yourself, “well it only makes crazy curvy non buildable forms.  It’s great for making a wavy table, but there is no way that this can be applied to buildings”.  Well, allow me to enlighten you on some projects that I have been fortunate enough to work on.

 

 

 

Parametric vehicular canopy using adaptive components and dynamo

CanopyDynamo

Parking garage façade intended to simulate the mountains in Breckenridge,  Colorado

2014-05-09_8-46-322014-05-08_23-43-50Breckenridge Rendering

The Challenges:

These are the challenges I have come across personally when pushing and implementing these concepts in an architectural office.

  1. “It’s not buildable”

Inevitably when I show teams these types of projects, the criticism that comes up is that you can’t document it (or you will spend a long time documenting it) and you certainly can’t build it.  Tools like grasshopper actually offer us some amazing utilities to help us design functional and buildable forms.  Just one simple example of this is the planar test.  How planar is an object?

Planar

Also, digital fabrication has come a long way as well.  Rather than issuing “shop drawings” we can issue a “shop model”, and fabricate directly from a model.

  1. “I don’t want to be a programmer”

Below is a screen shot of the script I used to create the table with the carpet tiles I illustrated earlier.  No doubt at first glance an architectural designer could be turned off by the interface.  Give me Sketchup he or she says.

Grasshoper Script

The interface does take some time, but keep in mind that building an object parametrically gives you the ability to create an enormous amount of design iterations simply by moving graph mappers and slider bars.

2015-02-18_14-45-09 2015-02-18_14-43-57 2015-02-18_14-41-47 2015-02-18_14-40-35 2015-02-18_14-39-55 2015-02-18_14-39-11 2015-02-18_14-38-53

Additionally you can optimize your building design using Computational Design Iterations with Galapagos.

  1. “There’s no community”

With the advent of the internet and meetups exploding, this is no longer the case.  Grasshopper has its own community website at www.grasshopper3d.com.  Additionally in Colorado, we have created the Rocky Mountain Building Information Society (RoMBIS)  Boulder/Denver Meetup.  We recently hosted a discussion around the topic of “Construction and the Utilization of Parametric Technologies”.

RoMBIS Boulder RoMBIS Boulder (NYL)

In conclusion, I believe that there is a vast amount of resources and processes that we in the greater Colorado area have not even begun to scratch the surface on in the context of parametric modeling and Building Information Management.  I would like to invite you personally to come geek out with us at one of the RoMBIS meetups either in Boulder or in Denver.  Our meetups provide food, beverages, and knowledge.  Through your participation, we as a community will have a greater influence on the direction of our society and our industry.

 

 

The Year of the Advocate

If you haven’t noticed, the AIA has rolled out a new campaign titled the “Year of the Advocate”. (I can hardly blame you if you haven’t IMG_3774noticed). We receive multiple emails a day from National AIA, Advocacy AIA, I Look Up AIA, AIA Colorado, and various others depending on which lists you are subscribed to. However, I feel that this specific email regarding Advocacy is more important than the others. The mission of the campaign is to get AIA members involved in advocacy efforts and hopefully donate to ArchiPAC. Before you write this post off, bear with me. I want to explain why Advocacy is so vitally important to our profession. It is arguably one of the greatest benefits of the AIA membership. If you aren’t sure why advocacy is important or why ArchiPAC needs your money, I hope to help explain that.

Three Reasons Advocacy is Important

  1. Advocacy affects you (all of you!) It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do or where you work. The Advocacy branch of the AIA helps to reach out to elected officials (national works at a national level, states work at state legislature levels) and support those politicians that support architecture. If you own your company, if you care about the high cost of student loans or if you design energy efficient buildings, Advocacy should be a priority.
  2. Advocacy efforts and ArchiPAC are bi-partisan. If you are anything like me, you have followed the news closely and it seems that America may be more partisan than ever as well as the politicians that represent us. This is not true for ArchiPAC. ArchiPAC donates an equal amount to each party and its candidates. It is not about Republican, Democrat or Independent. The support goes to candidates whose views align with the legislative agenda of architects.

Wait… What is ArchiPAC? ArchiPAC is the federal Political Action Committee of the AIA. Fundraising occurs every year and then the money is dispersed to support leaders who support architects. It is important that we have a PAC because that is how support and awareness is raised in the Hill in DC. AIA is not allowed to donate to campaigns so ArchiPAC is funded solely through its members.

  1. Influence = Ability to Shape Our Profession. There has been one President that has been an architect. AIA Advocates aren’t asking all of us to run in the next presidential election, but sitting on community and local boards helps to create architectural influence within our communities. Architects should be sitting on Planning Boards, Infrastructure Committees; whatever it may be in your community. We are experts in our field and have a responsibility to share this expertise with the rest of our community. Not only does the community benefit when we share our expertise but architecture as a profession benefits when we are recognized as valuable and relevant. This is easily done when architects get involved in the community and helps the community to understand what it is we do.

Like most efforts, this takes a grassroots approach. Not everyone can donate a lot of money. Not everyone has the desire to serve on a local committee. The first step is figure out what you personally feel is important and advocate for that. When we all step up and advocate for the profession together, we are a stronger profession.

Speaking Numbers 

We all know money speaks. As of November 30, 2014, ArchiPAC raised $276,142.70 with a total of 1,610 contributors. (http://archipac.org/) There are 85,500 members in the AIA. Imagine if we all just donated one dollar? Even more than the dollar amount increase, can you imagine how much awareness would grow if every member donated a minimal amount? Influence comes in many forms. Money helps. But recognition is where the influence lies.

If you are now feeling inspired to support the future of the architecture profession, please make a contribution to ArchiPAC today.     http://archipac.org/

If you aren’t sold yet, feel free to reach out and ask me about your doubts.

Advocacy is important. Donating and volunteering may not be your thing. But I challenge you to reach out to one person today that may not know anything about an architect and ask them why they think architecture is important. You might just be pleasantly surprised in their answer, if they don’t have an answer take a moment an explain it to them. Just by spreading the word, you have supported the “Year of the Advocate”.


Information from http://www.aia.org/advocacy and archipac.org

Disclaimer: Under federal election law, all contributions must be from U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Contributions to ArchiPAC are not tax deductible. Federal law requires political committees to use best efforts to collect and report the name, address, employer and occupation of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year. Amounts are suggestions only. Contributions are strictly voluntary and do not affect AIA membership status. Corporate contributions are prohibited by law. 

Comic Relief

cartoon_birds

I find myself in the middle of winter, deadlines looming on the edges of every week with bigger piles of drawings and details to get done. The sun isn’t out long enough, the days are cold and snowy, and I can’t skip out to go ski down the mountains with all this work to do! I was finding myself a bit overwhelmed the other day and was trying to figure out where my normal laid-back, “sure, I can do that” attitude had run off to. And then I realized, with all of my attention on the production drawing work to get done, I wasn’t spending time out of my chair to socialize and enjoy the company and laughter of others.

Creative people need comedy – edit… everyone needs comedy. And laughter! And it’s so important to bring humor in from all sources because it helps us dissect information and then learn how we truly feel about a design or situation without the stresses that we tend to place on ourselves. But if you’re like me, and you’re a sole-proprietor or spend most of your day working quietly by yourself, it can be really difficult to truly experience the much needed comic relief that can break up the intensity of a typical work day. So I thought I’d share a few of my outlets that help me stay on track with my attitude and have a good laugh.

1. Draw things that are funny to you. They don’t have to be funny to anyone else. I like to keep a small sketchbook near me just for sketching out crazy ideas for some new invention or sketching out something I found amusing. It keeps your drawing skills sharp and on a day when you’re not feeling as motivated as you’d like to be, it’s a great pick-me-up to flip back thru all the silliness. If someone else does go thru your little drawings, and they laugh at them.. guess what… you’ll laugh too!

2. Photoshop. Over lunch some time, make a copy of the 3D image you’ve been staring at for the past 2 months and add a giant cat to it. Or maybe even 3 cats… and Godzilla. If a project is making you cringe every time you see it, do something to make it fun again to at least get thru it. If it makes you laugh, you’ll push thru the project. If it makes your co-workers laugh – they’ll come in with you to get the project done.  Note: keep the humor light – especially in a professional office setting.  Cats and crayons are all ok, but making an image of your boss’s head being rammed thru with the Burj Khalifa Tower is a good way to get fired.  Just sayin’…

3. Go out for a beer! Sometimes all it takes is a little socializing and sharing the woes of our profession to make us realize that we’re not alone in our efforts and sharing stories is good practice for how we talk about projects.  This is especially true if you invite the clients that you’re working with on the project.  If you have a laugh with a client on a regular basis, they are a client for life.

4. Have a 5-year-old tell you the recipe for macaroni and cheese.

5. Use your vacation days.  A Friday off here and there for a long weekend makes a huge difference in our attitudes and ability to be receptive to humor.  Taking one day off could lead to weeks of more productive and overall pleasant work atmosphere which will vastly out-weigh that day off.

Really… I’m just trying to say, remember to have fun!

 

Christy Riggs, AIA, LEED Green Associate |  308 LLC