Guest Post: A Multidisciplinary Approach To Architecture

Partners

Audrey and Alex Worden, recent Boulder transplants and multidisciplinary designers

Is Boulder the new Brooklyn?

I had to ask myself this question after my first meeting with recent Colorado transplants and designers, Alex and Audrey Worden. Co-founders of the Boulder-based design firm, Studio TJOA, Alex and Audrey left their jobs at Enclos in New York and moved West after Alex landed a job with Studio NYL, a progressive structural engineering firm based out of Boulder, Colorado.

With hopes of finding home in a new city with the presence of an emerging design community balanced with a tangible ease of living and creating, in the few short months since their move Alex and Audrey have already become contributors to the design, parametric, and maker communities that continue to grow rapidly both in Denver and Boulder.

TJOA_Lilypad_2

Lily pad by TJOA

With Alex’s background in architecture and Audrey’s education in product design, Alex continues to explore the synergies between architecture and structural engineering for NYL, while Audrey continues to explore design, fabrication, and representation through a wide range of scales and media.

Having both explored alternative career paths than their traditional architecture and design backgrounds might prescribe, Alex and Audrey serve as co-authors of this week’s post, exploring the benefits of multidisciplinary architecture and the opportunities it might provide…

Thanks Alex and Audrey! – Beth Mosenthal, Assoc. AIA

 Guest Post: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Architecture

by Alex and Audrey Worden

Entering the field of architecture requires years of study, beginning with a foundation comprised of core classes followed by a concentration in art and design, culminating with an intensive focus on architecture. Through this process, the general field of vision becomes narrower and more myopic. Following undergraduate studies, designers generally join firms whose focus is not just on “architecture” in a general sense, but rather a specific practice area such as commercial, residential, transportation, healthcare, etc., design. As a result designers tend to become more specialized.

However, what many students of design education are learning is that there are many career paths that can be launched from a design education.

TJOA_ExpressGlam

“ExpressGlam” product design

The skills learned in an architectural degree program are transferable to many different disciplines. These can include engineering, construction, industrial design, animation, fashion, graphic design, or manufacturing to name a few.

With a wider skill set, designers can be more flexible, often finding meaningful work outside of the traditional architecture practice. For example, after graduate school Audrey worked for a few years as an industrial designer for a branding firm, practicing skills in packaging, product displays, digital and CNC modeling, photography, and photorealistic product rendering. This opened up the opportunity to design a perfume bottle. Such a chance is widely valued by designers and architects of all kinds, but it all came about through the skills Audrey had fostered after studying architecture and digital fabrication.

TJOA_LilypadIn graduate school, Alex took a different approach to his studies. In his thesis, he proposed that the textile technique of crochet can be a perfect analog to the digital parametric tools architects have begun to use and explore. Alex then used the skills he developed from his research of integrating textiles and tools like Rhino and Grasshopper to join a facade contracting firm, Enclos. The experience gained as a facade designer has not only allowed him to gain an in-depth understanding of building enclosure systems but see how parametric modeling can aid in the optimization of the whole construction process from design through field installation.

These types of diverse design experiences can influence a designer’s thought process. For example, having knowledge of structure can streamline decisions during initial design phases, thus saving both time and money as the project progresses. Knowledge of materials and fabrication techniques gained from the industrial design field can allow designers to push the boundaries of these capabilities, extend the life of the building, or make routine maintenance easier.

TJOA_GObox_FabTJOA_GObox_2

These facets of the design field can be learned a multitude of ways and for an infinite number of reasons. Specifically, we both deviated from the traditional approach to architecture. By working at a facade contractor, Alex had the pleasure of working on some high profile projects designed by a number of architects. The biggest benefit to working at Enclos, was having the opportunity to work with many different firms and getting a chance to help them realize their designs. By taking a M.S. Arch., Audrey could specialize in digital fabrication instead of the traditional M.Arch approach to a graduate degree. This allowed for a less rigid approach to architecture, while still being anchored in the field.

NYL_Wall_Assembly

Studio NYL Wall Assembly Study

 

NYL_Rendering

NYL Rendering

Our chosen paths have offered us the flexibility to design on a multitude of scales and explore many different mediums. Our diverse work experience has influenced our approach to design and our ultimately our decision to relocate to Boulder from Brooklyn. We both wanted to live and work in a place that is welcoming and has a community that fosters progressive thought and design. The plasticity offered by the skills we have both cultivated has allowed Alex to join Studio NYL as part of their SKINS Group and Audrey to move her practice, StudioTJOA to Boulder and begin working with groups like Boulder-based Live Architecture Network and aiding other firms with parametric and visualization needs. TJOA_HoneycombJust as the decision to go into architecture is hopefully owned by each individual, it should be remembered that each designer can choose how they want to shape their professional career and praxis. It should be noted that a hands on approach to learning the different facets of construction and design can have a more meaningful impact through practical application rather than study guides, flashcards, and exams can provide.Who knows, if you deviate from the path, you might come across something you never would have thought you would enjoy.

 

NCARB’s up to something.

Just when you thought the dust had settled from IDP 2.0 and ARE 4.0….

Just when you had fleshed out your IDP excel spreadsheet…

Just when your office had finally collected all the updated study resources…

NCARB goes and starts changing things.

Sure they are kinks in the system now, but why change? We know intricacies and the red tape to avoid, so why change the system and cause complete chaos!?!

NCARB’s reply? To stay relevant to where the profession is and where it is going. -Fair enough.

Hi! My name is Meg Kullerd Hohnholt and I am AIA Colorado’s former IDP Coordinator. I say former because earlier this month NCARB gave my volunteer position a new title – Architect Licensing Advisor. Fancy, I know!

Yes, NCARB is changing things and after hearing about them at the IDP Coordinator’s conference earlier this month, I am both concerned and excited. Concerned for the process of shifting mindsets to these new changes. Excited to help this process begin.

So let’s do this…

Modified Six Month Rule (Lost Hours – Found!)

You can now get credit for experience hours completed beyond six months! This is great news, especially for emerging professionals in Colorado. Why you ask? Because as of January this year, Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) will only accept experience through the NCARB’s IDP program.

More Frequent ARE Retakes (Oops, I did it again.)

NCARB will now allow candidates who have failed a division to retake the division as soon as 60 days after the previous attempt, up to three times in a running year for any one division. We went from 6 months down to 60 days for a retake. This is awesome news for those who have found the momentum for taking the ARE exams because they can not worry as much that a failed test will push back the entire process for half a year.

ARE 5.0 (Did you say fewer tests?)

Hold on to your smartphone, because here’s the BIG news. Yes, ARE 5.0 is coming and its format will completely change how candidates approach the exam. So remember the ARE 3.0 to 4.0 switch and how most the study materials still aligned to the exam sections and vignettes really didn’t change? This won’t be like that.

First of all, the vignettes are gone. The Dorf book that I told to you beg, borrow or steal for your only hope in passing the vignettes, it can now be used as a coloring book.

Second, they’ve added new question types to the test. You’ll still have your ol’ reliables of “Single Select Multiple Choice”, “Check All That Apply”, and “Quantitative Fill in the Blank”, but now you’ll have prepare for “Hot Spot” (pick a point on a drawing to identify the___) and “Drag and Place” (place the following object(s) on a drawing).

Third big change is there will be Case Studies in the tests. These will be written scenarios with context and resource documents that you’ll be tested on.

But wait!…There’s more..

The final big change is that there will be only six tests in ARE 5.0.

NCARB knows exam transition will be challenging so they sweetened the deal. For those who select to transition from ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0, there is a way to only take five tests to pass the ARE. So should you start planning your transition between the test versions now? Not unless you want to hold off your licensure (and your career) another two years.

ARE 5.0 won’t be launched until late 2016, and ARE 4.0 is going to continue for another 18 months after that (June 2018)! For those starting to test and for those contemplating on when they will start their ARE endeavor, now is the time to dive in while the study materials and the support community (those who’ve recently taken ARE 4.0) is there for you!

More Changes are Coming!

These are just this fall’s the hot topics. Stay tuned because it has been proposed that   IDP will get an overhaul too.

The Art of Failing

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 8.45.39 PM

This past week, I was tested on many levels. Our Path21 office was moving across town (I was the “moving coordinator”), I had an important meeting with an out-of-town client (in the middle of the move), and I was waiting for my ARE Schematic Design test result, while preparing to take Site Planning on Saturday. It was one of those times where everything was moving at 100 mph and I had to keep up.

The great news is that I passed the first exam, which makes that three for three. The bad news is I did not pass Site Planning. It was my first fail when it comes to the ARE’s. This isn’t unheard of. In fact, a lot of people fail. My first instinct was to be very upset with myself. I ran through all of the typical thoughts. “I didn’t give myself enough time to study.” “If I can’t pass this one, how will I pass the last three?” “I just can’t fathom studying for this thing again!” I know this negative conversation I was having with myself would lead me nowhere and it was only one exam. My homemade Keurig coffee wasn’t going to cut it today so I decided to get a “fancy” latte and head into work early.         Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 6.10.13 AM

As I was driving, I honestly couldn’t help but to let my mind drift to this exam and the situation surrounding it. I had moved through the stages of failed ARE grief and started to remember a particular scenario when I arrived at Prometric on Saturday morning. The Prometric Testing Center is housed in an office tower and is typically very quiet on a Saturday. As usual, I felt my nerves were so loud that they could be heard. That might be why the other woman in the elevator asked me if I was going to take a test. We started chatting and continued to do so while we waited in line to check in. We discussed which tests we were each taking and how this was my fourth time at this testing center. Typical to how many people react when I tell them I have to take not one but seven exams, she reacted in awe and with a little bit sympathy. Just as soon as she had let this sympathy linger between us, she retracted it and said, “Well I suppose if you are going to be designing the buildings we are all in, I would want you to have gone through a rigorous process.” This statement is why we take the ARE’s. This statement is also the reason that I was finally able to cope with this fail. Failing one of these doesn’t mean that I am inadequate in any way. It doesn’t mean that my degrees have failed me or that I am going to have to go back to school AGAIN because I can’t cut it in architecture. The ARE is a measure of our ability and knowledge to be responsible for the health, safety and welfare of our fellow citizens, friends and family when designing the built environment. And that is an immense responsibility.

As much as passing or succeeding is a great feeling, failing teaches us just as much, if not more. We work within a profession where failure is common. We may fail to get short-listed, fail to get selected for that career-altering project, or fail to get the perfect job with the perfect firm. Herein lies the art of failing. When this occurs, the only way to move forward is to learn from these failures and adjust our portfolios, resumes or study habits for the next time.

Among other things, Malcom Gladwell has written about failure. He asks, “What do the forms in which we fail say about who we are and how we think? We live in an age obsessed with success, with documenting the myriad ways by which talented people overcome challenges and obstacles. There is as much to be learned, though, from documenting the myriad ways in which talented people sometimes fail.”

 

 

 

Emerging Professionals’ 2014 Exhibition .. Getting Your Work Out There

Donahue, Cheng, and Lemke's accepted 2014 submission

Donahue, Cheng, and Lemke’s accepted 2014 submission

Just a quick post to highlight  work currently on exhibit in Washington, D.C. featuring Emerging Architectural Professional’s design work.   I’d recommend architects/architectural interns in the Colorado area check out the exceptional work their peers across the country are designing, researching, and building, with potential hopes of inspiring future submittals for next year’s 2015 exhibition…

http://www.aia.org/careerstages/annual-exhibition/2014/index.htm

The exhibition is described by the AIA as the following: “The American Institute of Architects, Center for Emerging Professionals sponsors an annual exhibition of architectural work, art, and designs of emerging architectural professionals across North America. This annual exhibition promotes the compelling work of the rising generation of architects and designers and inspires professionals to continue to mentor and engage the many talented and motivated emerging professionals across the country.”

This year, Colorado’s own Katie Donahue, Assoc. AIA, Yandy Cheng and Mason Limke are featured for the “Pulp Wall” they designed and fabricated while at UC Denver.  The 2013 exhibition featured an impressive (2x) accepted submissions from Brad Tomecek, AIA.

A submission typically consists of project boards (2d or 3d) as well as a submittal form and a release for imagery to be waived.  Stay tuned on the AIA’s website for 2015 submission dates if this peaks your interest…

MOST RECENT PORTFOLIO Katie Donahue Page 006

No IDP record? Submit NOW or LOSE!

Are you putting off applying for your architect license in Colorado? Well NOW is the time to apply!
Effective January 1, 2014, NCARB’s IDP will be required of all Colorado applicants for original licensure. This means that if you haven’t been using IDP to log your experience hours, but have completed the required amount of experience for DORA, you better submit soon so that you are approved to test before January 1st!  If you are not approved to test before that date, you’ll have to submit your experience through IDP.

This is going to be upsetting for folks who have NEVER logged in their hours in IDP because they will “lose” all their prior experience and have to start over logging their hours in IDP.

Now I realize that’s a LOT of acronyms in the statement above. So let me break it down further….

There are essentially 3 things you need to become a licensed architect.
ncarb1) Education
2) Experience
3) Examination
This issue focuses on Experience and Examination, and for more information about the whole process of becoming a licensed architect, click here.

Currently in the State of Colorado, if you’d like to apply to take your architectural registration exams (AREs), you need to prove your work experience or that you are on your way to getting the required amount of work experience.

  • One way to do that is through the National Council of Architectural Registration Board’s (NCARB’s) Intern Development Program (IDP).
  • The other is through submitting your experience directly to the State of Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). This direct option WILL GO AWAY at the end of the year.

Now how does that relate to “losing” prior experience?
Say you have a M.Arch degree and have been recording your experience hours on paper (or in an excel spreadsheet) for the past 3 years. Okay, then say you wait to submit your experience for licensure until next year, 2014. As of January 1, DORA will not allow you to submit your experience via paper and pencil, only by IDP. So you start logging your hours into IDP, only to find out that IDP has a 6 month rule that only allows you to log in experience as far back as 6 months (actually 8 months, but that’s another blog post). Now you have just “lost” 2.5 years of experience! You will have to wait that amount of time in logging additional experience in IDP in order for you to prove you have the adequate amount of experience to apply for initial licensure in Colorado.

So if you’ve been thinking about getting licensed and applying with your experience directly to DORA (i.e. without IDP), NOW is the time to get the paperwork submitted! *I write this in bold and italics because come next year, I’d really, really, REALLY would like to avoid getting angry emails from applicants saying they were not told about this transition. In fact, the transition was approved in early 2011…2 years ago.

DORA

Below is a Frequently Asked Question from DORA’s website describing the process for this direct option.

Q: Do I have to go through NCARB and IDP to get my experience verified?

A: No, IDP is not required now. However, you must have an NCARB File Number in order to take the ARE. You may apply directly to the Colorado Board without going through the entire NCARB IDP process; however, all applicants are required to apply online at http://www.ncarb.org to set up a NCARB record and obtain a NCARB file number. In addition, you must meet the Colorado experience requirements pursuant to the NCARB IDP training requirements (refer to Board Rule 4.4.1). Be aware that many states require completion of IDP for licensure and may not award endorsement or reciprocity licensure without it. Information about IDP and states that require it is available from NCARB’s website. If you decide to apply directly to the Colorado Board, complete the Application for Original License by Examination.

Effective January 1, 2014, NCARB’s IDP will be required of all Colorado applicants for original licensure.

For more information on this, please contact me!
Meg Kullerd Hohnholt, AIA, NCARB
AIA Colorado State IDP Coordinator
idp@aiacolorado.org