summer break


Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there, not a care in the world…

What does summer mean for an architect – a solo practitioner? What does summer mean for architecture?

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Personal level
I am a solo practitioner and through what some call madness, I’ve established my office in my house (a separate distinct area). This means a few things that I’m still perfecting more than twelve years later.

First of all, it has to do with family. I love architecture, but there are two special people that are infinitely higher in importance. One is my best friend who still makes my heart swoon, the other is the only person on Earth that calls me daddy and he’s my best bud.

My family is home for the summer and are often around during the day (my son is out of school, my wife is a teacher). This affords opportunities to do things we normally cannot do during the school year. We can do the occasional things that make life worth it. Chance lunch outings, breakfast with friends, take off early and just be together for day to day things and three meals a day not just dinner together.

Our routine has flexibility to it. Yes, I can bend my schedule from time to time, but then working extra in the evening or weekend doesn’t feel bad because of the experiences sprinkled throughout the days and weeks rather than compacted into one week or one vacation. We do go on vacation though.

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Professional level
Pennsylvania has a building season, even though we find ways around it. I find it satisfying to see my work being built which generally happens in warmer weather. It’s also nice not to be standing in snow at a job meeting.

This leads to starting new projects in the summer. Let’s say that measuring buildings in the cold is getting more difficult as life goes on. I enjoy not being distracted by cold weather when I’m doing tasks outside of the office.


Being with family, being out in the community and seeing buildings getting built, altered, renovated and improved makes me aware of the impact architecture has on people. It raises my awareness that architecture is for people and how it ‘works’ is ultimately most important. When I can observe people having positive experiences in various places, I look to see what the architecture contributed to it. Architecture can be a background element, but it’s very important to creating that environment so those moments can happen.

Summertime might allow people to be outside more (out of architecture) but the opposite is true. People move in and out more often so the link must work. Connections between interiors and the exterior can be most understood in the summer.

Now put down your phone, put down your tablet, get up from your chair and go outside. Be with someone not something.

Happy summer.

Below are posts of what my friends are doing this summer. Please take time to read and interact with their posts today. #architalks

“Bob Borson – Life of An Architect
Architectural Bucket List

“Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture

“Marica McKeel – Studio MM
Summer Break = Extreme Architecture

“Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
Summer Break and Aunt Loretta

“Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC
Vacationing with an Architect

“Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design
Summer Getaway

“Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design / The Missing 32% Project
#Architalks 10 – Give me a Break!

“Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect
#Architalks 10 – “”summer break””

“Amy Kalar – ArchiMom
Summer Break

Architect: Gift or Curse?

“brady ernst – Soapbox Architect
The Education of an Agrarian Architect

“Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect
Summer Vacation

“Tara Imani – Tara Imani Designs, LLC
A Brilliant Summer Break

“Eric Wittman – intern[life]
summer break [or] summer school

“Sharon George
Summer Break #ArchiTalks

“Brinn Miracle – Architangent
Summer Break

summer break

chasing windmills


Change the things that matter most to you, or at least give it your best try – right?

A few things came up this week that got me worked up – as usual. I admit I vented. I have to be evasive about the details for the sake of propriety, but that doesn’t dilute my point as I share my story. Despite what you may think, my thoughts are solely on architectural matters. I stay out of other news stories.

I admit, I’m a stupid idealist. I wrote about idealism is an attitude before too.

I’m a rather easy going person, but a personal pet peeve is hearing others complaining regularly to everyone but the one who has the power to make a change or reconcile the relationship. This is the purpose of Facebook by the way. There is a professional, intelligent way to influence change; there is a whiny, entitled way to try and it will backfire.

I’m not looking for false enemies in my illusory perception of those around me, but I might be chasing after a system that won’t change on account of me. I am dissatisfied with several aspects that affect the architectural community in my world. They won’t be changing any time soon – if at all. I’m quite aware of that. However, as opposed to some that I talked with this week, I’m not content to throw my hands up and say ‘oh well, that’s too bad.’

I’m also not going to leave.

Things are changing in the larger architectural community. We’re seeing changes in equity, journey to licensure, and perception of our profession. I might not advocate for your cause, but if you are working appropriately to influence changes in the things that matter to you, then I applaud your efforts. There’s nothing worse than quitting and you’re entitled to nothing.


Change can happen, and there are effective ways to accomplish it. Whining won’t get it done but I can empathize with your bad day or week or month. Turn that frustration into energy and motivation. Make your voice heard.

In 1997, several other young professionals (including me) were dissatisfied with the local AIA’s representation of our place in the profession in Pittsburgh. We weren’t being ignored, but the focus was elsewhere. We may have expressed some emotion, but we channeled it into a Young Architect’s Forum and were embraced by our local chapter. I went on to be the co-chair until 2003 and it was quite successful. (I continued from 2003-05 as Pennsylvania’s State Liaison to YAF National). All of these years later, it has evolved into a thriving YAF that has gone farther than I could have imagined it and farther than I could have taken it. Most of them probably have no idea who I am. Either way, I’m proud of how they’ve carried it forward.

Where does that leave me?

The two situations of my week that need to change may never change. I will try to effect change with one it’s important (it’s local). The other I can honestly ignore, but if they invite my observation and opinion, I will share it professionally but honestly. I can’t stand to sit back and watch traditions, policies and processes in place overshadow people.

Tilt at those windmills; some of those battles actually can be won.


photo 1 credit: Bembridge Windmill via photopin (license)
photo 2 credit: The Mill and the Sea via photopin (license)
photo 3 credit: Windmill via photopin (license)

chasing windmills