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Architecture Studio Vignettes | Life of an Architect

Did you know that our office closes at noon on Fridays? This is a policy that has been in place for years – one that I think everyone really enjoys. While it seems like a drag working 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Thursday, most people are pretty happy skipping out of the office to enjoy an early jump on the weekend. This was the case this past Friday when I found myself alone in the office for several hours. Most of the time I use the peace and quiet to minimize the work that I would have to do over the weekend … in this case, I decided to take some photos so I could write this very particular blog post.

Malone Maxwell Borson Architect's Studio

Our office has grown to 11 people and we are at max capacity at the moment. I was up at the office working on some billing, the most exciting sort of work to stay late for, and I started thinking about how the personality of our office is really starting to round itself into proper form. I’ve talked about how important the culture of a firm is and as much as I’d like to think I have something to do with shaping it, I don’t actually think that’s true … it’s the 10 other people in the office doing what they feel comfortable doing. Maybe my contribution is simply getting out of the way.

Malone Maxwell Borson Architect's Studio

We had a film crew in the office earlier in the week and had spent some time trying to straighten the place up a bit … this is what “straightened up” looks like.

Malone Maxwell Borson Architect's Studio view Bob Borson's Desk

I sit in the far back corner of the office. In some ways, I think this is the best spot (as I should since I’m the one who laid the office out and “assigned” myself this seat). I have plenty of room and seem to expand out in all directions to fill it up. If you look closely, you can see that I have a bunch of framed accolades sitting on my desk just leaning up against the wall … don’t know where to put them. My desk isn’t as exciting as it used to be, you are more likely to find its surface adorned with 3-ring binders and spreadsheets over trace paper and sketch tools.

Architect's Desk - Benching System and magnets

At the end of each person’s workstation, you will find magnets and cards that are mementos from projects and the vacation trips of people. It has become a bit of a tradition that when someone takes a trip somewhere, they’ll pick up something for the people left behind working in the office. A few of us has made this memento an image magnet, on the far right, you can see my additions from my most recent trip to the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, and the image of Mt. Desert Island in Maine from this summer.

What's on an Architect's Desk - sketches 01

About 1/3rd of the desks had process sketches on them, but I didn’t want to put those images in this post without getting permission. This is a sketch from my desk – generated a few weeks ago for a fairly significant addition renovation project we have underway to a Robert A. M. Stern house here in Dallas.

Architecture Studio - metal shelf of awesomeness

Of course, my favorite part of the office was the addition of the “Metal Shelf of Awesomeness” earlier this year. Whenever I look back to this wall prior to the addition of this shelf, I have a hard time wondering why it took so long to put it into place.

Architecture Studio - metal shelf of awesomeness

Not only does the shelf give us a place to display the models that we make (as well as get them off every horizontal surfaces in the office) it gives those of us who aren’t on the window a place to hang up valuable sketches and “other” important pieces of … stuff.

Architectural Drawings with Post-It notes

One of the projects that seems to absorb the most attention in the office, is the addition and renovation of a 1.35 million square foot, 42-story office tower. The drawings for this project are substantial and keeping track of everything is no small task in and of itself … we’ve been using a few more Post-it notes than ever over the past few months.

Architectural Drawings with Post-It notes

Everybody is getting in on the Post-It note action.

Architectural Redlines

We also have loads of as-built drawings. This is the handiwork of one of our employees and I couldn’t NOT take a picture of this. This particular associate has a very specific set of skills … being thorough and typically being right. I don’t have the words for how he processes his site measurements, but it makes sense to him and that’s good enough for everyone else.

Architectural Model - Oak Grove

I mentioned that we had a film crew in the office last week, although that might not actually be correct as it was one person (can 1 person be a crew?) Over the past few weeks, I have been interviewed on-site at one of my projects, gone into the studio for some voiceover work, and the final piece of the multimedia extravaganza was the 1-person film crew that came to the office to shoot some “B-roll”. Any guesses as to the things that received the most attention in the office?!?

It was the models … but of course, you knew that. Everybody loves architectural models

Conference Room Whiteboard

Finally, there is the conference room … a room that I don’t particularly like. I’m a big fan of the floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall magnetic whiteboards as they are incredibly functional. What I don’t like is the table and the lack of cable management. If you ever come to my office, don’t ask me about it unless you want me to be in a bad mood.

I’m sure my co-workers would be a little creeped out at the idea that I was walking around their workspaces with my camera taking pictures of their stuff – which for the record, I did very little of that … but none of them read this blog since they have get to deal with me every day.

Bob signature FAIA

011: An Architect’s Salary

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