All in the Details

Or lack thereof

Lately I have found myself grousing to other architects, contractors, my husband – well basically anybody – about how much I am missing drawing details.

Many moons ago, when I was but a wee intern, projects never reached a contractor without the detailing worked out. I can remember one of my first tasks was to pick up redlines on a sheet of door details. Door details? People really need those?

But now? Clients seem more interested in getting the price they want than having completed drawings. Perhaps as we’ve moved away more and more from hand drawings and into computer modeling, people do not feel the need. If you’ve drawn it in 3D, how many details do you really need?

I can recall the contractDOOR DTLSor on the very first project I was a part of commenting that he had not seen a set of drawings with that many details. Just the cabinet detailing alone occupied six or seven sheets. However, I cannot recall the last time I drew a cabinet section for a project.

Not that we need to. Instead of detailed shop drawings coming from the millwork shop, we get whatever elevations and plans the shop’s CNC software produces. And somehow, we’re supposed to review and approve what’s being built based on just that.

Maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy. But I did tell one of the contractors I work with that the next set would have everything worked out before he even thought about starting construction. Cabinet section. Door details. Moulding profiles. Everything right there on the sheets for everyone to see.

And hopefully someone will actually look at them.


Too Gay?

As if that’s really a possibility

Just looking at the title of the blog, you would know I don’t make a lot of bones about being a gay architect. Especially the gay part. I’m out to clients, contractors, vendors, etc. And no apologies.

However, once in a while I think to myself: “Too gay?”

I had a moment early this morning during a site visit. The weather was a balmy 25 degrees, and in my own defense, I was in a heavy denim coat with a sweater underneath. Clothing I was sure would be warm enough.

Except I was wrong. Because 25 degrees is 25 degrees.

My client shows up dressed much more appropriately, but he likes to be outside and knows what to do for this type of weather. I, on the other hand, consider staying at the Radisson camping.

And then the moment comes when he tells me I really need a hat because you lose most of your heat out of the top of your head.

“I don’t look good in hats.”

Really? That’s my excuse?

Did I just say that out loud?

Could I have sounded any gayer?

Probably not, because he clocked me pretty quick:

“You can fix your hair later.”

Trekking South

And not of the sci-fi variety

I think we’re getting old.

For the last five years, we’ve been heading to Key West the week after Christmas to spend some time in the sun, wind down the year, and get ready for the next.

Isn’t that something old people do?

Not that I would call us snowbirds as we’re only there for a week. And this was the first year where it was significantly colder in Texas than in Florida.

But this was the first year we were asked by everyone if our trip was still on. “Is Key West okay?”

After the hurricane, we watched like so many others to see what had happened in the Keys. What you saw of course was the devastation in Marathon.

Not that Key West didn’t have some issues. Trees down. Power out. Minor flooding.

Yet by the time we arrived (and even before), the cruise ships were dropping off hordes of people to wander Duval Street. Which means hearing an amazing array of languages passing you by as people headed to the Southernmost Point.

We did notice some shops and galleries from the past had gone away. And some new ones taking up residence. Another candy shop opened on Duval. Disastrous for those of us with a sweet tooth. (Good news for my dentist!)

And the hurricane certainly didn’t affect Christmas or New Year’s at all. La te da Guest House had the full-on Christmas display going, as did a lot of the houses around the island.

Subtle, isn’t it?

And the big red pump was ready to drop Sushi on New Year’s Eve like clockwork.

So the snowbirds were able to do the usual. Eat, drink, and sleep. Then rinse and repeat.

And of course, make our reservations for next year.

And We’re Back!

So much for regularly scheduled programming..

For anyone who has figured out how to blog weekly, much less daily, then kudos to you! And can you tell me how to do it?

For the past few months I’ve been telling myself I needed to write a post. Write a post. WRITE A POST!

But that didn’t really work. With all the other normal architect things happening (construction , documents for another client, and trying to work out an addition on a site with an angled property line) I found myself pushing off any writing. Besides, I was frantically prepping to speak in Virginia. Wasn’t that enough writing?

Which means here we are in December with me finally taking a breath to think about what to write. And what not to write. I even had an incident the week of Thanksgiving that I thought would make a great post.

So I would say hang on to your hats, but I don’t know many people who wear hats anymore. Hang on to your man-bun perhaps?

The Big Gay Architect is off to the races. And this time he’ll try not to wait so long between posts!

Morning on the Serengeti

Just Part of the Herd

For the last 5 months, I’ve been dragging myself out of bed at 5:00 so I can be at the gym by 5:30. (Okay. Not every day. But most days. And certainly not during our cruise.) Never in a million years did I think I’d be doing that. My last trainer would be astounded since I refused to do cardio when we worked together!

However, after two years of stress eating, something had to be done. I looked like I’d been stung by the world’s largest bee.

Now every (most) morning(s) I hop on the treadmill and walk for 30 minutes. That’s right. I walk. I don’t run. I don’t ever see myself running unless being chased by a clown with an ax. And even then I’d have to think about it.

But I do walk. Yet inevitably, I find myself surrounded by people who run. Most of whom don’t even warm up. They just hop on the treadmill at that god-awful hour and crank it up.

And I start getting that feeling.

You know the feeling. Like you’re the wounded zebra in one of those nature specials that everyone knows is going to be picked clean, and all around you are gazelles. The only thing missing is the lion chasing you and that annoying British announcer.

My favorite gazelles are the ones who hop on the treadmill and don’t really make noise. Like they’re kind of floating above the treadmill somehow just lightly tapping the surface with their feet.

Unlike me, who when I run do in fact sound like that wounded zebra. Clopping along. Desperate to keep up. Like I’m about to pound my way through the treadmill.  Wheezing like an asthmatic freight train.

Nevertheless, there I am. Almost every morning. Joining the rest of the herd. Looking out across the Serengeti.

And keeping my ears open for a British accent.

Finally Gay Enough

Although it wasn’t that big of a stretch

Never in my life did I ever think – “I’m just not gay enough.” – until my former partners and I became a member business of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. In the 6-1/2 years we were members, we were approached multiple times about becoming a certified LGBT Business Enterprise. After all, we were woman-owned. Why not LGBT-owned?

Because as fate would have it, we weren’t gay enough. Which is the response I would give every time I was asked – feeling a little like Dr. Evil telling Scotty he was the Diet Coke of Evil. Just one calorie. Not gay enough!

And before you say: “But Larry, you’re more gay before 9 am than most people are all day” (and a special thanks to Will & Grace for getting that little nugget stuck in my head) – I would like to go on record as saying I had nothing to do with not being certified. I was plenty gay. It was getting my other two partners to switch teams that was the problem – especially the married one with two kids.

But now it’s official.

I’m certifiably gay.

Last month, Spotted Dog Architecture was recognized by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce as a certified LGBT Business Enterprise. Which makes me one of only ten certified architecture firms. 1 of 10.

Where did everyone else go?

Of the estimated 90,000 members in the American Institute of Architecture, there are how many hundreds of firms represented? Yet there are only ten of us certified.

Not that I’m going to make too much noise about that. I’m fine being one of ten firms available to the NGLCC’s 140+ corporate partners looking to fulfill supplier diversity needs. And I’m fine being recognized this year in front of 1000+ attendees at the NGLCC business and leadership conference.

But I know I’m not the only one this gay. So feel free to join me.

Assuming you’re gay enough.

A little bit about the Q&A

First Impressions

So what does the intersection of queer and architecture mean?

For starters – I’m an architect. Have been for nearly 20 years. I’ve been an employee and a business owner. At the moment, I’m working for myself after over 8 years with two partners. I have to say I’m enjoying the change. Sure, my boss is kind of a dick sometimes, but he let’s me leave early or come in late if I feel like it.

For seconds – I’m gay. That I’ve been doing for a lot longer than I’ve been doing architecture. But I think that’s a given. I’m married to a very patient husband. It’s been a little over 3 years, and it only took 18 years together before we were finally hitched. So if you’re doing the math, that’s a little over 21 years. As I like to say – longer than some of my parents’ marriages.

I’ve always been out at work. Even at school. And I don’t know that I’ve seen that as an issue. However, as I became more involved in the LGBT community, I realized how isolated I’ve been in the profession. I often joke that I’m the only gay architect in Dallas. (Not true, but we’ll get to that in another post.) At least it feels that way.

The Big Gay Architect Blog will talk about queer influence in architecture. I’ve heard people say that they’re architects first and gay second, but I think you can’t be gay and pretend that has no influence on you as an architect.

Some of the posts will just be about architecture. Some will just be about LGBT issues. Others are going to intersect. I won’t always get everything right so don’t expect me to. And I’ll probably be on the wrong side of opinion from time to time. But come on the journey with me, and let’s see where we end up.

Larry – The Big Gay Architect