Architects and Designers: Spot the Difference

Residential Architect or Residential Designer?

A fellow Chamber member was surprised when I told her that Texas does not require an architectural seal for residential projects. (And I say that broadly, as I’m sure some jurisdictions might, depending on the type of project. I know Dallas would be fine if I left my seal off the drawings.) She simply assumed to design houses you needed to be a licensed architect.

Nope.

I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve seen project drawings from designers, design associates, designs studios, etc. Some good. Some not so good. Some really not so good.

Not to disparage designers. I know several people who despite having an architecture degree simply do not have a license for one reason or another. One person, in particular, was designing very high-end homes in Dallas and California when I was still in high school and could draw circles around some of the best. However, because he never completed his exams, he spent his career unlicensed.

Except after 40 years of practice, I still considered him an architect.

A licensed architect will typically possess a master’s degree in architecture; have completed a multi-year internship; and sat for and passed a series of exams administered by their state architecture board.

To be a residential designer, you simply call yourself that. You can have zero education. Or a degree. Or simply experience in one drafting class and you can hang out your shingle.

For the residential client, one must hope that the designer they hire is cognizant of building codes and various ordinances. That they understand structure and how buildings really go together. Know what an energy review requires. Or just have insurance should something go wrong.

Which means any client must do their homework and not be afraid to ask some basic questions:

  • Where did you graduate from?
  • Are you licensed and what’s your license number? (Any architect should be able to rattle that off in their sleep!)
  • How long have you been working in residential design? (Important to ask because not all architects are comfortable with residential projects. The head of one of the largest commercial practices in Dallas hired a residential architect for his home because he only knew commercial design.)
  • Are you insured?

And if there are any doubts about any of those answers, there’s always Google and the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners.

Because, as I told my fellow Chamber member, anyone can call themselves a residential designer.

Literally.

Anyone.

 

 

A19 Conference Experience

A’19 in Review

There are two things I try to do every year as an architect, professional, and firm owner: 1) speak at an architecture conference; and 2) attend the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) annual conference.

Since 2010, I’ve been a session presenter at conferences in the Midwest, South, and along the East Coast. And since starting my career, I have attended numerous incarnations of the AIA’s Conference on Architecture. Unfortunately, I did not make the 2018 event in New York, which some helpful wag managed to schedule the same week as the Pride celebration in Manhattan.

However, in the last nine years, speaking and attending have occurred exclusive of one another. Until this year.

For the A’19 Conference on Architecture, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on LGBTQ+ presence in architecture titled The Silent Minority: LGBTQ+ Voices in Architecture.

And like every session before this one, I had the usual moments of panic and doubt:

Will I be able to remember what I’m talking about?

Will anyone attend? (I’ve had attendance as low as 10 people. Surprisingly, that turned out to be on of the better sessions.)

Who will attend? Particularly for this session. Would people be willing to attend and potentially out themselves to their colleagues?

Will the audience participate in the discussion?

And like every session before, the presentation went well.

We had a larger than expected turnout and a more diverse group than anticipated. We made the straight architects stand up and be recognized, and a surprising number did so.

The panelists were well-spoken and engaging as was the audience. I’ve sat in numerous panel discussions where the panelists talked – and no one else got a word in. However, we were able to engage the audience members and take in their perspective on the subject.

And we even received a nice write-up on the AIA’s website: https://www.aia.org/articles/6161023-raising-lgbtq-voices-in-architecture?tools=true

Perhaps this year being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the conference occurring at the start of Pride had some influence on attendance and even acceptance of the program by AIA’s review committee. That’s hard to say. However, no matter the reason, we were able to present the session and have a positive experience.

Would I do it again? Yes. Will I continue to speak if given the opportunity? Yes. Will I continue to attend the national conference? Of course.

And hopefully moving forward, those won’t continue to be separate experiences.

 

Big Gay Architect Podcast

What good are plans for renovation when you don’t have a home constructed yet? Well – that’s a good question! As you’ll come to find out, construction and renovation go hand in hand. On this week’s episode, Stephan Sardone and Larry Paschall talk first-time industry experiences, construction, and the difference between kitchens and bathrooms!

Stephan Sardone, founder and owner of Sardone Construction, has been in the construction industry for almost two decades. In 2010, he formed Sardone Construction, a design-build firm located in Dallas, Texas where he has built a reputation for efficient designs, high-quality craftsmanship, and great customer service.

He believes that remodeling a home begins with a commitment to customer service before, during and after construction and he strives to exceed customer expectations in every facet of the construction process.

Stephan achieves this by helping clients realize the vision for their home and make wise decisions during all phases of design, development, and construction.

“I’m here to help advise and consult. With a lot of listening, discernment, and asking good questions… we can help our clients focus their thinking and prioritize. what they desire most.”

–Stephan

 

LISTEN here:

 

No One Said

I’ve been corresponding with an architecture student for the last few years following a chance meeting at the AIA conference in Orlando. He’s involved in a co-op program, so he’s been working off and on while pursuing his degree – well on his way to becoming an architect.

Except his most recent e-mail indicated his career trajectory was taking what most people would consider a turn for the worst.

At some point this past fall, during his study abroad semester in Germany, he reached the conclusion that he really didn’t want to be an architect. That despite his best efforts, architecture is not for him.

Did I mention he graduated in May?

I’m not sure how his parents are going to feel when he makes that announcement. However, I must give him props for not completely freaking out the moment he had the realization. Four plus years of school and work (or more) only to realize you should be doing something else? Most people would be devastated.

Except no one said he has to be an architect.

And that’s the hidden secret behind an architecture degree. So many opportunities are available that don’t follow a traditional architecture path. Off the top of my head I was able to mention three people I know that do anything but architecture with their degree.

Furniture design. Set design. Stained glass art. Videography. Business development. Computer animation. All are possible with an architecture degree.

And the list goes on and on.

If nothing else, he’s created a mindset that will see the world in different terms, no matter what he decides to do. He will appreciate the beauty of the environment he is in. And hopefully, his architecture background will have an influence in whatever he decides to do.

Besides, no one said he has to be an architect.

Although I’m sure his mom and dad would probably appreciate it.

All Things Gay – All Things Architecture

There is something to be said for new beginnings, and I am thrilled to launch this next chapter for myself, and for Spotted Dog Architecture.

There is something to be said for new beginnings, and I am thrilled to launch this next chapter for myself, and for Spotted Dog Architecture. Throughout my career, friends and family have asked me questions that while I may not find that interesting, they do. That taught me something: folks must really dig what I do. So having podcasted in the past, I revisited  the idea of creating a new, fresh approach to chatting about all things architecture, through the eyes of the gay architect.

When we were in the development stages of the podcast, I really had only one request: it isn’t dry. I, myself, have listened to a number of architecture podcasts, and have snoozed a few minutes in. I really wanted to create something that people both inside and outside of the industry would enjoy listening to, and find it both informative and interesting.

We have lined up a phenomenal guest list of folks that will join me every other week that are in some way related to architecture – both directly and indirectly. Realtors? Yup. Interior designers? For sure. We’ve got window folks and lighting gurus, contractors, photographers and students.

And so it begins.

For this first episode, I thought it would a good idea to lay the foundation for why I wanted to start the podcast. So I invited on Waylon Tate, my publicist, who continued to push me to launch.

Check out our chat below & provide some positive feedback. Be nice. 😃

The shameless promotion stuff discussed in this episode.

My publicist: Waylon Tate of J. Waylon & Associates

Waylon’s realtor: Hunter Dehn of Hunter Dehn Realty.

The Road to Renovation Redux – Part 9

Still Married

As we’ve been getting closer to the end of our project, James and I have been reviewing everything that’s transpired since last November. We congratulate ourselves for making our way through without ending up in a psych ward or at the Betty Ford Clinic, forced to participate in primal scream therapy with Lindsay Lohan!

I have shared some of those events in previous blogs (James’ temporary assignment to London.  Our hectic travel schedules during construction.)  However, one item has been omitted until now.

In mid-October 2013, we decided after nearly 18 years, to fly off to New York and get married at our friend Will’s on our anniversary date – November 3rdWedding RingsWe certainly didn’t know at the time that we’d be kicking off a year of stress.  A year of moving residences three times, moving offices once, saying farewell to not one but both of our basset hounds, and traveling what felt like the globe.

However, we’ve managed to accomplish one feat above everything else (and no, it’s not staying out of Betty Ford!).  We’ve managed to stay married.

Multiple articles in the LA Times, Huffington Post, and the New York Observer have been written about home remodeling ending in divorce.  And most of us have probably seen The Money Pit (or for the older readers, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House).  However, James and I went into our renovation with what felt like two advantages: 1) 18 years of being together; and 2) Having experienced this before where we actually did some of the work.

Not that the first time was all hugs and kisses.  Anyone who has been through a renovation can tell you how personal the experience and outcome are.  But when you’re swinging the hammer that’s hanging up drywall, you get really invested in the process.  Yet, as much as we both at times wanted to accidentally have a hammer slip, we made our way through and ended up with a Kitchen and Living Room we enjoyed for nearly 10 years.

And we expect to enjoy this renovation just as long if not longer.  We’ll move in the 10th and start settling into the more normal marital stresses – like having James’ parents in from Colorado for Thanksgiving.

Luckily this year we’ll have a proper guest bedroom and bath, and a kitchen big enough for more than two!

Take a moment to follow Spotted Dog Architecture on Facebook and Instagram.

The Road to Renovation Redux

So Close

We are coming “down to the wire,” moving in on November 10th, and I keep thinking to myself: “We’re so close I can taste it.”

Or maybe that’s just the acid reflux from being so stressed.

Having a “client experience”

I have definitely been going through what I would categorize as a client experience with this part of the renovation.  Along with the excitement of finishing our house and being home again has come a surprising amount of stress.  In the last post, I talked about the little things that keep cropping up, and here we are with completion just around the corner and our list seems to be getting longer.

We did have a productive (if not somewhat expensive) couple of weekends crossing some of the things off of our list.  So we’re making progress. Granted, some of what we’re thinking of doesn’t have to be complete for us to move back in.  However, that does not mean they can be left undone.

Stress as a client now colors my perspective 

As an architect, I can’t say I’ve ever been through this with a client.  Certainly not from the client’s side.  Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty to do as the project wraps up, primarily making sure the final construction issues are addressed.  But I’m beginning to think the stress of that as the architect pales in comparison to what the client is going through.  No doubt this will color my perspective moving forward.

Popping in to see the contractor

And I’m pretty certain my contractor Stephan is having this experience too.  Especially when I pop in after having been at the house with items that could be addressed during the final walk through.  Yet why not get them taken care of now?

So if you see me on the street or at the office looking a little frazzled and distant, please don’t be offended.  I’m just a little preoccupied.

And one more day closer to finishing up.

Oh, I can taste it alright.

Does anyone have some Tums?