Thursday, December 31, 2009


2010 is the year of the Tiger in the Chinese calendar, of course it starts a little later than the traditional Gregorian calendar. This is my year, the year I was born was Tiger, so every 12 years my life goes on an uptick! As the economy comes around and people are looking for an architect, I think that the seeds will have been spread by then, next; reap the rewards.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The tightening of our belts is going to create a recession mentality much like my grandparents mentality during the Great Depression. Like my in-laws, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, surviving famines and minimal food distribution, our immediate future will be scaled back to ensure we retain some wealth and wait for a real catalyst to propel us forward. It might be a environmental, further economic, or man-made event, but I think that something like that will make us more efficient and leaner as a nation. I don't want to see a world war to get us out of this like after the great depression, or the Cold War escalation of spending in the 80's, but more like a huge green revolution to create jobs and export our technology to the world, not us importing everything, only exporting our money.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Conatus is a term used in early philosophies or psychology and metaphysics to refer to an innate inclination of a thing to continue to exist and enhance itself. This is a term that should be used on a daily basis about what we do to improve our lives.

Monday, December 28, 2009


The definition of a recession is to recede or use or have less. We have to learn this lesson so that it is not repeated again. What are we doing as a country to embed this message in our lifestyle?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New(old) Cars

What can be said about the new(old) car movement in comparison to architecture? These are both equatable to how we look to the past for inspiration, remaking cars, movies, fashions, etc. from a time we look at at being historically pure. What is same with the new(old) car movement and architecture is that we should be keeping with purer, simpler forms in building and revising the interiors to how we live now. The same has been done in the auto industry with re-imagining old styles of cars, stripping out the old interiors and replacing them with the contemporary interior finishes and modern electronics. This is a portion of what drives me to simplify the design of houses and look to the great houses of the farm era.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Logo Design

I have retained a graphic designer to re-brand me and get the whole website and cards, etc. tied together. I look forward to the design process and seeing what an outsider thinks how I should portray myself.

Small Houses

This is a great article about the disparity of architects and what clients want in terms of style and size. This type of article only reinforces that there is a need for smaller houses, unfortunately progressive architects don't want to look to our history for examples.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Loving the city

One of my favorite bands, Saint Etienne, love to love their city, London. Having been there only once for under a week, I was totally enamored with the place. I can understand extolling the virtues and stories of metropolitan areas. As much I love cities, I have not been able to express it musically. Otherwise, I love cities and extol their opportunities when talking about architecture and the suburbs, obviously as a counterpoint to where we currently live. There are many other artists, movies, and other art forms for the city scape, but there aren't similar items for the mall-ified sprawl-burbs. There are some stories about how bland the existence is, but not a same amount of love expressed to the city. Am I in denial about how much I love the suburbs and can't find a way to exploit the developer spawned growth?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Wishes

To quote Lucy, "I want real estate!" What else could a struggling architect with grand visions dream of receiving? Supposedly housing starts were up in November across the nation almost 9%, and nearly 14% in the Northeast. These numbers seem great, but I believe that most of the construction is still of the low quality, high volume type that helped us enter this economic fiasco. I am begging Santa, friends, relatives, Congress, the President, anyone to donate a piece of land to begin my modest architectural vision. There have always been jokes about real estate in the past, but I am trying to get past the earthly possession portion of Christmas, and move onto something that will satisfy year round and give jobs to the construction industry. So, let's see who is going to step up to the plate, or will I get coal in my stocking once again?

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Civil War to World War II, The Tall Era

Land expensive, Materials and Labor cheap

World War II to 9/11/01, The Big Era

Land cheap, Materials cheap, Labor expensive

21st Century, The Precious Era

Land, Labor, Material expensive

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Does the oppositely affiliated political party occupy each others architecturally political space?

I postulate that the city centers that are more regularly portrayed as liberal bastions are in fact capitalist, libertarian civic structures as opposed to the conformist, socialistic, suburban developments that are inhabited by conservatives.

Suburban developments are over-wrought with rules and regulations about colors of shutters and roofs, height of grass, parking locations, uniformity of house design, very fascist. Does this amount of control and lack of spontaneity entice conservatives, attempting to veer away from neighbors with different expressions of their idealized home life? The lack of hierarchy in the street system is analogous to a communist government, all roads are equal.

Cities are a often gridded, landscape where each block is an opportunity to create a unique identity and major arteries create a pattern in which to navigate said city. The grid is a capitalist idea due to the equality given to each parcel and the chance for the owner to make of it what he or she wants.

Codes are mandated in each area, but the level of expression is higher in cities, this is akin architecturally to the economic policy of capitalism, making what you can of your plot of land. Using your money and land to build and design an outward expression of your concept of home compared to the lack of options for the suburban development where less choices is less intimidating to the majority of Americans. House after house of the same undercooked design, uniform construction details, and communal living because of "home-owners" dues, to clean the streets and garbage that the municipalities would rather go without doing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


While listening to the Flaming Lips latest album, I believe the overall statement is one of uncertainty. It might be why I haven't been listening to it. It is a great album, but I think because of the economic situation, I have listened to it less than any other Flaming Lips album. It is making me fear the future. I think it is a reaction to the previous admistration placing fear into us on a daily basis. The title of the album is "Embryonic," and it makes sense to not know about tomorrow as a baby or a child, but to keep improving and expanding your knowledge, not to cower in fear of the world. I am trying to learn this lesson while I start my branch of architecture, the beginning is unknown, and that is what is thrilling! How am I going to define my own future?! Embracing the uncertain future is quintessential Lips. I think I have more to learn from them about planning a future, but not being a slave to the present, embracing uncertainty and the will of the planets!


Just every once in a while I find a written item or verse that drives me to get further in life. One is a fortune cookie saying, "Don't wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it." Another is from a horoscope: Where will you be at noon, five years from now? Then this verse pushes me rather hard when I know more is out there: "Every day there's a boy in the mirror asking me...What are you doing here?..Finding all my previous motives...Growing increasingly unclear." This line is from the Kings of Convenience, a Norwegian, modern Simon and Garfunkel. I am not casting aspersions on myself for using these as pick-me-ups, but having a plan, making your own way, and not being satisfied with the status quo are notions that push me to improve my life. The only negative is that there no signs or signals about the recession that keeps the architecture industry in the doldrums. If we collectively work to improve the built environment, then each of our jobs becomes more relevant and our talents will be recognized for the positives we bring to the table.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Red Light District

Not what you think, but the sprawl-burbs are a cluster of stop lights that townships are hard pressed to stop. The townships want development, but the developer wants their own entrance and marker to a shopping center. These continuous sets of red-lights are a testimony to growth without a solid master plan on the part of municipalities. Creating a vision for development that fits within the constraints of a master plan will yield a much easily navigated township. Now that there is time to handle the developers, due to the recession, I believe that smarter, greener, more walkable communities will be the trend in a new urban fashion.

Friday, December 11, 2009


During this downturn in the economy, I have been desiging small, traditional houses that will meet the housing needs of the 21st century. Working with realtors, landscapers, builders, and financiers, I believe that a new style of development and infill will be the next wave of construction. Interested in how and what we are doing? Drop a line and let's get some ideas going.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Reading so many other blogs and news stories about what makes us feel good, I find them dominated by food, clothing, shopping, and technology items. These topics are great and we need and use them. The depth of time that is needed to create great design and construct comfortable homes is beyond the reach of the internet age attention span. How can we as architects, designers, planners ever hope to reach this level of attention for our profession in the digital age? I work with clients that respect the process of architecture. We create a homes improve and mesh the love of food, clothing, shopping, and technology. A great Kitchen and Dining Room to gather with family and friends. A warm and secure residence where our clothing and shopping purchases are properly stored and displayed. Integrating technology into dwellings allows us to seamlessly introduce the latest elements in a subtle or unnoticed manner. Television shows, magazines, and news stories can encapsulate the above concepts into the same amount of time or printed inches, but there is an enormous disparity in the true time of work involved. As a child, shows such as "This Old House" would take an entire season for a renovation or addition, over a dozen shows for the work to be completed, documented by the change of season on the show. Compared with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," an entire house is razed and another constructed in an hour, condensed from only one week or less of work. The lackluster design results of the "EM:HE" only underscore our impatience for architecture of value. This immediacy is rewarding for the residents, the network sponsors, and the viewers, but cheapens our industry.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


To be a citizen in this country, we are called to volunteer. This is something unique and special to our country. Being involved in the Historic Commission is a small step, but the millions of us that don't give one hour a week to a cause are weakening our communities. The members of the board of Upper Uwchlan Township are so appreciative of me stepping up. That pat on the back encourages me to do more. I love the feeling of being involved brings to learn about the world around us and the big picture of what we can do while on this planet. Showing our children the time we dedicate to organizations will illuminate how we can be productive members of society and spur them to be involved in years to come.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


While reading the Three Little Pigs, a parallel with contemporary building is readily apparent. Building quickly and without regard for the Big Bad Wolf of the economy, heating bills, or maintenance, we have ignored the lessons we preach to our children. Quality of construction and quantity of materials is what we are learning to change during this recession.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Historic Announcement

I am happy to announce that I am now going to be on the Historic Review Board for Upper Uwchlan Township. It is a small step, but this is the way to affect change in the built environment! I am excited to start on this committee next week and the challenges that await us in the new year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beatle Architecture?

As pop music has skewed away from Beatle-esque melodies and verse-verse-chorus styling to a mish-mash of dance, hip-hip, guest singers, and expensive production values, the same path has occurred for most home building in America. The bigger footprints, more details, more floors, more garage doors mentality has ruled for the last fifty years. Similarly to music, residential architecture has recently collapsed upon itself due to the over abundance of everything. More maintenance of the houses, larger utility bills, and bigger rooms to furnish has pushed homeowners beyond their means to support it. Similarly, music also has collapsed under this weight of excess every decade or so and reinvents itself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Native American Architecture

When looking for "traditional" American house shapes, one that is easily forgotten is the longhouse. This simple gable-ended rectangular form is a touch stone for the simplicity that we have turned away in the design world. The simplicity of form allow for a respect for the Earth as observed by Native Americans. Reducing material consumption for both our homes and our lifestyles is fundamental to this lifestyle. In the digital age, we need less stuff. We should be doing more with our increased wealth, helping less fortunate, and tending to the planet. Can it be that after 500 plus years on this continent that the Europeans are beginning to respect the land and act in a "green" way that was practiced for centuries prior on this land?