Oh, I see! How inventive! You've actually stacked the boxes I am supposed to live in!

Welcome to the architectural blog discussing New Classicism, New Urbanism, modern and historical architects, their work and the continuum of Humanism in architecture. You may submit articles for inclusion in this website through email.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Hire an Architect?

Architects are more than building designers—they are men and women who create the spaces in which we live, work and play. Architects are creative problem solvers who translate the requirements of an owner into a three dimensional form by visualizing the design and communicating it, both verbally and in drawings, so that it can be built.

No matter what kind of project you have in mind, you should speak with an architect who is a member of  The American Institute of Architects (AIA) at the earliest stage of the design process.

Licensed by the state to practice architecture, the architect is the only professional specially trained to design the places in which people live and work and to manage all aspects of potentially complex projects from design through construction. Architects must balance multiple requirements in each design: functional, aesthetic, economic, environmental, life safety, and regulatory. Architects have the education, training, experience and vision to maximize your construction dollar and ease the entire design and construction process.
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Architects are the single participant in the building industry most capable of guiding the overall design and construction process to a successful conclusion. They respect the industry’s traditions and train themselves to be masters of technology and change. An architect listens to you and serves as your advocate throughout the project.

Licensure as an architect is the result of a special educational process, rigorous training, and completion of a complex series of exams. An architect usually has a minimum of five years of professional schooling and three years experience in the workplace before becoming eligible to take the licensing examination. Only licensed architects may use the title “architect” and their project drawings should bear the architect’s seal before construction may begin. To check on the status of an architect’s license in Connecticut, contact the AIACT or by phone  203-865-2195.

Value of Working with an Architect 
Architects provide a broad range of services and can provide value at every stage of the design and construction process. By working directly with you and assessing your requirements in great depth, the architect tailors the design to suit your personality, needs, budget, and lifestyle. The architect’s extensive study of design alternatives allows you to choose the design most appropriate to your needs. An architect’s knowledge of site-planning and natural energy processes helps accommodate your project to the site characteristics and neighborhood context. By overseeing construction, your architect helps to make sure that your project is built according to design.

The architect also saves you money and time. By keeping abreast of the latest construction materials and technologies, architects can recommend materials and systems that fit your budget. Your architect provides documents for the contractor bidding process, which should result in a fair contractor price. Construction is expedited through an architect’s careful planning and complete drawings and specifications. The architect serves as your agent with the contractor, resolving disputes that may arise and analyzing additional costs the contractor proposes.

The design aesthetic of the project is perhaps the most obvious area in which an architect makes a unique and valuable contribution, creating a visually appealing place with pleasing character and style. Ultimately, your property’s value is increased through appropriate design, improved functionality, and high-quality detailing. 

Selecting an Architect
You will benefit by involving an architect in your project as early in the process as possible. The most popular, and usually the best, way to select an architect is by interviewing several candidates. You can also learn about reputation and ability of architects in your community by visiting completed projects, talking with clients and users, and checking design awards programs and professional design publications.

A brief call to an architect can help determine if his or her expertise is appropriate to your project. When you find a few with related experience, set up interviews with them to discuss your project and review photographs and other samples of their work. You will then be able to narrow the list and, after more meetings, it will become obvious to you which architect is best for you.

Check the architect’s education, training, experience, and references. Most importantly, however, is good “chemistry” between you and your architect — you will need to feel comfortable with each other and will get to know each other well. Your architect should be a good listener, responsive to your phone calls, clearly interested in your needs, and able to communicate without using jargon. Be patient: This process will take some time and it is one of the most important decisions you will make to shape the success of your project. 

20 Questions to Ask Your Architect
  1. What does the architect see as important considerations in your project? What are the challenges of the project?
  2. How will the architect gather information about your needs, goals, etc?
  3. How will the architect establish priorities and make decisions?
  4. Who from the architecture firm will you be dealing with directly? Is it the same person who will be designing the project? If not, who will be designing it?
  5. How interested is the architect in this project?
  6. How busy is the architect?
  7. What sets this architect apart from the rest?
  8. How does the architect establish fees? When will fee payments be expected?
  9. How will you be able to relate fee payments to milestones in the architect’s scope of work?
  10. What would the architect expect the fee to be for this project?
  11. What are the steps in the design process?
  12. How does the architect organize the process?
  13. What does the architect expect you to provide?
  14. Does the architect have a specific design style? Can he/she show examples of past design work?
  15. What is the architect’s experience/track record with cost estimating?
  16. What will the architect show you along the way to explain the project? Will you see models, drawings, or sketches?
  17. If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified?
  18. What services does the architect provide during construction?
  19. How disruptive will construction be? How long does the architect expect it to take to complete your project?
  20. Can the architect provide a list of past clients with whom he or she has worked?
Information from AIA New Hamphire website

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winsted selectmen vote 'no' on land trust's preservation plan

WINSTED, CT — Townspeople and taxpayers won’t be voting on the Winchester Land Trust Proposal and the $450,000 grant that comes with it, the Board of Selectmen decided Monday night.

 photo by John Nordell on Flicker.com

Coming down to a 4-3 vote, the board decided not to take the next step in the bureaucratic process. Instead, the majority voted to deny the proposal, which would have allowed the trust to protect 360 acres abutting Crystal Lake and the Algonquin State Forest, as well as small parcels along Highland Lake altogether.

“They stopped it in its tracks,” said land trust president Shelly Harms. “I’m disappointed the voters didn’t get the chance to decide.”

“We thought it was a win-win for everyone,” she added.

During its discusssion, members raised a few issues with the proposal which would have cost the town $50,000 over the span of eight years, including a $10,000 fee up front. The remaining cost for the easement would break down to $5,000 for every year following. 
One of the issues the board had with the proposal was terrorism.  
The land trust’s proposal would have allowed for one guided tour a year for outsiders visiting the area — and some board members were worried about allowing people near the area’s source of drinking water.

“I don’t care,” said Selectman Karen Beadle, defending her opinion that water at the lake could be affected somehow. “That’s one day too many.”

“That money — it’s a big number,” Selectman Glenn Albanesius said. “It’s seductive. You’re making a decision for future boards.”

Even if selectmen in future years won’t have to worry about the cost, some of those in charge today said they felt like a golden opportunity was botched.

“This grant isn’t going to come again,” said Mayor Candy Perez, who agreed the proposal may not be perfect, but it was better than nothing. “If we don’t do this...we won’t increase fund balance.”

“This was denied to the taxpayers,” said land trust member Susan Closson. “That was an opportunity as a once in a lifetime.”

Harms said the trust, made up of volunteers, is not quite sure what its next step is or if it will have the opportunity to apply for other grants soon. She also believed the board made a mistake in dealing with its future federal funding.

“I wonder if anyone is going to want to deal with the town of Winchester now,” she said.

Ricky Campbell can be reached by e-mail at rcampbell@registercitizen.com and followed on Twitter at Twitter.com/rickycampbellRC. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/registercitizen.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Sustainable Urbanism Summit - CNU New England

The New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism is proud to be hosting the Sustainable Urbanism Summit on March 17 & 18 in New Haven, Connecticut.

Throughout the chapter's history we have focused on improving the built and natural environment throughout New England. After many years of advocacy and design guidance, we recognize that NOW is a critical time for our region to work together to address our environmental and urban crisis. The Sustainable Urbanism Summit is an opportunity to inspire and connect a group of professionals, public servants, academics and citizens, who together can seed a larger campaign. Innovative thinking about our built and natural environment is needed. If we are to adapt to these uncertain times we must come together swiftly and advance the best ideas for combating our climate crisis and plan for a better, more resilient way of life in New England.

The Summit will address our current environmental, social, and economic issues as they apply to New England. As a group, we will seek to develop new strategies for responsible development in our region. The Summit will provide a platform for speakers and attendees to collaborate on a pragmatic plan to move New England into a new era of progress. Critical discussion topics include the implementation of low-impact infill development and the preservation of natural open space, the reclamation of streets as social spaces, improved mobility and the promotion of healthier lifestyles. Working sessions will explore approaches for providing access to alternative modes of transportation, augmenting local agriculture, creating lifelong communities, and reforming policy related to land use.
Registration for the Sustainable Urbanism Summit, on March 17 - 18 in New Haven, Connecticut, is now open. The Summit will bring together leaders from across New England who are involved in shaping our built and natural environment.  The program of the Summit will provide an opportunity for people to share innovative ideas and seed a larger campaign for moving forward a sustainable land use agenda.  As our economy resets, now is a critical time to lay the groundwork for creating the types of places in which we all want to live and work. 

On Thursday, March 17, Robert Orr will lead the group on a tour of New Haven, a city rich in history and diversity. That evening, Doug Farr and Dhiru Dhadani ( 2011 Seaside Prize Winner) will present a keynote address followed by the Urbanism Awards during a cocktail hour at BAR.  Friday will feature a talented and engaging line-up of speakers who will also take part in the interactive group discussions on Friday afternoon. Multiple technology platforms will be used as a way to capture ideas, maintain connections, and help move forward initiatives identified by speakers and participants.
Please take a look at the Summit website, and pass on this information to other talented people who you think should be a part of this timely dialogue.

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