When the ideal does not equal the real

By Lee Calisti, AIA Posted on August 8, 2013

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Lee’s personal blog, think | architect, and re-used here with his permission. Imperfection is not a concept I am comfortable with…at all. I’m well aware I cannot attain it; in fact I’m not sure I can define it. However, I don’t like it all the same. Architecture and imperfection is not (are not?) a pair that you would expect to put together. Imperfection can show up in many aspects of our profession from our design process to our documents to the final built work. Recently I was asked a question by a contractor regarding my drawings which happen to be quite detailed. I swallowed hard when I found out that I did not specify...

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ice Cream Sandwiches

A recap of AIA Convention 2013

By Raymond Bowman Posted on July 11, 2013

Editor’s note: While you may have noticed that Columns has already featured Ray exploring his experiences with the AIA Convention’s Keynote Addresses, we are highlighting him again with a recap of the 2013 National Convention in Denver, where he talks about the classes, the Expo, and the city. Any and all opinions expressed are those solely of the author. Classes The AIA Convention is probably as well-attended as it is primarily because of all of the classes that are offered. Sure the Expo is impressive, the keynotes are inspiring, and the opportunity to network is unmatched by any other event, but the classes are really invaluable. Professional architects need a certain amount of “continuing education credits” (CECs) in order to...

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Apple, Patents, and Trademarks

By Raymond Bowman Posted on March 13, 2013

My interest was piqued by a piece in the news which said that Apple had trademarked their store design. The trademark includes such comically broad terms as “a clear glass storefront surrounded by a paneled facade” and “multi-tiered shelving along the side walls” (1). If you do any work in retail, you’ve likely done a store that would fit this description. Several, probably. This month. My immediate outrage at this dovetailed nicely with the simmering angst I feel about Apple having ridiculous software patents, such as the patent that gives them sole dominion over rounded squares. It needs to be noted here that patent law and trademark law are separate ways of protecting two different types of intellectual property. Patents...

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Another Pittsburgh Gem

This transplant is wowed by "Imperfect Health" and the Miller Gallery

By Becky Spevack Posted on February 14, 2013

When I was in art school, my college held a course that focused on the life and works of Andy Warhol.  After spending a semester learning exclusively about this 20th century icon of pop-art, the class culminated in a trip to The Andy Warhol Museum to survey his archives.  This may not seem like a very big deal; after all, The Warhol Museum is right across the 9th Street Bridge from Downtown.  But I went to school in Providence, RI, so this endeavor involved a multiple-day trip across half a dozen states, all to learn more about Andy. At the time, I had never been to Pittsburgh, nor was I planning a trip in the near future. Suffice it to...

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The Village

One architect's look at mentorship.

By Sean Sheffler, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Posted on January 29, 2013

As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, something I’ve become all too aware of in the past eighteen months. My wife and I welcomed a son in 2011; it’s been a life-changing experience, in ways that we never expected. We knew, going in, that parenting was going to be a huge responsibility. Turns out, we were wrong — parenting is an enormous responsibility, and I don’t just mean sleepless nights and dirty diapers. We’re in the process of creating a person; in doing so, we  have charged ourselves with teaching  our son  right from wrong, good from bad… in other words, making sure that he becomes a decent human being. It didn’t take us...

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With Gratitude…

Finding balance in the whirlwind of life

By Becky Spevack Posted on November 19, 2012

My days are overwhelmed with diapers and demands, reading stories and make believe, laughter and lullabies. I am a full-time, stay-at-home mother to two and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but some days I feel like my brain is about as substantive as the mush I am feeding my 10 month old son. I am also the editor of these pages, of AIA Pittsburgh’s online magazine, Columns. While my work schedule is nowhere near as disciplined as I would like, relying largely on the napping trends of the aforementioned babes, sitting down to my laptop and getting lost in this world is a welcome reprieve, a chance to continue to put my art and design background, as well...

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For the Joy of Architecture

A tribute to an amazing mentor

By Mark Dietrick, AIA, LEED AP Posted on November 1, 2012

Over the past several years, you undoubtedly have read (both here in Columns and in other industry journals) about the significant challenges facing the profession of architecture. The unprecedented economic downturn has had a devastating impact on our profession. Many are questioning our ongoing relevance causing much pessimism about our future. Many baby boomer architects are beginning to retire while a shrinking number of young professionals are seeking accreditation. Simultaneously the industry is becoming increasingly more complex, causing a significant need for the effective mentoring of young architects so that they will be able to step up and take on the many challenges.  To help meet the ever growing complexities of projects and the demand for more efficiency in project...

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Observations… and A Few Suggestions

An inside look at the jurying process

By Anne J. Swager, Hon. AIA Posted on October 10, 2012

Many years ago, I was tortured for a number of months by an architect who insisted we had to standardize the graphic presentation of the notebooks that everyone submitted for design awards.  He was convinced and remained so, no matter what I said, that the jury members would be unduly influenced by a flashy graphic presentation.  I never saw any evidence of that then anymore than I see it now. I had another architect tell one of his employees that if I didn’t like a project I could influence the jury to not give an award.  Again not true.  Juries are extremely independent. While I am flattered that anyone would think I have that much power, even if that was...

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With Sadness and Celebration in Mind: Thanks.

By Anne J. Swager, Hon. AIA Posted on August 2, 2012

In a city still plagued by pay-to-play and machine politics, it almost goes without saying that many of our best leaders are not in elected office. This past weekend, we lost one of those individuals. Mark Schneider was killed in an accident doing what he loved best, riding his bicycle. By now, many of you will have read the accolades of what Mark contributed to the city as a developer and as a volunteer. His contributions were indeed numerous but most notably he backed projects which took great vision and grit to pull off. We take Washington’s Landing and Summerset at Frick Park for granted now but when Mark was thinking of them and advocating for them, the majority of...

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Bypassing Architects? Confronting Change in the Information Age

By Mark Dietrick, AIA, LEED AP Posted on July 18, 2012

Several weeks ago, the New York Times published an article that highlighted computer programs that can help owners bypass architects and questioned the wisdom of such an approach.  While our first reaction as architects to this concept and many of the ideas represented in the article is likely absolute abhorrence — architecture is a process that only trained architects may orchestrate — I have spent the last couple of weeks pondering what we can learn from this story and generally what it might mean to be an architect in the information age that is radically transforming our world. Most importantly, I don’t think we can simply ignore it and pass it off as just a small percentage of “DIYers” and...

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