Category : Intern Meg’s Diary

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

autograph anyone?

Can I get your autograph? This was the last thing I thought I would hear as an intern at Randy Brown Architects.

A few months ago we began work on the Take a Seat project for the City of Omaha. It was a non profit project but I realized these projects may be the most fun and creative.

We spent multiple weeks fabricating REBAR and last week it was finally installed. (There are multiple blogs that go into greater detail about the design process and fabrication – here, here and here).

Thursday was the day of the Take a Seat dedication. As an intern this was a great experience to see how people reacted and interacted with the bench. The most frequently asked questions during the installation process were “what is this” and “is it comfortable?” The same questions were asked at the dedication but this time people were able to test it out. It was interesting to see how they approached it. Many were shy about where to sit at first because they did not think it would be a comfortable experience. But the unanimous response was, “This is surprisingly comfortable.”

Since we were able to fabricate REBAR ourselves we constantly tested the angles and spacing to make sure it was suitable to sit on. This is one of the benefits of self fabrication because the designed looks sweet conceptually but without actually testing it as we were building it the outcome could have been undesirable.

Overall, I think the design turned out pretty awesome. I know we have at least two fans. While everyone was walking around all the benches a couple came up to the bench in awe. They were so pleased with the design they asked us for our autographs.

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

design in cd’s

Monday and Tuesday I spent editing sheet and drawing files. Since we made multiple changes to the design, I needed to update the files. First I did the plan redrafts and then I went into the sheet files to change notes and dimensions.

Many of the techniques used during the revision process were comparable to the fall semester of our fourth year were we first created construction documents. My experience in school and RBA has made me realize the design process continues to evolve throughout the construction document phase. Before, I the assumed the design phase was complete before work started on the construction documents.

Kobe is an excellent example of how construction documents continue the design process. I joined the project after the schematic design was already completed. But as you can see from the previous images of Kobe it has come a long way. Many people believe design development is the only phase where the project advances but Randy encourages us to continue to design while working on the construction documents.

For instance, Randy said “I don’t like it when designers want to hold off on construction documents because they don’t think the design work is finished. This is the phase where we begin to dig into the design details that evolve the project.”  I agree with this statement because during the construction document phase problems are discovered and solutions are found.

Wednesday afternoon we reviewed the Kobe drawings with Randy. We discussed details that needed to be resolved and used previous projects to find solutions to the detail issues. Chris and I decided to make a list of goals that would help us stay on schedule. From working in school and other offices, I found making a list is the best way for me to stay on track. It keeps me organized and gives me an idea of what needs to be accomplished before the end of each day.

Friday night Jon and I tried a Stokes Mexican restaurant in the Old Market.  It had a great menu of authentic Mexican food. Since the weather was much warmer than last week we were able to walk around the Old Market after dinner. Saturday and Sunday we rode our bikes around the area. It is great being able to ride around Omaha.

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

roof design, really?!?

Once again the focus of the week is the Kobe project. We are starting to resolve the design more and more. Along with that comes drawing revisions. Monday’s time was used on updating the design and drawings. Chris was in charge of the 3D Rhino model while I took over the Auto CAD drawings.

Tuesday I started cleaning up the drawings with all of the changes to the design. I want to be sure the plan, roof plan, and site plan lined up with each other.

Wednesday Randy and Chris met with the mechanical engineers about Kobe in order to further the design process. We were given the mechanical units sizes which helped us determine the location of the units. Also one of the developers request was to hide the mechanical units so it gave us a better understanding of parapet heights and ceiling heights.

Friday I spent most of the day researching and updating roof plan drawings. I did research to figure the number of and size of the roof drains.  Last semester in studio we did a building code study and my professor showed us how to find codes. This background knowledge helped me find what I was looking for faster.

Friday night, I picked up my two sisters and cousin from the airport. The last time they were in Omaha was about twenty years ago so they didn’t remember anything about Omaha. That night we headed to the Old Market for dinner. We ate at Stokes, a western food restaurant. The food was great and quite different from the ordinary chain restaurant.  I would consider this area to be similar to the Landing in St. Louis because of the original restaurants, cobble stone roads and the atmosphere.

Saturday morning we headed back to the Old Market because they wanted to check out the farmers market. By the time we made it the market was closing; so I decided to show them the Pedestrian Bridge. Since the weather was only in the low 50s, nobody was on the bridge. After nearly being blown away on the bridge we returned to the Old Market and went through the shops. Until Saturday, I did not notice the small clothing stores. We did some window shopping for a while. Later that night we went back to the Old Market for dinner. We ate at Rock Bottom Tap. I would recommend this place to anyone that visits Omaha. The food was amazing, the atmosphere was awesome, and the service was great. Overall this was a great weekend and I was able to try some new restaurants in the downtown area.

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

comparable to a professor

Monday morning we discussed the design changes. It was decided the design did not meet the project’s concept so we took a step back to figure out what was not working. We each put forth ideas about what we liked and what was not working for the design.

This is the exact process used in studio. A student will come up with a concept and discuss it with the professor. The professor will give feedback about the design and help the student create a presentable design.  Randy is comparable to the professor, giving us ideas that steer us back on track. When a student is caught up in a detail that doesn’t work, the professor will assist them with finding the solution.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I updated all the drawings to match the new design.  Changing drawings is a common task used in studio and the other offices I worked at. Since I only used AutoCad for drawings, I must go into every drawing sheet and change dimensions, materials, and details myself.  This may be one of the most time consuming assignments.

Randy received the US Data video from Assassi on Friday.   My job was to find out where and who was in charge of publishing videos on different websites.   After that was completed, Randy asked me to write a marketing page for RBA. I was not sure where to start because we never discussed writing marketing pages in studio.

The weekend kicked off with a bike ride. Jon and I only rode twelve miles on Friday. Jon was having some bike issues so we decided to ride to the Bike Rack to have it looked at.  The one problem with riding to the Bike Rack is the hills. It felt like uphill both ways. It was a good ride none the less.

On Saturday May 1st, Jon and I went to the Old Market farmers market. The Old Market farmer’s market started this Saturday and is held every Saturday until October. It was a fun experience and packed with people. This was the first farmer’s market I have been to in years. Downtown St. Louis has a huge market in the Soulard area. Although Omaha’s was much smaller it was similar to the St. Louis market.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday Jon and I rode the Big Papio trial to Keystone. On Saturday we rode about twenty two miles. Sunday we decided to ride further on the Keystone trail for about twenty six miles.

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

AND grease traps!

The week began with an office meeting. Randy discussed our progress on the various projects and the website.  Jon will begin conceptual designs for the Boys Club Play Structure as well as work on other small tasks.  I am still on the Kobe project with Chris. The design work of Kobe is still in process. We are at the point between design development and construction documents.

For the first part of the day I completed some of the busy work such as adding notes, details, and dimensions to the drawings. Later that afternoon Randy reviewed the drawings with us. We discussed the site plan and the changes.

The next few days I worked on the site plan. Drawing a site plan at RBA was very different from a site plan at school. There were issues such as drainage, dumpsters and grease traps. These small issues seemed to be overlooked during studio. I did not think they were very significant before, but now I know if these issues are not properly resolved major problems will occur.

Thursday and Friday I worked on elevation studies. The elevations are still unresolved. Randy, Chris, and myself were not pleased with the design. There was nothing remarkable about the design so I started to explore other options.  This practice was extremely similar to studio.  Many times during studio I would create multiple options of elevations and concepts until it fit the design.

Over the weekend I went to Manhattan to gather up my summer clothes.  While in town, Jon and I decided to explore Manhattan’s bike trails with friends. We started the trail behind the Wal-Mart and rode for about sixteen miles. During my two years at K-State I never realized there were bike trails. I hope to use trails regularly next year.

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

I vacuumed !!!

Monday’s target was finishing work on the website. Over the weekend, Randy went through what Jon and I completed the week before. He placed the images he wanted into a final folder. I had to crop and resize images to fit the web requirements .

Working at RBA has given me a completely different understanding and appreciation for websites and website creation. The time spent searching for images, descriptions, and drawings was unbelievable.  There were so many files in so many locations. Some of the files were on the network, some on CD’s, and others on the external hard drives.

I gained knowledge about organization and documentation that I never learned anywhere else. At Latona Architects, I worked on projects but never on a website or publications. International Architects was a fairly small firm with around ten architects. I printed multiple publication projects but was never involved in the process. I was always intrigued by the publications but never valued the time and effort it required.

Tuesday was spring cleaning day, something which has been put off for too long.  I’ve been waiting for this day since I started work here. The studio was dirty because the winter snow brought in salt, sand, and mud. Everyone had to pitch in because there were only four of us working in the office. Chris and Randy took care of the random papers around the office, while Jon and I vacuumed, dusted, and organized. My duty was the vacuum, which happens to be my favorite cleaning tool. I have to admit I am a messy person but do not like dirt. Vacuuming the studio space, conference room, and lower level took up most of the day.

The rest of the day was used to document all the RBA studio computers, tools and electrical equipment. Randy realized, since it was so easy for someone to steal tools from the shop, he better document all the studio equipment.

The remainder of the week was spent on Kobe. Revising drawings and making changes to the elevations was essential.  The Kobe project has two phases, the shell phase and the interior phase. The schematic design is complete and we begun design development along with construction documents. With the Kobe project I have learned the importance of design development. Design development was used last semester in studio but I never fully understand the reasoning for it until this week. The design was mediocre and nothing stood out so we used design development to reevaluate and brain storm solutions to improve the project.

Saturday had the perfect weather for the outdoor activities at the Lincoln Spring. When we arrived, we headed for the downtown area. We did not stay long because it was so crowded. Since I had never been to Lincoln, I did some research on the area. I found a website for a Nebraska Nature Center about fifteen minutes from downtown. As we were driving to the Nature Center we found a Nature Park. There were people having picnics, throwing the ball, and walking. After walking about four miles to the other side of the park we found the Nature Center and trail but it was already closed. I hope to return to Lincoln and walk the nature trail.

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

express the hand

My time this week was spent updating the RBA website. Randy wants the website to express the firm’s capabilities and creativity. My task for Tuesday was to retrieve all of the hand drawing that were scanned into the computers. Randy wants the hand drawings placed as the background images on the website.  RBA has many graphite renderings of earlier projects. Randy’s idea was to Photoshop these renderings to create more dynamic backgrounds.

The Photoshop procedure for these drawings was interesting.  I experimented with the contrast and level techniques to generate dynamic black and white images.  I learned different ways to manipulate an image in Photoshop. Studio experimentation with Photoshop was difficult due to lack of time. The lack of time was mainly caused by giving an inadequate amount of time to the editing phase.

The rest of the week I worked on the website. Jon and I had to find images and drawings of past projects and organize them into the new website folder. The time I spent doing this gave me a clear understanding of RBA’s past. By now I have seen almost every project Randy has completed.

This is different from LaTona Architects because I did not learn about any previous projects. Vince, the Principle, did not dedicate time to photograph a completed project or create a website. Vince did not understand the concept of the internet so he did not think a website was necessary.

After work I went to Kansas City. There I met up with friends for a Kansas City Royals Game on Saturday. It was about twenty degrees warmer than Omaha had been which made it a great day for a baseball game. Even though I am a Cardinal’s fan, it was nice to enjoy the game in a newly remodeled stadium.  The Royals and Cardinals have their similarities and differences. Both are from Missouri and have new or remodeled stadiums.  The fan base in Kansas City seems to have grown because of this improvement. St. Louis, as far as I can remember, has always had a great turn out, even with the old Busch Stadium.

It is sad to say that I have been to the Kaufman Stadium more then the new Busch Stadium, so I still do not have an opinion on Busch Stadium. Kaufman Stadium’s remodel, in my option, is a great design. From what I have noticed since the remodel is the filling of seats. The new stadium attracts larger crowds because it provides more interactive spaces. There are party decks for big groups, larger patios for people to socialize on, and some better design features.  Although the Royals do not have as large of a fan base as the Cardinals their Stadium certainly brings more attention to the stands.   It was fun being in Kansas City again.

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

have to think, sleeping optional

Monday, once again, started with an office meeting. My main priority for the week was the Bisson bathroom renovation.  I showed Randy my renderings I had worked on the passed week. He was able to give me some feedback about the direction I took. He asked that I try to come up with four different options. Afterwards see what worked best and determine the differences in cost. After the meeting, I revised a plan for the Corian shower option. Once I completed this, I called up a consultant from the local Corian retailer about an estimate. I found this task stimulating. By calling and talking to a consultant about a real project made me feel like I was not just an intern. I felt like I was doing a professional job. Talking to a consultant is not practiced in school.  It’s a great experience to learn how to talk to these professionals.

Interning at RBA is not like any other job I have had before. In high school and most of college, I have worked in retail, to earn some extra cash. The difference between RBA and the other places I have worked at is the work. I work really hard at both workplaces, but don’t feel as if I am accomplishing as much in a work day. At those other jobs, I worked but it was a different kind of work. I was always the top employee at these other jobs because I did what I was suppose to and I did it fast. But the work there was simple. It was easy. Here, I have to think. This is not just stocking a shelf, it’s how does the shelf function, what is the shelf made or, how would the shelf be constructed? These and many more questions must run through my mind to design houses, offices, and bathrooms. I must think more in depth about things and show what I have learned from school.  The training process at most retail stores take about 3-5 day, whereas Architecture training may take years, lots and lots I am starting to think.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent in the shop. The goal was to have the bench near completion. By the end of Thursday we were about 90% finished. The process of building this bench is something I have not experienced. This is the first time I have ever used rebar as a building material. It is easier to bend than I would have thought. I enjoy being hand on with projects. I wish there would be more product design and furniture design class available at school. I found it a great way to learn the way materials work and how they can be manipulated.

I went home for Easter weekend. I spent most of the time with my family and high school friends. It was very relaxing. I ate plenty of delicious food.

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

still communicating

There was no office meeting this week because Randy was in New York. He was there meeting with publishers of magazines to present them with the books we had worked on. Even though he was out of town he was still communicating with us through e-mail.

The majority of the day was spent refining the UCLA Alumni Exhibition Board.  Along with the revisions, we needed to send the board to a printer, in Los Angeles, UCLA had arranged.  Issues with this sort of a situation may occur. Since we are unable to review the board after printing we have to double check everything to make sure it will turn out right on the first try. One way I did this was by calling the company and asking them a few questions about their printers. Questions such as, does your printers print a full bleed and what is the file size capacity, are both important.

Tuesday I worked on revising floor plans for Mini Red. This process is a well known practice. A lot of time in Studio is used up on floor plan revisions.  Along with Mini Red, I also worked on drawings for the Bisson Bathroom Renovation.

Wednesday Jon and I worked in the shop on the Take a Seat project.  I enjoyed doing this project.  I started the design phase of this project and now and I am helping with the production phase.  The bench is being made out of rebar. It is very exciting learning how to bend the rebar into forms. I wish there were more product design classes for Architecture students. It would be awesome to learn more about the materials we are using in our designs. By working with the actually materials, I think we will be able to know their capabilities and how to integrate them into the designs.

Randy was back from New York on Thursday.  Through out the day, Randy was sending me new contacts for the database that he collected in New York.  When I was not entering contact information, I was creating a 3D Vis model of the Bisson bathroom.  The 3D model is to show the clients a realistic image of the new design.

On Friday, most of my time was spent on the Bisson bathroom. I brought the renderings from 3D Vis into Photoshop to make them appear realistic. By about 3:30- 4:00 Jon and I were back at the shop. We needed to find a solution for the Take a Seat project. The design was turning out well, but the issue was structure. The rebar was unable to support the cantilevers in the original design. By the end of the day we came up with a solution which is intergraded into the design. Hopefully on Monday we will be able to review it with Randy and complete the bench within the next week.

Saturday was cold and rainy through out the day.  Sunday, on the other hand, was gorgeous outside.  It was 56 degrees with clear skies. Jon and I decided to take advantage of the weather. We loaded our bikes and headed downtown. We have been doing a lot of research of the bike trails. Since the weather was nice, we decided to try out the river walk bike trial. It was really interesting. It runs along the river in both Nebraska and Iowa. We started in Nebraska and then ended up in Iowa for about 4 miles. The most intriguing part about crossing the boarder is the bridge. We cross over the Pedestrian Bridge. It is a really cool experience. From what I could see, the bridge attracts many people. There were bikes, runners, roller bladders, and casual walkers, all across the bridge. From the bridge we were able to bike all the way to the old market area. It was a great ride.  We were able to learn more about Omaha.

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

worry about costs?

The first half of the day was spent in the shop.  Randy was doing some volunteer work for his son’s Boys Scout Troop later in the week. Jon and I needed to move the rebar, from the Take a Seat project, up to the loft and out of the way. After that, we pulled some tools off the shelves because the Boy Scouts had to identify and use them.  Also that day, the driveway received a couple loads of gravel.  Because of the extreme snows Omaha had this year, the driveway’s gravel had been plowed away.  Randy, Jon, and I had to rake the gravel to smooth it out and fill the areas that received the most damage.  The rest of the day was spent in the office.

I received an e-mail from Natural Home magazine about the Twist submittal.  Communicating with magazines is something I did not do at the last firm I worked at. At LaTona Architects, publication of work was rarely done.  It is interesting interacting with publishers about the work that has been done at RBA.

We had the office meeting on Wednesday this week. Like most meetings, we went over the jobs needed to be done, in progress jobs, and upcoming projects. One of the projects I will be working on will be the Bisson Bathroom Renovation. The project was first designed by another architect. The budget of the project is $10,000 and this other architect designed a bathroom that cost $20,000, twice the budget.  Our goal is to bring the cost down to budget, as well as bring architectural elements to the design. Because the bathroom is a small space we are going to use light, bright white to make it feel larger. Another goal for the project is to provide towel, make-up, and other storage areas without taking up much space.

After the meeting I received more revisions for the Bellows Book. The director of the Foundation sent more information and revisions to put into the book. This process of refinement is very similar to the design studios at school. I start with a design and through out the project there are many issues to work out and to be modified. The end result is to create a remarkable design. This is just what we are doing with the New York Books.

Thursday I began the Bisson Bathroom. I began with drawing up Randy’s option of the bathroom design in CAD. After that I started to look up materials and tried to find some rough estimates of prices. This was a task I have not done before. In studio, we do not have to worry much about costs. We are told to consider it, but never actually had to estimate costs. There is a lot more costs to consider then I ever would have thought about. Costs for things such as tile and fixtures are all a part of the project. I think a class where you work on a small project and have to figure out how much money it will cost to build it would be beneficial to students. I feel like if there were classes that taught this type of thing, students would be more efficient in the workplace. Thursday was a great day.

For the first time since I have been in Omaha, the temperature pasted 50 degrees. The high for the day was 64 degrees. It felt great outside, and all the snow, except the giant piles in parking lots, were melted. Since it was so nice out, after work Jon and I went for a walk on the well talked about trials. The trial we walked on was only a couple of blocks from Jon’s apartment complex. We only had a few hours before it was dark so we were not able to walk the entire trail. Hopefully, this spring we will be able to get out and ride the entire trail.

On Friday, the Dwell magazine asked for high resolution images of the Optic House to be loaded up to their ftp.  An ftp is a new term to me. I have never used one until I began work at RBA. The first time I ever heard the term used by another employee here; I was completely dumbfounded. I am glad I have learned about it because we do not use them in school. In the working environment an ftp is a very common thing architects know of and know how to use. We rarely load high resolution images or anything up to the web. I think it would be nice to have a small class to explain some of the real world terminology and techniques. There is so much we do not learn in school. One of the problems is due to the lack of time we have. I feel we have a lot of work as is, but maybe the workload could be organized to incorporate these aspects of the career into our studio projects. It seems we spend so much time to our designs, which are very important, but when we get out in the real world there is so much more to the work environment we just don’t learn in our studios. The rest of Friday was spent looking up more materials on the Bisson Bathroom renovation.

Unlike Thursday, Friday was an awful day. The temperatures had dropped throughout the day. It began snowing before noon and by the end of the work day there were about two to three inches of snow on the ground. Almost all the snow was melted by Thursday and by Friday evening the ground was covered again. But, I can’t say I am not surprised. Since I am from St. Louis, I am used to this kind of weather. I just am not the biggest fan of it after such an extreme winter.

Due to the cold front on Friday, Saturday was cold and gloomy too. Since it was not the best of days to go out, I decided to try out a recipe I have been eyeing for a while, Ravioli Bake and Supreme Potatoes. It turned out really well, surprisingly.

Sunday had warmed up a little bit more then Saturday. Jon and I went to a local nursery to browse around for a while. By the end of the day, I bought a kit to grow snow peas and had it ready to start growing. I haven’t grown anything before, but I have watched my parents grow their own veggies for years. Hopefully some of their gardening skill wore off on me and the snow peas will grow like the packet said they would.

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

concepts and ideas

The week started off with a Monday morning office meeting. We discussed where we were on the database project. I needed to contact Sean, the technical support advisor, about merging the contacts into one large file. We also went over the Metropolis Magazine and the new website. After the meeting, I began work on Metropolis. For the most part, Metropolis was extremely close to completion. There were just minor tweaks to be done. The work was similar to a studio project. At the end of a studio project you make a print and go over all the mistakes you over looked. We did a comparable process with Metropolis. After more revisions, I sent a PDF to Randy for him to review. While I waited for feedback, I updated the website brochure. This task was also parallel to metropolis.

Tuesday I spent most of the day searching the internet for home magazines. Randy wants to send the Twist Residence to multiple home magazines in hope to be published. So, I spent a large amount of my time searching for these magazines and their editors contact information. When I was unable to find contact information online, I resorted to calling the magazines. Later on in the day, Randy had sent me more revisions to make on the Metropolis Magazine and RBA Website brochure.

Wednesday I had one last job on the Metropolis Magazine. I needed to write a project description for the Data Shack. Writing a project description is learned through out school. Our professors are always pushing us in our writing of project descriptions, especially in the last year.  But, we do not get pushed on writing descriptions for someone else’s project. This was the challenge in the Data Shack description. The Data Shack was still in the design phase and I have yet to work on it. The only knowledge I have of the project is from what I have seen from the renderings. This made, what should be a fairly simple assignment, more difficult. Since I did not know much about the project, I confronted Chris about the project. He had worked the most on it. He explained to me the most important concepts and ideas. His input made the description I wrote more in depth them I could have made it on my own.

Thursday I went down to the shop to photograph the progress Jon had made on the bench. Randy asked me to take the photographs and print them off. He was going to take the images to the meeting with the city.

The rest of the work week was spent on the website brochure. Making revisions, sending them to Randy, and then repeating the process until it was completed. It is much like studio projects. The refining process may take multiple tries but the end results will show the hard work.

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

play the clock game

This week was very diverse from other weeks. The objective of the week was to complete the database project. As I mentioned starting the week before, we are helping RBA become more organized with his contact information. Randy has hundreds and hundreds of business cards all around the office.  Our job is to take the business cards and enter them into the Outlook database, so everyone can have access to them. This way everyone in the office will be able to find contact information for a specific person without spending hours digging through the business cards. Not only are we entering them into Outlook, we are organizing them within the system. We are creating categories to separate the contacts such as, clients, consultants, contractors, and other related categories. This will allow more efficiency in the office.

Typing all week long was a task I never thought I would be doing on an Internship. I learned it is a lot harder work then I would have ever imagined. Entering names, phone numbers, addresses, e-mail address, is work that does not allow any creativity. It is a job for someone with a lot of patients and not wanting to put much thought into their work. It allowed me to think about subjects unrelated to what I was doing. By the end of the week, I found myself playing games with the project. One of the games was to make myself wait until I had finished a pile of cards before I would look at the clock. I thought this would make time seem to go by faster, but it didn’t. My typing skills defiantly improved from this exercise.

The weekend temperatures outside reach a high of 45 degrees, it was beautiful outside. But, still not warm enough for outdoor activities. Omaha is well known for their great bike trails all around the area. Because the trails are still covered with snow, we decided to the find the local bike shops to find Jon a bike. The first shop we went to was The Bike Rack, located off Maple and 144th Street. It is located about half way between Jon and I. The Bike Rack was nice. They carried mainly Treks, and had reasonably prices bikes.

The next shop we found was The Bike Way. It was not as well stocked as the first shop. It only carried Specialized bikes and was a bit on the pricey side. The last shop we went to was Olymipia Cycle. It was an alright shop but they did not carry and bike names I have ever heard of. They were also overpriced in their selections. Jon did not get a bike but it was good to see were all the bike shops are located and the options.

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

ski mountains in NE

There were a few minor revisions to be made on the books and then they were sent to the printer. One thing, I think, could have made these books more efficient was the revision process. Randy would find other images, drawings, and descriptions to place into the books but would not save them to the file. So, this would cause a lot of time to be wasted searching the thousands of files for these revisions. I think if he would have just saved it in the file, the process would have gone faster. Another way to make the process faster would have been if Randy would have made the small editing revisions to the description elements. Instead he would write unclearly on the paper so it would take more time trying to decode the message then it would have been to retype it himself. I believe that would have help the books move a lot faster than they did. He has talked to us about time, money, and being efficient so I think those factors could have helped RBA.

Tuesday and Wednesday was spent printing off the Loren Eiseley book and making revisions to the Metropolis Magazine PDF. They consisted of the same issues and learning experiences as the other books. I exercised more of my Photoshop and InDesign skills.

Thursday and Friday started a new project. This time it was organizing Randy’s contacts. Randy wanted a universal program that can store ever contact to make finding an e-mail or phone number much easier. I have been looking up programs and found that Windows Outlook would be the best program to use.

Jon and I began entering a pile of business cards. Randy came in later that day and began sorting them into categories. He threw out the cards RBA does not need anymore. This will make the process move along quickly because we will not waste time entering information that will not be utilized.

We spent the weekend with a friend. Saturday we went back to Mount Crescent to ski and snow board.  The slopes were a lot slower this time because of the warmer weather. It was 30 degrees on Saturday, the perfect boarding conditions. Since I am still an amateur snow boarder, the slower snow helped me keep a slower speed. This means less painful landing when I fall. Saturday night we drove around town, and found the Old Market area to have a great night life. Unfortunately, we did not stay out very late, due to the snowboarding. Everyone was so worn out; in pain, and my knees were swollen. We decided to head back fairly early. But, I hope to go to some of the restaurants and bars in the Old Market soon.

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

used my time wisely!

Monday February 15, 2010 Randy was out of the office so we did not have an office meeting. Randy did prepare a list of projects and the weeks’ to do list. I started with the Metropolis Magazine project which is another book but this time it will be made into a PDF instead of being printed. This book will have three images, one drawing, and a short description of each of the projects. The majority of the day was spent searching the network for images, drawing, and the descriptions. I was able to learn about a few more of RBA’s previous projects such as Parasite, Circle, and Hidden Creek.

Thursday started out with some easy no brainer tasks such as finding Justin’s (a past intern) e-mail address and e-mail him his W-2’s. Randy and I discussed where I was at on the list on things to do. He told me he received the Bellows’ Rhino model from the intern who had worked on it previously. I was to play around with model and experiment with pulling it apart. The rest of the work day was spent on Rhino with the 3D model.  Working in Rhino helped me gain knowledge about this program and learn how to use it. Rhino is one of the programs our classes do not teach us. I believe this was a good experience because it has widened my computer skills. When comparing this to the last place I interned, it has many similarities and differences. It is similar because I learned new computer programs, SketchUp and CAD, and at the time I did not know either program efficiently. Working for RBA I know those programs and I am learning a whole new generation of programs which will better me in my career.

Friday, Randy went to Kansas City for a meeting and I worked on Bellows again; making diagrams of the form and interior spaces which are not easily recognized from photographs alone. I went through a series of wireframe diagrams of the entire model and then rendered the spaces created. This became a process of rendering views, bringing them into illustrator, and Photoshop, to create overlays of the rendered elements and the wireframe sections.  The process is very similar to studio because it a learning process and it takes time. Usually a lot more time than expected, but to create something to be proud of, the time will be worth it. Friday became a very stressful day because the time required for this process, and how Randy wanted me to complete Bellows and Metropolis. I defiantly used my time wisely on Friday. While the image was being rendered, I worked on redrawing the section because it too became blurry like the plans.  I stayed late to get a small amount of the Metropolis book in progress, but I defiantly ran out of time on Friday and did not complete as much as Randy was hoping for.

Friday night through Sunday was mainly spent in Manhattan. I went back because it was my roommate’s birthday. The trip was an interesting experience because we did not know what to do Saturday. Normally, weekends are spent in studio and we do not have to think of what to do. So, we drove around town to the parts we haven’t experienced before. We learned the city park has an ice rink so we went skating for a while. This was probably the smallest ice rink I have ever seen before. But, it was still fun.

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

publisher’s POV

Pushing the books was the objective of Monday. Working back and forth with Photoshop and InDesign throughout the day, I feel, is making me much more efficient with these programs. With school, I use both programs but here I feel as if I am learning from them as well.  These editing programs such as Photoshop and illustrator are rushed during studio, whereas, at RBA there is a greater amount of time spent in these programs. This gives me the ability to become more efficient and knowledgeable of the programs.

We began the Tuesday with a brief office meeting; the key to success. From years of experience, Randy has learned to know and understand the publishers’ point of view. He has been doing these New York trips for many years now, and he believes the best way to get published is by making it easy. If we make it easy for the publishers to publish then the chances are greater. In order to do this we not only have a physical copy of the book by we are also making a CD of the InDesign file and placing all of the images on the CD. This way the publishers do not have to try contacting us later about an image.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday was also the start of one of the last books to be put together. It is for the Kent Bellows Studio and Center for Visual Arts project. Kent Bellows was born in Omaha and was a remarkable artist until his death in 2005. His work has been on display at many galleries in Omaha and around the country. The Kent Bellows Studio and Center for the Visual Arts is a foundation for students who want to learn and practice art of all forms. The foundation in sponsored by donators. The center was where Bellows lived, created many of his backdrops and artwork.  The center, where the students work was designed and built by RBA. Part of the center is in use by students and the other is preserved in memory of Kent Bellows.  Randy wanted this book to tell a story, by explaining who Kent Bellows was. I spent a good portion of the day researching Bellows life, career and generating it into short narrative.  The rest of the day was dedicated to finding the images and drawings of the project and placing them into the spreads.  During studio, the research of a project is less documented then at RBA. I think at studio there is not enough time to put research information into a project. I think I’m going to make more time at school to apply more research into my presentations. I feel like this will strengthen a project.

Friday night after work, Jon and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings with our coworker Chris, his wife Brandy, and his daughter Violet. This Buffalo Wild Wings is comparable to the ones back in St. Peters and is different from the one in Manhattan. It was family friendly like the St. Peters’ locations, because Omaha and St. Peters are both suburban cultures. Whereas, Manhattan is a smaller college town, their restaurants are designed with the college student in mind. They are louder with very few children present.

Saturday we were determined to do something outside. Considering Omaha’s weather conditions of about three feet of snow on the ground and a forecast of snow showers through out the day, skiing sounded like the only outdoor activity possible. About fifteen minutes from Randy’s office, in Crescent Iowa, is a ski resort call Mount Crescent. When we got there, it was packed with people but the slopes were still great and covered with fresh powder.  We skied for about six hours and decided to try snowboarding before leaving. For about an hour and a half I tested my balance, fell a lot, and probably almost broke some bones, but defiantly had an awesome time. I will hopefully be able to go back and try it again.  With the way the weather has been there should be snow around for a while.

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

NYC booksproject

Monday’s concentration was dedicated to the New York Books. A lot of the time was spent finding the images, drawings, and photographs of the projects on the network.  Once the images were found they could be placed into the correct InDesign layout. Each photograph had a set margin to fit within. After all the cropping and editing the book would be ready to print, this would become another time problem. This was a time consuming tasks because there are thousands of file on the network. Also, it took a while to figure out how to get the printers to print the correct margins and colors. Many trial and errors occur before they were printing at a steady hum. This project has taught me more on RBA’s past projects and how they evolved.

Printing began bright and early Tuesday morning. The majority of the morning was spent on this project and communicating back and forth with the director of the Take a Seat project about some questions about the design. Being able to communicate with the director was very interesting.  When I worked at LaTona Architects, I was not given the opportunity to work back and forth with a client. I found it to be a great lesson to what I will be doing after graduation. Jon and I met with Randy and Kim about another office organizational task we will be working on, creating a contact list for the network.  Our goal was to find a program that would allow everyone in the office to access for information on client, consultants, contractors, and anyone else apart of the process.

Before returning to the NYC Books project, G.A. House wanted some more interior images of the Optic House, which we had submitted about two weeks ago. Randy wanted a couple of black and white line SketchUp perspectives to match the theme of the drawings already submitted.  Once finding the correct 3D model we were able to clean the model up, play around with different scenes, and experiment with different shadows to get the most dynamic images. The process did not end there. When the angles and shadows were perfect in SketchUp we exported the drawing into Photoshop, to clean it up some more and really make it pop. I am gaining more knowledge about Photoshop and feel this will strengthen my projects next year.

Monarch Three was the book I began on Wednesday. But, before I could dive too far into the project, G.A. House wanted a board for the Sod House. Once again I was in Photoshop, this time testing some tools to create a remarkable board.  Every time I use Photoshop I learn another way to do something awesome.

Thursday consisted of putting more books together. U.S. Data needed more images, so I searched the network and placed them into InDesign. The process of printing these books takes a lot of patients. Half of the time is spent finding the images, drawings, and descriptions, and the other half is spent on printing. The books are strenuous but I feel like the end result will pay off.

Friday came up before I knew it. It was the day of the DiNucci meeting. We prepared by cleaning up the conference room, having the model on display, a scale, pens, and the job file. I began printing the drawings early to make sure nothing went wrong. While printing the DiNucci drawings, I also had the photo printers printing books as well. The meeting began at 4:30 p.m. I found this meeting very exciting. There was so much information I did not know went into building a house.  Overall the meeting went pretty well. There are a few minor adjustments to be made to the design but that is about it.

Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, was family filled. My parents came in town so I hung out with them. We were unable to do anything around town because it had snowed all weekend long. The roads were a mess. My mom has nine cousins who live out here and five of the brothers live together in a house close to downtown. Most of the weekend was spent over there socializing. Around dinner time on Saturday we ordered some pizza from a local bakery, Orsi’s. Omaha’s pizza crust is different from St. Peters because we normally eat St. Louis style pizza, which consists of extremely thin crust and square slices. This pizza place we went to was much thicker but still good.  The other unique element of this place was that it is a bakery. The pizzas are not ordered by small, medium, or large; they are ordered by half a sheet or a whole sheet, just like cake. I found that to be very interesting. I would defiantly recommend this place.

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

craft based

Monday January 25, 2010 started with an office meeting. The topic of the meeting was Embedded Knowledge.  He went over how he would like the firm to be more craft oriented which is more of an attitude. Being a craft based firm means having the “want to do” attitude and the skills to make and design well.  We also discussed the importance of job hours, keeping track of them, and why we need to do this. I learned there are only so many billable hours for each job and if we exceed those hours the firm will lose money. Randy went over a few more financial matters and then dove into the details about present projects and the projects to come. Pandora and Wingstop are both projects we are waiting to get approval to start working on. Pandora is going to be a jewelry retail shop and Wingstop is a restaurant with an all wing menu. Another project Jon and I are going to be starting is for marketing. We will be organizing and printing photographs, drawings, renderings, and diagrams for certain projects and create books for them. Randy will then take these books to New York City to multiply magazine publishers such as, Dwell, Architectural Record, Interior Design, and Metropolis, in hopes to be published. But, before the books are started my main goal was the Take a Seat Project.

The Take a Seat project is a non-profit design build program sponsored by the city of Omaha. Many of the local design firms were asked to participate in this effort to provide a new bench in the Gene Leany Park in Downtown Omaha. The city of Omaha is giving each firm a choice of 23 different locations in the park and supplying forty square feet of concrete to anchor the bench to. Randy put me in charge of reading through the program and initiate work. After reading through the program I did some research on what a chair is, different names for a chair, and how people use “chairs”. I met with Randy to discuss what I had come up with. He wanted me to question the definition of a chair and what we could do to make this a remarkable bench. Questions he asked me to think about were, do you have to sit in it, can you turn it upside down, what is it, why is it a chair, how is it a chair. Exploring different ideas was the main objective.  Can people kneel or lean against this thing? Can we make this a place of interaction, such as a center for stretching? The rest of Monday was spent researching these ideas and trying to understand how they could become a reality. Researching dimensions of kneeling chairs, stretching stations, and leaning devices were all part of the process as well.

Tuesday was a day of making our ideas a reality. I went through numerous study models. Playing with the different forms and making the forms into usable spaces was a very interesting process. This was very similar to the conceptual phase at studio. There are numerous study models; some work and some don’t.   It was not only fun but I also learned a lot about how good design needs research to help the ideas be valid. To build the structures I used bailing metal wire. This represents the steel re-bar we have decided to use for the end result.

Wednesday was also spent making more study models. Randy came in to look at the different ideas and the one that caught his eye was actually a piece of scrap wire I had thrown to the side. The way it laid created an appealing form with engaging spaces. We bent and molded more structures to generate more free flowing forms. By the end of the day we decided on that first free flowing form.

Thursday became a challenging day, the days goal was to take the free flowing form into CAD. This task was testing for me because I have never designed free flowing structures before, so I have never had a reason to draw a free flowing structure before.  After an hour or so of trying to get this object into CAD, I decided another form of technology may save time and frustration. I turned to Rhino, a 3D computer program, mainly used by Interior Architects at K-state. I never used this program before; it was very similar to CAD and 3Ds Max, both of which I use in great amounts during studio. I realized this program was an excellent choice for this type of project. Also, it was very user friendly so it did not take me long to caught on. With this program I can draw the bench at any and all views; I was drawing it in plan, section, elevations, and perspective, which made the drawing process one hundred times easier.  After drawing the bench to a scale, I went back to the physical element to create a scaled model.

Friday was spent documenting the work. First, I set up the conference room area into a photography room. The process of photography takes time but in the end, it will save time. Once the photographing was completed I went into Photoshop and cleaned up small issues and then worked on placing the model into a scene from the Park.

Over the weekend I went to Warrensburg, Missouri to visit a friend from high school at UCM for the weekend. It was very interesting to learn how she spends her weekends; it is very different from an architecture student. She is an athletic training major and she will be graduating this coming May. Her weekends consist of sleeping in, then watching TV. in her pajamas until about 1:00 p.m., then most weekends she goes to a sporting event to clean up after each game which takes about 30-60 minutes. When she is finished cleaning up, she goes home and hangs out with her roommates until they find some where to go. It is very different from my weekend schedule because I rarely sleep in, I don’t even use my T.V. at my apartment, and most weekends are spent in studio working on designs, other class homework, or preparing for an upcoming test for ridiculous amounts of hours. The learning styles are a lot different. She lives the more “college life” like many people like to say, while architectural students have “no life” like others like to say. But, I do believe we are learning and appreciating a lot more because of it. We are learning how to manage our time and work hard to get what we want. I feel like I defiantly make the most out of my free time and appreciate it more.

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

RBA to be organized

Monday January 18 began with an office meeting. This weeks’ office meeting related more towards totaling the projects the firm had and sorting them into which projects were of most importance for the week.

The DiNucci Residence was on the top of my list for the week. It needed a set of drawings sent out for cost estimation, a base for the model to be completed, and pictures of the model for process documentation.

A few other things on my list were to take daytime and nighttime photographs of the Tipp House model, organize code books, and a few other organizational tasks. Randy really wants the firm to be organized to it best so everyone can find what they are looking for. RBA really contrasts with the previous firm I worked at because at LaTona Architects it was the complete opposite. There was very little organization and only the Principal knew where everything was.  I believe Randy’s system will be efficient because when Randy is out of the office someone else will be able to find a document or building tool without his help.

Through out the day I worked on a series of revisions of plans, sections, and elevations of the DiNucci Residence. On Tuesday the base of the model needed to be completed but there was no topography map to show the form of the land, so Jon and I were told to go to the site and do some estimating. Even though the site was covered with three feet of snow we were able to get a better understanding of the land.  The base was built and the drawings were sent to get cost estimation.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent doing a “slim” option, (Yes Randy does like Jimmy Johns) for the DiNucci Residence because the design was over the client’s budget. With this experience I learned that it was hard to make the design work when having to make a lot of changes but also that the design can also develop from changes that needed to be made.

Friday January 22, we started to put together a set of presentation drawings for GA Houses again. The submittal was of the Sod House. It was a conceptual design of a house that is currently on hold.  I worked on photo-shopping a rendering of the house to make a layering affect to it.

On Saturday, we drove around some more going further west and south of where I live. We ended up at 168th Street and Dodge, where Village Pointes, an outdoor shopping center is located. At Village Pointes there are a few buildings and interiors by Randy. Saturday was in the 40’s so walking around was not too brutal. Sunday it snowed so I was unable to go out because the roads are covered.

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

refine and document

Monday started out with an office meeting. Randy went over the ideas and history of the studio at Randy Brown Architects. RBA started in 1993 as a small firm where a lot of collaboration between design members took place. It changed a lot over the years and RBA was up to 12 architects at one point and that was when a lot of the collaboration stopped. This caused the firm to lose its focus. Now it’s back down to seven full time members and one part time.  Randy believes this is better because design ideas won’t get lost in translation, and more collaboration can occur. We also talked about making blogs for the firm. Jon and I are going to use material from our journals to posts on a blogging page. Randy thinks it will be a great way to express to people what is accomplished at RBA each week.

Randy also discussed at the meeting his system of design. I learned he has a very appealing system of refinement and documenting the process. The final conversation was about the projects to work on. Jon and I were assigned to the schematic design phase of the DiNucci Residence. It is a house for a family of four located at 78th and State in Omaha. We were to compose a series of sketches and CAD drawings of new floor plans, sections, and elevations.

The rest of the week was spent on refining and revising the drawings. Saturday was a day of driving. We drove all around the suburban area to get a better understanding of what Omaha is like. Omaha is very similar to my home town of St. Charles, which is a suburb about forty minutes from downtown St. Louis. There are a lot of stripe malls and “cookie cutter” neighbor hoods that look very similar. We also drove by a project Randy designed. It is a strip mall located at 120th and Blonde. It was noticeable an architect designed it because of how different it was from everything else around. I also went to Westroads which is an indoor mall off of Dodge Street. It was very similar to the malls in my home town.

Sunday I went down to the Old Market near downtown Omaha and saw some interesting restaurants and shops. Due to the cold temperatures it was not ideal for walking around but when it warms up it seems to be a great place to eat, shop, and spend an afternoon walking around. Also, I drove around the downtown area and saw some interesting buildings.

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

finally meet randy

Monday January 4, 2010 was the start of the internship at Randy Brown Architects. Randy was out of town but I worked with Chris, another design team member. We went through the basics of the office, to get oriented and to know where supplies and information are located. We did some in-house cleaning and organization and then built monitor stands for the office. Monday was a pretty simple day but I was able to learn a lot about some of the projects being worked on or recently completed.

On Tuesday, I finally met Randy, as well as Andy, another intern who comes in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We started the day with a meeting about the Office Life and the projects to start working on. The first assignment was a submittal for GA House magazine on the Tipp Residence (aka Optic House). I searched the computer files for images and drawings of the

Optic House, which was an excellent way to get myself familiar with the project. Once we found the images and drawings we wanted, we started putting them into presentation format.

I worked on the drawings Tuesday, Wednesday, and for a small amount of time on Friday. Thursday, Thursday night, and Friday was dedicated to making a model, which we could take photographs of for this submittal. Working in collaboration with Randy, Chris, and Jon we all went through a series of refinement and changes to the drawings. After the first evaluation, it was decided that the way the drawings were being presented were not actually representing what they needed to be. So Randy had the idea of making everything lines and black shadows, which in the end resulted in a great amount of depth to the drawings. It really made the drawings pop.

During this assignment I really began to understand the firm and how it works. Randy really emphasizes process and documenting the process. This system is a lot different from what we are taught at school. In my educational experience, rarely do professors emphasis documenting your work throughout the process, but the documentation is usually complete after the project is finished.

After finishing up the submittal for GA Houses on Friday we headed over to US Data. It was located at about West Center Road and 168th Street. US Data is an interior renovation project Randy had completed and won an award for. We needed to set up the space for a motion picture film shoot by Farshid Assassi. We cleared off desks, cleaned the floors, and put up lighting in certain areas. Randy is going to use the motion picture film at the award ceremony as a new media way to present a project. On Saturday January 9 and Sunday January 10, 2010 we met up early at the US Data building to begin filming. It took about ten hours each day before the film was completed and ready to be edited. I learned there is a lot involved in a motion picture film shoot. For every scene there is a great amount of lighting factors which must be considered to get a quality scene. Also, making the camera show what needs to be shown in order to express the building in the correct way is another factor taken into consideration during this process. I did many jobs including a gaffer and assistant to the gaffer.  For one scene, I sat on the dolly with farshid and his camera and Randy pushed us while the model and I each held a fluorescent tube.  Hilarious!!!!

This experience showed me the importance of documentation and how it can be more than photography alone. There wasn’t much time to learn about the city this weekend because of the photo shoot but the weather wouldn’t permit us to do too much anyways. It was in the single digits and negatives all week long with about three feet of snow on the ground.