Architalks #27: Mentorship

This month’s #Architalks theme was suggested by Michael Lavalley, another regular contributor on our blog roll. #Architalks were originally started by Life of an Architect, Bob Borson. Excuse my late posting of this month’s topic. I was celebrating my local NBA team’s winning of the championship series, and it completely slipped my mind that I needed to come back and officially publish this post. If you like this post, be sure to check out the others as a part of the blog roll listed at the bottom.

Mentorship is actually a pretty big deal in the architectural profession. In fact, in order to become an licensed architect, one needs to have a mentor (or mentors) and they often shape the kind of work the mentee may produce in the future whether they know it or not. When coming fresh out of the academic environment, it's a blessing to have mentors that understand the office and business side of architecture. 

As I look back on my career, I have been fortunate enough to have several mentors throughout the different offices I've been able to work at, but I have two mentors that really shaped the way I work and the way I think about architecture as a profession, and as a whole. As an Asian American architectural professional, it's funny how these two mentors have balanced my ethnic identity as well.

My first mentor is someone I can still go to on a daily basis, even at the wee hours of the night or morning if needed. He's the one that gave me my first chance to really see and experience an architectural office, and I continue to consult with him presently. His name is Karl Sherwood-Coombs. Karl has been an architect here in the Bay Area / Silicon Valley for a long long time. He's a part of the older generation that learned to draft by hand on large drafting tables but at the same time, he is computer literate though not to the extent of producing CAD drawings. He attended Stanford's architecture program in addition to his previous degree from Texas, and worked for such local offices as Steinberg Architects and ACS Architects, the latter which he eventually came to own. What I appreciate most about Karl is his belief in me. He's instilled in me confidence as an architectural professional and designer.

My other mentor is an architect I met almost purely by chance in South Korea. The summer before my fifth year in architecture school, I took a month-long trip to Korea to do some soul-(Seoul?)-searching and ran across an office that appeared to be a bit more westernized. The architect's name was Byoung Soo Cho and he studied at the GSD and eventually taught there too, in addition to teaching at MSU. When I got a quick office tour at Byoung's, he casually said I should work there upon graduating and to keep in touch. He said this so casually that I thought for sure he was kidding. 'He probably says that to everybody,' I thought. When it came close to graduating, I kept thinking back on that encounter and sent him an email. He asked when I wanted to come and even paid for my plane ticket! Working for and learning from Byoung was a priceless experience. From his whimsical sketches, he would expect us to turn them into buildings on the computer utilizing 3d CAD software. He had an eye for detail and a desire to carry through a design idea at almost any cost. It was at Byoung's office I really learned the meaning of hard work and it paying off.  

If you want even more on mentorship, go listen to Archispeak Podcast episode #115 on Mentorship here.


Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
This is NOT Mentorship

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Mentors, Millennials and the Boomer Cliff

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
mentor was on the odyssey

Mark R. LePage - EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Influence

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Mentorship

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
teach them the way they should go: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Bad Mentor, Good Mentor

Stephen Ramos - BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@BuildingsRCool)
The Top 3 Benefits for Architects to Mentor and to be Mentored

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
I've got a lot to learn

Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)
Bah Humbug!

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Gurus, Swamis, and Other Architectural Guides

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
The Lonely Mentor

Drew Paul Bell - Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice From My Mentor

Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Mentoring with Anecdotes vs. Creating a Culture of Trust

Samantha R. Markham - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Why every Aspiring Architect needs SCARs

Nisha Kandiah - ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Mentorship : mend or end ?

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Mentor5hip is...

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
My Mentor

Tim Ung - Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
5 Mentors that are in my life

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Mentorship

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood - Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
On Mentorship

Ilaria Marani - Creative Aptitude (@creaptitude)
Mentorship


ArchiTalks -- Advice for Clients

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a theme and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is Advice for Clients… To read how others interpreted the theme please click the links at the bottom of this post…

Typically, our first meeting with clients is done as an advice session where we can get to know one another and very often the site or building that is at hand. The majority of our professional work is in single family residential design. Here are our top 3 pieces of advice for clients:

1. Trust your architectural professional.

A lot of clients seem to think they know it all, but this can be made worse when they don't fully trust you. Assuming you've hired a competent architectural professional, trust them to do their job! As a client, you will feel much less stressed, and empower the architect to architect [see below].

2. Let your architect, architect.

Frank Gehry had a great line that resonates with a lot of architects:

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There are certain instances where we wonder if our client or potential client really means to hire a draftsman over an architect. It's not uncommon to get inquiries that state they've already figured out the design of their addition or at least where the addition needs to go. If you're a potential client reading this, knowing where your addition needs to go will not save you money. We don't discount our fees after hearing that you've already figured out what you think might be "the hard part." You don't go to the doctor because you already know exactly what's wrong with you and to say "by the way, you really ought to prescribe me such and such." 

Our best project clients are the ones who let us architect. They lay out their wishlist of needs, program, current problems, and then we help solve and resolve them. 

3. It takes time. There are many moving parts. 

One of the priorities a lot of our clients have is with regards to time. They've just bought a place, or are in escrow, and need to be able to move into their remodeled home within a certain period of time. 

While very often we can hit the ground running and begin working on their project, this doesn't always mean we can have permit drawings ready in two weeks. Besides the architect, there are also many other team members and moving parts. You may need a civil engineer's site survey, an arborist report, structural engineering is almost always a part of every project ,

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Working with an Architect

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Advice for ALL Clients

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
advice to clients

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Clients

Collier Ward - One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Trust Your Architect

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Advice List -- From K thru Architect

Rosa Sheng - EquitybyDesign [EQxD] (@EquityxDesign)

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
advice for clients

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Few Reminders

Eric Wittman - intern[life] (@rico_w)
[tattoos] and [architecture]

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Changing the World

Drew Paul Bell - Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice for Clients

Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Questions to Ask an Architect in an Interview: Advice for Clients

Samantha R. Markham - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Dear Client,

Nisha Kandiah - ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Advice for clients

Rusty Long - Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Advice 4 Building

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood - Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
What I wish clients knew

House or Home – Architalks #24

This month's #architalks focuses on the discussion topic of "House or Home," as suggested by Keith Palma.

We take a lot of pride in our work, and our projects. Seeing that the overwhelming majority of our work is single family residential, we are all about making a house a home. So what's with the lingo? What is the difference between a 'house' and a 'home' anyways? For us,  the term 'house' refers to an empty building, without owners, without life. It's just the structure, bones, and envelope without activity and a sense of time. What makes a 'house' a 'home' is the living and breathing life and users that give spirit to space. On top of that, we also feel a strong obligation to designing and making spaces that truly become a part of the lives of its users. 

There's a level of ownership and 'made to design' that we like to explore in every one of our projects. Whether it's the perfect custom height for door levers, the ideal layout for a shower with bench and shampoo niche, or just that semi-private nook for a mail and throwing your keys, there are special spaces that really make a house a home.

Here in the Silicon Valley, housing prices can be absurd. Very often we have clients where both partners may work full time for tech firms, make six-digit salaries, yet they've spent so much money purchasing a run down house, that they're left with very little money for remodeling. It's also very often the case that their family is growing and a cost-effective addition is desired. We always stress to them that the money they're spending on professional architectural services is also quite just a fraction of construction costs, yet probably the most valuable. This is where we get to roll up our sleeves and try to instill some architectural design magic


Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
The Designation between House and Home

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: House or Home?

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
House or Home? The Answer to Everything

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
our house is home

Mark R. LePage - EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Emotional Marketing for Architects: House or Home?

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
House or Home? It's in the story.

Collier Ward - One More Story (@BuildingContent)
House or Home? A Choice of Terms

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
house or home: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
House or Home -- Discover the Difference

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
"house" or "home"?

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #24 : House or Home

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
House or Home? - Depends

Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
House or Home? Train for One, Design for Another

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
A Rose by Any Other Name...

Greg Croft - Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
House or Home

Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Designing a House into a Home

Samantha R. Markham - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
6 Ways to Make your Architecture Studio feel like Home

Kyu Young Kim - J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Making a House a Home

Nisha Kandiah - ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Dwelling on a Macro scale

Jared W. Smith - Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)

Rusty Long - Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
House or Home

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
I don't design homes

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
House or Home: One's a Place, the Other a Feeling.

Tim Ung - Journey of an Architect (@timothy_ung)
Architalks - A House is not a home

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
#ArchiTalks #24 House or Home? #RefugeeCrisis @GrainneHassett mentioned

Loaded with Style – Architalks #23 Style

This month's Architalk topic is "style." Before reading too far into this post, don't get me wrong, I think the discussion topic of 'style' is great. It needs to be flushed out of my system, and I have nothing against style or a particular style, but it's what the word implies that can get me worked up.

"Style," is a loaded word in my opinion. From a lay person, it's probably one of the first questions I get asked as an architect, "what's style do you design in, what is your favorite style?" 

I'm here today to tell you that I could almost care less about that kind of style. I appreciate most styles of architecture, but I'm much more into the character of architecture and good design, rather than what style a building is. For example, we've designed homes in a craftsmen style, mediterranean style, we've done additions to Eichlers, and even changed the style of a house at the owners request – but what's important to us, is how well the users can use and interact with the building, and in some cases, how well the building works with people that have to pass by it on a day to day basis. Architecture is not underwear. You can't design it just for you and think you're the only one that's important, the only one that's going to see it. Architecture is a public statement in most cases, and you have to keep in mind the public will see and interact with it too.

"Architecture is not underwear. You can't design it just for you and think you're the only one that's important, the only one that's going to see it..."

"Architecture is not underwear. You can't design it just for you and think you're the only one that's important, the only one that's going to see it..."

Style almost implies a sense of temporary inclusion. "That's so 90's style." "That's like the style of Frank Lloyd Wright." These are moments in time, not long-lasting pillars of design. The style of a house can change, but the layout and fundamentals of Architecture will last a building's lifetime.

Even Frank Lloyd Wright designed in several different 'styles' believe it or not. Do yourself a favor and go listen to 99% Invisible's episode on Usonia.

Even Frank Lloyd Wright designed in several different 'styles' believe it or not. Do yourself a favor and go listen to 99% Invisible's episode on Usonia.

When we get asked what style we design in, we say, "we design in all styles, but the style that is best for you, and the style that is best for the building." 


Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
You do you

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/style-do-i-have-any/

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
style...final words

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The AREsketches Style

Collier Ward - One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Name That Stile!

brady ernst - Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
What Style Do You Build In?

Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Defining an Architect's Style

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
What's Your Style?

Greg Croft - Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Architectural Style

Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Should You Pick Your Architect Based on Style or Service?

Samantha R. Markham - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
5 Styles of an Aspiring Architect

Nisha Kandiah - ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Regression or Evolution : Style

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Stylized Hatred

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
What's in a Style?

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Architectalks 23 - Style

New Year, New Name: J&K Atelier

Not to be redundant (well actually, to be redundant), we're making a little announcement with the New Year (yes, albeit a few days late). For the past two years, Hanna and I have been running a small practice called 'Palo Alto Design Studio'. We live and work in the City of Palo Alto, and we've come to love our town and its inhabitants, along with the clients we've served.

I for one have always been a strong proponent for not using my own name in the name of my practice (look away if you thought the same...). In the past, it's kind of turned me off as someone who's worked for one of these firms. I always felt like I was working for a name, rather than a purpose. I've also found it awkward when firms transition leadership and the name (name of the firm which contains the name of the person or peoples) no longer has any meaning or presence. 

However, as our practice has taken off, we've discovered that there was a possibility of misleading people to a conflict of interest, and underlying innuendos that we wanted to avoid. Hence, after a long struggle, we've decided to rename our practice to J&K Atelier.

The 'J&K' is pretty straightforward. Yes, I've lost my battle to avoid my name and have placed hope in the fact that it will actually benefit our firm. I've also been reminded that the leadership of our practice is highly unlikely to change for the next 25+ years (*fingers crossed*). The J is for Hanna's last name, Joo. The K is for my own last name, Kim. We always work together as a team, J&K. 

'Atelier' is French for 'workshop' or 'studio', especially in the sense of an artist's, artisan's, or designer's workshop. An atelier is a place of creativity, and we feel that word fits us like a glove. We also searched high and low for a name that would stick and roll off your tongue in a way that you could remember it. That was one of the benefits of our previous branding scheme. People here are familiar with the city, the color, the name. With our new name, we really like the way it rolls off your tongue. "Jay and Kay Attel Leeae" kind of rhymes. Say it 5 times fast and your bound to have it memorized. Put it together with the two principles Joo and Kim and you'll forever remember J&K Atelier. At least that's our hope! Happy New Year!

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