i aia

Posted in #aiachat, opinion, Women in Architecture by DS26 on 04.22.2011

In the recent weeks, the American Institute of Architects asked me to participate in an interview about SM.

Of course, I was extremely happy to do so… and even more so, to find myself in the front page.

Now, after that was published, a few friends congratulated me… others did not understand how I got there, and asked… and I came to a realization:

What one gets, or does, with one’s own profession is entirely up to… well, one’s self.

No education, peer, employer, luck or otherwise ungodly external force, will make anything happen for one’s present or future. Some may serve as inspiration, and others as guide, but none will actually get you there.

It’s interesting because though I was there, front page and interviewed, nothing really came out of it except the acknowledgment from a few.

There were no employers lining up to offer me a position, given the very obvious self-propelled enthusiasm and initiative that originally may have landed me there. There were no Social Media or #aiachat novices lining up to ask me questions…

So what then?

I can honestly say I got some time for self-evaluation, and maybe even a (slight) rude awakening.

Ultimately… I gained an understanding of the fact that if I want to be a successful building design and construction professional, then…

it is up to me to lay out the path to get there.


growing up to be #BIG… ?

Posted in projects, sustainability by DS26 on 01.06.2011

As we quickly approach yet again another graduation, a license and legitimate practice, and the place in adulthood of no return (and no excuses)… we continue to strive to understand what it is DS26 will be.

We spend a lot of time looking at firms that we greatly admire, BIG among others.

Bjarke Ingels, a 36 year old Danish guy with fantastic architectural vision and mad skills to retain private developers as perpetual clients, has lead BIG (the Bjarke Ingels Group) to become one ‘universal’ practice. He’s being recognized for his radical aesthetics yet he insistently retains sustainability as a core value in the work… creating many instances of daylighting, endless paths for pedestrians, and must-have routes for bicyclists. BIG recently opened shop in NY.

One should have great admiration for such projects accomplished as the mountain and the 8 house.

We always joke saying “we want to be like BIG when we grow up”… but is it really this BIG?


Spontaneously the both of us continue to feel there has to be more to life than simply a design-service pratice… and more to life than design for money. That sustainability does matter a great deal. And that there must be a way we can actually have a BIG-ger impact.

We (definitely I) don’t want to deal with the everyday headaches I’ve already experienced… client-based practice, billing, contract issues… and in this market? We (definitely Bobby) would much rather experience design in its pure form, unapologetic, unbound by the mundane. See design actually change lives… that it becomes appreciated… enjoyed.

I, particularly, think education is a great part of my calling. I want to educate through Arts+Sciences. I mentioned in my “death” the High Tech Center.

So maybe we should be looking at other big ones, with a different type of architecture and maybe a bit more impact, like Samuel Mockbee

Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee (12/23/1944 – 12/30/2001) dedicated his life, as a teacher and as an architect, to creating architecture that not only elevated the living standards of the rural poor but also provided “shelter for the soul.”

He, with his Rural Studio at Auburn, managed to lift many spirits in the rural south. His architecture was BIG in other ways.

Also Michael Reynolds (aka Garbage Warrior), who in his own quirky way is slowly building what he calls ‘biotecture’.

Reynolds’ work is so radical, even the AIA banned him from his credentials at one point.

We recommend you watch the movie ‘Garbage Warrior’ because in a little bit of his madness, it actually makes sense. He builds a city with man hours in exchanged for your eventual own home. He uses garbage disposed (by the megatons) every day as building materials… and with it he is creating a completely self-sustained community. Talk about a living city

Here’s your sneak peek… Believe me it’s so worth your time…

> We think there’s something to this “helping others” and “truly sustainable practice” thing…

Congrats to the AIA!

Posted in other architects by DS26 on 10.21.2010

For winning the 2010 International Association for Public Award….

AIA Award Press

Architect?.. Get ‘Licensed’ or get over it !

Posted in opinion, other architects by DS26 on 09.05.2010

Alright everyone…

The omelette was the last straw.

As I was watching television last night, Denny’s the famed breakfast place advertised for you “to be your own omelette Architect”. Say what?!

I had to get close to the tv… I thought I heard wrong.

Not only do we have to deal with IT Professionals bogging down our “Architect” category at every job search engine site, but now this?

Products have been also popping up in shelves at stores near you that throw the term around like it means nothing… A razor. A mascara.

I even see some of my followers on Twitter call themselves that, or interior architects, when they shouldn’t.

The more I thought about the subject last night, after the omelette incident, I remembered one of my favorite tv shows: How I met your mother… (HIMYM)

HIMYM is a great show by CBS with an “Architect” as lead… but is he really an Architect?… my guess is not… at least not as per the United States, and his State’s Board Requirements.

They show Ted throwing the term around, and building models… even designing a sky-scraper… which then the “Owner” considers.

CBS: Could you please do the right thing and have the content step back, for the sake of the public, and give Ted a license?!… Professionals around the country would greatly appreciate it.

I am making this public statement because the show’s writers/producers went as far as to air an episode about Marshall’s BAR exam. Yet, Ted does not seem to have properly completed his professional registration.

From what has been on the show… he’d be a half-way intern at best.

I would also like to add to all manufacturers out there, and to Denny’s… our profession is not a joke.

Life Safety (as in yours every day) is part in our hands, and we work very hard to get to that. Much harder than anyone seems to care to see. It takes years of agonizing (at times) work for others, learning a ton, and quite a few “Bar” exams if you will. Seven in total.

Let’s be realistic everybody. Our profession has lost the majority of its value… when it lost control over its title.

Some may want to tell me it is out of respect… well. Not sure about all that people.

Truth is there isn’t any more respect left to have.

There’s certainly no understanding of the process even… not even when publicly placed in context.

Fees vs. Free

Posted in opinion, other architects, responsibility by DS26 on 07.23.2010

We, in the profession of architecture, have this tendency to ‘budge’ in terms of money.

I don’t know if you have heard this before but…

what horrible business people!!    :@

A couple of days ago the AIA (American Institute of Architects) was looking for the topic for the next #aiachat session.

( in case you have not been there… it is a moderated online event hosted by @AIANational, through Twitter.com, where professionals like @NextMoon, @Urbanverse, @ladyAIA, @mike_kohn and some maybe emerging like ourselves @DESIGNSTUDIO26 basically chime in on a topic… it happens every 1st Wednesday, at 2Pm ET )

This coming #aiachat I proposed be about Fees.

I guess, understandably, Fees are of legal concern in terms of being a topic for #aiachat… with that said, it is not of legal concern to us (until we begin to get paid for services)… so here it goes:

People, free work (unless it is to help a non-profit or effort) is NOT good for you or the profession.

There. Pheww. I said it.

This market we know is compelling to run, side by side, with the next guy, in a race to the “lowest bid” just to get the work. But, as you should know… specially if already in the profession… lowest bid?!… mmmhhh. Sketchy.

Just think of it the way you would if you were the Architect going through the bidding process with the Owner… and you run into the lowest bid. What is your first reaction? What is it, especially, if the lowest bid is so inconceivably far off from the second lowest? What if it is almost “impossible” (because the materials alone cost that..)?…

See it now?

As we approach ‘o’ in terms of our fees, we approach ‘o’ in terms of respect/consideration and of course ‘value’ (see definition below).

Monetary value and worth go hand in hand. They cannot be separated. That is the mindset we’ve created ourselves with the introduction of money into society (back in the day).

It is inevitable !

You cannot, CANNOT, work for free haphazardly and save any value.

It may seem the opposite for a minute… FREE? Great value!… Everyone loves FREE.

Surely, if it’s an ice cream or dessert on your birthday.

But, Let me paint the picture a different way :

If you were in legal trouble (besides remembering not to admit to anything without a lawyer present) … would you not pay the best lawyer you could find? the best you could afford?

Why would you then think for a second that, somehow what we do is different? Isn’t what we do about life safety? about the places that people inhabit and use everyday? about the work, health, livability, joy, play, use, learning (i could go on and on) of everyone?

Where in your mind does it fit that ‘the Owner’ would have any consideration or give you any value if you’re handing off your services for free?

Or, where in your mind does it fit that, furthermore, they would consider or value others in the profession?

Its tough, right now, I know… believe me.

But, rather than handing off your services, you must (find a way to) educate your clients that this is a ‘win-win’…

It is not that you work, and they gain. There is supposed to be gain-gain.

Same deal when I run into emerging professionals looking to work free.

People, the employer gains as well as you. Why would you do that to yourself?

After all that…

we are not going to tell you what the fees should be. That’s for you to decide… but we will tell you this:

‘o’ is a cheap way to cheat yourselves from what you deserve.

(and by the way… ‘cheap way’ for the owner… very costly for you my friend!)

If you’re work is that poor, invaluable… that is worth ‘o’ to you

(we assume because that is what you will charge…)

it definitely is worth ‘o’ to everyone else out there…

and ultimately adds ‘o’ to architecture as a whole.


the definition  of value :

Main Entry: 1val·ue
Pronunciation: \ˈval-(ˌ)yü\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, worth, high quality, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *valuta, from feminine of *valutus, past participle of Latin valēre to be of worth, be strong — more at wield
Date: 14th century

1 : a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged

2 : the monetary worth of something

3 : relative worth, utility, or importance <a good value at the price>

4 : a numerical quantity that is assigned or is determined by calculation or measurement . . .

7 : something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable

{ from Merryam-Webster online }


not just another dance…

Posted in events, opinion, stuff by DS26 on 06.13.2010


the universal music icon, was selected as the official artist for the World Cup 2010, and she is one that has always stood for education.

One instance is piez descalzos , an organization founded in Colombia.

During the last few days, after the launch of the official song for the world cup, she has made a call to everyone out there to “dance” waka waka for this “1 gol” .. education for all.

the challenge

waka waka, like any other official world cup song, is a very happy dance song .. it encourages engagement from people .. & calls for a move or two.

The dance is explained through “the call”, and Shakira requests a counter- video .. a response and to benefit the “1 gol” // View instructions in Shakira’s YouTube Channel

Architects… waka waka

As a means of celebration of this year’s AIA National Convention  (+ a 6th Good Reason to attend in addition to the 5 previously addressed ), and to celebrate being in such a fun place as is Miami Beach..

Dancing just… seemed like the natural thing to do.

So we invited Architects to come out to Lincoln Road, at 4:45pm on a hot Friday afternoon ..

to Carl (& all others in the ‘angry’ boat)

Posted in opinion, other architects, stuff by DS26 on 05.27.2010

After my post “5 Good Reasons to attend the Convention…” I have noticed negative / angry comments toward the AIA.

I’d like to clarify… I was not put up to it. We gained nothing. They gained nothing.

A Carl commented on the article… and I quote “Blah, Blah, blah …”

All I want to know is the following Carl ( & all others in the ‘angry’ boat ) :

1. WHY are you waiting for the AIA to do anything for you?
2. HOW come you think that your dues should equal your livelihood?
3. WHEN did you decide that it is their fault (not the market’s, or your own for that matter ) that you are in the situation you are in?

Truth is, your dues you pay to simply belong… period.

I have seen people that have attempted to stay away from the AIA, political rebels and such, be unsuccessful…

No work ( not even in a good market ) for those people.

The AIA is the professional association that one must belong to ( like it or not ) to be taken seriously in this profession, in this country.
And I will add, the US is not the only one… also: RIBA, ‘Escuela(s)’ or ‘Colegio(s)’ ‘… de Arquitectos’ in various countries… etc.

So… I will ask a few other questions to Carl (& those in the ‘angry’ boat) :

WILL you stop it ?

CAN you be held accountable for your own actions & circumstances ?

WHY don’t you find your way back to the reasons you took on this profession in the first place, and reassess what you want out of it ?

AND, after that, why don’t you take action ? ( and i don’t mean go find a job that isn’t there… but then again, i do. When was the last time you learned a software?.. or made some true progress to meet what the profession is requiring ? – not the AIA, but the Profession… it is evolving !! )

HOW about adding some skills, or another trade ? Business ? Law ? Technology ? … all pertain.

IS it only about Money ?

DO you (still) love Architecture ? DID you ever ?


HOW ABOUT NOW.. do you still think the AIA owes you anything ? Or, do YOU OWE YOURSELF ?

*And, to all of you.. trust me I share your pain. Out of work for a year now… But, the difference between you and I ? ..

I am being “proactive” instead of “reactive”.

~ simply, food for thought !

5 good reasons to attend the convention.. while in a recession

Posted in events, opinion, other architects by DS26 on 05.25.2010

this past weekend, in the mail, there it was… the AIA National Convention Badge.

along with it, a nice little ‘tap-n-go’ id card to be used at the exhibit hall; also it ensures you will get applicable CEU(s).



Networking with other architects can create a win-win… one meets people from near and far, and it can lead to a partnership, cross-country working relationship, or project collaboration in a new place; it can also open an opportunity for a  new project type.

If you’re an emerging professional, it gives you an opportunity to get in touch with established professionals.

Plus, many other professionals attend the convention: engineers, educators, manufacturing / sales representatives, etc.


Most of the conference are learning opportunities.

Sure one collects CEU(s) for state licensing maintenance requirements, and that’s great, but we cannot forget that this profession is in constant fast forward motion.

There are always new technologies, techniques, subjects, and professionals/specialists, and we must utilize the convention as a platform to learn, make progress, and continue our individual preparation to be better at practice.


In the past few weeks we’ve been following SANAA, and their award of the Pritzker this year.

There was a big event held, as there is every year, and there were some big names in attendance: Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, among others.

Now, who would have not wanted to be there?.. rubbing shoulders with such big Architects?..

The AIA National Convention, similarly, will have in attendance many individuals you will also want to share the event with (and possibly a word.. if you dare.. & so you should).

You will be sure to see there this year’s AIA National Firm of the Year, Pugh+Scarpa. Probably will also see many other important local Architects like Oppenheim, or Zyscovich.

After all, anyone throughout the US, with a license to practice, has to meet the CEU(s) requirements.

Would you not want to be seen ?


A quote we’ve been using lately, and seems to have caught on is : “Be proactive, not reactive”.

We pulled the quote from a great book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by S. Covey.

Being proactive is about being present, always. It also is about being ‘in action’.

If architecture is your passion, and practicing the profession is truly what you want to do with your life, then to be proactive is the one thing you owe yourself, and that no one can do for you; it will help you get there, whether there is the practice, or a better one.

Some people believe in luck, and honestly we do not really. You create your luck, and you do so by being at the right place, at the right time, and possibly speaking to/meeting the right person.

Above and beyond the being there, you must participate. Be a part, to set yourself apart…


Yes, you read correctly: Have a blast !

Think about it, busy days of events… then evenings to go out and enjoy yourself with people that are most likely a lot like you.

We breathe architecture; it is, for us, architecture all of the time, and sometimes that can be really heavy for those people outside of the profession.

How about 3 or 4 days of people that will love nothing more than to talk architecture, pritzker, design, materials, the last horrible meeting, or difficult permitting process… or about your latest success.

AND, this year, the AIA is hosting a SoBe (south beach) bar hopping night… you can’t get better.

Architects + Drinks + SoBe = A  P-A-R-T-Y !


Go Network, Learn, Be Proactive (not reactive), Be Seen, and go Party it up at this Year’s AIA National Convention.

Start with, like us, maybe updating your badge. Let those who see it see a bit of you.. it might spark a conversation.

What may seem as an expense is really an investment… An investment in yourself, in your future, and for your practice… For your benefit.

And, the ROI is sometimes so much more than you ever wanted, or even expected.