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AIA New Hampshire News & Blog

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Click here to view the Call for Entries as a PDF.

I have talked about the future of the profession in my recent articles, but what I haven’t addressed is; what are we doing to educate the younger generation about architecture and its impact on the environment?

I recently traveled to Orlando, Florida to attend the 2017 AIA Conference on Architecture.  As a Northern climate person, Orlando was not the first place I would have chosen to attend such an event.  In addition to the business meeting, where I voted for our new directors of AIA National and several Resolutions to the AIA National By-laws, I had the opportunity to attend several inspiring sessions relating to the state of our profession.

Back in September I wrote an article that listed many of the organizations dedicated to helping architects expand their involvement, knowledge, and commitment to sustainable design. One of these groups of concerned professionals was created under the umbrella of our AIA national organization more than 25 years ago. It exists as one of the knowledge committees officially established under the AIA’s structure of committees that focus on particular topics of architectural practice.

One of the most important lessons (see: goals) in the architecture field is developing yourself as a valuable asset. My very first boss taught me a great lesson in how to excel in the architecture field, which was to try and think three steps ahead of him on what he might ask me to do. If you need to have everything explained, the job is ultimately done, and your job would simply be to execute. Not quite what it means to become an architect.

Recently I ventured over to Keene State College to help out with a mid-semester design review for one of Bart Sapeta’s studio classes. Many of you may know Bart, but for those of you who don’t, he has been an Associate Professor at Keene State for about eight years now. He is also currently an AIA New Hampshire Board Director, and has been nominated to become our chapter’s Vice President next year. I always enjoy his passion for design and his ability to spark that passion among his students in the Keene State Architecture program.

Architecture is an interesting profession to be involved in. As we all know, remaining current in the field requires constant learning, updating, knowledge, and different ways of thinking. Becoming a good or great architect requires much more. Over my somewhat short (relatively speaking) career in the architecture world, there are many things I think can, and should, help you develop from “just” an architect, to something that might evolve into much more.


In last month’s Forum article, I wrote about the numerous organizations and information sources dedicated to helping design and construction professionals step up to a new ‘standard of care’ for the environmental performance of the buildings we design. It’s been an interesting evolution of organizations, and someday I hope to read a long treatise on the history and success stories of the ‘sustainability movement’.

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: I think the tiny house movement is ridiculous. I think it’s a fun idea people have about living sort of “unconnected” to space, when in actuality, the majority of us need a certain level of connection (figuratively and literally) to our surroundings. I say literally, because a house on wheels is quite literally unconnected to its environment. I think the architecture world has somewhat failed the residential sector in order for this atrocity of an idea to develop.

With summer behind us and the fall weather coming on, many of us are programmed by our years of schooling to see this month the beginning of another year of learning. And perhaps we naturally gravitate to our subjects of curiosity and the desire for moving ahead with a better understanding of our pet topics. As in past Septembers, I am happy to say that I often get a mental boost from this season and dive in anew; thank goodness!

Well, do you? Do you have grand dreams of designing a notable project that graces the front of Architectural Record? Are you ready to spend 60 hours a week checking drawings done by someone else, visiting sites for construction administration, dealing with difficult clients, paying yearly fees, spending time on continuing education requirement, etc.? If not, maybe you should reassess becoming an architect…

With the new Executive Director, the AIA New Hampshire office will be moving. We have a select number of AIA Contract Documents in paper format that we are selling at a 25% discount. There are limited quantities available, so the sale will be on a first come-first serve basis. Please check the attached price list for a list of the documents on sale. You may order by phone, email or post. Sale will continue through September 22. Sale list

Bonnie Kastel

Bonnie Kastel has been selected
as the new Executive Director
for AIA New Hampshire,
to begin October 1.

As some of you may know, the AIA New Hampshire Board of Directors has been busy since late winter with the work of finding a new Executive Director to take on the role in October when Carolyn Isaak retires from the position. Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated committee of the Board, we were all able to interview four well-qualified persons from a field of eighteen candidates. Special thanks go out to Shannon Alther AIA, our past, past president who volunteered to follow through as committee chairman and brought us together for the final candidate interviews.

In case you may have been living under a rock, this past month a controversy was sparked about a little boy who fell into a gorilla pit at a zoo. The controversy covered everything from a lack of parental overlook, to animal cruelty, to proper buildings/structures to house and observe animals. Again, as you probably already know, the gorilla was tragically shot and killed as a means to save the young boy’s life. This is one of those social situations that, no matter what happened, was not going to have a good outcome. Could architecture have played a role in avoiding such a tragedy?

The 2015 Life Safety Code, NFPA 101, will be the applicable fire code effective June 30, 2016. Note NFPA 1 remains at 2009 edition as does the IBC and other building codes.

Effective June 30, 2016 the New Hampshire Fire Code reads as follows:

Almost 9,000 Architects attended this year’s AIA National Convention in Philadelphia (and nearly 21,000 people in total). Between speeches, seminars, trade show exhibits, voting, and the business meeting, it was quite a non-stop event. As delegates we elected three Architects to national office to fill the vacancies of first vice president, secretary, and delegate- at-large for the national Board of Directors. I can attest to the quality of leadership that our national organization has attracted.

Ah, the age old saying. To me that phase recalls memories of childhood; doing some sort of chore, my father watching me as I struggle to complete it. He would let me struggle for a good bit until showing me some trick or technique that would help get the job done quicker and/or with less effort. “Work smarter, not harder” he’d say, as I wondered why he didn’t show me before, or just do it himself.

Each year our Chapter president attends the AIA convention including the Business meeting of our AIA national organization. This May I have the honor of representing our Chapter at the event in Philadelphia May 19-21, and casting the Chapter votes for the candidates for national office, and the various resolutions. I have recently spoken with two of the candidates up for election, and plan to learn more about the others before the event. I have also been reviewing the resolutions which are presented at the business meeting.

The following are handwritten notes by Charles Eames; January 1949, Part II: Speeches and Writings series, Charles and Ray Eames Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Make a list of books
Develop a curiosity
Look at things as though for the first time
Think of things in relation to each other
Always think of the next larger thing
Avoid the “pat” answer—the formula
Avoid the preconceived idea
Study well objects made past recent and ancient but never without the technological and social conditions responsible

Recently you may have heard that the ‘powers that be’ here in NH considered the adoption of the latest edition of the family of ICC building codes, that’s the 2015 editions. The last time we moved forward to new editions of the code was in 2010, when the 2009 versions were adopted, along with several amendments.

I recently watched a movie, 500 Days of Summer (a romantic comedy, get over it), that had an aspiring architect as the main protagonist. Our hero struggled with the idea of working a job he didn’t enjoy, and always wished he had pursued architecture. Around the third act, a video montage accompanied by uplifting music had our hero quitting the job he did not like, breaking out his sketch pad, and architecting all over the place.

Once again we gathered in January to celebrate and honor the firms and individuals who have demonstrated a skillful and thoughtful practice of architecture. I find this event to be a very enjoyable get together, as it brings out about 170 people who have a good time reconnecting with those they haven’t seen for a while. And yes it feels good to share stories and wish each other well.

Do you ever feel kind of embarrassed when you tell someone your job profession? Intern Architect. Intern. The word evokes thoughts of being the go-fer person in an office, running errands and getting coffee for the important project managers and architects, hopefully someday being able to do some actual design work. A few years ago I started calling myself an associate architect. Years before that I would tell people I’m an “aspiring architect,” and I guess it finally caught on!

Doug Bencks FAIA

The 2016 Jury of Fellows of the AIA elevated Douglas Bencks to its prestigious College of Fellows, an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the profession. Bencks will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the 2016 National AIA Convention in Philadelphia in May, as well as at an AIA New Hampshire event at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, March 17. More information on the March 17 Event.

At its 32nd Annual Awards Banquet on January 22, the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANH) named Richard K. Gsottschneider and William Norton as Honorary Members of the Chapter. This award is bestowed on non-architects who have given distinguished service to the profession of architecture or to the arts and sciences related to architecture within the state of New Hampshire. More

Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg, TN, as seen from the Parkway
By-pass looking south toward
the Great Smokey Moutains

I recently became visitor 7,600,000-ish to the Great Smoky Mountains over the first week in November of 2015. There are approximately 9,000,000 visitors to the park each year which makes it the most visited National Park in the country, nearly twice as many as any other park in the country. My trip took me to Gatlinburg, TN, considered the “Gateway” to the Great Smoky Mountains.

One of the most famous quotes in the architectural world is Mies van der Rohe’s exclamation, “Less is more.” This quote, along with his style of a minimal framework to express a “skin and bones” style of architecture, has helped a generation of architects try to justify design moves and explain architectural ideas. It can, and will, be forever uttered by a boss, a studio professor, a juror, and probably by each of us at some point in our architectural career to help sell an idea.

My past few articles have covered things such as personal branding, entering competitions, putting together compelling boards, and personal branding. When this has all been balled up into a project you are excited about, there is just one more hurdle: surviving the architectural critique.

I recently found myself traveling along the route I use to walk to school as a young boy every day. I grew up in the city of Manchester during the ’60s and ’70s at a time in which the city was going through many changes. The downtown, which was once the thriving retail and economic hub of the state, was going through a time of “urban renewal.” The once bustling downtown was then for the most part abandoned as the growth of strip malls, food services, and entertainment venues continued along the outskirts of the city.

With many of the great “starchitects” out there (depending on how they are perceived), one can typically tell who designed the building by its overall forms and features; Gehry and his amorphous shapes, Wright and his harmony with environment, Pei and his modern cubist themes, etc. The common core these architects share is how they have a personal brand.

Let’s face it, architecture is a profession built around people with money. Most people look at architects as an expensive indulgence. Many of us have provided our services to people and or organizations that typically might not be able to afford our services as a result of our own altruistic instincts. It’s part of human nature to help those who can’t help themselves. There is one architect that comes to mind that embodies this basic human instinct and has been my architectural hero for many years. His name: Samuel (Sambo) Mockbee.

In one of my past articles, I mentioned that I have done a number of competitions during my architectural career. Personally, I love doing competitions. It brings me back to the days of studio learning, and getting fully immersed in a project I was truly excited about. I also think competitions have some other great benefits; the opportunity to get published, for acclaim, as a resume builder, to stay active in the architecture world, and (of course) prize money.

The Grand Basin

The Grand Basin

Summertime and vacations are traditionally a great time to read a good book. With time on our hands, a book is a great escape. I read a book recently which I think many of you may be familiar with or have read already: The Devil in the White City, Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that changed America by Erik Larson. Don’t worry, this is not a book review, I will leave that up to you. The story and the way Larson was able to weave two distinctly disparate stories was in itself entertaining, but what fascinated me most was the story of the architects.

With the summer fast approaching, what better way to celebrate than a good “auld-fashioned” road trip! That’s right, road trip. I have been doing a lot of reading over that past year during my travels back and forth between New Hampshire and South Carolina and a lot of that reading has been focused around the Civil War. I am not sure what my fascination about that period in American History is all about, but one of the most prolific American architects had a similar one. In 1938, Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design a southern plantation for C.

Up until four or five years ago, one of my biggest fears was saying something stupid in a professional meeting, collaboration, design charrette, etc. I’m not really sure why; I felt like I had good design tastes, I had years of experience, and many more years of schooling. On top of all that, I had done countless projects in group settings, participated in group critiques (not only as the one being critiqued, but as the critiquer), as well as one-on-one critiques.

That’s the AIA’s national public relation and advertising campaign that launched back in December of 2014. The goal is to raise the public profile of the architect’s contribution to the built environment. At Grassroots this year, Robert Ivy, CEO of the AIA, asked attendees if they had seen the recent ads for the Look Up campaign on TV. To be honest, I had not seen an ad for this campaign until after the conference, and even then it didn’t make much of an impression on me.

Up until four or five years ago, one of my biggest fears was saying something stupid in a professional meeting, collaboration, design charrette, etc. I’m not really sure why; I felt like I had good design tastes, I had years of experience, and many more years of schooling. On top of all that, I had done countless projects in group settings, participated in group critiques (not only as the one being critiqued, but as the critiquer), as well as one-on-one critiques.

What do you see when you look up? | Video: to be an architect