Design in a nutshell


These short videos are a great little intro to various design movements and their architects. Hopefully they will help provide visuals to associate with some of the major aspects of architectural history.

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Introduction and overview of the _AIA Docs_ describing the contractual arrangements between each of the various parties (architects, owners, contractors and consultants).

-arch & owner
-architect’s responsibility (standard of care, representative, liability, etc.)
-basic services (schedule, governing authorities, SD, DD, CD, costs, bidding, construction observation, etc.)
-add’l services (programming, surveys, BIM, detailed costs, LEED, As-builts, FF&E, etc.)
-owner’s responsibility (project info, budget, existing info, testing, inspection, etc.)
-cost estimate (schematic, design development and construction)
-copy rights (instruments of service, authorship, claims, etc.)
-claim/dispute resolution (mediation, litigation, etc.)

-arch & consultant
-prime agreement
-portion of the project
-responsibilities (professional skill, care, recommendations, etc.)
-termination, competition, compensation, etc.

-owner & contractor
-contract docs (Agreement, General & Supplementary Conditions, Drawings, Specs, Addenda)
-date of commencement and substantial completion
-contract sum
-payments (application for payment, schedule of values, progress payment, retainage, etc.)

To get copies of the AIA Docs please visit the AIAIC website.

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Associate Director Report 8/6/2013

August 6, 2013
1. Schematic Design completed:
‐ 2 attendees took their tests before the blackout and passed their exams
‐ A couple of other regular attendees would like to take this exam after the blackout so
another session is planned later in the year
2. Design Exams Sessions in progress:
‐ Will hold the 4th session this Thursday
‐ Plan to post study group progress to a website in case people are unable to attend (see
attached example of an outline post from the last session)
‐ Will attempt to put together an online check out board of the AIA Study Material to help
members see what material is available
3. Invited the group to the Lego Event at the Barnes and Noble in Redlands in lieu of the regular
study sessions to learn about general design principles within architecture.
4. Contacted Daniel Flores regarding Freedom by Design (c/o Gary and Margaret):
‐ They are currently working on finishing required paperwork
‐ Will meet with the committee and discuss first project (planning on multiple this year)
5. Field Trip Options
‐ Case Study house (Stahl House)
‐ Hollyhock House
‐ Gamble House
‐ Schindler House

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A great event hosted by Barnes and Noble in Redlands with local architect Michael Burke. There is a simple joy in going back to the building blocks of most children’s first foray into design. The endless possibility of seemingly simple building blocks that have the potential to form anything that springs to the imagination. We usually start with following a nice set of instructions folded into a neat little package that lays out a relatively simple path to a boat, an airplane, or a building. Then before, during or after we start dreaming a little bit and ask ‘what do you want [Lego] Brick?’

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Brief overview of the various aspects and procedures of taking a set of construction documents from the contractural phase to the building phase.

Path to a finished building:

Bid Set Components:
Project Manual
Bidding Requirements
Front Ends
Contract Docs

Document organization:


(Thanks Kelly!)

Various specification options: via
Proprietary (Open & Closed)

Masterformat 2004

Project Team Communication:

-Construction work divided among construction trades
-Information shown on shop drawings
-Aspects of Descriptive specifications
-Aspects of Performance specifications
-Aspects of Proprietary specifications
-Reasons for Master specifications

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Design Exams Study Sessions Intro


The focus of the initial study group will be an overview of the Design Exams: Site Planning and Design, Construction Documents and Services and Programming Practice and Planning. In focusing on the material that relates to multiple exams simultaneously we will develop a firm base for any exam taken in the future.

Outline study options:
Question & Answer
Lecture Topics

Suggested books:
Kaplan or Ballast Books
Architect’s Studio Companion
Architect’s Portable Handbook
Architect Graphic Standards
Selected for the wide berth of material and long term usability.

Test taking path per CAB and NCARB:
CAB Record $100
NCARB Record $250
7 AREs x $210
CSE $100
NCARB Certification $1500 ($225 yearly)
CA License $300 (every 2 years)

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Schematic Design Intro

Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice and practice.

This exam requires no studying just going through the program until it makes you sick.

The best way to approach it is to establish a methodology to help guide you as you take the exam. This will help focus you so you don’t sit there and freak out. Because you have put a method to the madness that can be design you will also insure that you don’t miss one of those little things that you might have let slip during your practice sessions leaving you more time to focus on the bigger issues. Like where the hell do I put the copier room.

The first thing you do after you’ve sat down at your computer and confirmed that you are you is take a quick introduction to how to take the exam. You should already be familiar with this so of the ten minutes you should have at least five to twiddle your thumbs. I suggest using this time to perform a lovingly named brain dump on your scratch paper. In this case maybe a quick sketch of the designs you practiced along with an outline of your steps. Remember we’re trying to build up your confidence.

Once the clock starts on one of the longest six hours of your life I would do one thing that is extremely simple that will help put your mind at ease by just putting something down on paper as it is. After that go through the program slowly and throughly. Then hit it. You’ve practiced enough now just take a deep breath and do what you have been trained to do, been studying for and hopefully love to do – find a solution to a design problem.

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To the cloud!

So I’ve been working with BIM9 for the last couple of months setting up our Private BIM Cloud. The process was daunting throughout but having an extremely knowledgeable and patient installer made a world of difference in getting us up and running quickly and thoroughly.

With the constant development of CAD software hardware upgrade cycles are and will continue to be a hot topic. So in researching the best possible upgrade path for today and for the not so distant future finding a simple way to upgrade, deploy, manage and troubleshoot hardware/software is of vital importance for anyone having to deal with CAD/IT on a daily basis.

Building a private building computer was relatively straight forward with the guidance and the tested components from BIM9. Software setup was more involved from installing the OS, setting up the virtual machines and tying the computer to our domain. Setting up the backbone domain was definitely one of the most involved parts but once that was up and running adding the cloud computers became relatively fast. Managing virtual workstations from one single location makes installing, updating and troubleshooting extremely easy.

So far everything seems to be working well and managing twenty workstations is definitely a good bit easier nowadays.


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Associate Director Report 1/8/2013


2013 AIA Associate Outline:

Design Charette
Design Competition
Manufacturer Tour
IDP Session
ARE Breakdown
Habitat for Humanity
Architecture for Humanity
ARE Vignette Session
Architecture Day
Long Night of Arts
Career Day
Ping Pong Round Robin
Designer Session
Project Manager Session
Construction Document Session
Principal Session
ARE Quiz Bowl
Detail Pictionary
Historic Tour
Building Bingo
Jumbo Jenga

Bake Sale
Donation Auction/Raffle
Building Bingo

Joint AIAS Sessions
Meet every Thursday with one Event per month
Consistent Venue
Typical format – Associate Committee Business + Study/event

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The un”BOXX”ing

BOXX DesktopAfter some leg work decided to give BOXX Technology a try to help our office with rendering. They supposedly work to research software to develop hardware accordingly. I say supposedly because after much correspondence I get the feeling that much like any other retailer they just try and push sales albeit of pretty kick butt hardware.

Shipping was fast and well packaged. The equipment was branded but all in all very high quality components and the software was setup in a clean and simple interface. Again my biggest gripe was that I needed to setup a render farm and they pushed hardware but did not seem very helpful in at the very least suggesting software setup for these machines, in our case Rhino and Vray. I found that I had to do a lot of leg work to figure out how to get this up and running which to be honest I do love to geek out here and there but if I am going to pay a premium to a boutique retailer I need this to be just near flawless otherwise what’s the point.

The desktop came in an extremely compact case and runs almost completely silent. The overclocked cpu and beefy graphics card seems to handle Rhino quite well. So far the only issue we have run into is RAM underun the other day while running Photoshop. The 16gb we had works great for all the CAD applications but was a little short when it came to multimedia applications, an unfortunate lack of foresight on our part but definitely one of the aspects we brought up while we were ordering the hardware.

Along with the two render boxes we got a 1U side by side server case which is a about 27″ deep that fits in a 4 post rack at almost the max adjustment. Initial setup was easy, Windows was pre-installed and merely needed login and password info filled out. From here is where we were hoping the BOXX would lend more of a hand in guiding us in the best way to setup our rendering work flow. Unfortunately they merely gave us the general run around and forwarded our requests to the software vendors. Not exactly what I was expecting from a company that claims to cater to design professionals that just want to get things running projects as soon as possible. So needless to say we finally figured that the distributed rendering program that came with Rhino was how we wanted to proceed. After installing the distributed rendering program we were up and running slaving them to our primary rendering machine within no time. The machines are extremely loud when the computers are started and during rendering, but luckily will be in our server room. They do require fairly regular restarts and the distributed rendering program hangs quite a bit. When it does work though it provides us with an additional 24 dedicated cores to aid in rendering. They hook into the primary rendering machine a good bit faster than when we tied into working desktops around the office.  The next big step is to fully integrate it into our domain and maybe find some additional tasks for them when not rendering.

All in all both the desktop and the render boxes ended up working well in our office work flow. Maybe a little more help from BOXX Technologies would have made things easier but their hardware setup is definitely top notch and looks to work well with the CAD software we are throwing at it. So the promise of the world’s fastest workstations may be true just don’t expect to be speeding off right outta the gate unless you already know the setup you want to run.

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