architecture blog

Recent Articles Published Featuring Modative

Posted by Krystal Navar on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 @ 07:03 AM

Modative has been featured in a couple of recent articles: one in the Los Angeles Business Journal and another in Architect Magazine. Yay us! Check them out below. 

Published February 23, the Los Angeles Business Journal's cover story, "Tight Market", looks at the design challenges of small lot homes. (To learn more about the Small Lot Subdivision ordinance, download our handy guide and information packet.)

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Modative featured in Los Angeles Business Journal cover story titled "Tight Market".

LA_Business_Journal_Small_Lot

Christian Návar in front of the Fay 3x Homes, designed and built by Modative. Fay 2x Homes and Fay Phase III are visible in the background.

 

Posted February 1 to Architect Magazine's website, an article titled "Time Management" looks at the techniques managers employ to stay organized. Christian Návar, principal and co-founder of Modative, speaks about the processes in place at Modative to encourage employees to work efficiently. 

Architect_Magazine_Modative_Navar

Exerpt of Architect Magazine article titled "Time Management", for which Modative was interviewed.

Tags: los angeles architects, Modern Design, real estate, Architectual Practice, AIA, construction, Development

Why Open Architecture Competitions Are Bad for Architects?

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, May 18, 2010 @ 07:05 AM

Architects need to stop entering open architecture competitions. 

Most architecture competitions are not worth it, but none more than the complete waste of time known as the open architecture competition.This type of competition is what it says it is: open to anyone. Sometimes they are for a real project, but most often, they are fake, or as they're often called, an "ideas" competition.

As you may have seen in our last post, we're currently in the middle of a team competition for homeless housing, which is neither open nor purely architectural.

Our office has participated in only one open architecture competition in our four-plus years in business. And although the beach hut competition was fun and inspiring, it was a great example of why competitions are not worth it.

architecture competitions

Our inspiring, but financially draining Sand Hut competition entry.

Since the Sand Hut experience, there have been many opportunities to enter competitions, and of the three Modative partners, I'm often the biggest proponent of entering competitions. Thankfully, my logical business partners are able to convince me not to enter open architecture competitions. They use any number of the following five reasons why open architecture competitions are bad for us:

1.Waste of time and money

An open competition is a project. A project you are going to work on for free. Whether you like it or not, architecture is a business and businesses are in the business of making money, not working for free.

If you're one of the rare architects with idle time, there are plenty of more productive things to do with your time.

2. Projects are almost never built

Every architect knows this. Even the competitions that claim to be for real buildings almost never get built because competition budgets are nonexistent or ignored. The most eye catching and extravagant design wins. The most extravagant design rarely meets budget.

3. Too much competition (You won't win)

Obvious but true. Open competitions have few barriers to entry - it's free-for-all. No matter how good your competition design skills are, you're competing against hundreds or thousands of other architects.

So, for example, if the competition jury reviewed submissions for 8 hours (a generous assumption), and they received 1,000 submissions, that would give them about 28 seconds to look at your project. The same project you just worked on for 100+ hours is getting judged in less than half a minute. You get the point.

4. Provide little publicity, if any.

If you don't get gold, silver or bronze, no one cares. Even if you are recognized in the competition, the publicity will rarely match the effort.

Besides, the world of publicity has changed significantly in the last few years. Hoping to get press through a competition win is an old-school mentality. Nowadays, you can design great stuff then let the world know on the interwebs. If you're really good, and decent at getting the word out, people will find you. You don't need a competition for publicity.

5. They devalue architects

Ooh look, we can get all these silly little architects to work for free. Have you ever seen doctors or lawyers sign up in droves to do free work?

Exhibit A

A few weeks back I received the following open competition email announcement from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). This clearly highlights some of the problems with these types of architecture competitions.

architecture competitions suck
 

Disclaimers: I'm an AIA member, and like anyone that pays a lot of money towards a professional organization, I have the occasional right to gripe. Before everyone gets all cranky, I do realize that this competition is for a good cause. However, there are many other ways for you to use your skills as an architect for a good cause which we'll touch on in a future blog post.

Problem #1: Submission Fees: Not only is this not a competition for a real building, nor do you get money if you win, but you have to pay to enter. Pay them, then work for free. Does anyone else find this crazy?

Problem #2: The Reward: So, if you're lucky enough to win this competition, you get to show other architects your work for a few days at the AIA National Convention in Miami. None of these architects will hire you to build your genius temporary relief housing scheme. Not such a great reward for all this work, huh?

 

Instead of just complaining about open competitions, we've got some solutions. In a future post, we'll discuss some alternatives to architects wasting time with open competitions. UPDATE: That post now exists - 5 Things Architects Should Do Instead of Entering Open Competitions

 

Side Note: This post has been sitting in the draft box for several weeks. A few days back, I noticed that a very talented fellow architect blogger, Jody Brown, AIA, LEED AP, posted a very interesting article about architecture competitions on his "Coffee with an Architect" Blog. At first I was hesitant to publish this after seeing his post on the same topic. Who wants to be seen as a topic copycat? But we have very different takes on open competitions. I encourage you to check out his post - Architectural Competitions are a Glorious Waste of Time. He makes some very interesting points that go against most of what I just said. He's pretty convincing.

 

What are your thoughts on open architecture competitions?

Tags: Business, Marketing, Ethics, Architectual Practice, AIA, Architecture Competitions

How to Become a Licensed Architect?

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Oct 27, 2009 @ 09:10 AM

When discussing licensed professionals here in the USA, architects are still a bit of a mystery.

Surely you've seen enough doctor shows to get a feel for the intern/resident/attending path for doctors.

licensed professionals on tv This group has been educating us on what it takes to be become a licensed doctor in dramatic, scandalous fashion.

You probably also know a law school graduate who's disappeared into study mode for the bar exam?

But what about architects? How do architects become licensed?

architectIs this still how the public perceives architects? It would really hurt my back to work like that. Image from "architect" wikipedia page.

There Aren't Many Architects

Don't feel alone if you are uncertain how one becomes an architect. Many architecture students and even some in the field, don't have a grasp on the licensing process. One of the reasons for the mystery is simple: there aren't many architects. Even in the most populous state of California (my home sweet home), there are far fewer licensed architects than lawyers and doctors.

number of licensed architect in CA

 

So, before we get started on how to become a licensed architect, here are two things to keep in mind:

  • There are national standards, but every state issues their own licenses and sets their own requirements.
  • The process continues to evolve. By the time I'm done writing this, they've probably added another test or internship requirement.

The Four Basic Steps to Becoming an Architect

1. School

As you would expect, you'll most likely need to go to school. Not just any school, but an accredited program. There are currently about 150 accredited schools. To find one, you can start by checking with the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

There are a few types of degrees that you can get in architecture that qualify:

  • Bachelor of Architecture (BArch)- Your basic, intense-limited-sleep-and-social-life-most-of-your-courses-are-predetermined, undergraduate university degree. I graduated with one of these degrees about 10 years ago and although I'm not as bitter as I may sound, I am still tired. Also note that BArch programs are five-year programs, so tack on an extra year of tuition compared to a typical major.
  • Master of Architecture (MArch)- You don't need an undergraduate architecture degree to apply for a graduate degree, but there are masters programs that are shorter for those that already have a BArch degree.
  • Doctor of Architecture (DArch)- If you decide to become one of the dozen people in the world that have one of these rare degrees, then you are too smart to be reading this blog. Move along.

2. Internship

If you still want to be an architect after school, you'll need to get a job working for an architectural firm. While you work for (often little) money, you'll be completing your internship hours. There's a system to this internship madness and it's called the Intern Development Program (IDP). The bad news is that IDP involves documenting work hours. The good news is that IDP's intention is good: to give young professionals a well-rounded experience in the architecture field.

IPD completion requires 700 training units (8 hours per unit) divided into 16 or so categories that cover a diverse spectrum of what architects do. This program is intended to better educate interns and prevent young professionals from being abused by only giving them repetitive tasks (stair details anyone?) that do little to provide the necessary real-world education.

Some states also have extra internship requirements (such as California), so be sure to check with the state architects board.

3. Testing

Long gone are the days of prospective architects taking a four-day paper and pencil exam administered once a year. Since 1997, national testing has been computerized, offering candidates the "opportunity" to take the different portions of the exam in any order and at any time they can get an appointment at the local computer testing center.

The national tests, or Architect Registration Examination (ARE) as they are known have multiple divisions or tests that must all be passed. When I took the ARE, there were nine tests that I took sporadically over several years as I found time to study while also working full time. There are now seven divisions, with combinations of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and graphic portions, which require test takers to draw and create layouts in a CAD-like program.

Some states also have additional testing requirements such as California's Supplemental Exam. I took this unpopular, formal, oral formatted test and it was not fun. Good news for California architects-to-be is that there are rumors that the California Architect's Board is changing the oral format of the exam.

4. Licensure

So, once you've completed the above three steps, you'll need to register (meaning pay a fee) with your state (or multiple states) and verify completion of the requirements. Once you're licensed, you can officially call yourself an architect.

Architects can put the initials R.A. (Registered Architect) after their names, but it's more common to see AIA (American Institute of Architects), meaning they're a member of the national professional association for licensed architects.

Many states (and the AIA) have continuing education requirements, which means architects have to document educational hours in topics relevant to the profession to renew their licenses.

So...

After outlining all of these steps, the question becomes, is it more difficult to become a licensed architect, doctor or lawyer?

Tags: Architectual Practice, Architecture Experience, AIA, architecture license

Five Thoughts on the AIA Convention

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, May 7, 2009 @ 10:05 AM

aia architects

Image of courtesy of Neal Pann, AIA

Now that a few days have passed since the AIA (American Institute of Architects) Convention in San Francisco, I've had some time to reflect on the event. Although it was an overall good experience, I, being an architect, can't help but be critical and look for areas for improvement:

1. Less Architect Speakers

The best seminars I attended were by non-architects, or architects that have broken out of the traditional architecture role. As a profession, we're pretty insulated. As I've said before, outsiders to the architecture profession have much to teach us.

2. No Convention Center

Convention Centers are massive flexible spaces that can decently accommodate just about anything. Unfortunately, this great flexibility in uses means that every use is compromised. Lecture/seminar rooms have bad acoustics, viewing angles, seating and are just unappealing overall.The expo floor, full of companies pushing "green" products and materials, is in a huge air conditioned and artificially-lit space that smells of carpet off-gassing.

I suggest utilizing college campuses in their off-seasons: real lecture halls, the (outdoor) quad for the expo, plenty of restaurants and bars, and best of all, college atmosphere.

moscone west

Moscone West Convention Hall. Image of courtesy of Neal Pann, AIA

3. Repeat Seminars

Rumors of which seminars and events were the best spread quickly by word of mouth, text message, and Internet blogs. I heard of several seminars on Thursday that I would've attended on Friday, but they were only given once. The AIA could even encourage this with a website or promo of Twitter (see #5 below) for instant feedback or a vote on which seminars should repeat.

4. Empower the Youth

The conference attendance was light on professionals in their 20's and 30's. My partners and I fall into this category and this was our first real convention. I suggest the AIA drastically reduce the cost for professionals under 35. This would encourage firms to send their youth in addition to sending older firm principals. These future leaders have the power to bring positive changes to their respective firms and the industry as a whole. Chances are they will also get the convention bug and continue to attend even when the price increases.

5. Social Networking

I provided updates of my #aia2009 convention experience on Twitter to those who cared to follow. There were others doing this as well, but not many. I enjoyed sharing experiences this way with other attendees as well as those who couldn't attend, following along from home. This is great publicity for the convention. I hope architects and the AIA step up the social networking attendance at next years convention.

 

I'm sure there is no shortage of opinions on the AIA and other professional conventions. Share away.

Tags: Architectual Practice, AIA