I’ve seen a lot of tweets lately about the LEED lawsuit. While I can’t speak to the veracity of the lawsuit’s claims I can and will weigh in on my own personal opinion of LEED and the USGBC.

I think LEED was incredibly important. It was a first step towards a national shift in the way developers, governments and commercial clients think about buildings and performance. Without LEED we might still be living in a world where green and white roofs would still be found mostly in Europe, where dual flush toilets and waterless urinals would be a curiosity found at Epcot but no where else in the USA, and where post-consumer recycled content percentages would still be found only on paper and not listed proudly on the resource webpage for carpets and other finishes. With all of that said, I think we have outgrown LEED.

This spring I will be coming up on my first license renewal. One of the daunting things that I’ve come across this past year and a half has been learning about the continuing education system and the varying requirements per state. I’ve put together the following list of links as a resource for anyone looking to find out more about whats required of them and where to get some last minute Continuing Education Units (CEUs). If you are looking up your required amounts of CEUs there are two options for information AIA has a chart showing their requirements and the individual state/province requirements NCARB has a prettier chart, but it doesn’t include the AIA requirements. That all seems innocent enough, but it can actually be quite confusing, especially if you have multiple licenses. I’ll use my situation as an example. I am licensed in Virginia and Washington, DC. So, AIA requires a minimum of 18 credits annually, 8 of which must be in Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) certified courses. Virginia requires a minimum of 16 credits over 2 years and no specific HSW requirement. And DC requires a minimum of 24 credits over 2 years, of which all of [...]

I know that in some cases when most blogs go inactive the authors are out leading incredibly exciting lives and are just too busy to write. Or sometimes the authors are going through a major change of life: moving, getting married, having kids, etc. Maybe the authors have been horribly injured and are stuck in a coma and can’t open their eyes let alone compose a post and source images. None of these things happened. Here’s what happened: I ran out of things to say. It wasn’t that i said everything i had to say, not in the least, its just that I got to a point where i felt that every post needed to be a well crafter article with references and deep thoughts. I forgot that the soul of blogging is that its a conversation, I write and you respond. So I moved to twitter for a bit and posted on there my random thoughts, but eventually that became too much to keep up with. I felt that if i wasn’t actively engaged all of the time I was just a broadcaster and not a part of the conversation, so I stopped using that too, and then both [...]

I went to an open house a number of months ago for a new project by KUBE architecture. From the street, this Georgetown home, designed by Janet Bloomberg, seems to be yet another Georgian town house. When you open the door you find yourself transported to a modern space more at home in Los Angeles or manhattan than the 18th century streets of DC’s 2nd ward, yet the starck transition works. It sets you up for a series of well lit rooms that play with the modern trope of compression and release but manage to avoid the pitfall of hyper-glossy surfaces that are too often found in contemporary spaces. Instead Janet has chosen a muted palet of textural elements which alternate between the sheen of brushed metal, the warmth of rich wood veneers and the pleasantly imperfect nature of unglazed ceramics. The house is anchored by a floating stair whose verticality is emphasized by a curtain of steel cables running from the ground floor to the second story.  While an interesting architectural element, the steel cables at times present a bit of a challenge in visual and physical comfort.  When I visited the house was very crowded, the steel cables [...]

The majority of DC is a pedestrian city; it is meant to be viewed up close and slowly. The streets of row houses are hidden behind a protective screen of trees and gardens known affectionately as “The Parking” and can only be fully appreciated by a pedestrian wandering in this ribbon of green. Viewing these neighborhoods form a car is a difficult endeavor, first the greenery obstructs many of the facades and second unless you find a place to park, the buildings go by too rapidly (even at a leisurely 25 mph) to appreciate the finer details. The same goes for the grand vistas of the National Mall and the Federal City, while these are on a grander monumental scale, they are only really appreciated by pedestrians who can walk their lengths. Cars are able to drive down along the mall, but again the view across is screened by greenery and the few crossings do not provide a full appreciation of the structured view. Even the Modernist complexes of near South West are better appreciated on foot. Sure, you can see all of the buildings from the street, but only pedestrians can explore the rabbit warren of tunnels, paths and [...]

BLDGBLOG ran a story today about Project Iceworm and how the US had at one point built a research/military base UNDER the greenland glacier. While reading this story, all I could think of is how this kind of technology could be used. The three places my mind goes are colonizing Antarctica, surviving the next Ice Age, and colonizing Enceladus the Ice Moon of Saturn. I know, crazy right?

In Fall of 2009 I went on a trip to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland with some friends. While I was out there I took the opportunity to visit both Falling Water and Kentuck Knob. They are about an hour away and part of the same tour system. While Falling Water may well be Frank Lloyd Wright’s most well known home, neither should be missed. Kentuck Knob is a great example of how a Usonian Home could be modified to suit the needs of a much wealthier client than the original target market. Furthermore, the house is built on a hexagon base unit which stands in full contrast to the rectangle used as the base for Falling Water. When I returend to Northern Virignia I had the pleasure of touring a third Wright home, the Pope-Leighey House, a more traditional Usonian Home. While less well known, this house holds its own in any architectural arena. Compared to Kentuck Knob and Falling Water, this middle class home feels more garden folly than full time residence, but it is a great example of an early compact Modern compact home which manages to fit in the creature comforts in the smallest of spaces. Which [...]

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be posting some posts that have been sitting in my drafts folder for way too long. After that I hope to bring this blog active again. Blog this! Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Buzz it up Share on Linkedin Mixx it up Share via MySpace share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Share on technorati Tumblr it Tweet about it Buzz it up Subscribe to the comments on this post Print for later Bookmark in Browser Tell a friend

A few weeks ago I had a nice chat with John Wittman of Geier Brown Renfrow Architects in Old Town Alexandria; they are one of the firms I highlighted in my October 2008 post Top 24 Architecture Design Firms in the Washington DC area.  John had emailed me recently and invited me to come to their office so I could learn more about them and better understand the work they do.  While I was meeting with him I decided that this might be a great way for me to jumpstart back into blogging.  Instead of just writing about Architecture, it would be great for me to write about Architecture Offices in the DC area and their specific cultures! Geier Brown Renfrow Architects have been around for the last 30 years but, like most small firms have gone through a few periods of reinvention. Currently they are coming off of one of those periods. About a year ago they moved into a new office on Royal Street in Old Town Alexandria.  Their new space is a physical manifestation of their corporate reinvention. When I arrived at their office on Royal Street, I was not sure of what to expect.  From the [...]

I think I may have a reason why this recovery is floundering, and it all has to do with housing.  Now stay with me a second, this is not subprime loans, nor predatory markets, or anything else that has already been blamed, this is a simple shift in how America lives and how that has affected our abilities to innovate and recover.  Yes, I am talking about the shift from single family residences to Condo and Town home living, and the lovely association rules that come with both of those housing styles. Last year, when I decided to start my own architecture firm (studiosml.com) I, like many prospective small business owners, hit upon a major stumbling block – my condo association bylaws.  Specifically, they prohibit operating any business out of your unit.  At the time, this felt like just  another hurdle to get over, but now that I’ve had some distance and i’ve wathced our slow recovery, I have to wonder  whether rules like this are impedeing others as well. Let me explain. I wanted to start my architecture firm, and at least in the beginning, operate it out of my house. This is one of the very common and traditional [...]

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