Thursday, September 25, 2014

A funny thing happened on the way back from Prometric...

I took my first Architect Registration Exam last Monday; it was Construction Documents and Services. I studied everything I could get my hands on and practiced vignettes until my eyes hurt. Naturally, when I left the testing facility I ran through a few questions in my head I wanted to check the answer to when I got back to the office.

While I was driving away from Prometric I remembered that part way through my exam I found my self singing a Maroon 5 song in my head. I wondered how that could have possibly happened as I'm really not a Maroon 5 fan... then I thought: I hope that means I was relaxed and feeling good about the test.

Then I realized I had forgotten the questions I wanted to look up! Probably just as well. I decided that no matter what happened it was good that I got one over with. I feel confident in how to study and how to approach future exams now.

What was on the exam, you interns might wonder? You'll have to see for yourself. But I can tell you that it was largely unexpected. 

How did I do, you're also wondering? Well...I honestly didn't think I passed. I ended the multiple choice portion feeling OK about half of the questions and I felt the I nailed the vignette, even though I finished with about 53 seconds left on the clock. Whatever happened in that Prometric room is in the past now because I PASSED!!! The rolling clock has begun and I'm confident in moving forward. Might just knock them all out in the next year. We'll see.

I didn't share the first test journey with anyone except a few coworkers and my husband, but now that I've gotten the first one out of the way let's start documenting the battle. Stay tuned for PPP this Fall! Feels good to be 1/7th of an Architect :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Across the street we go!

Oh, hey there! It's been a while, but it's for good reason.
I've had the privilege over the last several months to work on our new office (among other things)! This project has been a long time coming as we have been bursting at the seams ever since I started working here.
After looking at location after location the boss settled on a property across the street. Once a dingy cube farm, it will now be a bright and shiny architectural Mecca! It's a simple building that our firm actually designed a number of years ago. We are adding curtain wall, enlarging the windows and putting in some great finishes to make it a great place to work and grow. 
The design, management and production team worked countless hours to make it happen (I almost pulled an all-nighter) and I'm happy to say it's under construction as I type. The windows are in, the walls are framed, the concrete is polished and it's really coming together! 
Here's where you'll find us on November 24th!

Image: Shive-Hattery


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Say What?

I realized this morning that ever since I entered the professional architecture realm I say things differently.

Instead of cinder blocks, it's CMU; I point out if wood should be firetreated; some statements are vague, leaving the real decision making to the person I am talking to; I always comment if things are code compliant or not; I am constantly pointing out sub-par detailing to my husband while we are out and about; and I say the word "typical" in normal conversation. Luckily the latter isn't in note form with a statment, then a pause, then "typical", but it comes up pretty often.

Nothing really mind-blowing about this. I just think it's funny how our professions can alter the way we speak. I'm thinking that Lawyers would be really hard to understand...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dreams CAN come true...

Did you guess what became of those 2000+ cans? If you guessed Olaf, you were right!

The movie Frozen is taking the world by (snow) storm, so several of our Shive-Hattery CANstructors created Olaf in the place of his dreams...the beach. He seems to be blissfully unaware that he would melt in that situation...

He was kept cool in a mall in Eastern Iowa for a couple weeks offering laughter, oohs and aahs to children (and adults) of all ages and eventually full bellies for those in need.

To fundraise for that kind of weight in canned food takes a good prize. We could buy tickets to be placed in jars featuring the project managers and office management team smiling faces. Why? you might ask. So their workspace could become a work of art for a day.

At the last 5 minutes of the fundraiser a surprise donation was made crowning Eric as the lucky "winner"! The approach to his desk didn't leave much to the imagination :)

Our team won the People's Choice Award and Best Meal! Way to go team!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

What CAN it be?!

CAN you see it?!!
A couple of our offices pair together each year to compete in CANstruction. We had a thrilling couple of week fundraising to raise enough money to build this mystery form and donate the food to HACAP. Everyone was excited to hear that the goal was more than doubled between the two offices!
In our office the money was raised in a back and forth, nail-biter battle of raffle tickets deposited into jars and matching of donations, resulting in an unexpected twist at the end. What was the "prize", you ask? 
A favorite project manager's work station gets "decorated" by another favorite project manager. Stay tuned for those pictures....
If you can't seem to make out what the dedicated builders below are constructing you'll have to wait until next week! 
It sure looks like they're having fun ;)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Finders Keepers?

The office I work in is bursting at the seams! We’re constantly shuffling to accommodate our growing company. My desk has never moved, though maybe it should so I would clean it…
I’ve only been here for just over 2 years, so the fact that I have not changed desks isn’t really relevant. There is one man, however, that has managed to NEVER move in his nearly 2 decades at Shive-Hattery. He’s a quiet guy, and a guy you always need around because he knows everything about AutoCAD; I don’t think I’ve stumped him even once. He always sits down, hits a bunch of keys so purposefully and rhythmically it sounds like percussion solo, creates an awkward smiley face with a couple circles and a curved line, gets up and walks away while I stand there amazed and confused.
This gentleman recently moved desks to make way for a new hire. He’s closer to my desk now, so I think I can just shout or throw a paper airplane next time I need him to fix what I’ve inevitably broken.
After his move he kindly pointed out that he left a few mementos to the person who is to claim his former space. I didn’t know what I would find when I walked over, but I was happily greeted with all non-perishables. This was weeks ago, but I found myself telling my husband about it just a couple days ago, so I figured I should share it with others. Take note that the current year is 2014…enjoy :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


copyright Elizabeth Seiberling, 2013

Inspiration for a performing arts center was taken from the drama that was created by the undulating fabric.
Where do designers find inspiration?

I participated in an internal meeting that asked that question. Having not really participated in a whole lot of initial design in my office I haven't had much big picture design conception other than in architecture school.

My usual go-tos in school were surroundings and history. In one project my partner and I drew a section cut through the city to help guide what the height if our building would be and find certain open spaces. We enlarged the neighborhood and searched for patterns, focusing on the voids and solids; that told us what kind of transparency made sense on the site and in the building. We got to know the neighborhood by observing their typical habits as they moved through the space and interacted with it. It was a lot of anthropological and geographical study rather than searching the internet for inspiration, though we did a little of that.

The project, a new media library in Boston, turned out to be our best and got a lot of positive reaction. If only it were real...

In other projects I have even looked to works of art as I have an extensive background in art history. Piet Mondrian helped me form a farmhouse. In his later years worked to simplify nature to straight lines. There was a lot to it, but what can't you do with that?

Upon designing a yoga center in the woods I looked to yoga positions for the overall form and feel of the space. It turned out to be long, simple and elegant.

One classmate had a knack for observing daily patterns and pathways to help her form spaces. The studies always created some beautiful artwork along the way. This gave her the opportunity to make that path more efficient, but I think it ended up shaping her project more than anything; keeping the patterns in existence and working around them.

Everything that was created had so much meaning and care found within every line that was placed on the paper. It was layer upon layer of inspiration being implemented.

I don't know if this is really how most architects operate. In practice we are guided by codes and regulations, perhaps not leaving much time to find the deeper meaning. Starchitects seems to have that luxury, whether they use it or not.

Other avenues of inspiration come from the client, their tastes and needs. This is key as it is their environment designers are shaping. Interior designers have a lot of knowledge about the effects of color which can often help a space come together and we all look at the internet to see what others have done. With the access to sites like Pinterest, the public has a lot more avenues to see great design and inspiring features. (A few people in my company have started a Pinterest page of things that inspire the Interiors team). Charles Eames said something to the affect of: "innovate as a last resort", meaning if it works there is no harm in using it literally or for inspiration. 

Inspiration is all around us, we have just to be able to see it. 

Where do you find inspiration?