Monday, November 29, 2010

What's My Title?

What is my title?  For that matter what was Buckminster Fuller’s title? 

Bucky Fuller was certainly a great inventor, one of the geniuses of the 20th century, most famous for the popularizing the geodesic dome.  Great as he was, he could never legally call himself an Architect.  I’d like to think that there are many people in a similar situation.  People who think they are smart enough, but just haven’t gotten around to completing all the requirements.  Requirements include at least a 5 year Bachelor’s degree, three year internship, and passing 7 exams.  A minimum of about 9 years and very likely longer!  No wonder architect's think they are underpaid.

I'm presently about 6 months from receiving a Masters of Architecture degree.  I've worked at several metro Detroit firms for about 5 years since receiving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in architecture from University of Detroit Mercy.

My job title is "Architect I," meaning I'm either a recently licensed architect or an unlicensed architect with 3-5 years of experience. Individual states are very careful to regulate the title of "Architect" to ensure that no one practices as an architect without being fully licensed.  This means that while I might call myself an architect while drinking at a bar or writing a blog, I cannot represent myself the same way for commercial purposes.  This is considered important to ensure that buildings don’t fall down or lack the required number of toilets. 

This same issue came to trial about 5 years ago during an Aspen Colorado political contest in which an unregistered architect, Jack Johnson was sent a cease and desist letter from the Colorado Board of Examiners.  Jack Johnson was later vindicated when a judge ruled that he had a First Amendment right to refer to himself as an architect so long as it was not for commercial purposes. 

For the purposes of my email signature, it would be misleading to list my job classification.  While it is accurate to say “Intern” I don’t want to be confused with a college junior or senior.  I could just list my degree.  This is common in England but I’ve never seen it done by an American.  I’ve found that the best title for me is either “Architectural Designer” or simply “Designer.”

Hopefully this is all moot in about 18 months.  That is the amount of time I should need to graduate in August and take the 7 ARE’s. (Architect Record Exams) 

“Registered Architect” here I come!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Graduation Watch Gift Guide - For architects and designers

Looking into the future a bit I've decided that I want to get myself a really nice watch as a graduation present.  I've spent a great deal of time reading about watches and visited quite a few stores to see them in person.  The elements most important to me are "glowing" hands, automatic movement, durability, suitability for dress wear, and an exhibition case back.  Why spend the big bucks on an automatic movement if you can't see it. Some of these are far beyond my current means, but someday.....

IWC Aquatimer

With a hefty price and hefty specs the IWC Aquatimer is a diving watch which can go easily from boardroom to ocean.  The white and black version is probably the most "dressy."  A sapphire bezel over SuperLuminova enhances underwater legibility and is more scratch resistant than aluminum bezels found on most other dive watches.

Tag Heuer Monaco

Iconic watch worn by Steve McQueen in the movie Le Mans and one of the very first automatics.  This is one of the coolest square watches around.  This watch might be the easiest to find of any on this list.  Give me the version with an exhibition case back please.

Stowa Flieger Automatic

One of the five original pilot watch manufacture's. Stowa pilot's watches are made to be supremely legible.  Since I'm unlikely to receive an IWC Big Pilot at $10,000+ I'll settle for the Stowa which is supremely legible and has an unfinished "straight from WWII" look.

Xetum Tyndal

Made by Xetum, a newly formed company in San Francisco, these watches have a unique watch which appeals to me.  I'm sure any  new architect would appreciate the purity of form evident here.  The cylindrical case is not actually all that tall at 11 mm, but provides a wrist presence which many watches only achieve through massive diameter.

Rolex Explorer

The Rolex brand is considered the epitome of success and luxury.  If you care about name brands this is the one to get.  The Explorer is also availible in a GMT version, the Explorer II, which has just been re-released.

Oris BC4

Oris is known for their good quality diving watches.  The BC4 is their basic pilot's watch.  It is a little unusual in that the day is displayed via pointer hand.  The Oris red rotor is maintained along with their typical price to value ratio.

Nomos Glashutte Tangente
One of the least expensive in-house movement watches around, Nomos Glashutte is proud of their Bauhaus inspired designs.  The very thin and hand-wound Tangente is a watch any aficionado would respect.

Glasutte Original Sport Evolution


Similar in appearance to the Rolex Submariner, this watch is superior in most every way. The in-house movement is well detailed and visible the the case back.  Bracelet is very comfortable and permits micro-adjustments. I'm not qualified to detail all aspects of this watch but it should suffice that this watch is considered a great value dispute its very high price.

I've left off some of the most common "graduation watches such as the Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster, and Speedmaster.  While I have nothing against these watches, in fact they are well known, easily recognizable, and symbols of achievment.  With this list I've attempted to provide a range of high end watches which speak to those with a bit more of an appreciation for the finer things in life.  For example, everyone with a rich uncle and a degree has a Rolex, but not everyone even knows about Glasutte or Nomos.

If anyone is really interested in a watch with a great pedigree, look into the used market.  A 20 year old Vacheron Constantin or Patek Phillipe, can be a fantasic and timeless value. 

A special thanks to Ablogtoread for furthering my horological education and helping me waste time during work hours.

A little about me and LTU

Welcome to Arch.0
I've started this blog with the intention on sharing my own perspective on the hectic life of an architecture student while working full time as an "architectural designer."  I'm presently in the second semester of the Master's of Architecture program at Lawrence Technological University.  This school is commonly referred to as either Lawrence Tech or LTU. 

View from LTU's courtyard

LTU's M.Arch program is essentially 4 semesters long.  It involves a summer design studio, two traditional semesters, and an additional summer semester which allows students to complete their final thesis.  This allows students to complete their degree in a single calender year. 

The summer design studio is taught by a different visiting professor each year.  This past summer the professor was Alexander D'Hooghe, a very impressive Dutch instructor who is currently teaching at MIT.  This studio focused on the typology of the Big Box outlet. At some point I'll go into this studio in greater detail. The class is extremely intense and well worth the effort.

I can't really comment on tracks other than the traditional "Design and Practice curriculum as this is my chosen route.  Also offered are concentrations is Sustainable architecture, Critial Studies, Urban Design, and Interior Architecture.  The Fall and Winter semesters of the Design and Practice track are traditional design studio semesters.  Students met with professors twice a week and to receive advice and criticism.  The first semester is primarily about research into the students chosen design question.  The Winter semester is about the design of the final project.  At the end of each semester is the traditional and very stressful final review critic.  This is the process in which the students present all of their work to be analyzed and critiqued by a panel of architects and professors.  Students can be figuratively torn apart in this setting by zealous jurors.  I'm told that this is a rarity at LTU.  It seemed to happen to at least one student per review at UDM (University of Detroit Mercy)

The final summer semester provides an opportunity for students to consolidate and refine their project into a single book suitable for publishing and bring to interviews.  This semester is also an opportunity for students to complete the remainder of their elective and required classes. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


Welcome to Arch.0 (zero)
I hope to use this site to share interesting architectural developments throughout the world.  I'll focus on the Detroit area, but will certainly go beyond.