Archive for May, 2011

I’m sitting in a hotel looking across the street at a windowless blank wall on a big box of a building in a downtown setting.  The architect clearly went to great pains to make the best of this wall; the joints in the concrete panels occur with rhythmic regularity that relate to the concrete columns and beams which are visibly expressed in the façade.  Care was even exercised to have the expansion joints in the sidewalk originate at the panel joints in the wall.  The only piece of the puzzle that doesn’t adhere to the strict geometry is the curb inlet for stormwater, a concession to engineering design standards that is both understandable and forgivable.

 Outside of this building is a bus stop.  As I looked down from my third floor window this morning, I observed four individuals standing there, waiting for the bus, and totally ignoring one another and the world around them.  One was reading a book, the others were engrossed in their hand held electronics (I hesitate to use the term smart phones).

 I must make a couple of observations here.  First, one doesn’t always recognize how important fenestration is to a building façade, particularly at street level, until one encounters a building that shuns the street and therefore any social interaction.  Secondly, the individuals at the bus stop were as isolated as the interior of the solid walled building, in spite of the fact that there were four of them in somewhat close physical proximity to one another.  It is also interesting that the distance between these individuals was a precise interval.

 It seems to me that there is a time and place to put the phone (or whatever) down and become a part of the world.  At a minimum, this can take the form of people (or traffic) watching.  If we do that, preferably without headphones, the sounds of traffic and nature (yes you can hear the birds in a big city if you stop long enough to clear your head and listen) bring us into a real connection with the rest of the world as opposed to being slaves to a virtual one.

 Good architecture should foster social interaction, not deny it.


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A few years back, the Central Virginia CSI Chapter was able to get a student affiliate chapter going at the University of Virginia School of Architecture.  That first year, in addition to an excellent lecture series, a number of the students chose to sit for the CDT (Construction Documents Technologist) exam.  I am pleased to report that the pass rate for that group was 100%.

 One of  those students remains a member of the Central Virginia Chapter and serves on its board of directors.  This individual credits her finding a job directly out of school to the fact that she already held the CDT certificate.  She has been continuously employed since in spite of difficult economic conditions.

 The CDT exam is often held in conjunction with construction documents courses at colleges and universities.  In this day and age when jobs are rare, students graduating can use any leg up that exists, so if this opportunity knocks, jump on it and demonstrate your competence by showing up for your first job interview with a professional credential in hand.

 Holders of the CDT demonstrate a high level of competence and professionalism.  They know their way around a construction contract.  They are familiar with the major model contract documents.  Without this knowledge, they would not have passed the exam, which is offered at specified times of the year.

 Information on the CSI Certification Program is available at www.csinet.org .

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