Saturday, February 6, 2010

Achitects & Beyond

Posted by Will it stand? at 11:18 AM
Last Thursday I attended the Architects & Beyond lecture sponsored by the Chicago Young Architects Forum. The event was held at HOKs office in the South Loop. It was marketed as an evening of learning and networking. Four presenters spoke from their personal experiences of setting up new businesses. Three had left safe careers as building architects to follow their passions in non-traditional design arenas.
  • The first presenter set the theme: architects and engineers are uniquely suited with skills that help us solve problems AND these skills need not be limited to building design. Her business was to help other entrepreneurs design a business plan to succeed in the market. She emphasized that your compensation when starting out is 50% financial, 50% experience and feedback.
  • Nathan Benjamin from Planet Reuse was up next. He described his businesses niche in linking stockpiles of re-usable building demolition materials with builders and specifiers. PlanetReuse has evolved into a consulting and brokering company focused on providing the insight, experience and materials its clients need. With a well-defined and efficient process, PlanetReuse expertly matches materials with designers, builders and owners to save projects money, serve LEED efforts and sustain the planet.
  • A third speaker told of her unlikely transition from architecture to the world of fashion. Mohop shoes, so named for the designers last name, are now among the most fashionable green products on the market. It turns out that Rhino can be used equally well to design a futuristic building as a comfortable sole. Just add a block of carefully selected timber and a CNC end-mill and voila!

The over-riding lesson is that architects AND engineers have the toolset to take on any number of design challenges, beyond buildings.

While many in attendance were a bit surprised to see an engineer at an AIA event, I was repeatedly encouraged to continue coming. They had lots of questions and wanted to know how to encourage more participation by engineers. I promised that I would do my part. So if youre an engineer tired of hearing presentations about the latest in advanced non-linear response of pre-tensioned members, consider attending some AIA YAF events.
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