Raising the Bar

In a profession proliferated with aggressive deadlines and strict budgets, it can be easy to let one’s love of design fade. One becomes consumed with staying within budgets and parameters, meeting codes, and designing under pressure with limited time.

There is an interesting transition that happens from the university to the professional level. During studio there is a freedom that transcends any budget or code. And as for deadlines, well, you don’t sleep if you have to. Design happens in iteration after iteration with countless meetings with professors and peer reviews. You have an entire semester to explore options and perfect your design.

But in the profession, time is money and dictates how much of it we can spend on a project. When reality sits in, it is easy to get stuck in a box, to design the normal, and to forget what it is like to invent the extraordinary.

At Trivers, we do a great job of coming up with intriguing concepts and pushing boundaries. We consistently challenge ourselves. If, due to the constraints of assumed practicality, our ideas do not flourish as we had hoped, we can still say that we put our best foot forward and pressed for something new, different, and exciting. Our clients know that they are not only working with Design Professionals, but with passionate individuals who deeply care about what they do.

So how does one continue pushing to keep their love of design alive outside of the normal work day, and fight against the restrictions of normality that can infect the spirit with complacency and mediocrity?

There are a plethora of design expressions in our profession. Every person is unique in how they keep their design vigor alive. Some renovate personal property or flip houses. Others obsess over precedents or read extensively. Whatever keeps that passion going, keep doing it! It is those interests outside of work that help to fuel our drive within the profession and push against normality.

For me, I like to design for fun. When office tasks focus on construction documents, reviewing submittals, taking meeting minutes, and consultant document coordination, a creative spark ignites in my soul that comes to life when I am home. The desire to create must be met one way or another.

Below are a couple of projects I have worked on as a hobby. The first is the Double-Bar House, which inspired the deliciously cheesy double-meaning of the title “Raising the Bar.”

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Both projects are a “double-bar” concept. This house is a single floor with a living space bar and a bedroom bar. Between the shifting bars is a reflecting pool and a swimming pool. The reflecting pool serves as a more intimate space at the back of the house while the pool serves as the centerpiece to the more public entertaining portion of the house.

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The second house consists of two stacked bars delved into the face of a cliff. Below is the living space and entry while above are the bedrooms and a carved outdoor space.

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The screen gives the home dweller an ever-changing view of the landscape. From an angle, the extended mullions shield the view, especially where they are more dense in the variation of the design, while directly on one can see clearly out.

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The screen consists of corten and wood panels, which complement the exposed stone and help the structure blend in with the façade.

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The conception of these projects brings me simple joy and keeps my creative spirit alive. They remind me of why I chose Architecture; because I love to design. Keeping that interest alive is crucial for all of us. Remember why you chose this profession, and keep the spirit alive that created all of those wacky, impractical, but absolutely wonderful things at the university.

If we do not raise the bar for intriguing, quality design, who will?

So keep raising the bar and raise it high. Let the passion that lured you into architecture stay alive, brilliant, and beautiful.

Posted by Matthew Skinner, Architectural Designer