A New Hope 
The feeling of optimism is a nice change after 4 years of constant political anguish, a year+ of pandemic hardships, a couple months between jobs, and the weather finally turning towards the warmer days to come. It has also been a week of back to back celebrations: living one full year in New York City, accepting a new job offer, getting our vaccine, and turning 40. A lot has been packed into the last week, leaving us with a new feeling of hope.
It came as a surprise that this week NY opened up the vaccine eligibility to most adults, and we were lucky enough to get an appointment after refreshing the appointment website for a couple hours straight. On the morning of March 31st we got up early, took a short subway ride, and got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine shot. 15 minutes later we were heading home with a newfound feeling of hope and excitement, with the end to our pandemic isolation on the horizon. There were some short-lived side effects, a slight fever, headache, and achy muscles that lasted about 24 hours, but we are both feeling better now and are excited to be able to safely enjoy life in the city as more and more things start opening back up.
With the spring weather, announcements regarding the permanent implementation of the open streets program here in New York, restaurants returning to indoor dining, events returning with live audiences, and with the vaccine in place, we look forward to experiencing life in New York that we were looking forward to since early last year when we decided to move here.
On top of getting the vaccine, I also accepted a job offer this past week. I will be joining Charrette Venture Group (CVG) as a Senior Account Manager/Business Development Manager. CVG is a company that works with small architecture firms to help them run better business, and grow. I’ll be joining them as a Senior Account Manager, consulting with firms to help improve their operations, management, and finances. I’ll also be helping CVG with business development activities, talking with firms to see if they would be a good fit and giving presentations on the business side of architectural practice.
It is an exciting opportunity for me as I get to use my experiences starting an architecture firm to offer advice to other firms across the country. I get to stay part of the profession and hopefully help firms succeed but get to do try something new - transitioning out of traditional practice to focus on the business side of the profession.
Most importantly, I get to work with a great team of talented people that bring a range of expertise, from marketing and business development experts to financial and management backgrounds.
The position is also a feeling of comfort as I worked with CVG as a client of theirs while running my previous firm from 2014-2019. It will be fun to take what I learned working with the CVG team on my own business and help architects across the country run better businesses.
You can learn more about CVG and what we do here. If you run an architecture firm and are interested in getting help with the business side of your practice, please get in touch. I’d love to share what we do and how we can help you succeed.
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Things To Read This Week
Perhaps the Best Available Architecture Job Out There
I have to include this link because who doesn’t want to work on the design of space stations? A great follow-up to my post from last week about taking different paths in an architectural career. If you apply please let me know!
An Enormous Mosaic Spanning 1,250 Hours of Exposure Time Captures the Milky Way in Incredible Detail
Continuing with the space theme, this is a beautiful composite photograph. Well worth the click.
Stunning New Image Of Black Hole Reveals Surrounding Magnetic Fields
We are getting new/better images of black holes now too. So cool. The short video in the article is worth a watch to get a sense of the scale and distance.
Beth Osborne: America's Roads are "Dangerous by Design"
A podscast discussing the troubling trend of increased deaths of pedestrians being hit by cars. Despite driving being down about 13% overall in 2020, deaths of pedestrians actually went up over previous years. Unfortunately, Americans are numb to this sort of violence as we take driving for granted and overlook dangerous ramifications of our addiction to cars. We need to start designing streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, and other infrastructure to emphasize safety and pedestrian experience rather than how we can move cars as fast as possible. This change in approach must extend all the way to the engineers that are designing our roads, and the rules that regulate their work. This can’t happen soon enough.
Olson Kundig’s Alan Maskin on the Immense Power of Architectural Sketching
A great interview about the power of drawing and moving from hand to digital creation. Plus incredible images of inspiring and imaginative drawings.
His projects are marked by a collective optimism that unfolds through narrative; part wizardry and chock-full of imagination, Alan’s work centers on fantastic stories told through sketching, art and architecture.
Continuing to highlight creative projects that blend architecture and nature, this week’s inspiration comes from Norwegian Architecture firm Helen & Hard and their project Woodnest. Located on the hillside above Odda, Norway, two tree houses offer accommodations that are both integrated into the natural surroundings while offering stunning views over the landscape. I would love to spend a couple of nights here.
Sharing the love
I’ve been reading the BUILD Blog for over 10 years now. Written by Build LLC an architecture firm based in Seattle, WA, the blog is a source of inspiration, confirmation on some of my thoughts on architecture and design, a resources for trends and information on modern residential design, and a place to turn for learning how to design better projects.
What I admire about Build LLC’s blogging is their confidence to share their opinions alongside lessons learned or completed projects. The writing isn’t just promoting their firm, but rather they want to improve the practice of architecture and the built environment for everyone. Not enough architects are willing to stand up and take a stand on issues facing their city. For example, here is a recent post discussing how the length and complications of the Seattle Permitting process is directly, and negatively, affecting housing supply and affordability. I experienced similar issues when working on projects in Portland, Seattle, and the Bay Area.
I appreciate Build LLC’s willingness to write about this topic and advocate for change. I want more architects, designers, and our professional organizations to take stands like this.
Check out their blog. It is full of great articles, opinion pieces, interviews with inspiring people, and case studies on how Build LLC designs, details, and develops projects. It is well worth reading and returning to often.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
by Erik Larson
Perhaps by favorite book, this is a great non-fiction novel interweaving stories of architecture, politics, invention, and murder. If you haven’t yet read this, close this newsletter and go grab a copy of the book. It is an incredible fun read, all the more so because it is true.
The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation
by Jon Gertner
A fascinating read about how Bell Labs transformed how we live through technological innovation. From telephones to radar, semi-conductors to cell phone networks, Bell Labs developed some of the most transformational inventions of the 20th century and had an oversized impact on how we live today.
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Links to my work and social media:
My new job: https://www.charrettevg.com/
My website for Design and Artwork: https://www.lucasgraydesign.com/
My ADU Designs for sale: https://lucasgraydesign.com/adu-plans
My Photography Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/talkitect/
My Design and Drawings Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lucasgraydesign/
My LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucasgray/
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