Jack and Jill Bathrooms by Josh Brincko

Interconnected bathrooms are disturbing. Let’s explore to learn why this concept, which may seem like a good idea, is disturbing.  

Reason 1: it’s interconnected, and it’s a bathroom. Think about that. The goal should not be convenient entry for more than one person into a bathroom which is the space where privacy is really THE main goal.   

Reason 2: Locking the door is awkward. Jack wakes up in the middle of the night to pee. Jack opens his bathroom door within his own bedroom, enters his shared bathroom, turns on the light, and shuts his door (creak, slam, jiggle jiggle). Then he goes and locks Jill’s door (jiggle jiggle). Jill has a nightmare of a monster attacking her from the bathroom as light emanates from below the door, and she hears that unmistakable sound of pee followed by a drip drippity drip, SLAM ... yeah, Jack is a good brother and put the toilet seat down for his sister...that was the SLAM Jill heard. And finally pshhhhhhhhhh clank goes the faucet as he washes his hands, then jiggle jiggle creak as he exits the bathroom and goes back to bed (while Jill is sweating from the nightmare Jack just caused).  

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Reason 3: entering the bathroom from your brother’s room is awkward. Did you notice in the commentary above that Jack remembered to put down the toilet seat, but he forgot to do something else? He forgot to unlock Jill’s door when he was done! So, in the middle of the night, when Jill needs to get up to pee, she needs to go out to the hall to enter Jack’s bedroom to get into their weird shared bathroom. Jiggle jiggle creak as she opens Jack’s bedroom door. Ewww grosssssss she mumbles as she steps in something unknown but likely disgusting on her brother’s bedroom floor in the dark. Then BAM $&@#! she yells as she runs into the dresser drawer that Jack didn’t close in his dark bedroom. Yea, that’s right, your sweet innocent daughter just swore, and it’s your fault because you gave her a creepy interconnected bedroom. Now Jack is awake and yells at Jill to get the $&@#! out of his room. Both kids are now awake, screaming at each other, then they become too tired to do well in school, then they can’t get into college, and they cannot become employed because of the filthy language they developed because of their shared bathroom. Then you have two 30-something trucker mouth kids still living at home and still sharing their bathroom. It’s a self perpetuating problem. Ok, back to the point... The argument ends, Jill shuts Jack’s door, locks it, does her business, and storms back into her room, locks her bathroom door to ensure her creepy brother doesn’t wake her up when he uses the bathroom, and she tries to get a little sleep before school the next morning. She will not get into the deep sleep REM phase where the info in her brain is properly sorted, stored, and easy to recall later. All the studying Jill did for her test the night before was now just a waste. She eventually fails her test, loses interest in school, and soon becomes a goth chick and listens to death metal music and rarely leaves the house.  

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Reason 4: getting locked out of your own bathroom is awkward. Once Jack and Jill get accustomed to their sibling entering their room, they start to lock their bathroom door from the inside when they are done peeing to prevent the sibling from coming into their room later. The next person who needs to use the bathroom can’t get in because they locked themselves out from their own door and still forgot to unlock the other door. Now you have two locked bathroom doors. At 3am, they come to wake you up... DAAAAD! DAD! DAAAAAD! Or... MOMMMM!!! I can’t get in the bathroom. You reluctantly wake up, step in the gross thing on Jack’s floor and bump your shin on his dresser, yell profanities, and look for something to stick in that little hole on the doorknob to unlock it. You teach both kids how to unlock it themselves, so they won’t wake you up again. You can’t get back to sleep before your 5:30am alarm while wishing you would have listened to your architect about not building a Jack and Jill bathroom. 

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Reason 5: it is awkward to walk-in on your brother while he is peeing. Both kids just get accustomed to unlocking their door with the pinhole method you taught them in Reason 4 above, and inevitably, a sibling will see things they never wanted to see when they pick the lock and enter without knocking. It will eventually happen.   

Reason 6: are you really still reading this? Don’t do a Jack and Jill bathroom. Just put the door in the hall, and avoid the problem altogether.  

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Solution: for the ideal shared bathroom, we can design a situation where Jack can be taking a shower in complete privacy while Jill is brushing her teeth at the sink and even using the toilet in a private toilet room. It takes up the same space, and our creativity will leave your family well-rested, good-mannered, and your kids will have the life skills needed to be able to move out of your home well before they turn 30 :) 

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Integration of Architect and Builder by S. Joshua Brincko

Here's how the design and construction industries integrate today...  

The client hires an architect to design a building. The architect designs it over the course of a year(s) with hundreds or thousands of discussions and decisions made between the client and architect. This immense body of knowledge is summarized into drawings, then we send them out to builders for construction bids. We advise the client to hire the builder with the best reputation, best price, and best understanding of the project goals. We value engineer the plans as needed to make the construction cost lower since it is inevitably always more than the client wants to pay because of clients asking for more than can be afforded. We agree on a scope of work and a construction price, and the builder starts building. During construction, the builder doesn't know the plans as well as the architect (how could s/he), so errors get made. Then the plans need to change to adapt to the error. Or the plans don't have a specific piece of information, so the builder just builds whatever benefits him most (instead of for the client's benefit), then the client doesn't like it and wants it changed. Again the plans need to change. The architect is in the role of protecting the client's investment. This process of misinterpreting the plans happens continuously during the entire construction process because the builder does not understand the plans entirely (since the builder was not privy to the thousands of decisions made before they were selected to build the project AND the builder wants to build quality things in the quickest/cheapest way typically to maximize their profit.) The architect acts as the client's advisor during the whole process to insist the builder builds according to plan, and this creates an adversarial relationship with the builder due to all the inevitable misinterpretation in reading complicated technical drawings representing thousands of decisions. The architect is paid hourly for the efforts of protecting the client's investment, and clients typically do not want to pay for this service. The builder also charges for the time to do quality control by working with the architect, reading and interpreting the drawings with the architect, and communicating all of this information from the architect to the their suppliers and sub-contractors. The builder must be successful in re-communicating information from the plans to the rest of the construction team. Therefor the builder should know the drawings better than anyone. Is that realistic though?

Here's how design and construction USED to be a hundred years ago, and how I am working to change it for the future...

The client should hire an architect to design a building AND MAKE SURE THE BUILDING GETS BUILT PROPERLY. To achieve this, the client is effectively hiring the architect to "build" a building. Newsflash, most builders don't build buildings...they hire other people (subcontractors) to build it for them. So why doesn't the architect just do this? Since the architect knows the plans better than anyone else (and GOOD architects also understand construction better than anyone else), the architect should be the person directly communicating the drawings to the sub-contractors and suppliers.

Why don't more architects just do it this way? It's because most architects don't have enough money to finance the construction of the project, and they are adverse to the risks that come with construction. The architects are typically trying to protect their clients from risk while also protecting themselves from risk. This risk is worth something. This risk is really what builders are being paid for (even if they never pickup a hammer and get their hands dirty). Architects also have a valuable skill set (that cost a lot of time and money to achieve and maintain), and spreading that skill set to oversee many projects simultaneously is necessary for business model of the professional to work out financially.

Here's a solution I'm working on and have tried a few times successfully...

To mitigate the financial aspect, the client could just pay the subcontractors and material suppliers directly. The architect is already reviewing the builder's invoices anyway to authorize the client to pay the general contractor for work that is completed properly. If the client just pays the subcontractors or suppliers directly, this means the architect or the builder would not need to take on the risk and cash flow problems of paying thousands or millions of dollars to those material suppliers for products or subcontractors for services. In my opinion, the client is already taking on that risk anyway, then transferring it to the builder for a period of time. The builder then upcharges every cost they incur by 20% to take on this risk and make a profit. Instead, the architect could just advise the client as to when to write checks to suppliers and subcontractors, and the client could just keep that risk. Remember the risk is worth something, right? That means the client saves money if they carry the burden of the financial risk, and the builder avoids that part of the risk. Again, the client is ultimately paying the money anyway, so why pay an inflated price to a builder, just so the builder can pay that money to the subcontractors? The builder is essentially being paid to operate as a bank for a series of monthly loans in exchange for their experience with dealing with the construction budget, construction schedule, and monitoring subcontractor’s performance. 

The rest of the risk that comes with construction is in the quality control and integration of the work of the various subcontractors. If the walls are not framed properly, the shower tile will not be straight, for example. Someone needs to be held accountable for all quality issues. Normally, the builder is holding the subcontractors s/he hired accountable for that quality. This is the builder shifting the risk to the subcontractor. This is extra work for the architect, sort of. Architects are already monitoring the quality of construction to ensure it meets the standards in the drawings, but the architect usually has the convenience of just telling the general contractor to "fix it." The general contractor then tells the subcontractor s/he hired to "fix it" if it was not built according to the plans. The architect could easily communicate that directly to the subcontractor (more efficiently) and also take on the work of hiring subcontractors. The architect can still bill hourly for this service, and it will still be a savings to the client since the client would not be paying for the sum of the architect's time, builder's time, and builder's  percentage fee markup of 20% that is higher than an architect’s ordinary fee.

This method effectively puts more work on the plate of the architect and keeps the finances in the hands of the owner. The end result would be at least 25% savings in the cost of construction. This is because there's simply no 20% markup on the cost of construction by a builder, and many of the costs of project management during construction get shifted from the builder to the architect (who is the person who understands the plans more than anyone). This means there would be no misinterpretation of the drawings, less drawings would need to be created in the first place, less communication needed, fewer construction meetings, and less rebuilding any incorrectly built portions of the project. All of these result in financial savings and time savings. 

How do I plan to start doing this? I already have and am scaling it. I have started small and focused on working with the best builders who "get it." This is not be the most ideal method for every project, but it does make sense for many. It will scare some builders. It is atypical. Builders currently build AND currently run the business of managing the build. Separating the two is the goal of this method. Get expert craftsmen to construct. Get highly organized managers to manage. Many builders never went to college but are managing the biggest expense of a homeowner’s life! It is not easy work to manage a construction budget. I will seek out to work with builders (and I already do) who will allow the architect to take on a more leading role in the construction process and are willing to partner in the coordination of getting the projects built effectively. I have already hired every type of subcontractor, I know how to manage them, and I can effectively communicate the design goals and construction parameters using their language. (I also speak enough Spanish to be effective when needed.) The projects I have already attempted in this method have saved the client money while allowing them to have more control, understanding, and confidence in their projects. This revolutionizes the way buildings are designed and built with an architect (experienced in construction) at the helm. It's "design and build", not "design then build."

Insulation Nerd by Josh Brincko

Yea, it’s true. I think insulation is awesome. It keeps our indoor environment comfortable, and it does this in so many ways other than just keeping the warmth inside. It also provides sound deadening, prevents air infiltration, and deals with condensation. The part I nerd-out on is how insulation can most effectively keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Insulation science has changed a lot over the years, so here’s your crash course on it.

We are all mostly familiar with the pink, fluffy, itchy stuff that you see rolled out in attics. That is called batting, or batt insulation. It is the default, cheapest insulation, and it provides an R-value of about 3 per inch. That means a 1” thick layer of batt insulation would “resist” (that’s the “R” in R-value) the flow of heat through itself by a unit of 3 BTU’s per hour. Don’t think too much about that…just know that the bigger the R-value, the better. Batts have a relatively low R-value when compared to other types of insulation. Also, batts are squishy, so they tend to slump down within a wall due to gravity over time, and this leaves parts of the top of a wall un-insulated. The top of a wall is the worst place not to have insulation since warm air rises. If you look at a thermal image of a wall in an old house (see below), you can usually see the blue areas (cold temps) are concentrated at the top of a wall where the insulation has fallen over time. This is also because fluffy batts get wet through condensation or leaks, and that extra weight pulls the batts down within the wall. Batts are like a sponge, and they don’t dry out easily. Because of this and their low R-value, I prefer other forms of insulation.

Thermal image of a stud wall

Thermal image of a stud wall

There are a bunch of other types of insulation that are fluffy like batting and have a similar R-value per inch. These include loose cellulose, roxul, wool, cotton, and denim. Some people believe they are being “green” by using recycled denim for their insulation, but in reality, the R-value is quite low, so all these insulation types don’t do the best job of keeping the heat in your home during the winter.

The higher performing insulation types are rigid - not fluffy (like a cooler...you know coolers don’t have a fluffy lining. You better believe that $300 Yeti cooler has rigid insulation). The rigid types can either be sprayed into place, or they can be purchased in panels. The rigid insulation types have higher R-values per inch and include polyicynene (R-4), expanded polystyrene known as EPS (R-4.5), extruded polystyrene known as XPS (R-5), phenolic (R-8), polyurethane (R-8), and polyisocyanurate known as polyiso (R-8). The R-values listed here can vary over the life of the product as they deteriorate over time, but they are still superior to the R-value of the fluffy insulation types. Not only do the rigid insulation types resist more heat, but they also create a tighter “envelope” around the building since the seams between rigid panels can be covered with tape and caulked. This prevents the passage of air through any cracks or weak spots known as air infiltration. Imagine wearing a puffy coat, but not zipping it up. The cold winter air will make you cold, and the coat doesn’t do much good. If you zip it up, your body heat is trapped inside the coat. Rigid insulation gives us this capability of “zipping” our home shut tight, and trapping the heat inside. Fluffy insulation is a bit more loose fitting, and it does not have the capability of continuously wrapping the house. The fluffy stuff just sits in between the studs, while rigid boards can also be used to cover the studs continuously on the interior and/or the exterior sides of the wall. See the image below, and notice how the polyiso board with its reflective coating reflects the heat into the interior space, and all of it’s seams are covered with a reflective tape to prevent air from flowing in between the panels.

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Another advantage to some of the rigid insulation types is that they can be spray applied. This means you can hire a certified installer to wear a space suit and spray every single nook and cranny with insulation, and it expands to completely fill all voids. This is tough to do with rigid boards that must be cut to fit into each and every little void. As the spray-applied foam expands, it is also filling any hole where air could infiltrate through a wall. This is yet another advantage of spraying insulation into place. The downside is it can be 2 to 3 times more expensive than batts. You get exactly what you pay for. Your can see a photo of spray foam here: https://static.diffen.com/uploadz/f/f2/spray-foam-insulation--1.jpg

The last point to address with rigid insulation is the difference between open-cell and closed-cell. They can both be spray-applied or purchased in panels. The open-cell types are a pliable type of foam and have a lower R-value and are less expensive. The closed-cell types are a more solid type of foam and have a higher R-value and are more expensive. The main selling point for closed-cell insulation is that it does not allow moisture to permeate through it since it is so dense. This includes liquid moisture and, more importantly, water vapor (which is water in gas form like when we exhale, take a steamy shower, or have equipment that puts off vapors). Preventing water vapor from passing through the insulation is very important, because we MUST allow any moisture to dry out or mold will develop. We go through a lot of effort to keep our attics and other void spaces ventilated by allowing air to flow through and evaporate or carry out any moisture in the air to prevent mold from developing. The closed-cell insulation types are so dense that they do not require us to ventilate our roofs or other spaces (when installed properly) since they simply do not allow moisture to pass through. This is a huge benefit along with its superior R-value, sound deadening, and prevention of air infiltration by creating a continuous air barrier.

Feel free to ask about different approaches to keeping your indoor environment comfortable through the use of insulation. The type of insulation to use is just part of the equation. HOW to use the insulation is the fun part and varies in each application. We can help you design the perfect construction details to keep your building performing at its best.

Specifications by Josh Brincko

Specifying materials and products for your project is a very time intensive exercise since there’s hundreds or thousands of them that must be chosen, and they must work together, meet code requirements, be available, and capable of working with the practices of the chosen craftsmen. It is very time consuming to put together a spec list for a project. We do have good templates from previous projects that help save a ton of time for many of the selections, however many products will vary as certain items are discontinued, codes change, and client preferences change. 

There’s two reasons to put together a spec list. One reason is to enable the builder to check product pricing to formulate a budget, so the builder doesn’t need to either guess at what you want or just leave an “allowance” for what you will be allowed to spend on that item during construction when you eventually select the actual product.

So why not just spec all items up front? It’s a very time consuming exercise for the architect to help you select every single product, and it’s even more time consuming for a builder to call around to source those product at the best prices. Could you imagine calling a grocery store to get prices on your grocery list before actually going in to buy the groceries? Now imagine a grocery list with thousands of items and calling several grocery stores to get competitive pricing and also because the same store doesn’t sell all the stuff you need. As you can imagine, this would be a huge task. Lump that together with waiting for busy plumbers, electricians, and concrete crews to run their numbers on their labor to get back to your builder with their quote. 

Let’s say you do spend the time (money) to price everything, and then the project must change for some permit reason, design preference, or some other budgetary factor. Then all those item totals and product prices must be updated. This requires starting over, essentially. Then, by the time you start construction,  some products will have lead times that are too long, some are discontinued, some are out of stock, and some prices have gone up due to hurricanes, wild fires, tariff wars, an electrician getting a better deal on a different product line, or whatever else may happen. This means re-specifying again. More time, more money. 

I have found it is best to specify some products ahead of time, but to leave many of the decisions for during construction when you have the most current information available for you to make the most informed decision. That way, you can choose products that are available, for an acceptable current price, at the preferred vendors of the craftsmen doing the work. This is the most efficient way of specifying products to eliminate costly administrative time. 

This does leave ambiguity though, since not all the products are chosen ahead of time. This requires leaving reasonable placeholders in the budget to serve as an allowance to keep close to the budget. This also requires trust that your design team and builder are guiding you with reasonable estimates along the way.  

The second reason we need specifications completed is simply to provide the builder with the info needed to build the project. Construction is a very fast-paced, time-sensitive process. Providing the builder with the info they need at the time they need it is essential to prevent costly delays and costly slowdowns in the work when the builders must shift gears to different parts of the project scope. This shifting while waiting on decisions is inefficient for the builder, and too much time is spent figuring out how to effectively work around other areas of the project while not hindering the areas pending decisions. 

Choosing products to create specs for your project can be fun. Many of these items are the things you can see and touch, so they have a large impact on the outcome of the project. Door knobs, drawer pulls, tile, grout color, paint color, etc are just a few of the many items that have such a big impact. 

Thrifty Clients by Josh Brincko

I get it. We all want to save money. I personally look for the best value in everything I do. I’m not afraid to DIY to save some money. Over the years, I’ve learned when DIY is actually appropriate for saving myself money. Usually it is not effective unless it’s something I can plan to DIY many more times in the future. For example, buying my own tools has helped me to take care of common maintenance issues around the house without needing to hire a handyman. 

For design work, people commonly think they can save the cost of the architect if they do this work on their own. I have had several clients attempt this on their own in different capacities, and it has never turned out as planned resulting in higher costs instead of lower costs. Some clients try to draw their own floor plans and insist we use them without changes. Then they discover their concept violates basic building codes, costs more money to build, or doesn’t take into consideration things like views, daylight exposure, privacy, etc. We end up re-planning the project in a way that actually works after we were requested/required to draw it their way which becomes an expensive exercise in showing someone why their solution doesn’t work. We could have skipped that step and saved the client a bunch of money. 

Other clients will try to coordinate the permit process on their own. This is another area where a lot of time and money gets wasted. Architects are very versed in the processes required by the building departments and know how to more quickly maneuver through. Architects also know what to say and what not to say. All too often, clients or builders shoot themselves in the foot by using the wrong terminology or mis-classifying some technical aspect, and the building department incorrectly imposes some costly construction requirements. Architects know how to more carefully design and represent the project goals to prevent costly, erroneous requirements from the building department.

The entire service provided by an architect is intended to be a cost saving investment that results in a functional, yet aesthetically pleasing building. By allowing the architect to do his or her job, this is the outcome. It is not feasible to DIY something that takes 5-6 years of professional accredited college training, 3+ years of interning, passing 7 state board exams, and staying abreast of the current land use codes, building codes, material/product capabilities, coordination with engineers, and other factors that require a lifetime of dedication to master. By ignoring this, the construction project suffers financially, the schedule slows, and the performance of the building is inferior.

Hiring an architect is a special experience, so give them (and yourself) the opportunity to benefit from their creative and technical skill set.  

Project Timeline Graphic by Josh Brincko

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Here is what most projects look like to design from start to finish, and each portion may fluctuate with the amount of time it may take to complete depending on: the economic climate, building dept workload, engineering requirements, and client decision-making time. We find that most of the time spent waiting is related to client decision-making followed by building departments queuing the project to review for permit approval. As you can see from the graphic, much of the time spent waiting is not spent on designing the project. We actually come up with the big concept quite quickly and a little more time is spent creating the more detailed construction drawings. Besides that, most of our time as the architect is spent during construction coordinating decisions to save time and money during construction.

Seattle Permit Realities by Josh Brincko

Starting a construction project is a huge undertaking, and knowing where to start is confusing. Do I need a permit? Do I need an architect? Do I need an engineer? Who do I hire first? What will the construction cost? How do I hire a builder? There’s so many things to consider. 

All projects are different, so there is not a single consistent answer to all these questions. The best place to start is to consult the person who orchestrates the entire process: the architect. Even if you just want to build a fence, chat with an architect first. Sure anyone could build a fence, but how do you ensure it will be on your side of the property line? Can it be something more special than “just a fence” and match well with your house? How high can it be? Does it need a permit? How can it be made more maintenance-free? Even for a fence, there’s no clear answers to these questions since all properties are different. I really suggest asking an architect for some advice before undertaking this or any project. 

The architect can advise whether or not you need a permit, and he or she will be able to point you in the right direction for finding a builder, choosing which materials to use, selecting a durable stain, reviewing the bid from a fence building company, etc. Even if it’s something simple like a fence, it is best to ask. Any architect that is any good would be happy to offer some advice. 

When a project requires a permit, the process keeps getting more challenging as time goes on. It is becoming more and more necessary to hire an architect who is an expert working with the building department in the jurisdiction of your project. This will save you time, and this will save you money. Since the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections recently changed their online permit platform, their has been some major glitches with their staff figuring out how to operate the new system, and this has added even more time to the lengthy process. An expert in Seattle permitting is now even more necessary as the permit process is getting more complex. This article in the Seattle Times discusses this in more detail: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/rocky-launch-of-seattles-new-construction-permit-system-causes-delays-anger/

The building departments are constantly changing their codes and administrative protocols too. An experienced architect has expertise in dealing with these requirements expeditiously. I just talked with someone who said it took him 3 years to get a permit for a similar project that took me only 7 months. Familiarity with the process pays off.  

A new requirement in the Seattle area is dealing with rain water. The building department doesn’t want your gutters to just collect the rain anymore and send it through your downspouts and eventually into the sewer. Now they want us to try to collect all of the rain water on site to allow it to infiltrate into your soil. This leads to geotechnical engineers analyzing your soil to determine how much water it can absorb. If you have too much roof area to collect rain, and not enough good, draining soil, you may need to install certain rainwater collection devices like rain gardens, green roofs, bio-infiltration swales, dispersion trenches, etc. An architect can help you jump through these hoops or consult with a civil engineer when things get more complicated. 

This is just one hoop to jump through when getting a building permit. This rainwater stuff  is only one of sometimes a dozen or more different departments within your government that reviews the drawings for things like fire suppression, zoning, structural, building code, sewer requirements, water availability, etc. Your architect is the center of the universe for coordinating all of the various drawings, forms, and consultants that are needed to get through the permit process while still designing something that will look great and work well. A good architect will know what is going to happen before it happens. 

The reality of permitting has become so complicated that you really cannot do it on your own. It’s not worth navigating this complex process by yourself. Rely on an experienced architect to “hold your hand” through the process, and to be your advocate for meeting the necessary requirements in the easiest and most effective ways possible without taking the most conservative (expensive) approach which is often “required” by the building department. We are happy to help you go through this process. It’s the price we pay for the amazing opportunity to design an awesome home for you. 

CALLIE by Josh Brincko

Who is Callie? 

If you have worked with Josh, you have worked with Callie. She plays a major role at Josh Architects, and she is a major reason why I, Josh Brincko, am somewhat sane. As a husband, dad, architect, teacher, coach, etc, I juggle a lot of things. As an architect, I have many projects in the works, I am excited about them, and therefor, I am constantly thinking about them. In a sense, my clients "rent my brain" to dedicate it to their project. This pulls my attention in their direction, and Callie plays a major role in keeping focus on all this work.

She has been my coworker for many years, and she has an integral role on all projects. She keeps things organized, moving along swiftly, and most importantly has great problem solving and creative skills. Josh Architects has been successful largely in part by her involvement. 

Callie, short for Callahan, came from a small town in Nevada and went to a small high school before moving to Seattle to go to college in a big city. This is where I met Callie. I was her professor in a residential design studio, and she clearly excelled in the course and also worked in the cafe on campus. I don’t remember if her projects were any good, but I clearly remember her positive attitude, cooperative demeanor, quickness to absorb complex information, attention to detail, and he eagerness to learn more. She eventually asked if I had any internships available, and although I did not, I figured I should try to create one, so I would not have to pass up on the opportunity to work with such a promising, talented up-and-coming designer.

At the time, I was working on a three story apartment building, with three different layouts of apartment units although each one was somewhat unique. It was a large project, so I asked her if she could quit her job at the cafe, and join me in a more serious role. It was the perfect project to jump in on since each one had components great for learning such as ADA compliance, durable materials, nicely designed kitchens and bathrooms, window and door trims, and custom designed built-ins. With each apartment unit a little different, it gave her the opportunity to receive thorough direction on one unit and to apply that direction with her own insight on the other units that were a little different. She was able to assimilate the information quickly, implement it efficiently, and be flexible as the design changed (as they repeatedly do on most projects). Also during this time, Callie played such a pivotal role when a burglar stole all our computers from the office. She stepped in, remained unphased, and helped in the process of rebuilding without complaining about redoing work that we had lost. You can read about that more here: http://www.josharch.com/blog/2017/6/17/your-architect-lives-with-great-responsibility

She learned a lot on this project and many others for a couple years working with me before she saw a great opportunity to work with a high-end hospitality firm designing hotel interiors. There she focused on over-the-top design experiences for hotel guests while also learning about a broad spectrum of material specifications. She also realized the working environment she was in was less than ideal, so after a few years of learning what she could in the hospitality space, she decided to take a breather. She slowed down and got a job as a barista where she could focus on herself, actually enjoy the great parts of living in Seattle, and charm her customers with her warm personality. 

After a year or so of Callie perfecting the perfect espresso drinks, I randomly happened to be talking with another former staff member who also happened to know Callie although I had not been in contact with her for a few years. I was talking about how my firm was really busy and needed to find someone really talented to come help. This is when I was told that Callie was taking a hiatus from design and working in a coffee shop, and she may be ready to jump back in. After a couple text messages, they setup a meeting with me, and she’s been back with Josh Architects ever since. She has truly honed her skills, continues to step up her game, and is a joy to work with. She remains calm under pressure and remains passionate and engaged with her work. 

One of the coolest parts about Callie is she doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. On a few occasions, she has stepped in and helped to do construction labor on a few of our projects. She understands that doing construction is one of the best ways to learn to properly design and draw things. She has done some light framing, decking, window install, weatherproofing, etc. 

She is also very good about focusing on her well-being. She regularly does exercise, yoga, eats healthy, goes rock climbing, and enjoys time with friends. She’s very active and also very creative. She has been doing artwork regularly and experiments with different mediums. Woodburning is one of the processes she has recently taken a liking to, and she is very talented (and patient) at it. The wood scraps from our clients’ homes are finding a new life in Callie’s artwork. She has even been commissioned to create pieces for people. 

You are in very good hands when you work with Callie, and it’s truly fortunate that she is part of our family. Feel free to reach out to her to say hi (callie@josharch.com) or to ask about commissioning her to do an art piece for yourself or as a gift. She began drawing class at age 3 when her mom noticed her special talent. Over the years, she has realized that art, to her, is less about a set style or topic and more about texture, color, and exploration and finding tension through the combination of unexpected items. She particularly enjoys working with recycled or found objects since she finds beauty in working around their imperfections (angled cuts, awkward sizes, knots, drilled holes, etc). She has collected scrap lumber from our jobsites to reclaim for art pieces as you can see in many of the wood burning below. To Callie, her art is sometimes just about making a piece that will make someone smile. She really enjoys working on commissions for people to create something unique and meaningful to them. It really pushes her out of her comfort zone and challenges her to work in scales, style and subjects which are new to her.

Here are some examples of her work:

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