Where design is going

The next time you’re driving to your office, a jobsite, or anywhere, really, see how long it takes you to be impressed with the residential architecture around you. Is there a home (that you didn’t design) that stands out from the others, or do all the homes you see blend into an uninspired blur?

I challenged myself with this task a few weeks ago during the American Institute of Architects’ annual Architecture Week. I took pictures of homes I see every day on my drive to the office, some which I liked and others I didn’t, and tweeted them. You can see my pictures by following me @robheselbarth.

This exercise reinforced that, unsurprisingly, the best architecture, in my opinion, is seen on custom homes. At the other end of the spectrum, the architecture on so many of the production-built homes was blah at best. These production homes are older, however, which I note because I know larger builders have been doing better in recent years at designing homes with character and beauty. And bravo, because everyone deserves to enjoy good home design.


While we’re on the subject of home design, let me call your attention to the product trends article on page 14 of this issue, in which design software manufacturers anticipate the day the entire design process is paperless. A few of their comments are as follows: “At Autodesk, our customers rely on the cloud’s infinite computing power to improve collaboration with project stakeholders, and conduct heavy tasks like rendering and analysis,” says Joy Stark, industry marketing manager.

Richard Boothman with VisionREZ says, “With all of the great electronic data sets in-house, how do you deliver them to the field? Print them out in a rolled-up set of docs that end up in the back seat of a truck? Don’t do it. Invest in field tablets or iPads.”

If the software makers don’t inspire you to go paperless, maybe our design columnist, Luis Jauregui, will. In his column on page 6, Luis notes two significant actions taken at his design/build firm. One action is deciding years ago to become a paperless business, which is possible with today’s technology, he says. The other action is purchasing iPads for his entire field team.

Why did Luis’ company invest in the iPads? He writes, “In lieu of lugging around a 7-lb. laptop, or worse, a box of plans, specs and change orders in their pickups, they now have easy touch access to sets of extensive drawings and construction documentation and can zoom in on details with intuitive fingertip control.”

If you haven’t played with an iPad or other tablet device, stop by an Apple store or other electronics retailer while on your self-guided tour of local home design, and give one a whirl. Then, contemplate which of your business functions could be performed on it, and you’ll be on your way to a paperless future.