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Friday, January 6, 2017


Plot Plan Notes

When I was a Freshman in college in my first year architecture studio at University of Cincinnati, I was given an assignment to interview a local Architect to get the scoop on what the profession was like from an insiders perspective. Looking back I don't really remember much from that interview except for one key piece of advice, which was 'Good Architects = Good Communicators.' 
I'm sure at the time I thought that being a good communicator just meant being good at public speaking and good at drawing, which while certainly part of that equation, doesn't tell the whole story and lacks specifics. As I've gotten older, worked jobs, earned degrees, and completed projects, I've realized that perhaps the most important component of communication is the ability to ask important questions in a clear and concise manner. I was reminded of this today when I received the survey back for the Oakley Home 2.0 @ 3874 Isabella and noticed some differences between the plot plan drawings and the assumptions I had made with respect to the architectural design. The result of this investigation was the PDF mark-up in the following screenshot, which while simple in appearance, speaks to a multitude of disciplines (described in more detail below).
For example, the comments about revising the building setbacks take into consideration elements of structural engineering (foundation design), building and zoning code (fire rating requirements related to property line proximities), and construction logistics (mobilizing equipment) that are all impacted by the location of the building relative to the property line.
Similarly, the comments about grading also speak to code and egress concerns (space below deck for egress), construction budget implications (additional retaining walls), and potential impacts on the real estate sales price (4 bedrooms vs 3 bedrooms).
In the end, I think the key to communicating effectively as an architect is being able to look at a project holistically, identify how seemingly disparate parts are interrelated, and communicate the essence of a problem or solution to the person on the project team best able to respond to them.