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Posts by Carl Servais TLCD

TLCD’s Carl Servais Takes on Winter in DC for AIA Grassroots Conference

As the 2015 President of the AIA Redwood Empire Chapter (AIARE), I recently had the privilege of traveling to Washington DC for the annual AIA Grassroots Conference. Over 600 architects and administrative staff gathered together to advocate important legislative issues with our representatives on Capital Hill, to receive leadership training, and to network and collaborate with each other to find ways of better serving the AIA membership. I met with AIA leaders from chapters all around the country, from coastal Louisiana to northern Minnesota. Many of the folks I spoke with had issues similar to what our local chapter faces: how to best serve a diverse set of professionals from a vast geographic area with limited resources and how to motivate and inspire the emerging professionals who will carry the leadership torch of our future. There are no simple or easy answers to these questions, but I met lots of inspiring colleagues and I returned with a renewed sense of focus and energy, and with a handful of ideas that I will bring to my fellow directors on the AIARE Board.

Here are three of the highlights of my trip:

As an architect, of course the first thing I had to do after arriving was to walk the Mall. What I hadn’t realized is how beautifully the many historical buildings and monuments are lit up at night. I grew up in Wisconsin, so the cold winter night was no problem for me.

On the first day of the conference, my schedule didn’t start until the afternoon, so I took advantage of the free time by waiting in line to see oral arguments of the so-called “Obamacare” law at the Supreme Court. I waited for about 2-1/2 hours to get in, and I only got to sit for about 3 minutes in the courtroom, but it was well worth the wait to see the court in action. Fortunately, there were about 200 protestors providing entertainment for everyone waiting in line.

Finally, Wendy Young, the AIARE Executive Director, set up meetings for us to meet with 5th District Congressman Mike Thompson, and 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman. After receiving training from the AIA federal advocacy team about the important legislative issues that were on the table, I was prepared to discuss the following:

1. Protect and enhance the Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC).

2. Cosponsor the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, which encourages states to voluntarily adopt and enforce nationally recognized model building codes for residential and commercial structures in order to qualify for additional post-disaster FEMA grants.

3. Cosponsor the National Design Services Act, which extends to architecture graduates student debt relief in exchange for work in underserved communities.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature intervened and dumped 6 inches of snow the day of my meeting, thereby effectively shutting the government down for the day. We still made the trek up to Capital Hill and had the opportunity to meet with Scott Rasmussen, Congressman Huffman’s Legislative Assistant. I think I made a good, confident presentation of the legislation we were there to promote and I went away feeling great about having advocated for our profession.

TLCD Architecture: Revit Tips for February

RevitTipOfTheWeek

TLCD Architecture has a design technology committee that meets weekly to talk and strategize about issues and opportunities in the office. A few years back we started writing a weekly Revit Tip of the Week to the Revit users in our office, and we have decided to start sharing with the larger Revit community through our blog. Some of the tips are “inside baseball” types of things, but many of them will be useful to a larger audience. The cassette graphic is just us having a little fun… enjoy!

Keeping Models Tidy and Funky Families by Leslie Smith (02/10/15)

Keep your model tidy

Just a reminder about model management…
We have a best practices document that covers Revit Project File Maintenance. Please maintain a clean and healthy model by frequently creating a new local file. It is recommended that you create a new local file every time you open the model.

Funky Families

A user had an interesting issue yesterday and I thought this was good to share. She downloaded some client provided Specialty Equipment Families. Placed them into the model…all looked fine in plan but did not schedule properly. The items showed up in the schedule – the description, item number, count all looked fine but some of the families would not attach to the room so those fields did not populate.

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We checked worksets, family types, etc…all the usual suspects but everything looked good. Finally, I did a comparison of the families that were working and the ones that weren’t. The culprit ended up being a checkbox in the family. Since it was not checked the family didn’t know what surface to host itself to. Once checked and reloaded the family recognized the work plane and the schedule fields populated.

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There was one family that didn’t have this check box parameter included so we ended up opening a family that did, deleting everything out of it and copy/pasting, doing a save-as and it worked… This was a shared parameter in the family so without access to the parameter .txt file I couldn’t add it.

So message is, when you download content and things aren’t behaving properly, double-check worksets and visibility graphics…also investigate the family. A lot of manufactured content is not perfect. Sometimes it’s just a stinky checkbox that mess everything up!

Tales from the Dark Side by Carl Servais (02/13/15)

This week’s Revit tip is Part 1 of my review of e-SPECS, which we have been testing out on one of our projects:

Background

There has always been a fundamental disconnect between the written specifications and the drawings in a set of construction documents. These two primary elements are often authored in different software programs that don’t communicate, and often times authored by different members of the project team with varying levels of involvement in the project and varying amounts of successful communication between each other. This disconnect inevitably leads to inconsistencies or even outright contradictions between the drawings and the specs. The promise of Building Information Modeling has always been to bring all of the project information into one database and thereby reduce or eliminate these inconsistencies, and the BIM authoring software we use today has taken us a big step in that direction. However, the specs are still missing from the database. Our transition to using keynoting took us a step in the right direction by using the Masterformat numbers and the language of our specifications as a reference for noting the drawings, which has improved the connectivity and consistency of our construction documents. Our most recent effort has been testing e-SPECS, a software for creating and editing specifications that allows for a robust integration with Revit. While e-SPECS manages the spec database and provides tools for importing data to and exporting data from Revit,  it does not quite fulfill the promise of having all the project information in one database.

In future tips, I will cover the good/bad/ugly aspects of e-SPECS as an authoring/editing tool, and how it integrates with Revit. To be continued….

Rated Wall Options by David Moyer (02/27/15)

It turns out that one size may not fit all when it comes to rated walls. We have experienced some issues using the visibility filter system in Revit working properly in some view conditions as well as in some exports to CAD. In addition the need for unique smoke barrier graphics as well as 3 and 4 hour walls on more complex projects such as hospitals strain the graphic display limits of the filter system. So here are two other options for depicting graphics for rated walls.  (This was accompanied by a detailed best practice document on how to implement each system which is not included here.)

Examples of the graphic look for each system follow:

Material Fill Patterns for Rated Walls:

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Sweep Patterns for Rated Walls:

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Some highlights:

  • The Material Fill Pattern Method best for most projects, but not suited to projects that require 3 or 4 hour walls or perhaps those that require smoke compartments.
  • The Sweep method which is more complex to implement, but allows for a greater range of graphic patterns allowing better communication with plan reviewers and contractors for more complicated project types. This method is also more flexible for smaller scale drawings
  • Both systems can be set to work with any detail level in Revit.
  • The Project Architect and Project Manager should choose which system is the best fit for their projects on a case by case basis. This could also include continuing to use the filter based system if that is not expected to cause problems.
  • Our best practice documents include information about converting to either of these systems from the filter system for those that may be experiencing issues on current projects and want to make a change.

Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Day – GoPro Style!

 

Quick update to the recent blog post on the AIA Redwood Empire volunteer day for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County.  What I didn’t mention is that we brought the GoPro camera and had a little fun capturing our work. You’ve heard of the “birds-eye” view, we thought strapping the camera to a shovel would add an interesting perspective!

For more information on the AIARE Volunteer Day, read more here.

TLCD getting their hands dirty

TLCD crew

You don’t often go out on a Saturday morning in January and think to yourself, “Did I need to put sunscreen on this morning?”  But that’s what I found myself doing a couple Saturday’s ago with a crew of folks from the AIA Redwood Empire, including four from TLCD Architecture; Nick Diggins, Peter Levelle, Ron Starkey (Marina‘s husband), and myself.  We spent the better part of that Saturday working on the second of five houses to be built at the Woodland Hills project in Cotati for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County.  We were split into two groups, one crew building a wood fence and the other crew placing sand and pavers for the driveway.  I think I speak for the whole group when I say we put in a lot of hard work, and we also had a lot of fun that day.  It’s very rewarding at the end of the day to see the fruits of your labor in something as beautiful as a rustic driveway of pavers, or a fresh wood fence.  It’s even more rewarding to know that your labor has helped provide a home for a deserving family in your community.

Win-Win Meeting Space for Non Profits in Sonoma County

AIA Redwood Empire, Board Retreat, Carl Servais 2015 President, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Volunteer Day, Carrots, TLCD ArchitectureEach year, the Board of Directors of the AIA Redwood Empire (AIARE) gathers for a retreat to strategize and plan for the coming year. This year as the current AIARE President, I organized the retreat that was held at the new Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) facility in Santa Rosa. In addition to supporting and partnering with an essential community assistance organization by renting the REFB boardroom for the day, the AIARE board members were also able to take time during the retreat to do some volunteer work in the warehouse. Our group enthusiastically worked on sorting carrots from a pair of 1,700 pound palettes into 3 pound bags to get them ready for distribution to families in need.

After volunteering, the AIARE board members were led on a tour of the facility by the architect, Julie Jackson, AIA of Jackson Liles Architecture in San Francisco, and by a former President of the REFB Board of Directors, Alan Butler, AIA of TLCD Architecture. Alan was board member of the REFB at a time when they had outgrown their old facility. Alan helped write the program for the innovative new facility after touring a number of food banks across the country to see what worked and what didn’t. As a result, the new facility includes elements that do more than just store and distribute food, like a small market for low income customers and a commercial kitchen that supports new programs like “upcycling” bulk foods, and culinary education for the community.

The REFB is the food distribution hub for over 175 food related non-profits and distributes almost 14 million pound of food to the region each year. They offer their conference facilities at a very reasonable rate to non-profits in order to expose their operation to a wider audience. Check out the REFB if your non-profit needs a meeting space!

Recognition for the Mendocino College North County Center in Willits

North County Center_extThe Mendocino College North County Center in Willits was recently named a winner in the education category of the North Bay Business Journal’s awards program for Top Real Estate Projects in the North Bay. The North County Center, designed by TLCD Architecture and built by Midstate Construction, opened in the Fall of 2013 and has spurred a growth in the number of students enrolling in classes at the Center. The heart of this facility is the Learning Center, a collaborative learning resource environment with a pair of redwood barn doors that open to administrative space and a wood and glass sliding storefront wall that connects to a computer classroom. The redwood barn doors and redwood board paneling on the interior serves to complement weathering steel panels on the building’s exterior that are slowly oxidizing to a beautiful rust red color.

As Project Architect for the North County Center, this was the first project at TLCD that I was able to work on from conceptual design all the way through construction. When my Mom came to town for a visit, this is the project I took her to see. I am anxious to see the final results of this oxidation process so that the complete design vision can be realized (and so we can do the final photography!). I can’t complain though since I got to work with a couple of folks from the College, Mark Rawitsch, Dean of Instruction, and Mike Adams, Director of Facilities Planning, who had to wait more than 25 years to see the North County Center realized! I guess it’s like they say, all good things are worth waiting for.

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Parametric pumpkins and pie

 

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Last week, TLCD Architecture once again hosted the Redwood Empire Revit User Group (RERUG) for their monthly meeting.  RERUG is a collective of Santa Rosa area AEC professionals who use Revit or BIM software and meet on a regular basis to educate each other by discussing how to utilize the Revit platform, sharing best practices, and bringing in speakers to bestow their expertise.  The monthly lunch meeting is organized through a partnership between Ideate  and TLCD, and this month the group got together for a show and tell so we could all do a little bragging about the work we do.  The presentations covered a wide variety of project types, including renderings of various projects, a video about how to model a parametric pumpkin, 3d scanning of a historic building damaged in the recent Napa earthquake, a sun path study for a shade structure to prevent algae growth at a municipal water treatment plant, and some Dynamo explorations of an in-house fabricated light fixture.  Even better, there was also pumpkin pie!

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Habitat for Humanity Build Day

H4H photo

On Saturday, a group of volunteers spent a sunny morning in Cotati working on a project for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County.   Carl Servais of TLCD Architecture organized the group through the local AIA Redwood Empire chapter and in partnership with the Leadership Santa Rosa Alumni Association.  The group of 10 volunteers spent the day hauling base rock and constructing a base for a keystone retaining wall.  The labor was tough and by the end of the day the completed work wasn’t much to look at.  However, with the level base and the first course now complete, future volunteer crews will be able to rely on that sturdy and true base to quickly assemble the remainder of the 6 foot retaining wall.

Kudos to this group of volunteers, who ended the day wondering when they can come back again to participate in this worthy endeavor!

Mendocino College North County Center construction progress

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Construction is progressing in Willits on the new North County Center for the Mendocino-Lake Community College DistrictMidstate Construction is scheduled to complete the project this summer so the new campus can be open for classes in the Fall.

At this point in the construction process, the building has really taken shape;  steel is erected and wood framing is nearly complete.  In the coming weeks the weathering steel panels are scheduled for installation and the exterior will really come to life as the panel faces begin to oxidize.

Mendocino-Lake Community College District Willits Center Bids Are In

The Willits Center, designed by TLCD Architecture, will be a 6,700 square-feet classroom and administrative building on a 4.1-acre site located east of downtown Willits.  The heart of the building design will be the Learning Center, a large, day lit space for students to study and collaborate.  An operable sliding storefront wall will open the Learning Center to an adjacent computer classroom, and two large sliding barn doors will open the front desk to the Learning Center.  The exterior will include weathering steel panels, fiber-cement panels, and glass, while the interior will feature reclaimed redwood paneling and polished concrete floors.  This building should be a real gem for the community of Willits and will help the College meet its goal of providing students with a convenient and collaborative educational environment for the students and residents of North Mendocino County.

At the August 2nd meeting of the Mendocino-Lake Community College District Board of Trustees, the construction contract for the Willits Center was awarded to Midstate Construction of Petaluma.  There were a total of 9 bids received, and the 3 low bidders were all under the engineer’s estimate of $4 million.  Mobilization of the jobsite should begin soon and the construction duration is set for 10 months.

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