✱ Getting Started

Architectural designers: I want to make you worth more.

There's no other way to say this than to just get to the point: I've rewritten the entire Method website from scratch and started a new video series called Methodcast Quickies to convince you, dear reader, that we should be engaged in a symbiotic relationship where we support each other.

I've gone all-in and have dedicated my time and energy into this site to make it a resource for architectural designers looking to either get started in digital 3d modeling or take their existing skills and build upon them to get to the next level. In other words, I did it because I believe I can teach you something that will make you worth more no matter where you are in your personal development.

In return, I am asking for your support.

I've had years of experience teaching in classrooms to students from all over the world. I know what works and what doesn't when delivering complex information to students that are trying to follow along. My goal has always been to make it as easy as possible for architectural designers to take their digital design skills to the next level using the knowledge and shortcuts I teach them by wading through this stuff first. Why would I keep all this to myself? That's an old way of thinking and I don't believe in it. It's my belief that we should all share what we know.

The truth is the world needs better designers that know their tools. Not only is the industry demanding it - the public should be as well. The architectural industry needs designers to get off their current crutches and learn some new skills and get out of their comfort zone. I believe when that happens, some great new ideas will come flowing out of them. Great ideas spread. With my deep background and current knowledge in a diverse digital toolset, I can help people achieve this. I want to help designers open their minds to the tools that are available and get more productive. I love teaching, and I want to help you become a rockstar in the eyes of your peers, colleagues and clients.

Method originally launched April 6, 2010 and has already accomplished much more than I thought it ever would. In 2012 alone, almost 140,000 people watched my tutorial videos. That's a lot of bandwidth and infrastructure! People out there must be getting something from my videos with numbers like that, but for the most part, I have no idea. A few thoughtful people have left me comments that I've put on my testimonials page, but other than that it's been a lot of me wondering. 

Then last year I launched the Tip Jar with hopes that visitors would basically buy me a virtual cup of coffee for helping them become better with the tools they were learning. It was eye-opening to see that over the course of about a year, almost none of my site visitors decided to throw any money into my hat. If you have ever started a website, you probably know that this doesn't go very far covering the basic costs of operation, let alone the amount of time I personally put into creating all of the content. What I ultimately learned was that I now need to let everyone know that for me to continue to share my knowledge with my tutorials, this would have to make financial sense to me.

So this is it. I'm now inviting everyone to donate to the site if you learn something from my videos. I'm also publicly announcing that I am available for hire to do virtual and in-person training. If you're supporting me directly, I'm feeling the pressure (in a good way) to deliver some great tutorials to you first and foremost. I'm so excited to offer this up and put it out there.

Here's the thing: I've already started recording, editing, producing and releasing videos every two weeks and getting things up and going at a high-flow rate.

I love teaching this stuff. Among other institutions, I've taught for over 10 years at Cal Poly Pomona in the architecture department, and I cut my teeth on thousands of students in that program. I'm constantly inspired to create tutorials and share the things I know with friends in the architectural field. It makes me so happy to see people 'get it' and then take their new skills somewhere I've never thought possible. The truth is that the worst thing that could happen is that this won't work at all and I'll fail out loud. So be it. I'm up for the challenge.

It's difficult for me to write this sort of thing, put my hat out and bare it all so publicly. It's something I have to do though - to ask you for your support. I honestly can't do it without you. 

Let's get started. 

✱ The Best Way to Name Your Files

This article was inspired by David Sparks’ recent article on Macworld.com, which is a great read. His article focuses mostly on the files we collect and archive, and I wanted to focus more on how we should name the files we create from scratch. David is a productivity and automation guru. Check out his MacSparky website and Mac Power Users podcast for more great tips. 

When I taught at Cal Poly in the Architecture Department, I had a few annually recurring lectures on subjects like setting up good folder structures, how often to save your files, and even how to name your files. Yes, I know these are BORING but they are completely necessary if you’re going to be a power user because we have to be organized. It’s time to come to grips with just how many files we create and what we are going to do when we need to find them later. Do a little house keeping now, set up some good habits, and you’ll never have to worry about it again.

I’ll be delving into the other subjects of folder structures and saving file versions at a later time (score!), but for now let’s take a look at how to name your files and why you would even consider reading this article. I know, you probably already know how to do this because you’ve been doing it for sooo long Ms. Smarty Pants… but chances are you could be doing things better. And that’s the point of this article

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✱ Maide Control - A New 3d Mouse

Maide Control is an exciting new app for your iPad from Maide that does two things. First, it allows you to control SketchUp or Rhino on your computer wirelessly and present your model from your iPad. Second, it lets you use your iPad as a 3d mouse (like a 3dConnexion device) during the modeling process as another input device.

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✱ My Digital Sketchbook - Jot Pro + iPad and the Apps I Use

The new Jot Pro stylus for iPad is here. I was one of the backers on Kickstarter for this new product by Adonit and I love the fact that I was able to help support them reach their measly goal of $2,500 to get the project rolling. Instead, they had 4,975 backers that pledged a total of $168,532 which obviously gave them a successful funding. More importantly, it shows just how many early adopters there are that are excited about this product. If you're not familiar with Kickstarter, you should definitely check it out. I've helped fund two kickstarts so far and have been extremely happy with not only the companies that have come out with the amazing new products, but also with the whole idea behind Kickstarter itself.

Anyway, back to the Jot. Until now, I've hardly used my iPad as a sketchbook because the offerings haven't been what I have desired in a pen-like instrument. When drawing on paper, I prefer to use ink as opposed to graphite or chalk. I'm actually a bit more picky than that. I really prefer to draw with fluid ink pens as opposed to ball points. 

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✱ Help Save Neutra's Kronish House

I have been following an unfolding story in Beverly Hills, California regarding one of the homes Richard and Dion Neutra designed called the Kronish house. It was completed in 1955 and is a beautiful residence that was recently bought while in foreclosure. It was then put up for sale at a much higher price but ultimately never was sold. Now it is under threat of being demolished for the land to be sold at an even higher price.

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✱ The Architecture of John Lautner

One of the benefits of living in Los Angeles is that there is great architecture to experience if you are willing to go out and visit it. I had the opportunity in late July to visit four homes by the late John Lautner who would be turning 100 years old this year. In celebration of that event, the MAK Center and the John Lautner Foundation cooperatively put on a home tour. I was happy to support these two entities and visit the homes of an architect whom I greatly admire. Lautner is by far one of my highest regarded icons of the profession. He was an undisputed master of linking spaces through form and structure.

The four homes on the tour, in the order I visited them, were the Sheats/Goldstein House (1963, remodeled in 1980), the Schwimmer House (1982), the Harpel House (1956), and the Jacobsen House (1947). They span a majority of his work, representing many stages in his career. Lautner had an immense vision for what architecture could be, and how it could be used to shape people's lives. Just as important to Lautner's vision were the clients that were willing to go along for the ride. Lucky for us, he had both.

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✱ Using the iPad as a Design Presentation Tool

The other day I gave a presentation to a client. Sounds normal, right? As designers, we should be doing this often. But this time, I tried something new - hooking up an iPad to a digital projector for a full, high definition presentation. Let me be the first to tell you that it was beautiful. Let me also be one of the first to say that I can’t wait for this to be wireless over Airplay when iOS 5 comes out.

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✱ Fontana Courthouse Expansion & Remodel Project Wins AIA Design Award

I talk a lot about the tools we use for design here on Method, but I want to stress how much I get out of visiting my projects that have been built. I used several digital tools to model this project during the design process including SketchUp and Revit. None of the design and previsualization can compare to actually being in the space, which is what architecture is really about for me. It truly does invoke a personal, emotional response from me. This is why I do what I do. Space can indeed change us.


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✱ Back to Work

Following is a short transcript from my favorite podcast - "Back to Work" (iTunes link) by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin. The text sums up just how hard it is to really do something creative. I can directly apply this to my architectural design career. It's easy to design. Chew on this: it's incredibly hard to design something incredible. Not only that, but make that 'incredible' thing that's in a 3d model or in a sketch into something that other people actually get to experience and not get incredibly screwed up and compromised along the way to becoming an actual building. 

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