Jul 102011
Fence post sketch exported from Sketchbook Mobile

This is the quick sketch I drew on my iPhone using Sketchbook Mobile.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to help my brother in law build a fence at his Victorian style home. When I arrived at the job site, there was a question about how best to meet the front of the house. We needed a quick answer in order to get to the home improvement store in time to keep on schedule. After discussing a few ideas and taking a closer look at the site, I came up with what I thought was a workable solution. I just needed a way to describe it. Thankfully, I had my iPhone already loaded with Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile, a great little app that comes in very handy in situations like this.

Sketchbook Mobile let me take a picture of the job site and insert it directly to a drawing layer. I then activated another layer on top of the photo, picked some contrasting colors from the color selector, and began sketching on top of the photo with my finger. Using your fingers takes a little practice, but it helps that you can easily zoom and pan using two fingers. The image above is a copy of the resulting sketch. For this blog post I simply exported it to the “camera roll” and then used WordPress Mobile to upload the image to my blog.
In case you’re wondering, the sketch was approved and we headed off to the store for supplies. The second picture shows the same location with the sketched fence structure in place.

Photo of the built fence post.

This is a photo of the fence post I built based on the Sketchbook Mobile sketch.

Have you tried Sketchbook Mobile or Mobile Express? Do you have any questions about it? Do you use it in any of your workflows?


Jan 182011

I learned a lot about construction in Architecture school, and even more in my apprenticeship and study for licensure. I have seen a lot of construction through my work in commercial design, and I even did some construction work back in high school. Unfortunately, all of that knowledge and experience doesn’t necessarily make me good or even proficient at all the tasks involved in the various renovations I tackle around the house. A big example with the shed project is the concrete slab that is required by the Township code. As I purpose to do all of my projects within the requirements of the code, I knew I needed a large concrete pad. I’ve done small masonry repairs and concrete work before, but this was big enough to give me pause. ITABWODI? I could save a little cash by setting up the forms and mixing and setting my own concrete, or I could save a lot of time and energy by contracting the work out. In this case I chose the latter, and I’m glad I did. I spent a few minutes staking out the location per my site plan drawing, and the contractors did the rest. They did much better work than I would have, and I could turn my focus to getting materials for walls and roof.

Photo of the finished concrete pad.

The finished concrete pad.

Photo of stakes locating concrete pad.

My stakes locating the site for the shed.


Sep 282010
Shed design image - exterior perspective.

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been blogging much lately. It turns out that it’s difficult to find time for blogging when I’m spending most of my free time on a building project. They’re both enjoyable activities, but I have to admit that given the choice, I really prefer building things to writing. Those familiar with the commercial building industry might ask why I became an architect instead of a contractor if I enjoy building so much (for those who don’t know, architects have to write a lot – specifications, notes on drawings, reports, meeting minutes, etc., etc., etc.). That’s probably a topic for another day. Suffice it to say that I not only enjoy building, but also the challenge of designing; and the best way to get in the thick of the design process is to be an architect. So, being the designing/building enjoying person that I am, I’ve been really focused on getting the shed built, especially now that fall is starting, the days are shorter, and the weather less predictable.

Continue reading »

Jun 262010

Our neighborhood was one of the areas hit hard by the severe thunderstorms that moved through quickly on June 24th.  I was at work a few mile north when they hit, and all I knew was that we got some heavy rain.  As I made my home, however, the evidence of a serious event mounted quickly.  Traffic lights along most of the major 4-lane roads on my route were without power leaving everyone to attempt to take turns at intersections.  There were ponds of water at low points, and as I got closer to home, there were entire trees taking out power lines and multiple lanes of roadway.  When I finally reached home, the power was out, but everyone was safe and sound.  The storm shredded some of our softer landscaping (ferns, flowers, etc.), snapped and bent back some healthy 3-4″ branches on an oak tree in our back yard, and it pushed over the old TV antenna that was clamped to the plumbing vent on our roof.

A view of our old rooftop TV antenna after the storm pushed it over.

Here is a view of our old rooftop TV antenna after the storm pushed it over.

Our neighbors actually had it much worse – a giant poplar tree, at least 60′ tall, snapped off at the ground and landed on the back of their house.  Later, I took a walk around the neighborhood and found more trees on wires, houses, streets and cars.

The weather experts say that we did not experience a tornado.  It was only straight-line wind gusts at hurricane speeds of ~75 mph.  On the bright side, I’m glad to know that my 1950’s brick spec house can withstand hurricane force winds.  However, the movement on the TV antenna prompted me to finally get around to removing this last major architectural vestige of the analog age.  You may be thinking, architectural?  really? Well, let me put it this way: all of the houses on my street are cape cods, and the distinguishing architectural features are the number of front dormer windows, the placement of the front door on the front of the house, and the color of the brick, with a few other exceptions.

A photo of our house showing the TV antenna.

The TV antenna was particularly visible from this approach to our house.

Our house was the only one with a TV antenna (unless you count satellite dishes).  In this context, the antenna, as a permanent attachment to the house, helped to distinguish it from our neighbors’.  As such, I am comfortable calling it a piece of architecture.  Not a beautiful piece of architecture by any stretch of the aesthetic imagination, but it was architecture.

Continue reading »