Event Recap

This category contains 11 posts

Rendering Discussion – Event Recap

Thanks to everyone who came out last week to sip cocktails and share information about current rendering techniques.  From our lengthy conversation it became apparent there are two dominant modelling software packages currently in use in the Indianapolis market.  Some firms use Sketchup for renderings (often using Podium or V-Ray as their rendering engine).  Other firms use Revit for modelling.  One benefit to using Revit for schematic design and early renderings is that the design team is only maintaining one digital model; there isn’t a need to coordinate between different computer programs.

It seemed universally apparent that all computer generated images look better with a healthy dose of post production entourage added with Photoshop.  These flourishes often help create a more artistic vision of the project as opposed to the somewhat pristine or clinical product produced directly from a rendering program.

Stay tuned to our email newsletter for our next event and make sure you RSVP (space will be limited).


The Axis Tour Recap


Special thanks to CSO Architects and Flaherty Collins for giving YAF a great tour of The Axis project that’s currently under construction in downtown Indianapolis.  If you missed it we hope to see you at our next event in October.  See the image gallery below for some shots of the construction project.

2014 Transitions Round Table Recap

2014 Transitions Roundtable


In case you missed it here’s a quick recap of our August event.  Every year we have a panel discussion where we ask three leaders in the local architectural community to answer questions and provide some guidance for the upcoming generation of architects.  This year we were honored to have Deb Kunce, Bob Snyder, and Tony Costello on the panel.  Each of them provided a unique insight into what is important in an architectural career as well as life outside the studio.  Below are some highlights.

When asked about what was the most important thing a young architect could be doing to grow a healthy lifelong career the answer was simple.  Network.  Get to know everyone around you; whether they are coworkers, clients, or acquaintances you make through other activities.  Years from now those contacts will remember your name when they need an architect.

On the issue of completing the ARE and IDP to become a registered architect all three panelists agreed that it should be done as early as possible.  It can be a hurdle in a young career and it’s better to clear it as soon as you can – life will always get more and more busy.

When interviewing for a position at a firm the panelists encouraged us ask many questions.  Explore the idea of work/life balance.  They recommended asking to sit with the most recent hire (or group of new employees at lunch) to really gain a feel for the company and what they will expect of you.  A key question you should be asking is “How will this firm support me as a person – not just as a technical production employee?”

On the issue that practicing architecture can easily become an obsession all three panelists urged us to form good habits while we’re young.  Our work, although important, should never take precedence over our family, friends, or faith.  If we need to work extra hours or late at night we were encouraged to do so from home.  Use technology (remote connections, powerful laptops, etc.) to our advantage to preserve an appropriate balance.

In closing here are a few verbatim quotes from the evening.  We hope to see you all at our monthly events.
“You will not be the next Frank Lloyd Wright.”
“Make more friends – now.  Never piss anyone off.”
“Get registered as soon as you can.”
“Do what you feel you’re good at – that which makes you happy.”
“It’s OK to not be a designer.”

Rendering Competition Winner


Many thanks to all of the students who entered the first ever YAF Rendering Competition.  It’s great to see future YAF participants work and talent on display while they’re still students.  Now that deadlines have ended, votes have been tallied, and the start of fall semester is rapidly approaching we would like to announce our winner.

Congratulations go out to Matthew Nichols of Fortville, IN (his LinkedIn profile).  He is currently enrolled in the Grad Program at Ball State.  His winning images are included as part of this post.

As the winner of the competition Matthew will receive a $500 scholarship funded by the Indiana Architectural Foundation (site). Participants in the YAF rendering competition were required to be a resident of Indiana, be enrolled in an accredited professional or post-professional architectural degree program, and were to have completed at least the first year in the program at the undergraduate level.  They were to include a site or floor plan as well as a graphic rendering of their project.



Thank you, again, to all participants.

As a final note the voting was very close in the competition.  As such the YAF Committee would like to give Honrable Mention to the team of Spencer Blaney and Linh Ngo for their entry.  Their submission can be viewed by clicking the images below.


Recently Registered Discussion Recap

YAF Indy ARE PrepEvery spring the YAF Indy meets to discuss the process of becoming a registered architect. The focus of the conversation is typically ARE and the hurdles of getting everything approved by the Indiana government; while well worth it, it’s usually quite the ordeal.

Our site will now have a designated page for our latest compilation of ARE prep tips. You can access it here.

You can also check out last year’s recap, full of additional information.

“Reflexivity” by Martin Summers – Recap

As always, we’re very appreciative of anyone who takes the time to share their experiences of working within the architectural profession. When that person has spent 10 years working at one of the most world recognized architectural firms, Morphosis, we appreciate it even more so. The evening’s discussion was an enlightening and inspiring look into a whole different world of architecture, one where facades are inspired by dark matter, and fire stairs are 3d printed to explain their complexity. If you missed out, here are a few notes from the presentation…

  • Facade designer at Morphosis. Went to school at University of Kentucky, went to UCLA with his wife for their graduate degrees. Had Thom Mayne as a professor. Ended up working there for ten years.
  • The Giant Interactive Group Corporate Headquarters in China was the first project they did that the client came to them, everything else had been competitions.
  • The building facade is to the building as clothing is to a human.
  • They were 26 people doing a billion dollars worth of work.
  • Design process is very iterative. Printed 3D models all the time. Caltrans was a 2 year project, with a million square feet. During schematic they were meeting with the client every other day. At every meeting they had a new model that reflected the conversations had at the previous meeting.
  • Interesting example of working with 3D models. They printed a city context model, one for their client and one for themselves. Every few days they would print two copies of their latest schematic designs. They would mail one set of the models to their client and then have a conference call during which they would both have physical models to look at even though they weren’t physically together.
  • Alan Price at Cal-Tech led the design team to think of things in a different way, very high-level stuff.
  • Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech was all about getting scientists to run into one another. Informal conference spaces. Put bathrooms on one side and coffee-room on the other, forced opposing groups to cross paths/territories to reach areas. Lots of back and forth forced by program.
  • There is no nature anymore, it has all been touched. 
  • Morphosis won the Perot Museum competition, but the economy tanked. They scrapped their original design and showed the client a box of structure, to prove they could meet the halved budget.
  • Morphosis is able to stay competitive because they are so hyper-aware of every detail of their project. If an issue is discovered/created in the field they are rapidly able to adjust the documentation to account for it. This is aided by their heavy use of computer programs.
  • The iterative process leads you to discover where the limits are. You find what isn’t right for the project, you know it so well. It’s like an organism.
  • Marty has now left Morphosis and is teaching at the University of Kentucky. He has also started his own firm, PLUS SUM.

These notes barely do the presentation justice, but it was a great event and I’m sure we can expect to see more from Martin Summers in the future.

Cahill Center


Written by Ben McGhee

ARE Prep Discussion – Recap

The YAF got together this week to discuss the always complicated process of becoming a registered architect; we covered all topics, including IDP, ARE, and dealing with the state licensing board. We were fortunate enough to have people from all stages of the process, including several recently registered architects and even someone who had just taken the structures test earlier that day.

One of the best takeaways was AREforum.org. If you’re starting to study for the ARE and you haven’t made it on the forum, you need to, it’s one of the best resources for preparing to take the test. We also discussed what order to take the tests in, in the end it’s up to you, but a few comments were: Don’t take PPP first, it’s so broad that you’re better off taking it after you’ve been studying awhile. Take CDs first, more than likely, where you’re most experienced. Save an easy one for last.

It was also interesting to hear the different time periods people took the tests in. One attendee had taken the tests on an every two week schedule. Another had a colleague who had taken them all back to back in one week, they then took the next 6 months to study for the two they had failed. The general consensus was to study for approximately a month before taking each test.

There was also a fair amount of frustration with trying to work through Indiana’s unnecessarily complicated process of receiving licensure. The checklist they offer online doesn’t actually list all of the necessary steps, and everyone in the state office does things differently. Of the three recently registered architects, all of them had been required to submit their reference documentation differently, one digitally, one printed it out and mailed, and one had to have the person giving the referral mail in a secure copy. As a result of these frustrations, we discussed the possibility of creating a new checklist for the state, one that they agreed was correct, so that it wouldn’t be such a hassle. Perhaps a summer project for the YAF Indy.

One attendee, Billy Van Elk, had been waiting on his to be processed since the end of 2012. The day following the event he called the state and found out that he had actually been registered since April, the state had simply forgotten to notify him. What an anti-climatic way to find out you’re a registered architect. Billy also had some great tips and links to share:

A few reminders. Schedule your test if you’re really serious about taking one. You won’t start studying unless you know you have a deadline. Bring a snack and an extra layer of clothing to the test center. Some days the center was freezing cold, some days it was comfortable. The ARE gives you a mandatory 15 minute break between the multiple choice and graphic sections. You cannot skip this break. Get up, have a snack, stretch, go for a walk. Do something that breaks the monotony of the test center environment. Plan an hour after your test time to just relax, treat yourself, etc. Do not rush back to work – you will not enjoy it.

I hope everyone gleaned some great information from the discussion earlier this week. I thought I would leave some links as a reminder for those who are going to start studying.

NCARB “Taking the ARE” – http://ncarb.org/en/ARE/Taking-the-ARE.aspx
(official study guides, practice tests, and practice vignettes)

ARE Forum – areforum.org
(great resource – best location to really understand the graphics portions)

Sbyrktct’s ARE Help – http://arehelp.webs.com/
(detailed descriptions of each study section)

ARE Coach – http://arecoach.com/coachforum/
(vocal and well informed member/user of ARE Forum – created their own repository due to the fact that the ARE Forum website frequently crashes or goes offline)

Lecture from Andres Duany (9 parts toal) – http://youtu.be/rwd4Lq0Xvgc
(great for studying the concepts of urban design and new urbanism – In my personal opinion every architect and city planner should consider this entire lecture to be mandatory.)

Study Materials – Check your current firm or check on the ARE Forum to buy used materials from other young architects

I personally used 2009 Kaplan Study Guides and practice exams for all sections except Structures. I had the flash cards for each section, but I only used them to study for PPP. For each exam I read through the complete Study Guide twice. Once for general understanding, and a second time for true comprehension.

For Structures I bought the 2012 Kaplan Study guide. It is commonly known that the 2009/2010 version of the Kaplan Structures book has errors and wrong answers in the practice tests.

If you have any questions about the ARE, feel free to contact us at yafindy@gmail.com and we’ll try our best to help!

LEED Platinum Home Tour – Recap

A 110-year old formerly abandoned, tax-foreclosed property gets new life as an ultra-green home.  GreenPath Homes is aiming to make the Fountain Square Cottage the first LEED for Homes Platinum renovation in the state.  The project also has broad professional and community education objectives which are detailed at www.takethegreenpath.com.  Follow their progress on their blog.

We had a great turnout for our LEED Platinum home tour. The event was dually attended by both the local chapter of the USGBC and YAF Indy. Home developer William Wagnon (LEED AP Homes) gave a thorough account of the LEED for Homes system and how it has applied to this project in particular. He made it clear that a large majority of the points were achieved simply by the location of the home, the home is an infill development located a 2 minutes walk from Fountain Square (one of the premier cultural hubs in Indianapolis). Other than picking up those “free” points, many points were achieved simply by building a quality product while utilizing an existing historic shell.  One of the areas were they did chose to go all out was in the insulation of the home. The entire home was insulated with spray foam, in the attic they used a full 12 inches. The installers kept telling them that it wasn’t necessary, but William had seen the energy model data, and he assured them he needed those 12 inches.


Indy Rezone Focus Group – Recap

It was an evening of lively discussion; from IPS school performance, to abandoned housing, storm water treatment, and even urban chickens!

The Rezone team offered a very good presentation, followed by live polling on specific questions that were used to start discussion.  As young urban professionals with design experience, our input was refreshing to the presenters.  We are design conscious and aware of the important issues, issues we deal with on a regular basis.

We hope that the Indy Rezone team can bring our concerns to Indy’s Zoning, that has not been looked at for sometime.

“Excellent event. I was worried a zoning discussion might be dull, but I really enjoyed it. I was impressed with how smart, progressive, and on top of their game the city’s planners are. It’s good to know we have some talented people working for the city.” – Brandon Farley (event attendee)

Abandoned house on 17th St.

YAF Day at the Statehouse

A small group of us had a great time at the statehouse this year. We got a chance to take in the beauty of the structure along with all of the craziness that happens within. In the end all of us were able to speak with our legislators from both the House and the Senate.

Unfortunately several of the AIA supported bills had already fallen to the wayside, but we were still able to express our wholehearted support for both the Good Samaritan Bill and the Transit Bill. View Jason Shelley’s latest Legislative Newsletter here. Also follow the transit movement at @indyconnectnow and @indyconnect, a full fledged transit system would do absolutely amazing things for this city and the surrounding area.

We make sure to do this event every year, hope to see even more YAF lobbyist out there next year!