Monday, January 22, 2007

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

I suppose, since it's early yet, that now's a good a time as any to tell y'all who I work with. Wow, could I sound more Southern?

I work for a major architecture firm in Denver called Design Associates*. We have a whole lot of people and do a variety of project types: schools, colleges, multifamily housing, commercial, and medical. Unlike many architecture firms, we have our own landscape architects and interior designers on staff, which means we can design a project from the street to the doorknobs. It gives an architect a little more control, as well; if you need to consult with someone about the wallcovering in the lobby or the line of the sidewalk at the drop-off, he or she can just walk across the office instead of setting up yet another meeting.

(That's the thing about architects. We're some of the meetingest people you'll ever meet, and the more of us we can squeeze into a poor-ventilated conference room, the happier we are. We'll strut around in our stern, black turtlenecks and shout at everyone to "take $75,000 out of your scope now!" and marvel at how intense and misunderstood we are.)

I've worked for a few different project managers at DA, but I can honestly say that I have most enjoyed working for my present project manager, Howie Entenmann*. Howie is intense and demanding, but he doesn't make it personal. He has unbelievable energy and is unable to be still for more than 120 seconds. When forced to sit with me to review questions from the contractor or write down notes during a client meeting, his leg jitters and jumps up and down and he twirls his pen. I so have an urge sometimes to slip a Quaalude in his hot tea.

I don't know yet who in my office will be on my team for the mental hospital. The Mendwell Center for the Reality Impaired (MCRI)* will be about 80,000 square feet and hold as many 80 inpatients. Another firm will program the facility (that is, they help the clients figure out what they want and need in their new building) and do some initial design, then they'll hand those plans over to us to continue designing the facility and meeting with the clients. Sometimes out get to design a building from start to finish, and other times you inherit a basic design from another company. Design Associates has handed drawings off to other architecture firms, and we've inherited drawings from other firms. As Tom Jones might say, it's not unusual.

I'm concerned about who's going to be on my team because I know I'm about to be busier than a cat covering crap on a marble floor. Howie, you see, doesn't just manage me. He has ten people under his management working on a multimillion dollar hospital project that won't be finished until 2012. He has four other architects and architectural interns (people with experience similar to mine except not yet licensed) who each manage a different project--a medical office building, an addition to an medical office building, a surgery center addition, and moi, who's finishing up the construction of a 70,000 square foot hospital in Kansas. I know I'm going to be rather on my own for a lot of the MCRI project, and whoever Howie gives me to help on this project, in the words of Tina Turner, better be good to me. I've already lost a lot of weekends to my Kansas hospital because I didn't have the right help or not enough of it, and I'm not doing it again.

*All names with asterisks are fictional. Certain details have been altered for anonymity.


Miss Kitty said...

Maybe you should've re-named your firm Architects Associates...

Because "expensive buildings cost more."

And what the hell's up with the word verification? It was kuiyayi. WTF? "Kuiyayi, my Lord / Kuiyayi..."

faded said...

The "Mendwell Center for the Reality Impaired." Sound like all the architecture firms I have worked for.

Wide Lawns Subservient Worker said...

Pixie! I'm so excited you're blogging!

Mile High Pixie said...

Kitty: This is an intervention. You're my sister and I love you. Please stop commenting after drinking cough syrup.

Faded: It would certainly be a good name for some consultants I've worked with, too. I may need to send some of my coworkers there when it's finished.

Wide Lawns: What does it mean when I nearly leapt out of my chair and shrieked "eeee!" upon seeing your post? Thanks for the support!

BaxterWatch said...


I had a roomie in college who was an architorture (that's what we called it at Tech) major.

I almost was one - fortunately, I interviewed an Architorture Dean at another Southern University who told me "don't bother. go be a civil or mechanical engineer and minor in industrial design. you'll have more fun, a better life, and make more bank."

whew. That was a close call, dude.

Miss Kitty said...


Mmmmmm. Nyquil.