Journey to the Final Frontier: An architect’s account of the design and construction process (part 5)

130118 BPS Anchorage.6

Architect’s Log Star Date 1.18.2013

This has been the week where I feel like the team is fully engaged and gaining some traction. After weeks of emails and conference calls, I decided it was time for a series of face-to-face meetings with all disciplines. While all the electronics in the world can connect us and allow us to work collaboratively, there is still no substitute for sitting across the table and looking people in the eye, trading a few stories, and working together to identify and solve problems. Besides aiding in communication and understanding, the human interaction adds a layer of accountability.

Before leaving the office on Tuesday, I spent time with our design team working through priorities and fall back work that could be done in my absence from the office.

Then, I headed to Kansas City to meet with the MEP team (Larson Binkley) at their office. I really love their new office – it looks like a place an architect would work. We started the meeting by having our weekly team conference call which ended up being pretty short since I was coming to meet each of the teams. No big surprises, although we did find out that there may be a big potential change coming up on Phase 2 of the project which we have tried to set aside as much as possible. No big surprises with the MEP items and discussion, although we discovered that the lighting design scope needed further direction and clarification before they could start. YIKES. The lighting package is due next Friday…

From there to the KC airport,  where I arrived in time to take a conference call on another project, a sales center and guest check in facility for Wyndham in Fairfield Glade, TN. Ok, time to remember which lot, row and section I parked in…

No big issues getting in to Seattle where I had an overnight layover to catch a 6 a.m. flight to Anchorage. The next morning, however, was a different story. I left the hotel in time to walk to the terminal and have an hour to check in and get through security and grab a Beechers breakfast sandwich, or so I thought… The security line at 5 a.m. was horrendous. Then, I forgot I had to catch a subway style train to the gate concourse. Made it just in time to be one of the last to board, with no sandwich.

Arriving at Anchorage I picked up my rental car to find it had a dead battery. Ok, breathe deep. And it was just starting to snow. I also remembered my new computer did not have an ethernet connection, so I was glad to find an Apple store a few blocks from RIM Architects’ office.

View from office at RIM Architects

View from office at RIM Architects

Our first meeting of the day was to work through some of the architectural details that we knew were impacting the woe of the structural engineer. Quick lunch at the Brew House, and back at it for a 2 p.m. meeting with our structural engineering team (BBFM) where we spent two and a half hours identifying items they need direction on. Seems like every corner we turned we found something else that needed resolved. This is the kind of stuff that is hard to do over the phone. At the end of the meeting we had a list of problems we solved and some we had yet to tackle. That night I put together all the notes/issues and emailed them to the team.

The next morning started with an early rise to work on a proposal that was due at noon central time. I worked till 7 a.m. sending the proposal out at 7:30 (10:30 central time). My first meeting of the day was with RIM’s project manager to go over our contractural issues (still working on a final contract with the owner) and scope discussions. We then met with the site/civil team (CRW) and worked through their next pieces of work, solving the questions we could, making note of those that have yet to be tackled. This meeting did not yield as many issues. Whew.

Lunch in the conference room (a salmon salad sub sandwich), and then we rolled up our shirt sleeves to sketch up solutions to the structural questions that came up. Once developed, I took quick photos of them with my iPhone and emailed them to the design architect from Bass Pro Shops. We discussed them on the phone, tweaked them and by the end of the afternoon, we had tackled 95% of them. That felt good.

Design process image

Design process image

Design process image

Design process image

Design process image

Design process image

After that, it was back to my friends’ – the Leffeks house. They had graciously opened their basement apartment for my use while I was in town, saving our client some travel expenses. By the way, over the course of two days, Anchorage gained about 10″ of fresh snow. Everyone was so excited to see it since it had been a dry winter, and ‘old dirty’ snow is so gloomy. If you are going to live in Alaska in the winter, you at least want fresh snow.

I had a 5 a.m. flight the next morning which meant up at 2:45 and out the door by 3:15. Walt started my car to warm it up, and moved it closer to the front door of the house. Big mistake as we found out… 10″ of snow over 2″ of black ice (from the big melt they had earlier in the week) led to the rental car stuck. Try as we might, he ended up driving me to the airport, and he would have to get some help to get my rental car back later in the day.

Bike commuter. Studded tires.

Bike commuter. Studded tires.

Now I’m on the final flying leg of the week from Seattle to KC. Then, to make the drive home. Feeling good about the log jams that I helped the team work through, and looking forward to getting our first package ready for permit and procurement next week. It ought to be a busy week. This job is never the same day twice…that’s what I love about it.