Sunday, November 30, 2014

Life of an Architect - It's not Hollywood!

I love how architects are always portrayed in Hollywood. Suave, debonaire, and nearly always affluent.  There is a fair list, from the Fountainhead with Gary Cooper, to Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio, to Indecent Proposal with Woody Harrelson. Movies with Architects As with nearly all things in Hollywood, the real life of an architect I think (I know)  is quite different - with the exception we really are at the drawing table - if not way more than portrayed on film.

We do have lives and wives and children and interesting clients, collaborators, builders, and stories…..oh the stories. Of course those are confidential. Well - at least most of them :-). My life has been filled with such interesting people who have done amazing things with their lives. And the honor it is to design the personal spaces for these people is truly hard to fathom. Frankly, the fact is I truly get to know people so well and how they sleep, eat, entertain, make love….seriously it gets personal. To capture all of this into a set of plans takes time - a lot of time. I love when I get a cold call for an inquiry and the first question is. "How fast can I get a set of plans"….. always followed immediately after by, "and how much will the plans cost." I usually want to say, "Pull up to the next window and oh would you like us to supersize the fries?" Here's a hint - we do not draw a set of plans. Our job is to capture a way of living and enhance and accentuate how a person or family lives with the home we design with them! To do this take time!!! Lot's of time.

Hence the life of an architect is filled with work. A lot of time on the board. I live on my board. And as any artist knows the time you spend on your art takes away from your time from life and an artist needs life to create art…… such a dilemma and all of you architects and artists and craftsmen out there know exactly what I am talking about. Now I'm sure its the same for a lot of other jobs or careers. And frankly, I may be sitting at my desk in my air conditioned office with a cup of coffee if early in the morning and a nice cab if in the evening drawing thousands of roof tiles…..while someone is going to have to someday lay all of these tiles on a 110º roof - so my job is not that tough. But we are not out racing cars and solving mysteries as we are depicted in Hollywood …..we are working.

Then there are the people who have to live and work with us….. that is tough and I commend anyone who is or has been married to an architect. It is not easy. I remember my late mentor, George Christensen, tell me, "Architecture is a demanding mistress!" How right he was. He never married - he was married to his architecture and his life as an architect. If we are not on the boards we are at meetings or client functions. Even when we aren't on the board we are thinking about our projects and clients - it never stops. We are technically always on the clock. I love my wife and I love my work. Luckily, my Isabel let's me work and understands what I do. That doesn't mean we still don't have some wonderful time together - we do everything we can to get some good alone time! Same with my girls - softball and basketball practice, Art and Soul acting, school, sleepovers, etc.

In other words, at least this architect lives a pretty average American life. I drive a Prius, live in a 2500 sf patio home, love to fish and camp and ride horses with my Scottsdale Charro brothers on the one hand and put on the tux and go to the Heart Ball on the other - sometimes all in the same day. I can be designing a 20,000 sf home in the morning, running the girls to a game after school, grab dinner and a glass of wine with Isabel in the evening and then finish up the night working on a small closet addition. Every day and every client and project is different. It's not Hollywood  but I LOVE IT. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Week!

Happy Sunday to you all! Getting ready for one of my favorite holidays of the year - Thanksgiving! See my Thanksgiving Blog from last year for my thoughts on this holiday. I love the food, the family, and giving thanks. We all have so much to be thankful for - that is for sure.


In terms of thanks, I first have to start with my family. My beautiful wife Isabel who is so supportive of us and me and our family. She truly is my angel on earth. We have so much fun together and she she is most definitely my best friend. I'm thankful for my three lovely daughters. They are all so different and so unique and it is so crazy to see them grow up and become their own person. Then let's add my parents, Don and Karin, and Isabel's mom, Alette. How wonderful to have my mom and dad relocate from Denver to just a few blocks from Isabel's mom, Alette, down in Maricopa! Having them all together and enjoying family meals and Bronco games together is an absolute gift and one that is very special to me. My father turns 80 in January and so we are excited to celebrate in style.

Then there is my staff at Candelaria Design. Wow you guys are amazing and such a talented crew to work with. You all share my passion for design combined with hard work and pleasing our clients. We laugh, we collaborate, we solve problems, and we create together. I love working with you all.

Then there are our clients and projects. I am so thankful for you of course - without you and your projects I'm not sure what I would be doing or who I would be. We are blessed to have some absolutely amazing clients who have achieved so much in their lives. You inspire and teach me and hopefully we give to you beauty and a home that is a reflection of you, your dreams, and a home that enhances your life.

Let's add all of our builders, vendors, and craftsmen/artisans we are so blessed to collaborate with! It's so funny that my true best friends are all current or former builders and clients. It's so nice to be able to work with your best friends!

The list goes on and on and when you really start to think of all the things you are thankful for its a pretty long list. We all get caught up with our problems and problems are always there and a part of life. Seriously, take the time this week, and invite your family to join you, in writing out a list of all the rings you are thankful for and then after Thanksgiving dinner read your lists. You will find that all of our lives are a lot richer and fuller than we sometimes give credit for.

So everyone enjoy your Thanksgiving. Between the food and football take the time to connect with your family and friends and enjoy the simple things in life. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Candelaria Design!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Trends in Housing - driven by Demographics & Lifestyle

With the Holidays right around the corner its time to get ready for 2015! The Arizona market is buzzing along with the energy states of Texas, the Dakotas, Louisiana and Colorado - oh and of course the Federal Government state of District of Columbia - that's where the jobs are!

Housing is changing due to several factors….affordability, demographics and lifestyle changes by those demographics. What I'm seeing is two distinct ends of the demographics reacting in a similar way but for different reasons. The older baby boomers - this in their 50's and beyond are downsizing and simplifying. They were the megaconsumers during the 80's, 90's and 2000's and rode the ups and downs of the booms and busts of that time frame. Then there are the children of the baby boomers, the Millenniums who virtually watched all of this and have reacted in the total opposite way by not buying and not costuming.

By the time the Babyboomers hit their mid twenties and thirties they had first and some second homes, cars, cars and more cars and of course furniture and things to fill the plethora of mini storage places we all have our "stuff" in. The Millenniums on the other hand are not buying, they are renting, some are refusing to even buy a car and instead are choosing to live in urban areas where they can walk or bike to everything, and then they are buying furniture from second hand stores and repurposing all the "stuff" that is being given away by the Downsizers!

Hence, the blog of October 28th by Josh Miller on the National Association of Home Builders noted that homeownership rate hit a 20 year low! After hitting a peak in 2004 and 2005 it has steadily declined to now in 2014 we are where we were in 1994. We see a lot of Baby Boomers buying older homes and either tearing them down and building smaller but nicer or simply remodeling. Many are renting due to tight credit and never bouncing back from the lost equity of the Great Recession. Millenniums have not been able to get the decent jobs to buy houses so many on both ends of the demographic spectrum are renting! Rental vacancy rates are at 7.4% and not this low since 1995…..see the parallel data from the homeownership bottom of 1994. Hence, our multifamily work has been booming. We are doing a ton of repurposing of old properties - all over the country! Rents are rising and perhaps that combined with easing credit may be the tipping point for the millenniums - add to the fact they will be hitting their thirties soon and perhaps finally getting decent jobs and settling down???? I don't know - I think this generation is different we will see.

So what is my conclusion….? I see the Babyboomers continue their downsizing and slow down in purchasing big ticket items, not so many second homes, but what they do buy and build will have all the bells and whistles of their mega mansions from the last decade… we are definitely seeing that. I see Babyboomers urbanizing and living in areas where shopping, dining and if they are still working - it is all right there! Same with the Milleniums - they want to be where the action is. They don't need or want a big footprint and want their space techno friendly combined with reclaimed and repurposed materials and items.

What do you get when you mix both ends of the demographic spectrum together - Transitional Style. The aging Babyboomers want to ditch the dark and heavy Tuscan / Old World for the hipper contemporary feel and style without going too far or too trendy or too cold and sterile. The Milleniums want minimalistic, airy, non-consumptional space and furnishings with reclaimed and repurposed elements infused in high tech and contemporary spaces. Both ends of the spectrum are arriving in the same part of town and searching for pretty close to the same look. The Babyboomers want more bells and whistles in a smaller package as I mentioned before… cellars, morning bars, tricked out offices and media rooms; but they now want to be closer to the action.

It will be interesting to see where we go from here - things are definitely changing that is for sure. I see the inner city areas of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, and even Paradise Valley continuing their urbanization. Paradise Valley would be really wise to look to the future and develop its core with denser housing for all those 1-5 acres residents hitting their 60's who don't want to leave their community but also don't want to maintain a 1 - 5 acre site and home….I'm afraid, PV may lose these people and the demand for 1-5 acre parcels may decline over the years…..But talk about sitting on a gold mine if they can have the foresight to develop some beautiful higher density housing with open space amenities to keep the balance and capitalize on the beauty of and proximity to everything that Paradise Valley has……ok that's just my view….What do you think???