#ArchiTalks 36 "communication..."


Just a castaway
An island lost at sea
Another lonely day
With no one here but me
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair

I'll send an SOS to the world
I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life
But love can break your heart

I'll send an SOS to the world
I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Walked out this morning
Don't believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles
Washed up on the shore
Seems I'm not alone at being alone
A hundred billion casatways
Looking for a home

I'll send an SOS to the world
I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Sending out an SOS

Songwriters: Gordon Sumner Message in a Bottle lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Released: 1979
Genre: Alternative/Indie


I didn’t know whether to write about communication as far as communication
in the practice of architecture or communication in the design of architecture
and I am pretty much writing about both,



First, Communication as far as the Practice of Architecture:

I try and communicate what I think the client needs to know, and we are all acting
under responsible control and best practices but but we are all human…

In this day of massive communication sources, (ie. the internet, email, cell phones,
texting, conference calls, etc, etc) we are being inundated with communication and
even within that there is social media: twitter, facebook, instagram, linkedin, all of
which have the capability to send messages to people.  And as a friend of mine said
recently, “move to regular text platform”,

With all of this, Sometimes, I would like to harken back  to the “message in a bottle”
Have you ever left the office, been on your way to a meeting, arrived

the person says, “did you get my email?”  

Other person:, “i looked at my email before i left the office and i didn’t see yours….”

The person: “well, i sent it five minutes ago!”

Other person: “like, while i was driving here?”

Have you ever received multiple emails from a person where you cannot respond to
them and do the work that they are relating to?

Have you ever been involved in a group text where you are receiving notifications
about things every for seconds?

Yes?  You have?

Ok, let’s just step back and ;look at the situation.  

Business has tried and true methods of communication.

They are:

Contracts, etc.
Phone calls
Conference Calls

Notice, I don’t have texting listed.

Texting is not a formal means of communication as far as I am concerned.  It is a
private way to talk to people, and one way that you can carry on a one way conversation.
So if yu really don’t want to contact the person and don’t want to have a record of the
conversation, use a text.  Nothing says frustration like trying to scroll through infinitesimal
days, minutes and seconds of texts looking for a link for a tile that a client sent you….

And let’s not forget that some people will text you during non-business hours to give you
information that could possibly have waited til not 6:30 am on a Saturday...or people who
feel that one should respond automatically to a text or email.  I do not use texts unless it is
a “I will be 15 minutes late” Otherwise, we are not doctors or police or fire, usually waiting 24 hours
for a response will not hurt anyone.

And I thought I was the only person in the world who was lost in conference calls til Archispeak
called it out in one of their podcasts.  I felt like I was always late to the meeting because I couldn’t
figure out what was going on and ok, well, I was late to the meeting usually so i was totally lost,
but i had dialed in 30 minutes before when nobody was there….

So, let’s look at why I think that conference calls are so difficult for me and trying to figure out
things in the profession of architecture:

A conference call, unless those special ones where we can see photos of everyone hopefully not
staring off or picking at their nose or some other body part, is not a visual form of communication.

Which is what architecture is all about.

Architecture is about communicating ideas about space to other people.

Architecture is about communicating what is in my head to someone elses.

However, what i describe to someone can be totally unlike what they see from my description.  

An easy example of this is when you are a child and reading a book,

(I say a child because I do not have time to read an entire book, even the ones that are written
by people I know, my apologies to Ann Sussman, “Cognitive Architecture” and
Vishaan Chakrabarti, “A Country of Cities”, (buy their books, shameless plug)

When I read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, I did not imagine  
The Wardrobe or room looking like this, but rather thought of it as like my brother’s wardrobe
or chifferobe, as my mother and grandmother called it, which was much smaller as was also
the room it was in.

So, when a client describes a space full of light, and contemporary, with natural materials, most
architects would think of this

And then are surprised when the client sends them a pinterest link to this:

Attributed to Judy Aldridge
(This was actually a photo that popped up on pinterest with that description)

A small house to me is about 1.200 square feet, to others who don’t live in California,
a small house is 2,400 square feet and a small house to others, might mean 498 which
was the size of the vacation bungalows in venice beach that we lived in before we moved
next door to the more spacious 700 square foot one.

So, it is through our communication as architects, through plans, elevations, sections, and
renderings of the space that we convey what our vision is of the project to the client and
then they can see if their vision matches or must make a few changes before we can both
see their vision of the space they want.  It is through us communicating through #architalks
that we can communicate on the internet about architecture, not only to each other, but to
our clients, when we are "googled", we come up as architects and wht we have designed,
and what we have written and that is an important tool of communication.

I am now offering sponsorship opportunities and I am grateful for that. Please contact me via my website below for more information.

Communication, if you want to see how other architects communicate, please follow the links below.   

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Communication and the Question of Relevance
Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
what does it communicate?

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Types of communication in architecture

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
Communication Breakdown: #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Talk, Write, Draw -- A Com Hat Trick

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks #36: Project Amplify

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Communication - What, How, Why?

Samantha R. Markham - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Why Communication Skills are a Must for Aspiring Architects

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Who's Bad!

Jim Mehaffey - Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Communication in a Yada Yada World

Mark Stephens - Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)

Jane Vorbrodt - Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Explain Yourself...

Please contact me via my website below for more information on the firm and sponsorship of the blog and podcast.