Episode 9

The Optimism of Architecture? Interview with Dalhousie Architecture Students

Vincent interviews six students studying architecture. Colby Rice, Logan Hawkes, Cody Gaulton, Holly Mills, Mark Mackinnon and Cesar Basillo

In this conversation: the challenges of being a student today, priorities of a practice, finding a work life balance, fear and excitement of the future and more.

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Dalhousie Architecture

Students

Host: Vincent Van den Brink, Architect + Partner, Breakhouse, Inc.
Guests: Colby Rice, Logan Hawkes, Cody Gaulton, Holly Mills, Mark Mackinnon and Cesar Basillo
Announcer: Danielle Pottier, Senior Architect, Breakhouse, Inc.
Producer: Arthur Comeau, Tide School.

Episode Transcript

Vince:
Welcome everybody. Design Makes Everything Better. On today’s podcast. We are meeting with five fantastic students from the Dalhousie architecture school. And what we thought would be interesting in the context of the podcast is to hear from a younger up starting generation and hearing their points of view on what lies ahead for them and the optimism that they feel compared to a old dude like me, that’s been in the industry for a long time and unfortunately nobody at the table smiled. So they do officially think of me as an old dude. I think <laugh>, <laugh>, uh, one person’s shaking their head. So, um, I think in the context of, uh, this podcast where we don’t have video, we won’t be able to associate, I think, easily everybody’s voice and who is separate from one person to the next. Right. Um, we do thankfully have one woman with us, so it’ll be easy to pick her out that’s Holly. Um, but if you could, and I think it would also be helpful for the listeners to know what your name is and, um, maybe headline, uh, point of view on what you’re doing this semester.

Holly:
Yes. The female at the table. Um, so I’m Holly, I’m actually not in school right now because I’m going to UBC for my master’s. So I just finished my undergrad at Dalhousie. Um, but I’m looking forward to going into the kind of more sustainability focused area of architecture, um, kind of investigating what different types of building materials we might be able to use going forward. Yeah.

Cody:
Yeah. Great. Uh, I’m Cody. Um, I finished my beds with, uh, these four, four wonderful folks and, uh, right now I’m, uh, design studio that’s, um, based with Saltaire design. Um, and we’re currently investigating, um, how to propose a, um, kind of rendition on, um, little sight in blue rocks, Nova Scotia, um, looking at coastal protection, um, and how to be net positive.

Vince:
Great, perfect.

Colby:
Uh, I’m Colby and I’m kind of in the same boat as everybody else. And, uh, I, my design that I’m doing this term is about theaters. I’m working with Peter Henry and, uh, we’re studying different types of theaters. And right now we’re doing like a little amphitheater and then we’re moving into like a, a bigger kind of indoor thing. So yeah, just interested to explore that. Cool.

Mark:
Hi mark. Um, Michael Putnam is a professor for my studio. The subject is, uh, the Centennial building in Halifax. It’s an adaptive reuse project. It’s quite fascinating.

Vince:
And Logan,

Logan:
Uh, my name is Logan. I am in the same studio as mark. So I’m working with, uh, Michael Putman on the adaptive reuse of the Centennial building.

Announcer:
Welcome to design makes everything better. A podcast about design as a process for making decisions and succeeding. Now here’s your host fi

Vince:
So I, I just wanted to maybe open up the conversation with, um, a question that’s a little bit about event adventure. So if anybody has been on any kind of a trip, whenever you go away and come back, you look at your home or your place that you left in a different way. Um, just cuz the learnings that you’ve had and the exposure that you’ve welcome, everybody Zion makes everything better. On today’s podcast. We are meeting with five fantastic students from the Dalhousie architecture school. And what we thought would be interesting in the context of the podcast is to hear from a younger up starting generation and hearing their points of view on what lies ahead for them and the optimism that they feel compared to a old dude like me, that’s been in the industry for a long time and unfortunately nobody at the table smiled.

Vince:
So they do officially think of me as an old dude. I think <laugh>, uh, one person shaking their head. So, um, I think in the context of, uh, this podcast where we don’t have video, we won’t be able to associate, I think, easily everybody’s voice and who is separate from one person to the next right. Um, we do thankfully have one woman with us, so it’ll be easy to pick her out that’s Holly. Um, but if you could, and I think it would also be helpful for the listeners to know what your name is and, um, maybe headline, uh, point of view on what you’re doing this semester.

Holly:
Yes. The female at the table. Um, so I’m Holly, I’m actually not in school right now because I’m going to UBC for my master’s. So I just finished my undergrad at Dalhousie. Um, but I’m looking forward to going into the kind of more sustainability focused area of architecture, um, kind of investigating what different types of building materials we might be able to use going forward. Yeah.

Cody:
Yeah. Great. Uh, I’m Cody. Um, I finished my beds with, uh, these four, four wonderful folks. And, uh, right now I’m taking a design studio that’s, um, based with Saltaire design. Um, and we’re currently investigating, um, how to propose a, um, kind of rendition on, um, a little sight in blue rocks, Nova Scotia, um, looking at coastal protection, um, and how to be net positive.

Vince:
Great, perfect.

Colby:
Uh, I’m Colby and I’m kind of in the same boat as everybody else. And uh, I, my design that I’m doing this term is about feeders. I’m working with Peter Henry and, uh, we’re studying different types of theaters. And right now we’re doing like a little amphitheater and then we’re moving into like a, a bigger kind of indoor thing. So yeah, just interested to explore that.

Mark:
Cool. Uh, mark, um, Michael Putnam is a professor for my studio. The subject is a, the Centennial building in Halifax. It’s an adaptive reuse project. It’s quite fascinating,

Vince:
Right, Logan.

Logan:
Uh, my name’s Logan, I am in the same studio as mark. So I’m working with, uh, Michael Putman on the adaptive reuse of the Centennial building.

Announcer:
Welcome to design makes everything better. A podcast about design as a process for making decisions and succeeding. Now here’s your host fi

Vince:
So I, I just wanted to maybe open up the conversation with, um, a question that’s a little bit about event adventure. So if anybody has been on any kind of a trip, whenever you go away and come back, you look at your home or your place that you left in a different way. Um, just cuz the learnings that you’ve had and the exposure that you’ve had and whatever it was that you saw on your adventure. So is there anything that comes to mind from any of you where after having started school and finishing beds or looking to move to BC to do your master’s or whichever it might be, is there anything that you find uniquely different now that you’ve taken some of these courses and started on the process of design and the study of that you see now the world in a slightly different way, or what is an example of something that comes to mind, which is man, this is not the way I thought things worked.

Holly:
I think generally if you’re comparing it to before ever having gone into architecture school, you just, you perceive spaces differently, like completely differently or when you’re walking around, what you’re looking at is the architecture, when you’re in kind of any space, whether it’s interesting architecture or not, that’s the first thing that your mind goes to

Cody:
It’s it’s, uh, something that happens, you know, often being out in public and it it’s always looking up at the ceiling, um, looking at the, you know, different systems that are visible, um, even just, you know, touching the materials, things like that, being a bit more engaged, see how one may compose that space.

Vince:
Right. Right. Somebody told me once that architects and architecture students make horrific tourists <laugh> because you end up, uh, always going into places that you shouldn’t be going. Uh, like I went to the Bion tomb by, uh, Carlos Scarpa. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, uh, in Italy. And it took forever to get there by taxi. And I showed up on a Saturday morning was super cold. It was early and I couldn’t find much information on whether it be open or not, but it was closed. But, uh, at that time I was your age. So I was young and fit. So I thought I’d try to jump the concrete walls <laugh> and um, I saw this elderly man walking down the street and uh, he saw what I was trying to do. So he started to walk a little bit faster and I was like, oh man, you know what?

Vince:
I’m, I’m faster than this guy. I can jump over this before he gets here and tells me that I’m not allowed to. And I jumped over and sure enough, he was one of the caretakers there and was opening the door afterwards and saw me walking around <laugh> I was like, I am actually fashion this guy. I’m just gonna keep moving until he catches me. And then he finally did. So he kicked me out. But, uh, yeah, it’s the, the world is a kind of interesting place to explore once you’ve been studying architecture or design, because anything that you see, any wall, any ceiling, any light, any streets scape has gone through the process of decision making. What is it that you feel is gonna be the value for you in this profession? In the future,

Cody:
We pose a very similar question in our icebreaker of our design studio this semester. And, and it, to me, it’s, it’s looking at net positive architecture and in a way I view it as you know, this is the way. And if you don’t kind of convert to that kind of practice, you’re gonna get left behind because there’s gonna be people above you with more power, um, kind of forcing your hands almost. Um, climate change is becoming a fierce thing. And especially here in Nova Scotia, um, and those matters are gonna have to be addressed. And we as an industry, um, have them of the most power to do that.

Vince:
What are the things that we could do? Like what, how does the power show up?

Cody:
I, I would say, you know, like within our profession, it’s mentioned very often that the architect is kind of the, the hub, um, the connector of people and the manager of people. And so I think in that position is where it enables to control to kind of dictate these other, um, sub industries, if you will.

Vince:
Mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative>. And, and what would control for you guys look like?

Holly:
I think control is control is kind of a dangerous word to use. Like you, you don’t want to be controlling architecture, you don’t wanna be controlling people with your designs. That’s not, that’s not really why we do what we do. I think it’s more, it’s like creating a space for people to use and to inhabit and to make their own because you can never, you can never really predict exactly what someone or a group is going to need. They’re just gonna kind of, co-op what you create and turn it into something useful for themselves. If you’ve designed it in a way that they can

Logan:
It’s. Yeah. It’s kind of our job to be the most informed person in the room and then try in and use that influence, uh, in the, in to, to get the best outcome possible. Um, thinking about, you know, what Colby said on a larger scale, um, you know, we are subject to other, other powers beyond us, but there are, you know, Canada has sort of committed to introducing, um, you know, passive building codes in, you know, in the, in the future and, and things like that. So as, as those, as those things catch up and industry standards catch up, then we can hopefully with work within that framework as well. I mean, there’s, we’re, we’re part of a larger system. Um,

Cody:
I, I think to go back to your word about control, I think it’s less control and maybe more of a guide

Vince:
Or leadership.

Cody:
Yeah.

Vince:
Try. Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s a, I, I can’t imagine that weight of pessimism, uh, and, and fear and, and the outlook being so challenging. I remember once when I was a student like you guys, and I had the fortune of being able to have a dinner with Arthur Erickson, and I was just so taken back by his optimism for the world and how much there is ahead that we can be a part of and to be next to that optimism is so intoxicating. And it’s just, you want as much of that as possible, and it’s motivating to continue doing what you’re doing. And, um, I I’m trying as best as I can. And one of the reasons why I got excited about having a conversation with the group of you is because I feel the overall tone and position for the future, especially for students. Isn’t one that is incredibly optimistic.

Vince:
So when I listen to you talk about not necessarily feeling super optimistic, I would find it difficult to show up every day and do what you can. So where does that motivation come from and why would studying architecture be your choice to find that optimism or make that change? Or like, what did, did the need to make something positive is an impact come first as a motivation and then architecture came second or did architecture come first? And then you realize, oh, I’m really interested in this, but I can actually make something cool out of it at the same time. That is gonna be helpful. Like what, what came first and what came second.

Logan:
Yeah, for me, architecture came first. Right? And then it, it becomes pretty obvious that if you, if you want to practice architecture, if you want to, um, you know, build things, design things that it’s, it’s not only necessary, but prudent to, to think about, you know, the long term view. Um, I also have a it’s cheesy, but I have a daughter and that

Vince:
That’s not cheesy. I get that. I’ve got two kids. I, I get it.

Logan:
It wasn’t really something I considered until, you know, until that happened. And then yeah, it, it does completely alter your perspective.

Vince:
Oh, it shit changes your life, man. Well,

Logan:
And your, your life doesn’t end now when your life ends, it it’s continues past that. So you have to, your long term look is in 80 years, it’s all of a sudden it’s whatever, 120 years. So that that’s a big, big change as well.

Vince:
Yeah. That’s hugely motivating to do the right thing. So we’re, I assume in the group here, cuz for those that don’t know this, you guys all look in your twenties, early twenties, maybe, um, you flat a lot, maybe little late, late, maybe thirties, somewhere like that. Keep,

Mark:
Keep going. Okay. Sure.

Vince:
If you are there any other students here that have kids

Mark:
That would be me? You do.

Vince:
Yeah.

Mark:
I be the same boat as Logan and got a daughter and then I, she helped reframe things I

Vince:
Think. Okay. Interesting. And those that don’t have kids, um, what’s, what’s keeping you going, like what’s the motivator for making those changes that you need?

Holly:
I don’t know if spite is the right word, but definitely when I, when I saw that optimism was in the name of this podcast, it’s like, oh, well, I’m, I’m not optimistic about the future. Like I’m doing, I’m doing what I can in the face of it all. And I think it’s kind of, it’s like a choice of whether to try and make a situation better or just kind of sit back and, and let it happen regardless of kind of what the end result will be. It’s almost an element of like, at least you tried and you contributed to what you believed in mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. Sometimes it is tough. Definitely. There’s a lot of crying. <laugh>

Vince:
Yeah. Sorry. There’s a lot

Holly:
Of crying

Vince:
Of, of I’m I’m interested in this, like of your own wellbeing in the future or the collective wellbeing or

Mark:
What

Holly:
Is that? Yeah, the collective wellbeing or just kind of the, the trajectory that we’re on right now and the time that we have left with our world and the climate, the way it is, which is like beautiful and enjoyable, um, to kind of see that changes need to be made, but that they’re not being made on a large scale is definitely intimidating. So yeah, people like us, young people trying to make those changes ourselves.

Mark:
Hmm. Is it possible that our motivations are that different from Arthur Erickson and the 1950s after his trip to Europe? Like there’s some fear and trepidation and some pessimism perhaps, but also mm-hmm <affirmative> light in spaces is how, how beautiful is that? Lock myself in a room and build a model. I don’t know if maybe we’re in the same place. Well, it’s hard to say.

Vince:
Yeah. Maybe, you know, when I listen to him speak, yeah. It’s a, it’s a challenge and it’s, it’s, um, it’s worthy of preparing yourself for just given the, the need and how important it is in the world of making sure that we’re building sustainably and we’re moving to a better future. Do you, as a group and would you find in your student group that you guys feel super optimistic about this? Is this something that you guys feel is like a dooms day and let’s just make buildings nice before all hell breaks loose? Or is it like we can, through the process of doing some of these things, like building buildings or, um, street scapes or designing rooms and interiors that we can move in the right direction that is actually contributing to making the world a better place

Logan:
I’m taking, uh, international sustainable development course and the course opened with, uh, Greta Thornberg speech, um, which was not, not, um, the most optimistic yeah. You know, place to start. So I’m, I’m maybe not the, the best person to ask under the, the sort of framework of optimism in, in, in the future. <laugh> but, um, you know, I think we need to try that’s, that’s kind of the most important thing,

Vince:
The challenges that you guys are facing and you talk about all the time that I don’t necessarily feel like I talk about as often in my circle of, um, colleagues and friends to the degree. I think maybe that’s why, when I heard you say Holly, that there’s, there’s crying about it. Like it just, it <laugh>, it’s hard to hear that and it’s, it’s really sad and it’s, it’s really moving. So in that sort of sadness, is there, is there beauty for you guys? Like where definitely, where do you find, where do you find beauty now?

Holly:
I like, I like what mark said about like moments of light and like moments of shadow, nice corners.

Mark:
I forgot about shadow. I didn’t implement that. Overish

Holly:
Nice itself to the other. Um,

Mark:
Never forget shadow.

Holly:
Yeah. Like not, not everything is doom and gloom. You also, you have to think in scales, like on a large scale, it is intimidating, but on the scale of my own life and like my own timeline, I can, I can enjoy those moments and I can try and help other people through design to have similar like moments of beauty in their own lives.

Cody:
Yeah. But is, but is the, is the small scale stuff worth, trusting about and doing anything about yeah. When, when it’s the big scale that matters.

Holly:
Well, if you do everything on a small scale, it’ll come, it’ll come together.

Logan:
It matters if it’s the only thing that gets you through. Yeah, that’s true. I mean, I think, uh, I know, I know, you know, students in the program with us who want to build hospitals and schools and, you know, change the world in that way. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I, I had a realization that you kind of mentioned earlier where you kind of realize that everything is designed, that somebody made a decision about everything mm-hmm and that, that made me want to get into design and architecture, but ultimately I’m driven by beautiful things. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and that’s why architecture comes first for me and sustainability. Isn’t second on like a priority list. It’s kind of like you, you have to work with both of them at the same time, but ultimately it’s, it’s really about beauty for me. Yeah.

Holly:
And you can, you can start talking about the beauty of sustainability too, and like the beauty of a building to be able to integrate itself into a system or a be circular. Like that is a beautiful thing to be able to design that and understand how to do it.

Cody:
Mm-hmm <affirmative> I, I, I think to say that beauty is what you’re after is you have to define beauty,

Mark:
An erotic thing, which brings you out of your head makes you, <laugh> like to be with other people, happy to be alive. Want to see the next day come that’s beauty ironic out of your head. Yeah. I mean, a system can be beautiful I guess, but pushing it, in my opinion,

Holly:
Beauty, there’s a, there’s a really good quote, uh, by Stan hall, which is, there are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness. So kind of there is you can’t, you can’t define beauty broadly. Like everyone, everyone has their own interpretation of that. That’s why we have so many different designs because no one creates a design that they don’t think it’s beautiful. Hopefully ultimately, but nothing looks the same.

Vince:
Yeah. I remember my dad came, um, into Halifax one of the first times and he said he was so surprised and he’s from Ontario. And, um, he said he was so surprised when he’s been driving around through the streets and he would see all of the renovations happening to homes versus the complete demo and rebuild, which is what they see pretty much all over the place in Ontario. And, um, it, I, I think that there is an interesting approach that does exist here in, in Halifax. And maybe it’s a economic, uh, that people don’t necessarily want to throw out what is existing there for a million dollar home it’s you can make due with what we have and make some tweaks. And it will be better because of that. But it’s, it’s a positive thing to always approach any particular thing, whether you’re starting it new, or if you’re taking it existing to ask the question, what is either going to remain for the long term or what, you know, can we save from what we have existing?

Vince:
Because it just keeps away things from the landfill. Like we, um, I talk about this, uh, a fair bit, but of projects that have a lead credit, you know, you can get a point for having a carpet tile, but you don’t necessarily get a point for not even using any carpet tile. So you get points to get the gold standard, but you don’t get it for not doing anything. Like if you said I’m gonna not move this particular business to another location, I’m just gonna stay where we are now and just paint it and not do any demo. And that effort should get rewarded in that same degree as the one that just decided to demo, build a brand new building that is lead gold and get a prize for it. It’s like, especially paid for that point of view. Yeah.

Mark:
If you get paid to show up and say, everything’s fine. I really like how this happens. Don’t change that either.

Vince:
Yeah.

Cody:
But, but instead you’re getting points where, you know, things that are maybe not doing great in the big picture, you know, it’s just, it’s just a certification it’s certification. What does certification really mean? Mm-hmm,

Vince:
<affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative> well, it’s a mindset of sorts, right? Like if the mindset is you, you are only moving towards the bigger picture of making something better. If you’re doing something big and making something big versus you’re actually making a pretty significant change. If you didn’t actually do anything there there’s, there’s strength in that there’s, there’s motivation to move in the right direction by, by doing that.

Colby:
I think that would probably be the one thing that I would change is the pure, um, driver being economic gain. Cuz you see all the buildings that are just like devoid of place. There’s no intention, but they’re going for the lead certification. It’s not, it’s not about making the world better. It’s about getting the stars. So that’s kind of saddens me a little bit.

Vince:
Yeah. But I think, you know, I, I want to go back to what you were saying Holly, about the, well, I guess, I guess you were saying it to Colby with removing the sort of, um, the, the capitalist motivation, right? Like I, um, I, I like earning money. I do really like having a business that is growing and I love being able to pay the people that work here as much as we can so that there’s, there’s an economic engine here. And I don’t know if this is what you were saying, but with regards to how it is tied to say a development, um, I know that, um, the Queens mark, so if anybody’s listening to this and they have no idea what building it is, then they could probably Google it. And it’s a beautiful building in my opinion. And uh, it’s got a great, uh, public square in the middle and there is a lot of money behind that building a significant amount of efforts gone into having public art and even making material choices, which were far more expensive than what could have been a cheaper, more cost effective alternative the investment and the ground floor experience and the restaurants that are there.

Vince:
Like it was an expensive endeavor and the point of view that, um, and I’m, I’m speaking and paraphrasing from what I understand from the developer, but that, that is to make money, that expense for those nice materials that artwork, all of the effort that’s gone into the ground floor is because it’s good business. He wouldn’t do it if he didn’t think he could make a lot of money off of it. So, so

Cody:
He, so he’s, you know, spending more money to make more money.

Vince:
Yeah. Yeah. But in my opinion, um, cuz I don’t know if what you’re saying is a, is a bad thing or a good thing, but in my opinion, that point with the right motivation behind it, like if you’re spending money to buy poppy fields, so you can make, you know, heroin, like that’s, <laugh> not necessarily the right motivation <laugh>, but if you’re spending this money for creating an environment that is beautiful and you see that, that beautiful environment is going to be beneficial to the bottom line, um, that’s operating in a capitalist environment and I would argue is not a wrong thing. Um, so do you like maybe, maybe that’s just my, my point of view. Do you either, either of you see anything within that sort of motivation to make money? Um, well of course it’s showing up and it’s not doing anything helpful, but um, is there maybe a broader, or maybe more specific way of describing what you’re saying as a hope that you could change in removing the capitalist sort of point of view that would make it beneficial? The, the challenges that we’re facing?

Holly:
I think,

Vince:
Does that make sense? Yeah, I, I kind of went off a little bit

Holly:
There, um, changing the values of things, if that makes sense. Like, I think it’s kind of hard not to operate within capitalist structure that we’re in because it’s very integrated and that’s just where we find ourselves. And so instead of kind of like denouncing it and just throwing your hands up in the air, kind of using it to your advantage and putting a value on things like, like middle, like mid rise housing where diverse groups of people can live, where like multiple families can live and it’s not just luxury high-rise apartments that are creating money. It’s like, yeah, changing the idea of what is important, which is tough,

Vince:
But yeah,

Cody:
In the, in the ISD class that I’m taking with Logan, what,

Vince:
What’s the

Cody:
International sustainable development. Okay. Um, it’s come up a few times in some of the readings that we’re TA doing about the balance between, um, the economical, the environmental and the social. Um, and now, you know, obviously it’s pretty clear that the economical has been and, and continues to be the main, um, the main motivator, but it’s come up multiple times how we need to try to shift that thinking, um, in a way to change how we make decisions, um, and how we spend our money because, um, you know, like you said, maybe spending more money up front is going to not only make money in the, in the more money in the future, but also have significant environmental and social improvements.

Vince:
Yeah. Yeah. You know that, I see entrepreneurship as an, an incredible vehicle for doing a lot of that. Like you can create an economic system, maybe a mini ecosystem of sorts that you can tie into different things that you think are really important and you can make social changes. You can make environmental changes and impacts by having a business and, and doing those sorts of things. So one of the things I was curious about, um, all of you is where do you see yourselves ending up within that within the businesses that are ahead of you? Do you see yourselves as, um, the majority, maybe you can speak to somebody of your other colleagues too, like do most want to have their own practice do most because they see that as the greater ability to make impact, or maybe it’s not about that. Maybe it’s about just choosing your own adventure or is it working for some other offices that, um, you, you like,

Mark:
I drop everything to work for. Arthur <laugh>

Vince:
Yeah.

Holly:
Mark, can I have this conversation? He’s not, he’s not exaggerating.

Mark:
No, I am not.

Vince:
Oh really? Cause I brought up Arthur eon and it just so happened that you

Holly:
No Arthur KOMO.

Mark:
<laugh>

Vince:
Arthur Kamo. Oh my gosh. Yes. Our, uh, podcast producer here. Arthur Kamo. Yeah.

Mark:
I’m gonna hire you soon, buddy. Yeah. It’s the truth though. <laugh> I hope so. Yeah. Yeah. I hope so many plans for the future optimism. Yeah. It’s uh, vision energy. Yeah. Where else are you gonna find that money will come? Yeah,

Cody:
I, I, I would say, you know, to go back to that question as a general overall thinking, I, and especially in our age group, I think there’s a push to get away from a lot of its corporate architecture. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um,

Vince:
Could you define that?

Cody:
Pardon?

Vince:
Could you define that? What do you mean by corporate architecture?

Cody:
A large firm with several offices across the globe mm-hmm <affirmative> um, that has connections and, and ties across the globe. Okay. You know, to the point where they’re able to kind of divert resources wherever they need to, and, and kind of shift things where a smaller firm may not be able to in terms of manpower, um, and their resources. And, and I, I think we’re as a general thing, we’re kind of pushing towards, I mean, at least myself, I I’d like to be a partner in a firm. Um, and I don’t know about you guys,

Vince:
So you’re okay. Just to come back to the corporate position, uh, are you saying that it’s an unfair advantage to be in a corporate architecture? So the large scale offices have an unfair advantage cuz they can, um, manipulate the market to a degree they can pull from resources across the globe and

Cody:
Uh, to a certain extent. Yes. Um, but also in the, um, in the way that us, as young, as younger generation is coming in and pushing for change when you’re in such a large, um, you know, corporate environment and you’re starting so low on the ladder, you have a lot less influence. Mm-hmm come coming into these, you know, possibly smaller firms of, you know, hundred people, less 50 people, less that type of thing. Um, they seem to be a lot more open to change. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, there’s less people that you have to convince: for change versus in the corporate world. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, mm-hmm, <affirmative> less hoops to jump through.

Vince:
Right, right.

Cody:
To put these things into action.

Vince:
Right, right.

Logan:
There’s there’s also like a movement in the states if, if you’ve been following anything around, uh, shop architects that, that office yeah. That, that tried to unionize, but that kind of went sideways and they started this sort of, I don’t know what you would call it, but this, this sort of movement in the field looking at, um, architecture

Holly:
Workers or architect, workers United,

Logan:
Something of

Vince:
Sorts, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Logan:
Just examining work, you know, workplace practices and culture and, and things like that. So I think may, maybe that’s part of what you’re talking about Colby or, um, Cody, see, I did it. There you go.

Vince:
Did it now. I’m not the only one.

Holly:
Okay. Yeah. I think there’s, um, among a lot of student bodies now, uh, we’re kind of questioning what industry we’re going into mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and kind of like studio environments where everyone’s up all night working, um, where there’s like incredible pressure to devote your entire life to it and kind of just discount that to architecture, being your passion and not, not questioning how much time you’re putting into that and the value of your own time. I think there’s Def there’s a movement to change that and then carry that change into the architecture industry, which does have a reputation for over time unpaid work. Um, yeah. So that being connected to kind of a generally accepted idea of what like a corporate architecture firm might be just mm-hmm, <affirmative> assuming that those two things are connected.

Vince:
Yeah. It’s interesting. Like you, you say that, um, I’d like to unpack that a little bit in terms of the office culture versus the studio culture, um, it’s chicken or the egg question, like what actually comes first. I I’ve seen, I’ve worked in a variety of different offices and I would say, um, the largest office that I worked at was tough, but it was like, it was a big, soft cushion in many ways to be in like, it didn’t feel as intense because there is a huge team that you’re around that can support you. And so I, I was a sort of, um, I don’t know, I was difficult on myself in that regard. So I was up all the time, all night. Like I really worked too hard. Um, and that was my own doing. And I was often the only one in the office of, you know, 60 people or so that were, that were there.

Vince:
And I think I got that in part from the university and the university. Um, I would say it was more Ryerson university even than Dow because by the time I got to Dow, I’d already worked for a few years, but at Ryerson I, the last year I had an average of 1.5 Allnighters a week. I just, I, when my, uh, now wife saw me when I went to Ry or to do, um, she thought I was, uh, 12 years older than I actually was because I just worked and worked, did work. So I’ve now been able to reflect back on it. And, you know, having seen students come in here and work and, um, our culture and an office, and there is a difference between architects and a lot of other creative professionals. And I do believe that it actually starts in the studio where there is a, an inherently competitive kind of tiny capsule where everybody can see what everybody else is doing.

Vince:
Not, and it’s very different than if you were a math major, right? Like you’re on a desk by yourself and you submit it and you want the best and you probably work really hard for it, but you don’t post it up on the wall and everybody rips it apart. Right. And you just, you feel a little bit exposed and a bit vulnerable through all of that. So you want to come with the best thing possible. And I, I really think that that culture of self-sacrifice starts at an office or at the studio level, pardon me, in architecture schools, graphic designers, when they come here, they do not do that. They have a lot more of a healthier life balance. And if I have an architect that comes in and starts at the office, they almost a hundred percent consistency will outwork any other creative in our office in terms of the hours invested.

Vince:
And I, I, I don’t know. I can only think that it comes from studio from where, you know, the professors that I’ve talked to that show up at 10 o’clock at night, on a Saturday, just to see how people are doing. Like, that’s kind of crazy, right? Like it’s so how, how have you been trying to make those positive work life balances, which I think is more of a, a whole millennial kind of point of view, right? Like let’s balance out our lives let’s so it’s showing up now at school, right. So maybe you guys can illuminate this a little bit for me. Like what kind of resistance are you seeing, uh, from say your, your professors? Um, what do you, do you have to tell them? Well, I didn’t get that thing done because I only had eight hours yesterday and I had to go home at six.

Vince:
I, I listened to so many documentaries of musicians that don’t go to sleep for days because they can’t get a certain thing. Right. And so that, that, that, I don’t know, it, that exists in the creative profession, that sort of hunt for that magic. And, um, but there’s something about architects that they will have a self-sacrifice, um, over their clients over their work. And I, um, I don’t know. I just, I find that so odd in many ways, uh, both as being a part of it and seeing it myself. Um, do you guys, so do you struggle with that? Like, are you at, like, I wanna walk away from this cause I want a bit more work life balance, but I can’t because I want to get it perfect. Like where do you guys sit on that spectrum? Or is it, yeah,

Holly:
I mean, I don’t think anyone here at the table could really talk about a healthy work life balance. I definitely there’s been all hours of the night studio that I’ve sent everyone here. Yeah. But I think it’s good to at least have that be your aspiration mm-hmm <affirmative> and be aware of what you’re doing and what you’re setting yourself up for. Um, because it’s, it’s about respecting yourself and your time and maybe telling yourself, no, even if you do want to keep working,

Vince:
What, um, or what office inspires you guys, do you guys look to anybody that is just intoxicating besides break house or Arthur <laugh>?

Holly:
Um, I

Vince:
Really like that. Wasn’t supposed to be funny by the way. <laugh>

Holly:
I wasn’t, I wasn’t laughing. I wasn’t, I really like, uh, Jonathan Tuckey design in the UK, um, they’re mostly focused on renovations and refurbishments, but the work they do is like it’s just captivating and their ability to retain the old character of a structure. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, mm-hmm <affirmative> and use as the little like new material as possible avoiding demol kind of preserving what’s there. It, that’s kind of, that’s what I aspire to. That’s the kind of work that I want to do. And so to see someone do that and to do it so well is very inspiring.

Vince:
Mark. I can feel, I can see on the tip of your tongue. I,

Mark:
I really, uh, it, it’s not something I think about, you know, I see projects. I, I, I like, uh, right. But nothing comes to mind and I don’t think about, uh, I guess I don’t, I don’t get into it that much of who are these people? What are they, what are they doing? It’s

Colby:
Ted Kavanaugh. That’s what answer <laugh>

Cody:
I, I would agree with that. I feel like I’m more on a project per project, per project basis than, you know, firm basis or an organization basis because some projects read properly and some don’t not all projects are successful.

Colby:
Mm-hmm, <affirmative> in my brain, everything’s just stored as images of buildings. Like I’m like, oh, that project of that thing somewhere. And I’m trying to describe the building to find it. I don’t remember the firm,

Cody:
But not faces or names.

Colby:
No, no, no. I don’t have the firm in my head or I it’s just that image of the building that I saw. And

Logan:
I we’re the we’re like the social media, you know, generation of architects, students. So we don’t, we don’t, but at the same time, like I’m so cynical that I don’t, like, I don’t believe in firms because I just see marketing. So not, not, not to say that I don’t respect firms or, or certain architects or anything like that, but I, I take everything I see with a grain of salt as far as the impact of these, these projects. Um, because I, I don’t see them in person. I don’t, I don’t know the impact on the, the communities or the clients or anything like that. We just get, you just get a one dimensional version when you’re not that close to it. Yeah, for sure. So it’s, I don’t know. I, I don’t know if anyone else kind of feels that way, but I think it’s, uh, yeah, it’s hard. And, and you’re so inundated with, with images that it all kind of tends to blur together. I, I think if I have the name, anything, I, I, um, office kg DVS in, uh, Belgium is, is one that I really like the, their work is really,

Logan:
Uh, very, uh, rooted in like architecture theory. And it’s, it’s pretty cerebral. Um, I, I find a lot of, a lot of interesting architecture in Belgium for some reason. They’re

Cody:
The ones with the doors that are

Logan:
Halved. No, but that’s another Belgium firm. Okay. They’re the one that did the, did the, they did a residential house based on the, uh, the nine room, the ancient nine room floor plan where every single room in the house was the same size. So the bathroom is the same size as the kitchen, which is the same time size as the living room, just really kind of cerebral, right. Nerdy, architecture, stuff like that. Sure. Um, but, but, but yeah, all these weird Belgium firms that also deal with adaptive reuse, I mean, that’s so ingrained in sort of European culture as well, I think. Yeah. Um, so that’s interesting, but

Vince:
Yeah, for me, it was, it, it ended up being in a way maybe the firm or the architect because of a couple projects that they did, which connected with me in some way. And then I would constantly be referring back to those buildings or this house, or so it, it ended up being less about the individuals in the office, more so the, the building or the piece of furniture, whichever it was that becomes the thing that I would lean on, or it ended up being largely a collection of different types of projects from different offices. But, um, I’m just curious how deep some of that, um, meaning for you is drawn out of those projects, cuz you’re talking, looking about it being somewhat superficial if it’s like a series of images, but are there projects then that you guys study or you’ve taken in your own time to like really get to understand because you just, you love it and you don’t know why you love it and you just need to know or understand it and you spend the time. And if there is one like that, like what would it be for you guys?

Mark:
Um, this might not be what you’re thinking, but Colby and I have done many trips together and we will spend an entire day of the ban shell in ch in Victoria Park. Just trying to figure out how this was made, why it was made this way, the board form concrete at the 45 degrees. It just, uh, and we did a lovely summer day last year on, uh, Grandville street, just mm-hmm <affirmative> seeing the Joseph, how building and whatnot and spending so much time with these buildings, uh, just in person mm-hmm

Colby:
<affirmative> mm-hmm, <affirmative> it kind of harkens back to the first question that you asked, how architecture school kind of changed your mindset, but when you go and see even the most seemingly unremarkable things, you can just spend so much time analyzing them. And, and just, I was always somebody who noticed things, I guess, but now I can like frame it and contextualize it and articulate what I’m noticing, which

Vince:
Is right.

Colby:
That’s that I think that’s kind of what I’ve taken away the most so far, but yeah. Yeah. Unremarkable things you can spend so much time just looking at them. It’s funny.

Vince:
<laugh> yeah, no, there, there’s definitely a lot of beauty in that. Right? Like going into these, some, you know, in particular, Nova Scotia has a lot of really beautiful old places and villages and buildings that you just maybe before you started studying, wouldn’t really pay much attention to other than, wow, that looks really nice, but you can look at it and say, oh my gosh, the windows are placed this way because, or it’s cited on the land because, or there’s again, there’s a decision making process that went into making it, whether it is a, a mundane thing, like a, well, like how did you make that well and what does it look like and why does it look in that like an, an old school drop the bucket kind of a well, right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> or, um, where a driveway is placed or all of these things have reason and logic, and it’s just, you can kind of dive into these things endlessly.

Vince:
And I just, I just love that there’s, you know, literally an endless amount of information and history and things that you can go in and study and look at, and there’s always something new there’s I know I’m still surprised by what comes up and what I haven’t seen before. And it just, it’s a bit of a, of a shock sometimes. Like how did I not know about this particular architect in Germany from the sixties who’s buildings look exactly like modern buildings today that are getting attention, but it was done in the forties, you know, like it’s, it’s crazy. And it’s, I find that really fascinating. Mm-hmm

Mark:
<affirmative>, mm-hmm, <affirmative> hiding in plain sight the things. Yep,

Vince:
Exactly.

Cody:
I, I had a thought at that at the very beginning of our session about how you perceive built space. And to me, it’s like, everything is a drawing almost. You almost take everything and turn it into a 2d set of Alliance and shadows. And, and you know, that enables because, because that’s the way in which we design and we read the spaces. So it’s, it’s kind of like if you’re perceiving spaces that to me, you, that is how you can break down how one made the decisions that they made

Colby:
Having used sketch, uh, a lot. And then looking at the world, everything just, it becomes like you could use those tools in the, in the real world and then you can push things and pull things and manipulate the world in your brain. And it’s, uh, yeah, it, it really changes the way you see things for sure.

Vince:
<laugh> yeah. Do you think it’s like the, the tools that you have and the way you look at something is the way you can, you think you can apply that to everything? Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> like, I remember my daughter who, um, at that time she was, she was like four or something like that when, um, technology time typically, but she was using an iPad for something and she was swiping it and then she came up to a television and she did the same thing. Right. <laugh> so she just thinks that everything works that way, because that’s the way that she experienced it. Right. If you were to look way ahead in the future and you could reflect on your career at that point, you know, you’ve done the things that you’ve wanted to do. Like what, what did you do in your career that made it meaningful for you?

Mark:
It’s tricky because I think I find meaning in, in many things. Um, so you’re talking about an upgraded kind of a meaning at project or such a thing. Not necessarily,

Vince:
What’s the best way of saying this. People don’t know what they want. Um, there’s, there’s a confusion internally for most as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. And in the end, if they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing, they don’t know what they’re hoping for on the other side. And they

Cody:
Don’t know if they’ve ever achieved

Vince:
It. Exactly. So there’s this, there’s this con constant feeling of you are better off, I think knowing a little bit of what trajectory you’re on, because it can make life a lot easier in many ways doesn’t mean that you can’t change.

Colby:
Yeah. I I’m, I’m, I’m very, very partially through the way of honing my direction. Um, I figured out it’s not nursing or it’s not like, you know, businessman it’s, it’s like architecture, but it’s not, you know, I’ve, I’ve got like a Southwest trajectory, not, you know, 352 degrees. So it’s, it’s, I’m, I’m going towards architecture and I, I’m not, I, I’m not exactly sure what it is. It was architecture that drew me here. And that’s the thing that I’m passionate about, but, um, yeah, exactly, exactly where that will, that will lead me. I don’t know.

Vince:
Well, another way of thinking about it. Um, and I’ve heard, uh, my wife in particular describe it is it’s a feeling like it’s not even necessarily that you’re going for the north pole and there’s literally a stake in the ground with a flag and that’s the destination, but you’re moving towards something that is a feeling that is achievable. And like maybe it’s better described that way.

Cody:
Uh, I, I think, uh, going back to what we were talking about earlier, and Holly mentioned it with net positive architecture, to me, the overall, you know, goal is, is multiple things at a small level, but it’s at the end of the day, leaving places in a better shape than when I arrived. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and allowing them to flourish well beyond, um, my lifetime. I, I think that’s the overall goal in doing that in multiple places in multiple scales.

Vince:
That’s awesome. Yeah,

Mark:
I’m semi retired. So, uh, my, uh, my goals are, uh, a bit convoluted. I think, uh, I’m not as hungry as I could be, but, uh, if I could bring the joy and excitement that we, Logan and Colby and Holly and I have in the studio, if I could bring that to people who are not the people I’m spending 12 hours a day with, you know, configuring little pieces of wood, if I can bring that wider, farther, uh, that would be quite quite the thing I think. Mm.

Vince:
Right. That’s

Logan:
Good. Yeah. I’m definitely in the camp that doesn’t know. Um, I’ve I like mark I’m I’m <laugh> so I’ve learned a few lessons. I think, I hope not to repeat those. Um, <laugh> <laugh> well, I, mark mark was, had a, had a very, uh, rich career before this, as, uh, in, in Toronto working as a, uh, bus driver and as a train driver, I was a, a barber and then, uh, later a barbershop owner as well. Um, which I’m I I’m out of now. So I don’t know what the, the next thing is. Um, like I said before, I I’m I’m here because somebody needs to make decisions about how things are and will be and go together. And I I’d like to be part of that conversation. Um, I’m not here to, to change the world, but I, at the same time, I, I don’t want to do harm.

Logan:
So I’m, I, I’m kind of in a, in a, in a period of flux where I’m, I’m still learning about what it is. I want to be architecture. I mean, the, the beautiful thing about architecture that not everybody realizes, even, even our peers in school don’t necessarily realize is the, the breadth of yeah. The discipline. Um, you know, you could, you could be in research, you could be in academia, you could be making buildings. Um, you could be, you know, designing systems, the way things kind of go together, that aren’t tangible even. Um, so it’s, it’s a really exciting field and I’m right now, I’m just, I’m trying to stay as open as possible. Um, I don’t have a fixed goal. Um, cuz I think, I think while I, it is important to have a fixed, um, the, the awakening for me was, was the possibilities within the field. So I’m, I am currently sort of purposefully without a fixed goal so that I can, I can kind of survey and see where, where I might fit best mm-hmm

Vince:
<affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> interesting. Holly are the only one that hasn’t answered this question

Holly:
<laugh> it looks like,

Logan:
I know that you were looking away from me for a reason <laugh>

Holly:
I think to collaborate on or kind of nurture a project that doesn’t serve itself. And that serves that wider goal of optimism. Um, whether that’s social, environmental, I, yeah, I’m at the very beginning of my career, so I don’t have any fine tuned goals either, but

Vince:
Yeah, mm-hmm, <affirmative>

Holly:
Just or inspire someone else to enjoy architecture as much as I do, whether they’re an architect or not, but create a beautiful space where someone could appreciate it.

Logan:
You wanna, make’s a simple one. You wanna make rec beach a better place? Oh God.

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