Architecture Travel Log | Boston 2019

As it turns out, travel is a great way to reconnect with yourself.

That may seem counter-intuitive at first since one of the obvious points of traveling is to see other things. But don’t let that be the end of your view on travel.

In the past month and a half, I had the good fortune to visit two great cities. 

Had I seen them before? Yes.

It’s the time from the visits though that helped me see Boston, MA and Washington, D.C. in a whole new light.

When I think of the time I spent wandering the streets of the North End or meandering through the underground rooms of the African American History Museum, I remember what made me want to become an Architect in the first place - being an architect means bringing into being spaces that have the potential to inspire generations to come.

Let’s take a walk. This time, we’re walking in Boston.

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SkillsMichael LaValley
Re-Building My Portfolio | Part 6 | Absent Progress

I’ve been re-building my portfolio for a few months now.

But when it rains, it pours.

This month a lot of stuff happened (ie. I was traveling for half of it - Boston and DC are really nice this time of year) and I didn’t get to any significant project updates. But rather than avoiding the post altogether, I wanted to talk briefly about what ‘absent progress’ in a project looks like.

I have a feeling it affects us and our projects more than we’d like to admit.

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SkillsMichael LaValley
An Architect's Introduction to Email - How to Build Better Correspondence

Email is a necessary evil.

In a digital world, email still reigns supreme over most forms of professional communication. Yes, it’s true that some correspondence is done via ‘snail mail’ or (gulp) fax. The vast majority of our documented interactions day-to-day are found in our inbox.

Let’s take some time to understand exactly what it takes to build a better email. We’ll look at the purpose and format of an email and then dive into a few pitfalls you should avoid and habits you should strive for.

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SkillsMichael LaValley
Re-Building My Portfolio | Part 5 | Jim’s Kitchen

This time, let’s take a look at the third project, a concept design for a competition called Design Jim’s Kitchen. The design is called Sensibly Smooth.

Off and on over the past several years, the website Architizer has hosted some amazing design competitions. In 2012, I entered a competition they held to redesign a small kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen.

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SkillsMichael LaValley
Level Up - How to Build an Epic Architecture Career Through Gamification

What if you could control your architecture career like you were playing a game?

Rather than the everyday place you work and live, imagine a world where you could venture into heroic quests to attain powerful skills, knowledge, wealth, and experience.

Let's talk about how something as fun as video games can be used to amplify our efforts to building epic, long-lasting careers in architecture.

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CareerMichael LaValley
Re-Building My Portfolio | Part 4 | Tread Chassis

This time, let’s take a look at the second project for the portfolio. It’s a design competition entry for One Good Chair, called the Tread Chassis.

A few years out of school, I entered a contest to design a sustainable chair. The premise was actually quite simple - make a chair in the most sustainable way possible while maintaining high-quality design aesthetic. Ok, well, it wasn't THAT simple, but that's how I remember it.

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SkillsMichael LaValley
Architect Archetypes

When we get out of architecture school, no one is there holding your hand, guiding you where to go next. We’re all sort of left to our own devices, assumed we’ll find our own way in the world.

And why shouldn’t we? The last generation did it, right?

But perhaps there’s a different way to think about the next step.

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CareerMichael LaValley
Embracing the Freedom of a Multi-Faceted Architecture Career

Freedom is something we all strive for.

But what does it mean to have freedom in your professional architecture career?

To me, building career freedom means that you have the opportunity to make the professional choices you want for yourself.

Freedom inherently comes down to choice.

My circumstances are unique to me, but that doesn’t mean that someone else without my experiences can’t close the gap on my career or that I can’t on someone who has the career I wish for.

Let’s talk about a few of the core values that can bring you closer to the career freedom you’re searching for.

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The First Books I Would Recommend to Any Architect

Summer is upon us.

For the times when you’re just sitting in the backyard, drinking a cool glass of lemonade (mmmm....lemonade), I want to share some of the first and best reads I'd recommend to any Architect.

Here's a deep dive into ten books that have helped me successfully navigate my own career -- ones that are simply a pleasure to read when all you have is a warm, Summer breeze and some time.

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Michael LaValley
Re-Building My Portfolio | Part 1 | Creating the Roadmap

As a creative person, I’ve always been bad at one thing in particular — showing my work.

You see, I’m what you might call a ‘chronic perfectionist’ or a ‘tinkerer.’ My projects become mini-obsessions in that I pick and play, adjust and tune them until a moment comes when I just have to put them down and move on.

To break me of my bad habits, I’m going to write an ongoing series of posts that bring you behind the scenes of my personal design work. I’ll slowly reveal my projects over time by re-building my portfolio from the ground up.

The design process is rarely a straight path. It’s full of windy trails, dead, ends, pit stops, and roadblocks. 

This first post is about how I start and conceptually plan out a portfolio.

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