A Brand New Day // Reflections on Yesterday and Tomorrow


Hey There Friend,

I hope you’re well rested from the holidays and can’t wait to get back to everything architecture!

I’ve been on another journey recently trying to accurately identify what it is I want from Evolving Architect in 2019 for both myself and all the awesome community members out there like you. Let’s start by reflecting a bit on 2018.

2018 = The Year of ‘Failed’ Experiments

It’s no secret that 2018 was a bit of a mess. If you were following closely, you probably noticed that I was experimenting.... A LOT.

I would try something for two or three weeks and then bail on it. I did this repetitively for months on end, trying to figure out what worked. Apologies if it felt like I was always moving on to the next format without respecting the last.

Learning from things I tried in 2018:

  1. Evolving Architect Relaunch - I can’t really believe this, but I actually relaunched the website again in 2018. It feels like forever ago, but it was definitely this past Spring. The intent of the redesign was ultimately to make it easier for everyone to find everything and to simplify the path to get there.

  2. Instagram in High Gear - I posted quotes on instagram for a while. That was alright I think. Some of the quotes really landed with a few people. In the end, I got a bit tired trying to wrangle up the quotes, especially after I realized how many other Instagram accounts were doing the same thing.

  3. Evolution Weekly Format - I changed up the format of Evolution Weekly. That happened more than a few times. Some people liked the weekly list of resources. Others enjoyed posts like the one I had about ‘Cyber Monday Mayhem.’

  4. Podcasts! - I launched an Evolving Architect Podcast, more specifically, a weekday show titled ‘Architecture Time.’ I really liked the idea of it, but ultimately became very overwhelmed by how much behind-the-scenes effort went into producing a daily show - not for the faint of heart.

  5. Vlogging - I launched a vlog on YouTube that was pretty fun, but it just wasn’t speaking to me and started to feel like a chore when I recorded episodes literally the night before or day of each launch.

  6. Resume Product - I actually launched a new product for EA this year. I created a Resume pack that was based on my own Resume format. Admittedly, I did an abysmal job of promoting it anywhere though.

  7. Little Free Library - I don’t consider myself particularly ‘handy’, but I really wanted to build something this year. As part of the competition I participated in Fall 2017, I was essentially tasked with building a Little Free Library and installing it by May 2018. While it was fun to really figure out the little details, I ultimately designed it to be far more complicated than it needed to be. Lesson learned - don’t build without a partner or, if you do, don’t design something with 150 different pieces as a ‘kit of parts.’ It took far too long (the first third of the year for me). In the end though, this was probably the most successful thing I did as an Evolving Architect. I got out there and pushed myself to learn a craft I was less familiar with.

Things I haven’t talked about, or announced, but also tried in 2018:

  1. Patreon - I almost launched a Patreon page for Evolving Architect. If you’re unfamiliar with Patreon, it’s a site where you can pledge monthly amounts to support creators you enjoy. I’ve been a follower of a few outstanding Patreon creators for the past year or so. I thought it might be a great way to grow the community more and provide a way for me to expand and strengthen the business side of EA as well. This may still happen, but I want to nail down exactly what I would be able to commit to in terms of content for you guys. I was pretty serious about this for awhile and even set up the majority of the back end on my Patreon account.

  2. New Course - I almost launched a new course for Evolving Architect. I absolutely LOVE teaching. I brainstormed a few ideas for what the next course offering could be, but I always got pulled away by this new idea or that issue I had to tend to.

  3. Website Development - My friend, Mike Anderson at Abstract Architecture, commissioned me to redevelop his website on Squarespace. It may not come to you as a surprise, but I’ve had to build several websites over the years for pursuits such as Evolving Architect and my podcast with my good friend, Tim Ung, Unpacking Design. This was a wonderful experience and something I intend to pursue more of in the future.

  4. Blog Posts - I was HORRIBLE at posting in 2018. I listed probably 50 different ideas (funny how that’s almost a year’s worth of posts), and didn’t publish one... single... written... post. Gross.

2019 = The Year of Simple, Consistent Progress

The one lesson I learned above the others is that I know what I like to do and I know what I’m good at. It’s just funny that I did the least of it that I’ve done in the past 3 and a half years of Evolving Architect, trying to chase other trends.

Can you guess what it is?


Odd, huh?

If I’m honest with myself, I think I’ve been avoiding ‘real’ writing for a long time. I love writing truly, but writing has also represented a time in 2017 when I was just burnt out.

I don’t know if I ever felt worse in my entire life. It was like running for 26 more miles after the marathon is over and everyone went home. It wasn’t helping anyone and it was only hurting me. That’s not a way to be.

But in 2019, I’m a little bit older. I’m a little bit wiser.

My 2019 Commitment

And so, I’m making a single commitment to you and the Evolving Architect community this year:

I will post a new article once every other week on Tuesday mornings.

I’m keeping it super, super simple for a reason. I want to get back to the consistency I had when I started Evolving Architect and I want to be able to work on other exciting, in-depth projects for EA over the long term. This commitment will allow me to do both.

The first post will go live on January 15th, 2019.

What does this mean for Evolution Weekly?

I’m scaling back on the community newsletter here as well. For the next twelve months, I will be sending out a single newsletter on the first Monday of each month. I’m planning to play around with the formatting a bit, but let’s just say that I’m very hopeful that you’ll love the changes.

If you’re reading this newsletter, I’ll send out a reminder for the new articles I described above. All and all you should be hearing from me fairly regularly.

So I guess that’s all for now..... or is it!?

My Evolution for 2019

Remember how I mentioned I’d like to pursue more web design? Well, one of the things I’m focusing on this year is establishing a freelance web design studio I’m calling paperook. The focus will be to provide kickass websites for busy creatives and architects so they can keep doing what they love, creating.

I’ll definitely have more for you on this over the coming months, but like writing more consistently, it’s something I know in my bones I need to do to continue my own evolution and journey.

If there’s one thing I hope you take into the new year as you Evolve your own career, it’s that the harmony of your life only comes from trying a whole bunch of different things and then pushing forward with what truly speaks to you. I may have called some of the experiments above 'failures,' but I wouldn't have found what works without them.

Be a scientist. Experiment and stay curious. Question everything and commit to what works for you.
Thank you so much for being awesome!

I hope you have the best year your life yet.

Your friend,
Mike LaValley, AIA

EA NewsMichael LaValley