April 20, 2016

VVAS Incorporated!

Just a snapshot of the paperwork and office supplies.
Today is an anniversary for VVAS - We've been incorporated for a year, as of today!

For about six years, it had been enough challenge to run a sole proprietorship from home. But as the work has grown and I've needed more help to do it all, the business started outgrowing that little niche. I've been enjoying the SBA-supported business advice of the Marin Small Business Development Center, and a few of my fellow architectural entrepreneurs have gone before me out of sole prop status and lived to tell the tale (Boiled Architecture, Emily Borland, and EntreArchitect, to name a few). I also had in the back of my mind a 2012 CSI education session that stuck with me, given by Leslie Shiner on building a business that would allow me to retire someday. That'll probably be a couple of decades from now, but the idea was planted - I would rather grow the business than keep it to myself.

December 31, 2015

New Office!

Well, it's new to me...
But wait! There's more! The 2015 Year In Review continues with the exciting news that VVAS opened a new office in June. The home office still serves its purpose, but getting the business out of the house feels terrific!

The new office is a fourth floor room in the fantastic old Albert Building in downtown San Rafael, with north facing windows looking out on the mission's bell tower and the hills beyond. There's plenty of room for Glenda and me, with sit-stand desks, a guest station, and a little lunch table. We can't get enough of the old-fashioned hall position indicator on the elevator and the brass letter drop. It's a pretty sweet spot for an architectural specs practice. 

I miss my seven-foot commute, some days, but it's walking distance from the house (now that the knee is coming back!) and I still never hit traffic. Of course, it also means that Glenda can work even if I'm not there; that's one feature it's hard to get in a home office. There's a little more furniture to find before the office-warming party, but we're already enjoying welcoming guests for visits.

August 4, 2015

VVAS Gains a Specifier!

Glenda Lockhart
It's well past time to put a face to a name! Glenda Lockhart is a valuable addition to VVAS, and I'm thrilled to be able to share the load with her.

In December of 2014, Glenda and I decided that, sure enough, she might be a specifier. After all, she's got a vastly appropriate set of skills: she's written technical documentation for software user experience, she's been a publisher, and she's studied fire prevention. She can even read a building code! And she's the right kind of person, too: she's got boundless curiosity and cares deeply about getting things right. She is excited about making a difference by making buildings better.

So, she joined VVAS. She joined CSI. She jumped in and started learning by doing. She studied hard and passed her CDT. She's got e-SPECS all figured out. She asks great questions and makes it her business to find out the answers. And after a whole year at VVAS (plus a few weeks of my being out of the office!) I can honestly say that she keeps this place ticking.

July 23, 2015

ADA! Hooray!

A temporary accommodation
I hear from the Instagram grapevine that today is a day for celebrating 25 years of the ADA. So it's the perfect day for a quick post about my experience as a temporarily disabled architect.

Due to a ski accident this winter, I've just undergone knee surgery. I'm walking around on two crutches and my right leg is sporting a long-leg hinged and lockable knee brace. My biggest challenge is the temptation to ditch one crutch: I'm forever trying to carry something in my right hand or move a chair, but that's forbidden. (Those of you who know me are aware of how frustrating it is not to be able to carry my own full teacup!) That's all me, though. Let's talk about architecture.

May 23, 2015

Changes Afoot!

Not my feet. Not my deck. Not far off, except for the rain.
There's been a lot going on at VVAS lately. Here's a taste of what we've been up to. (Look out, we specifiers love lists!)

We've been:

  • Moving into a new server.
  • Moving into a new office.
  • Welcoming a new specifier.
  • Speaking at the CSI Academies.
  • Gearing up to speak at CONSTRUCT 2015.
  • Writing lots and lots of specs!
All this has led to a drought of blog posts nearly as dry as the California weather, but we hope to be back on our blogging feet soon with more on at least some of the news above.

Photo Credit: 40+255 Thunderstorms by Bark on Flickr.

July 24, 2014

Mockups for range - for glass?

Lucky me! I finally caught strain patterns in the wild!
We all expect natural materials to vary in color, pattern, and texture. Concrete, too, and other things that are, let's face it, made of mud. We wouldn't dream of building a major project without demanding mockups for the marble panels or the "Brazilian cherry" wood floors. But we need mockups for glass, too! Who knew?

But glass is manufactured, you say? It's a precise material made and fabricated by experts in a highly controlled environment, right? Well, this is, perhaps, precisely the reason we must specify a mockup. Because glass does vary, and we expect it not to.

December 23, 2013

A California Christmas

This is my favorite evergreen: Our Meyer lemon tree!
To my online family of tweeps, blogging buddies, architects, manufacturers, engineers, representatives, clients, colleagues  all the best wishes for your holidays and 2014!

Photo Credit: Vivian Volz, copyright 2013