Fierce Listening?

Sophia

How are you listening? For Gist, Rebuttal, Logic, Emotions, or Point of View? The latter aims for a deep understanding the other person’s world. The listening experience becomes progressively more “fierce”, You know that you did a great job…

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What happened in Vegas..

Sophia

… should not stay in Vegas. As 2019 President of AIA Montana I had the pleasure to represent our state at our National Conference. This is a copy of my article for our latest Newsletter: Let me qualify that.  I…

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Overdetermined Successes and Failures

Sophia

We love a good story, and depending on whether you prefer drama, action, or romance you’ll end up with a villain or a hero. It is very tempting to think of our successes and failures in the same way…

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Architects for early Site Concepts?

Sophia

Yes! Don’t underestimate what your design team can do for you in the early early phases. Benefits for you include “pretty pictures” that can mellow those (suburban sprawly mansion residing) neighbors to your ideas, attract investors, and get the…

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Senior Housing meets Pocket Neighborhoods

Sophia

We love pocket neighborhoods for all ages, but recently explored more applications of them in the active adult and senior market. Baby Boomers have had their taste of Suburbia, and are more open to try a smaller footprint in a…

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Site SWAT & SWAG

Sophia

Have you ever attempted to do a SWAT analysis of your site? We’re not talking about special weapons, but this is definitely entering the area of tactics: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. That same emotional excitement that drives us…

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Entitlements. Fight or Follow [existing zoning] ?

Sophia

Zoning can have huge implications on your costs and the development potential of your site. You as the developer likely want to maintain decent relationships with your governing municipality, so how do you decide when to accept what’s written…

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What Unit Types Should We Consider for Our Site?

Sophia

Unit types and count per acre are often the first questions entering the discussion. We recommend starting with these three steps: Review comprehensive market data with your team. We recommend looking at demographics and psychographics to get the best picture…

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Spark Value #4: Learning

Sophia

Learning: This one started out under the label “Evolution”, in the sense of we learn and change based on those experiences. However I found myself explaining the learning intent behind it, versus some hardcore Darwinian approach. Learning.  From others, but…

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Spark Value #5: Excellence

Sophia

Excellence To clarify, this is not perfection. Rather the ability to synthesize many factors, finding an elegant simplicity and clarity out of complexity. An aspiration in projects. Finding Beauty by: Minimizing waste, maximizing benefit, and unearthing the most potential.. Doing…

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Spark Value #2: Clarity

Sophia

Clarity (and what it means for Authenticity, Simplicity, and Transparency) When I first described this value it was labeled “authenticity”. But something kept nagging me, whispering “but what about clarity, isn’t it essential, and authenticity just a part of…

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Spark Value #3: Responsibility

Sophia

3. Responsibility A delivery principle in projects: It is an incredible honor and responsibility to be trusted with a project, and we take that seriously. No finger pointing and blame games. Successful projects depend on a team acting as a…

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Spark Value #1: Health

Sophia

1. Health A design principle in projects. Health promoting  spaces, supporting the health of their users, their organizations, and the environment.   A driving force in our culture We expect you to take good care of your health, and offer…

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Spark Values

Sophia

After finishing Ray Dalio’s “Principles” for the second time, I felt compelled to summarize my own principles for Spark. Call it a work in progress! Spark Values: When facing a question or decision on whom to hire (or whether…

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Spark Project Management Part 2: Ingredients

Sophia

In Part 1 we shared why we believe that good project management is so important to good design and architecture. On to what we have come to consider Key Ingredients of Architectural Project Management. We are far from perfect, but…

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Hygge, the Danish Art of Coziness, Part 3

Sophia

PART 3: More Hygge through Architecture: Architects like to use the phrase “Programming”: Taking a very close look at all your project must-haves, and nice-to-haves. Before we ever start designing we interview clients about all their wishes…

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Hygge, the Danish Art of Coziness, Part 2

Sophia

Before going into some architectural ideas for your next project in Part 3, I’d like to share a few everyday things I experimented with to sample Hygge. Pick whatever sounds good, I would love to hear about your own…

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Hygge, the Danish Art of Coziness, Part 1

Sophia

Happy Thanksgiving! As we enter the Holiday Season, I would like to share a mini series about Hygge, the Danish Art of Cozyness with you. It inspired me to bring a little bit more coziness back into my life, and…

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solar

Solar or not?

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

During a recent Q&A session on Facebook we were asked about our opinion on solar. We love renewable energy sources, but can we afford them? The answer is YES, but note that that could be changing in the…

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Historical Treasure Hunt in Ft Benton, MT

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

What’s better than designing a new building from scratch? Working with a beautiful old building! Just a few weeks ago I got to spend a beautiful summer afternoon in Fort Benton, Montana. After lunch at “Wakeup Cup” (highly recommended…

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Class staging, informal work and communication areas

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Where are students before and after class? New teaching environments look at those transition times as windows of opportunity, and strive to offer opportunities for student-faculty and student-student interaction, as well as personal study. Academic and social interaction…

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Paradigms of today’s college classrooms

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

While a basic specification of a classroom still includes maximum occupancy counts and available technology, teaching and learning methods have moved away from a strict lectern to audience monologue. Presenters, whether teacher or student, move around the room, pointing at…

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Great Falls – Historic Walking Tours

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

We pass these buildings many times, wondering what stories they hold. Next time you’re downtown, on River Edge Trail, or the Railroad district, check out one of the historic walking trail brochures: “The Central Business Historic District Walking Tour…

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Grants (a.k.a. money) for your ideas

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Always wanted to build a playground, school garden, add to your neighborhood park, or library? The MSU extension office painstakingly lists  available grant programs. If you don’t have a project in mind yet, check out available grants for…

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Finding Synergies in Historic Downtown Development

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Earlier this week I visited Randy Hafer with High Plains Architects  in Billings to discuss opportunities to encourage additional Historic Development Downtown. Randy could be called the Guru of Montana historic tax credit projects. Having completed over six certified…

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