Forum Replies Created
April 19, 2010 at 11:51 pm #170128
Look for ways to safely bring peds through the traffic. Medians to slow the traffic, Mid block crossings, extra pedestrian cross lights, wider sidewalks, bump-outs at the intersections (narrowing the travel lanes to minimum width), etc. You are asking to solve a problem that you may not be able to solve. The highway moves traffic most efficiently and that is not compatable with pedestrian use. And the highway department is not going to be sympathetic to your pedestrian concerns… or atleast that’s the case here in CO. I’ll email you privately.April 19, 2010 at 3:08 am #170132
Tanya, We work on rural downtowns in Colorado and I’d be happy to help you as much as I can.
What you have is a downtown with a 5 lane highway (4 travel lanes and turn lane) and diagonal parking on each side. That’s probably 100′ of asphalt for the pedestrians to cross in the “downtown proper” and frankly that “downtown” is not a pedestrian friendly environment. When pedestrians are not happy they don’t shop, they drive to Wallmart or farther down the highway.
Think of the town as if it were a suburban community where development is well away from the roadway, pedestrians are only welcome between their car in the lot and the front door. And they drive to the next store for that next purchase.
Unless you can drop it down to two travel lanes (and you probably can’t) that downtown is screwed.
I’d look at side blocks, back alleys and other off-the-road potential redevelopment for future retail development. Think of it as if you were developing a new shopping center with limited access and a 4 lane highway by the entry. Use the existing historic buildings, just change the entry point and create pedestrian areas-plaza’s-parks, etc. in those locations.
Landscaping will improve some of that drive outside of downtown where your narrative started. Street trees, parking lot screening, etc. helps (again suburban solutions) but you probably won’t get much going without irrigation in Custer and I’ll bet they are not interested in trees that would “screen” retail signage.
Keep me posted. Drop me an email and I’d be happy to lend some of the Colorado Main Street solutions to your effort. I thought that South Dakota had a Main Street program. If it does tap into that as quickly as you can. The 4 point program that the Main Street Program uses is a solid place to start. Design solutions are not successful without adequate promotion, economic restructuring, and an organization that represents the downtown merchants. Deadwood did some great things I think. Is there anything there that you could copy? ..
Good Luck!. Let us know about your approach.December 27, 2009 at 2:21 am #171914
Amy, I’ll agree with all you said. But a year behind a register or stacking products for display doesn’t say much for growth of professional skills. And as an employer I’d be looking for a progressive growth in skill, understanding and value to my office. Department store experience tells me that the prospective employee can meet basic employment skills (showing up on time, dependable, taking direction, etc) but tells nothing about their professional skill. We all do what we need to when the time comes, been there-done that. But a resume without professional skills that are current is a set asside resume. I like your suggestion of a Skill Based Resume. A search under Resume Gaps does yield a lot of suggestions.December 26, 2009 at 11:13 pm #171916
I suggest another tack. Give yourself a name, JSdesigns, or something like that and list the design-graphic-LA-construction-sales, etc. that you are doing that includes the growth and improvement of skills.
A gap in the resume can “read” several ways, most of them poorly. And, with dozens of resume to choose from a gap can read like you were playing video games while looking for work. To get in the door for an interview you need to answer what you were doing during that “gap” to improve your ability and your value to the prospective employer. Listing yourself as a self-named entity gives you the ability to spell out the growth, experience, and maturity you bring to the interview. Listing yourself as working for BestBuy tells the future employer that you have spent 40hours a week in a nonrelated design-graphic-client-construction field. You may be working 40 behind a register but you also need to be doing work to build your resume.
You may be painting, sketching, learning new software, traveling, volunteering to do graphics for a non-profit, working for a contractor, backyard flowerbed designs, or even sales at the Gap. All provide you with descriptive skill areas that your future employer will see as valuable (if put in the correct perspective). Most of that work can be listed as consultant oriented. But you have to be out there working in a field that improves your value at the interview. And your resume should be full of that experience.
Good Luck out there!.October 2, 2009 at 5:32 pm #174158
As promised attached is the final report for that cemetery we were working on. This is for general information only and represents concept designs to help the town after the site was stripped of all mature vegetation by a tornado. New designs include revegetation, expansion to include a columbarium space, veterans memorial, visitor center and plaza. The majority of the work was prepared by my LA student intern Melanie Ames. The master plan was highly received by the community and we have already seen some response to the action plan presented. A special thanks to Melanie for her work and to the Town of Windsor Colorado for including us in this effort.
The presentations at the ASLA Conference last month on Mt Auburn Cemetary was a high point of the weekend.
Thanks again to all who offered assistance and advice.
MikeSeptember 17, 2009 at 3:47 am #172928
The recession ends when you and I start making more than we did last year. Just that simple.
Sherman makes a good point. Times are ripe for new firms to start up. You have to look for work where others are not looking. Look to small developers, builders, contractors, etc. for a starter project or two. Nothing wrong with following the “for sale” signs in the up scale neighborhoods for possible work. Or talk with realtors about where new homes are being developed or new owners are moving in. Residential design may be mundane but it is design work and builds client skills while your counterparts are waiting tables or serving coffee. You never know when that CEO you did a residential design for will be looking for a corporate headquarters master plan. It happens more often than we think. He won’t be asking you for that master plan when he’s ordering coffee or another beer..
If you think of doing something else now and waiting for times to get better for your LA carreer, you will just be waiting that much longer. It’s my belief that you have to keep working, keep the art going, keep the contacts up and build your network for when the times get better. ( Just my opinion ) Remember, this is also when a lot of LA’s leave the profession and move on to other interests…. how committed are you to the profession?August 22, 2009 at 4:38 am #173210
I’ll agree that you need professional skill and real world experience to become successful. I also offer that to start your own practice you must have a network of clients and that network takes time to build. Unless you are blessed with instant knowledge of the industry you are consulting in you need to know people and they need to know you. And it takes times for one contact to lead to several others and some of those leading to work which puts you in touch with others who can use your skill. So, typically when working in someone elses office you gain those contacts and build your own network. The faster you can help those within your known network the faster that network grows and the sooner you can build your own practice. (does this sound like a video game?)
My experience is that it takes a minimum of 3-5 years to get that up and running during good times. And I wouldn’t count on it supporting you until after 10 years.
Lots of design skill and professional experience means nothing if you don’t have clients and clients are what makes a practice (Professional Office) function.August 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm #173273
I’ll also agree, In the last dip in economy I had receivables that were 180 days old. My days were spent making phone calls to almost beg for a payment. In some cases begging LARGE companies for a couple K to pay some bills.
This will pass, Old acttive firms will be smaller, New firms (of old associates or partners or recent grads) will spring up to form the basis for the new group of LA consultant firms. And, then we all are too busy to complain.July 25, 2009 at 6:30 pm #173622
Your gonna need to know elevation, orientation, location, vegetation (ecotone), slope, nutrient in the remaining soil, and native seeds on the ground, and condition of the disturbed land. If it’s just burned then there are still significant nutrients and seeds in the top soil and you will only need to stabilize the soil. If it’s already eroded then you’ll need to stabilize the soil, get grasses up and growing and then start trees with shrub understory. Also, is the burned lumber still on the site or did they remove it as well? Need more information.July 19, 2009 at 8:10 pm #176625
The design process we all pose as our craft is built around our ability to express ideas. We sell ideas. And the only way to sell a design is to illustrate it. That is the essence of our profession and a range of other design professions. My view is that the computer just is not the beginning tool within this craft. It is a great illustration tool when working in your studio or a marvelous tool for compiling construction documents but falls short (at this time) of being a design tool to the fullest sense. Sketchbook graphics over morning coffee, trace renderings (plans and perspectives) within an office among professionals, quick “do you mean something like this” sketches with clients, or a sketched change order in the field with the contractor all require an immediate intent and expression of your idea No computer, so far, can do that. I suggest we learn hand graphics, depend on them, and use computer graphics to refine, detail and finalize those ideas.July 14, 2009 at 2:35 am #173776
Ah, Nick, Glad to hear you also joined “the group” of privilaged among those of us who have been pulled over by the res’ patrol. Me, on jet ski having fun while the wife is on the pontoon of friends. I motor up to say hi-ask if she would like to ride, and I get pulled over because I was following too close, another time just to make sure I had the appropriate license (it wasn’t my jet ski), flags, flairs, whistle, etc. Oh, yes, and another because we were pulling a couple others on one of those inflatable bouncing fun things with the jet ski, yep, pulled over because 1) we pulled them out through the marina and 2) because we couldn’t fit the 2 others on the jet ski? So he made us pull them to the nearest shoreline, (can’t return through the marina after all) and run back and forth to return the inflatable, then pick up each as they hung onto rocks and twigs at lakes edge, freezing, till we could get them all back to shore.
I wonders: does their stewardship remove my liability? I don’t think it made me or others safer.
No tickets or fines. Seems a white mustash gives me a bit of latitude.
I know this isn’t LA related but is a good point about stewardship, responsibility, enforcement and our preception of responsibility withiin the environment we all live within.July 4, 2009 at 2:51 am #173830
I’ll add this.
All the billability, skill, design ability, and speed issues are certainly important.
I’ll add that I also look for someone who can work on a team, listens to those around him-her, is willing to respond (to a supervisor and the client), and most of all is someone who is compatable with the other office staff and me. When all is said and done, ya gotta work with that individual every day, and some nights, on something that is important to you. And you want to have something to talk about when the hours get long and the tensions get high.May 30, 2009 at 4:18 am #174159
Again, thanks for the input and insight.
I think Nic is correct, this appears to be a niche market. And for those like Nic and Chris who are in the groove that is great. But none of us can build guidelines to encourage communities to engage in cemetery improvements (or to hire Nic to do the work) without knowledge of the field. Jennifer’s references are industry ICCFAS dialog on parts (most administrative) but still no comprehensive guidelines. I’ve contacted the ICCFAS in years past but found little help.
Unfortunately, our work is outreach advisement and concept design for small towns under low budgets (small towns have small budgets). But if we can get them excited about the design and what it can do for their town then they will go after grant funding and hire design professionals to step in to do the construction documents. This happens a lot as a result of our program in the parks, town facilities, downtown development, etc. Hence we are here looking for information to share, excite and motivate..
Keep the info coming. And, I promise we will share what we find and develop.
MikeMay 29, 2009 at 5:46 pm #174166
Thanks to you all for responding.
Chris and Riri has the right questions but I don’t have the information to understand the purposes of those elements of the design. Part of what we are trying to do is to “spruce up” a historic Colorado Eastern Plains cemetery (few trees, native grass, 100+ year headstones, wire fence, etc) and 1) improve the entry into town; 2) define the historic character of the cemetery; 3) upgrade the facility to serve a broader population with differing cemetery needs. In short I want the design to represent the ceremony and character of the facility.
Hence, I was looking for literature on what goes into programing a cemetery. Are there standards for plots, columbaria walls, crypts, mauselea, sexton, caretakers house, maintenance sheds, vegetation restrictions(?), etc. There seems to be no guideline book or graphic standards on which to base our design. And in that light we will be working based on precedents we can collect at facilities in the region and from the town cemetery board’s suggestions.
If anyone can help with this research search I do appreciate your help and will be happy to share.
MikeApril 9, 2009 at 4:46 pm #175486
I’ll agree with some of the other “old timers”. This will pass. As meintioned in other responses, these slumps seem to happen in cycles, can almost be seen before they happen (in hind sight) and require designers to be creative in how they get themselves out there to earn a living doing what they enjoy doing.
I suggest you look for projects not just jobs. Expand your networks to see if you can help neighbors with their yards, check with local developers, land owners, new home owners, non-profit groups, landscape contractors, etc. and see where you can gleen work even if it is to design a flower bed down the street.
The reason for this is that you need to keep in the business and make new contacts. I can look back to the eraly 80’s and remember the neighbor’s yard I did a design for that belonged to an engineer who later hired me to do a small project and then several others and when the economy picked up so did he and when his firm split and his employees went working elsewhere I was working for several firms working on design projects ranging from highway beautification to neighborhood designs, and from there, etc. So small is good to start with especially in these times.
So, Go find a project while you look for a job. (and if the project is too big for just you to handle you can bring it with you to a job interview and offer it to the office if they give you a job.)