Drawing Shortcuts

Transformation from Sketchup (lower left) to handwork over Sketchup using added dingbats, markers, pencils.

Ever wonder about the method to the madness in creating design presentation renderings? A Denver friend/architect, Jim Leggitt, FAIA, put together the Drawing Shortcuts book about 10 years ago and has managed to teach hundreds of designers and architects his method to knocking out great hand drawings. He uses a bunch of “hybrid” methods that lean on the strength of simple 3D computer modeling and rapid hand drawing. The results are accurate illustrations that look great. No more excuses for drawings that look computer-stiff.

Increasingly, designers of all levels need a high level of self-reliance, and great looking hand drawing is sadly underused. Whether it’s fear of drawing, limited project budgets or impending deadlines, the quality of drawing has decreased as technology increases.

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Designer Interview – Chief Niwot Exhibit

In developing the educational materials behind the crafting of the Chief Niwot exhibition, the Boulder History Museum interviewed key players involved in its creation. In this interview I’m discussing the creation of this exhibit and my overall approach to exhibit design/development process. BHM is using this series of interviews as part of their classroom teaching about museums, exhibits and the telling of history.


CoCoRaHS – Huh? An Ugly Name for How Much it Rained.

For a few years I’ve been ephemerally tracking rain/snow data at the Studio Tectonic location. And given the drought-flood-drought state of water this year any and all moisture is of particular interest here in Colorado.

Welcome to CoCoRaHS (short and un-rememorable for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network).

There’s a rather addiction-creating website that nationally tracks precipitation through volunteers at their own “weather station”. Meaning, a plastic tube that measures accurately to the 100th of an inch. The community-based network is always needing more stations, and it’s a great thing to do at your organization, business or homestead.

Here’s Studio Tectonic’s hi-tech station, a link to the project, and a little video that explains it all.

Studio Tectonic’s station #CO-BO-287
A.K.A. – Boulder 2.4 WSW



Green Playhouses

Local design competitions always make me smile. And in this case the contest was to design and build “green” playhouses…so the smiles were shared rather broadly. As one of the design/build teams dubbed it, the structures were scalvaged. Not a bad portmanteau of salvaged and scavenged. Seems that the dumpster diving of my childhood has gone way upscale.

About 15 local architects and builders contributed their work for selection among the child judges. All the proceeds went to the Colorado Green Building Guild and Growing Gardens (a local group supporting community through urban agriculture). The structures were auctioned off at the end, which was also loads of fun. So much so that even I went home with a lighter wallet…and happier kids.

Here are a few of my favs.

More details about these local organizations at:


News – Niwot Exhibit Previewed in Daily Camera

The upcoming Chief Niwot exhibition at the Boulder History Museum was previewed in the Sunday Boulder Daily Camera. Here’s the article (the newspaper incorrectly identified me as being directly part of the museum, not a consultant, fyi.).

Click on the thumbnails for an overview of the page. If you want to read in detail, then click on the expand box in the upper righthand corner of the image.

Chief Niwot Exhibit – Video Interview

Studio Tectonic’s latest exhibition project is set to open at the Boulder History Museum. Check out this video produced by the Daily Camera which features both myself and the museum’s executive director, Nancy Geyer.

The exhibit opens to the public on May 25, 2012.

I’ll post a few blog entries and announcements as the exhibition unfolds.

AAM 2012 – Minneapolis, Day 3, Tuesday (Measuring Complex Behavioral Change)

Day three session highlight was on summative evaluation methodologies undertaken by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. The ICSC is a US-based group that is a worldwide network of “Sites of Conscience” – historic sites specifically dedicated to remembering past struggles for justice and addressing their contemporary legacies. A full description of their work can be found through the Resource Links, below.

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AAM 2012 – Minneapolis, Day 3, Tuesday (Exhibiting Design Tragedy????)

Today I’m taking a break from serious session reporting. (Although, I’ll circle back ’round to report out a session on museums of social conscience tomorrow.)

The NAME (National Association for Museum Exhibition) luncheon is always a chance to see old exhibit friends and meet new. The event started in the more typical beginnings – food, chit-chat, etc. and ended in a group exercise driven by an artist/fellow from the Franconia Sculpture Park, about an hour from the Twin Cities.

Check out the work at the Franconia Sculpture Park, if you get a chance.

After hearing about the sculpture making, programs for artist and kids, the NAME contingency was given its group marching orders. Build a poetically driven sculpture with 50+ artists in about 20 minutes with lathe and tape. A feat for any group, let alone control freak exhibit designers.

The resulting effort appeared as such, below. It’s amazing any of us keep our jobs and clients after this effort…

AAM Conference NAME Design Flop 2012