Anderson Knight Architects


What We're Reading (WWR) - February 22, 2019


Welcome to our monthly issue of What We’re Reading! (WWR) where everyone at AKA discusses a book we’re reading and how it effects our industry and our community. Join in below with your own thoughts, insights, or book recommendations for what we should read next!



How the Other Half Lives.jpg


By: Jacob A. Riis (1957)


Ten words or less summary:
Living conditions of the poor in 1890’s New York

What is one thing you’ve learned?
I have been fascinated by how those living in the Tenements of New York clung so dearly to the meager conditions they had. How multiple families of five, six, or more lived in rooms no bigger than a decent sized walk-in closet of today.

What is one thing that applies to architecture?
Throughout this book, I have been reminded how much we all adapt to our environments and that the people living in these areas of New York at the end of the 19th Century were no different. They adapted to the worst of living conditions and even resisted change when the change was intended to make their living conditions better.

What is one thing that applies to our community?
Our community in particular has battled with the idea of rental inspections and I wonder if there isn’t some need to ensure that basic living conditions are met. I would hate to think that in this day and age we could have living conditions as oppressive as what has been described in this book.



Architect and Developer.jpg


By: James Petty (2018)


Ten words or less summary:
Guide for self-initiating architectural projects

What is one thing you’ve learned?
This book has reinforced that developing our own projects as architects can alleviate the concern of relying on others for work coming in our door.

What is one thing that applies to architecture?
Petty is providing a more in-depth look into what it takes to develop a project; which will in turn help us as architects understand what an owner has to consider and the hurdles they need to navigate.

What is one thing that applies to our community?
If more architects took control and developed their own projects, I think it could lead to more inspiring buildings and a better built environment for all in this region. I think when an architect has the courage to put their own money on the line, they are much more apt to care about the long-term success of the building and development.

Anything else you want to add?
Tracy and I have developed projects in the past, both together and separately. And in my mind, those projects are some of the more successful and inspiring projects we’ve done in the area. For example, look at our office. We like to think it’s iconic and well designed, and it was built on a site that most developers turned away from due to the extreme constraints of the site. This is the exact sort of development that Petty is calling for, and we’d love to do more of it.



Making Ideas Happen.jpg


By: Scott Belsky (2010)


Ten words or less summary:
How to push ideas to fruition

What is one thing you’ve learned?

Belsky defined productivity in a different way than I’ve ever thought about it. He writes, “Productivity is not about how efficient you are. Instead productivity is really about how well you are able to make an impact in what matters most to you.” This has really helped me to see that WHAT you focus your energy on matters just as much as HOW EFFICIENTLY you work on that task.

What is one thing that applies to architecture?
One thing that struck me about the process of making things happen is the idea of the compromises which happen at the end of tight deadlines. Belsky writes about the desire to have your team just get the job done rather than learn how to do the job better. I think this is IMPERATIVE to fight against in architecture. If we’re not bettering our processes and capabilities and we’re just focused on trying to get the work done, we are never innovating and thereby will someday be unsuccessful in our work. If we compromise our education and processes, then we’ve compromised our future.

What is one thing that applies to our community?
I feel like this book could help a lot of people think differently about how they go about their daily routines. Not only that, but really pursue their passions. If you think there’s not enough traction or action on anything you’re working towards, this book can definitely help refocus on what’s important and how to go about working strategically toward your ultimate goal.