Monday was a fairly slow day this week due to everyone being very busy in the office but it actually allowed me to take initiative and be more proactive about my schedule for the week. At the beginning of each week we receive a sheet that has the hours we are scheduled to work on for that week. For example, my schedule normally has anywhere from 30 – 40 hours listed spread out through 5 or more projects. Recently I have been taking advantage of having this information and I have started reaching out to project managers of the projects and asking what I can do instead of waiting for them to come to me. This was a huge help to my planning for the week to come. Thursday was by far my busiest day and it felt like didn’t leave my desk between 8 and 1. This was very important to know in advance because I was able to let other project managers know in advance that I was going to be busy. I hope that I can covert this to an academic setting by being more proactive in team environments especially. Knowing the time required to do an assignment is very important as is giving your teammates a realistic estimate of the time you will need.
One of the major projects that I worked on this week was the restoration of an office for a well known pastry company here in Philadelphia. This was an interesting project to begin with because this building has been in the family for generations. It is a family owned business with the shop on the first floor and offices on the two floors above. The two upper levels were recently gutted but one of the major concerns during demolition was saving as much of the material as possible. Everything from the door to the kitchen cabinets to the pink bathroom sink were saved. When I was first brought on to the project my first assignment was to imput the salvageable materials into the AutoCad file of the space. I was then asked to select materials for both floor, which were brought to the project meeting this past Friday. I was given a lot of freedom with this project and my hope is that in the weeks to come I will continue to get these opportunities.
I’m sad to see my final weeks at Scates Building come to an end, but proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. I had the opportunity of furnishing an entire house from beginning to end and be able to work on the house plans for my parents from beginning to end as well. I’ve learned so much from networking, communicating with clients and vendors, computer skills, time management and even organization.
The past week all the lights were installed. In the pictures below all of the lights are from build.com except for the lights in the master bathroom. All the lights purchased from build.com came from the clearance section, which we really lucked out on. The outdoor lights were $280 and we snagged them for $57, the pendants retail price was $189 and we got them for $59, the chandelier in the kitchen (28″ x 36″) was originally $589 and we purchased it for $119, and the chandelier in the foyer (48″ x 28″) was $659 and we purchased for $129.
The pebbles in the backslash insert were found at Lowe’s for $12.98 sqft and we needed 6 sqft. The master bathroom vanity lights are from Lowe’s for $89 and the granite is Roccoco from Lowe’s as well. The tub surround deco tiles are from Prosource ranging from $650 – $1290 per sqft.
This house is pretty much done. They’re doing some finishing touches within the next week since it got delayed a week, but I’m happy with what I have accomplished with this house. I really love the way it turned out and the clients are also very happy.
I worked with my mom and Terry a lot this week to finally finish their house plans (shown below). I’m so glad they are officially done and we can start breaking ground soon. Even though I learned a lot of computer skills and architectural information, I’m so glad this project for me is over. It was so intense and stressful; definitely not something I’d want to do for the rest of my life. Like I said in my last blog post, Terry took over the rest for the final plans to get the roofs and ceilings just how my mom would like, but just sitting there watching as he worked and talking through steps really helped me so I’m glad I was there with them. I’m happy that my mom is excited and happy with the finalized plans. I think they look really good so I’m excited to see them brought to life over the next 6 months of building.
All in all, it was a great internship for me since residential is something I’d like to focus on. I’ve learned so much and couldn’t thank Scates Building enough for showing me the ropes of the business.
This week I learned a lot about design processes. The project for Fort Dix Courthouse has helped me to better understand how The Corp works through furniture procurements. After paying close attention to the designer training me, I have fully began this project on my own with the supervision of one of my other coworkers. Through observation this week I have noticed how important it is to stay organized and work through a project step by step without skipping around to different parts without finishing the last. Also, the responsibility is on you to make sure everything is the same. For example, the installation lists and the BOM have to match, this will be sure to create a professional visual presentation. Learning these simple but impactful tips will better enable me in my academic studies because simplicity can make or break the work you are producing. Much of the work here at The Corps has been successful due to its presentation and how well it can be read to someone outside of the branch.
The resources obtained this week have been through research and an online database. The database stores all of the necessary information needed to create a furniture procurement package. The online site hold content and installation lists, along with the billing of materials (The BOM). It helps the designers to more carefully and easily plug in the manufacturers, tags, furniture, and easily create orders for the project. After learning this site for the government I was able to see what all will be sent out for bidding and all of the information that must be provided at that time.
Through learning more about this database I have begun to understand the skills and tools that are required to create a full, complete project. These skills have been introduced through online sites, as said before but one important key to all of this is where to find the information to put into the database. Searching through Knoll, Kimball, and Hon I have found that many of the graded in materials require different types of added information when completing a spec. through the online pricing lists on these websites one must be able to read and understand how to find this information. After countless phone calls and questions to fellow designers I have been able to locate and spec these types of products for a furniture procurement.
Communication this week has important with training on how to enter into the database and where to find the information on how to properly spec furniture. Leah Deljoo has been the designer I have been working closely with this week in order to enter and complete a BOM for the furniture procurement package that will be sent out in the mid-August. Enhancing these communication skills consist of many phone calls, emails, and walks to her desk but ultimately she has been able to teach me everything there is to know about a furniture procurement package and the proper ways to complete this in a timely manner and accurately.
This week I have learned that to fulfill more than one project over a specific timeline can be quite difficult. Time management has been the most impactful over the course of this week. Though many of the project I am working on are coming to an end and their deadlines are quickly approaching, it is important not to lose sight in the projects quality. Keeping up with all of the different technical skills I am working on in the projects is one thing, but understanding each projects organization by designer choice is something totally different. Each designer organizes their projects differently and since I am working on multiple projects for different designers it’s important to communicate about how they want you to work. Using my own personal ways of organizing when doing each project has helped me to keep them in order and remember how each project will use my skills to be completed at a timely manner to the best of its quality. Ultimately, this week has taught me that communication about time management can be very impactful. Using this communication with professors and other colleagues in my academic studies will result in a more organized project and could even provide you with time at the end to go back and check closely for changes, just as we do here at the Corp.
Communication is the resource most used this week. Designers have taught me about each of their projects and have connected their projects to some of the others I am working on. Using specific online databases and excel files for budgeting is an example of this. These online resources hold everything necessary for a designer to complete a project. From content and installations lists, to budgeting and analyzing files, all of the designers here at the Corp benefit greatly from this site. Though all of the projects must be plugged in manually, many of the projects from years back are still available for use if need be.
Acquiring these types of tools over the course of my time here at the Corp, has taught me a lot about how a government position such as mine will work for years to come. This is their own way of keeping projects organized and timely managed, as mentioned at the beginning of this blog as the most important topic learned this week. Using these technical skills and succeeding at the work I am producing and displaying to the other designers and supervisors has provided great benefit to what I will be working on next. The skills shown so far are now providing me with the opportunity to start my very own project. This project will idolize all of these skills and will not only represent myself as a Corp designer but will also come to show how well trained the designers are here.
Well trained designers here at the Corp all started with my current position, communication with one another is the key that helped them succeed to senior positions. It is very important to let everyone see how you work and why you are good at what you do. Drew Henry is my current supervisor and has helped me to realize how important communication is. He constantly pulls employees into the office to get updates about their work, skills achieved, and any concerns they may have out in the workplace. This sense of communication has helped resolve many communication barriers between not only designers but also other sections. Drew is key to helping everyone understand what is going on, upcoming, and coming to a close, because of him I am able to fully succeed at what I enjoy which is interiors. At the end of the day, if communication is the only thing we have to rely on, the Army Corps of Engineers would still rise to the top with all of their skills.
This past week at L2Partidge has been full of meetings and lots of redlines. My schedule for the week consisted of 8 projects that I was scheduled to help out on. One challenge that I faced this week was the fact that one of project managers was on vacation. This meant that I had to figure out who was also working on the project to get the information that I needed. It was important that I made progress on these assignments because there are client meetings next week. I have learned that in order to stay on top of my work I need to be proactive about asking early in the week when teams will need my help. This allows me to plan my week in advance and also take on more tasks if I have a slow day. This mind set is something that I hope to carry into an academic setting. It will allow me to plan my week in advance and have more of a schedule to stick to. This especially applies to studio projects because if I know I am going to have a crazy week coming up I can get ahead in studio to prepare for the upcoming week.
One of the projects that I worked on this week was the Chemours project and I have been working with the team doing various tasks since I started. On late Tuesday afternoon I was asked to print a full drawing set for a meeting. The document was 150 pages long and had to be plotted on 30” by 42” paper. During the entire process I had to change the roll of paper twice and also had to reprint pages that were miss formatted. The entire process took about three hours because it also had to be stapled and bound. When I was almost completely done and there were only a few designers left in the office the last 10 pages decided to print in a portrait orientation. At first I though I had made mistake but after 5 tries there was nothing I could do to get these pages to print correctly. I emailed the one of the designers on the team to ask her what to do but unfortunately it was late and she did not answer. I came in early the next morning to find out that no one could figure out the problem. This made me feel a bit better but it also showed me that planning for these sort of errors is critical. In school we see it on a smaller scale but I have always seemed to have some sort of trouble right at the end of projects. This is a skill that I hope to improve on and as I continue through school I hope to be able to plan for these sort of problems.
One exciting thing that happened this week is that Knoll Studio came in for a vendor lunch. They came in to show off products that were featured at Neo Con and also to talk about the Florence Knoll anniversary. I was very excited to have this opportunity to see the products and also to see a manufacturer that I was familiar with before starting my internship. I recognized products that I had seen in knoll showroom in Chicago during our studio trip. This was very helpful while listening to the presentation and it allowed me to be able to ask more in-depth questions about products. This experience encouraged me to visit more showrooms in the future so I can have a base knowledge and understanding of a variety of manufacturers.
The more time I spend at L2Partridge the more I realize how important relationships are both within the office and with companies that support what we do. As I continue to work with different designers within the firm they have a better understanding of what I can do. They have seen what I have done for other projects and they are more comfortable giving me more responsibility. This has pushed me to be more self sufficient and I have been able to problem solve on my own. I now feel comfortable emailing and calling reps in order to get information that I had previously asked the designer of the project. I have also quickly learned that if I see a problem with a project I should email the head designer to give them a heads up. For example, I was working on a finish schedule for a project that I had never worked on before. As I was imputing information into the schedule I was checking the manufactures websites to make sure they were not discontinued. I noticed that one of the wall coverings being specified was no longer on the Eykon website. I emailed my concern to the head designer and continued on with my task. I then received an email back for a different wall covering to specify and a note from the designers saying she is glad she knew ASAP so she could order a sample. This made me realize that it is part of my job when to know if something is important enough to bring up to the head designer.
This week I also worked on rendered floor plan and sections for a law firm remodel. It is a very fast track project and very stressful because finishes and concepts were being change until the last minute. However, it was an extremely helpful learning experience because Lea that head designer asked me to select wall coverings as well as accent paints for the three different schemes. I was able to work with her and quickly get her opinion as we were both pulling materials from the library. Although I did not attend the meeting with the client I was given their notes and was able to tweak the schemes to better fit their style. I am excited to continue working on this project and also continue working in the library. I am scheduled to work in the library a minimum of 5 hours a week and I feel that all of the time that I spend prepares me to help other designer find products they weren’t even considering. One of my major goals during school next semester is to continue to research materials and keep up to date on products and technologies. This internship is truly an immersive experience but I know that I will have to put in more effort to stay up to date once it is over.