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  • Jason Lutes

Working at Clockwork: Architect Jason Lutes

Jason Lutes is an architect that we highlighted in our last post, The People of Clockwork: Architect Jason Lutes. We asked Jason to share an example of the type of work he does here at Clockwork.

I had a client who wanted a unique reception desk included in their project. A Colleague drafted a concentric circular reception desk. In other words, there were no straight sides. It consisted of a series of compressing radii as you went from the primary desk around to the return behind.

The primary face of the reception desk faced the lobby area. As you moved around to the left, the desk radius would tighten and become a smaller radius. Then, at the midpoint, it increased again so that you had an ellipse.

At the same time, the face of the desk was canted. Meaning, it leaned outward so the top stuck out further than where it met the floor. You had a compounding change in radius and angle as you moved around the edge.

We sent the design to a cabinetmaker. They came back with a cost vastly over budget, making it impossible to include that design in the project. We went back to the drawing board, to look at it from a feasibility standpoint.

I broke apart the design and looked at how the sections would be pieced together on the inside. The original design called for seventeen unique radii. I was able to cut it down to just three: a primary radius across the front, an elbow or knuckle radius, and then the back return behind. That cut the price down to roughly a third of the previous number and the design intent was maintained.

Often, complexity can either scare contractors off or generate extravagant pricing. Being able to simply and clearly explain or detail what you're asking for can help contractors and subcontractors understand what is really needed. Breaking the design down to its essence and detailing the components provides the contractors and subcontractors with the comfort level and understanding to provide accurate pricing. This can guarantee that the design intent becomes reality for our clients.

As an architect, it’s important to work with our colleagues and interior designers. Together, we can make the design better in the long run. I do this by striving to fully understand the intended outcome beforehand and contributing my understanding of properties of the materials, the standard sizes, the thicknesses, etc. This avoids having to react to unintended circumstances in the field later.

In some cases, this could be lead time. Time is an essential design criteria. We may choose an element that takes three months to get. Then the contractor might come back and say, "Hey, we can't use this because it takes three months. We plan on starting in 60 days." Things like that can cause decisions to be made reactively in the moment, driving the design. When we plan ahead and build this time into the schedule we avoid these challenges. Again, it all comes down to being able to determine and dictate the outcome for our clients.

At Clockwork, we work in a way where all of us are elevated in what we do by the efforts of the team as a whole. Each of us is very capable. When we come together, collaborate, share thoughts and ideas, and brainstorm, we come up with better solutions than any one of us could come up with separately. That's one of the things I enjoy about the process and appreciate about Clockwork.

Personally, I like the idea of being a player-coach. I'm operating. I'm producing work. I'm doing all the things that everyone else is doing. But I’m also, hopefully, sharing and imparting the experiences that I've had throughout my life to help elevate what we do together.

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