How Architects are Mentoring the Next Generation


As the architecture world continues to evolve, so does the need for experienced architects to mentor the future generation of architects. Many design professionals are reaching out to inspire young students to join the profession and also mentoring students who are beginning to enter architecture. This relationship can help both architect masters and newbies learn and grow within the field.

Richard Vilabrera, Jr., a recent architecture grad from Philadelphia University, describes what it was like to have mentors throughout his college experience saying, “The biggest thing for me of having an architect mentor is that they understood exactly what I was going through in terms of time management, work-life balance, studio life, subjective critiques, long nights, etc. My family didn’t really understand as their field of study didn’t deal with all these topics as heavily, so it was nice to have someone in my corner that helped guide me along a path they’ve walked some before.”

Many architects are giving back through services that impact architecture students to help shape career paths. In the article, Architects: Paying It Forward to the Next Generation, several areas are highlighted where architects are giving back to students. Some of the top ways include speaking at the university, becoming a mentor, writing articles, becoming investors, and creating internships. Each way in turn helps breathe life into the future generations coming into the field.


Vilabrera believes in the power of mentorship and describes what he valued most from his mentors saying, “The most important advice I took away would definitely be, ‘Don’t stop being you.’ Your character, background, and perspective is unmatched by any other candidate. No one can be a better you and prospective clients and employers will pick up on that instantly.”

Many architects start out as student mentees who learn from mentors and then turn into mentors themselves. The transition is one that allows them to continue giving back the knowledge shared with them and their own unique experiences as well. Recently, Vilabrera made this transition and is now working as a designer at Stokes Architecture, LLC. He describes what the transition is like saying, “It’s been amazing and tough. Mentorship is something I knew I always wanted to do so it’s great being able to live that dream. However, I’m in the middle of another dream of advancing in my career and I have to make sure I set time aside to do the mentoring aspect as well.”

Vilabrera describes how he uses the insight he gained from his mentors to share with his mentees saying, “When I was a mentee, I couldn’t quite see where I was going or could end up, but I got enough guidance to be inspired. Now I’m sitting on the other side of the table I thinking to myself, ‘I used to be where you are.’ It’s a humbling feeling because I have the same job to provide a glimpse to them where they could end up and I hope I get to inspire them as I was inspired or even better! Some of my mentors were many years out of school and had a lot of great knowledge but were a bit removed from academia. I feel like as a recent grad, I can provide some more support for what my mentees are about to dive into.”

Many architects are getting involved with organizations such as ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) Mentorship. These types of organizations give architects an easy place to get involved and give back to students in the field and provide resources to help them be the best mentors they can be. Students who are also looking for mentors can easily reach out and find professionals who are ready to help.

Vilabrera was involved with ACE Mentorship as a student and says he will continue to mentor through the organization as an architect in the field. He shares more on this saying, “So far my immediate goal is to continue with ACE Mentorship. It was the organization I went through in high school and I’m extremely grateful for everything they provided. From allowing me to attend cost free, to the friendships and professional connections I made, and even receiving a scholarship, it’s only right that I give back everything that I can to provide the same foundation for other students trying to get into the respective fields.”

Mentorship proves to be a valuable practice for both students and architects. What ways are you seeing architects give back to students? Are you currently a mentor or mentee? We would love to hear your experiences with mentorship and what value you think it provides to the practice of architecture as a whole. Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below!

5 Trends in Modern Home Design


Modern design allows the architectural details of a home to shine through. Every aspect of modern design is meticulously executed and creates a clean, sleek feel. For modern design inspiration in 2016, there are several places to turn. Check out these 5 trends to make modern a beautiful reality.

1. Walls of Windows

Windows are proving to be an essential aspect of modern design. Architects are utilizing large windows in modern homes to bring the outdoors inside. These walls of windows create a seamless transition between outdoor and indoor living spaces. Unobscured views are so important when creating these living spaces that designers are making sure to use contemporary furniture that offers a low profile to preserve the view. Check out these must-see modern living rooms that incorporate the window trend in Home Designing’s recent article.


2. Warm + Cool

Adding warm materials to cool ones is a way to add comfort to a sleek modern design. Many designers are using cool materials that give the look of concrete and pairing them with more warm elements such as the look of wood. This creates warm aspects that catch the eye while still highlighting clean lines and spacious designs. Barbara Ballinger describes this trend in the RelatorMag article Trends That’ll Influence Homes in 2016 saying warm materials are being used in softening modern severity.


3. Pops of Color

Color creates ambiance within a home, and when it comes to modern design, most palettes remain fairly neutral to highlight the clean lines and spacious feel. However, a trend to make modern design shine is adding pops of color throughout the interior and exterior landscape. Whether it’s a bright door, an accent wall or colorful decorative piece, color is breathing life into modern homes. Michele Lerner writes in a Washington Post article that millennials are incorporating both modern design and pops of color into current homes. Check out her article to see more unexpected places where color is being used.


4. In with Texture

Depth, warmth, interest…these can all be achieved when adding textured materials to minimalist modern designs. It is a trend that takes modern to the next level and adds further interest to the architectural details on both the interior and exterior of the home. Textured materials that give the look of stone or wood allow the sharp angles of modern architecture to retain a clean feel, while adding another layer to the design. Christine Tusher gives great advice on incorporating texture in her Houzz article 10 Ways to Bring Sumptuous Texture to Modern Rooms.

5. Simple Patterns with Geometric Shapes

One element used to turn a modern home into a living space is incorporating simple patterns with geometric shapes. Designers are using these features on rugs, accent pillows, and other upholstered decorative pieces. The simple patterns blend in with the sleek landscape while also creating added detail. The geometric shapes pay homage to the clean lines found throughout the home itself and capture the essence of modern design. For more inspiration on this trend, read Trend Alert: How to Incorporate Graphic Patterns into your Home.


Modern design is sure to stand out, but incorporating the latest modern trends allows homes to become show-stoppers. Are you currently designing modern living spaces? What trends are you seeing and incorporating into your designs? Share with us in the comments below! Want even more modern inspiration? Explore modern more with Nichiha!

Invasion of Drones in the Construction Industry


The age of technology is bringing fresh faces to the world of construction. These faces are a little different than those of the men and women you typically find on the jobsite. In fact, they are another breed entirely. Drones are on the loose and are proving to be a valuable asset in the construction industry.

Drones are robotic devices that are used to fly over construction sites to complete a series of tasks. With their ability to move places where people are not able to, drones are valued in several areas of construction. According to Equipment World’s article Eyes in the Sky, drones are utilized for surveying, showing clients aerial overviews of completed projects, monitoring jobsites to ensure safe practices, and inspecting bridges and other structures. Drones capture vital information with high-resolution cameras and relay it to operators on the ground. Offering a unique view, drones are becoming a trusted source of information on the jobsite.


As Katie Kuehner-Herbert writes in the Constructor Magazine article Flying High: Why the Industry Needs Drones to Get Off the Ground, drones are currently addressing specific issues in the construction process. One issue being addressed includes capturing photos of concrete pour to document locations of post-tension cables, conduits and rebar built into the concrete. Drone photography also helps in determining the completion amount of steel roofs without having to physically get on the roof. Some drones can even be equipped with an infrared camera to detect problems with water infiltration on building envelopes. As Chris Norrisdiscussed in our previous blog post Rainscreen Walls – History Repeated, water infiltration can be a serious issue. Drones are proactively detecting water problems to help during the construction process, preventing problems later down the line.


While drones are currently proving themselves as experts in aerial surveying and other tasks, the future of drones could mean so much more to the construction industry. Experts continue to research how drones can be used for manual labor.

In a gizmag article How drones are poised to help build the cities of tomorrow, author Nick Lavars discusses a 2011 study where a team of roboticists from ETH Zürich’s Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control used drones to place bricks in a specific pattern. The researchers created a 6-meter tall tower constructed from 1,500 polystyrene bricks with each brick precisely assembled with the use of a drone. The study was a success and showed that drones may serve a further role in the manual labor process of construction.

Where do you see the future of drones used in construction? Will there be more possibilities with drones later down the line? How are they impacting your current jobsites? I have not seen a drone on a construction jobsite, but I do remember going to the OutKast concert last summer in Atlanta and seeing drones flying above filming the crowd. They were not only capturing video of fans dancing their hearts out to Hey Ya!, but also monitoring the crowd for safety concerns and ensuring the concert was a success. While this was my first experience with drones, I am excited to see them utilized further in day-to-day life.

I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and opinions on the invasion of drones. I believe drones will continue to play a large role in the construction industry. With new innovations arising daily, there is a good chance the impact will happen sooner than later. If you spot a drone on the construction site, snap a photo and share with us! Tweet, Facebook and Instagram Nichiha using #DroneInvasion. I would love to see the flying robots in action.