rob jillson


chicago, il

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2008 © robert jillson


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

a blue halloween

Saturday night was Simon and Noah's school halloween party and I decided to get in on the fun as well. Simon went as a zombie boxer, noah as a ninja, and I went as one of the Blue Man Group.

And yes, I shaved my goatee/mustache and my head. I wasn't planning on shaving the head but the latex cap I got to go bald tore in several places. So, I was there in the bathroom with a torn bald cap the desire to still pull off the costume. Then, the razor came out. Well, needless to say, Lisa was more than a little surprised when she walked into the bathroom after a nap to find her husband hairless. I believe words like "you didn't tell me", "big corporate dinner Thursday night", "what about clients and interviews", and something along the lines of "you will be staying on your side of the bed" came out of her mouth.

But, you gotta admit - the blue rocked and the party was a blast. Many a parent had dressed up and the costumes were great. One came as a mad scientist with huge white Einstein hair. Some took a picture that I hope to get a copy of - huge white hair next to the blue skull. Another friend who is sanctioned by his wife to shave his head every day decided to go on the wild side by adding a huge curly 70's wig and mustache - I hope there is a picture of that one too.

Hey, and I get to do it all over again for Halloween night. cheers,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thursday Night - a Power House

This Thursday night is a power house of a night. Can I call it a power house when some of what I am talking about is a show with my own work in it? Where will I be? at the 5th Annual Alumni Art Show for the University of Michigan Club of Greater of Chicago. A mouth full... and a whole lot of fun. If you would like to know about the history, look at one of my earlier posts about the show. Hey, steve vandervoort and I came up with the concept of the show and were founding members so it's our baby. This year stands to be an exceptional show although we will be missing Susan Clinard who is a wonderful sculptor and taught at the SAIC before following her husband to the east coast after he took a faculty position at Yale or MIT (can't remember - all that matters is that he is really smart).

So, find a babysitter and come and keep me company. I will have 5 pieces in the show and if they aren't bought they are going to end up on my walls at home. So - I guess I should use some reverse psychology and say - "please don't come and please don't but any of my work" That way I get all the wine and chips and I get the artwork on my walls.

Okay - I love my stuff but the U of M show in itself does not my a powerhouse of an evening. Having Dorothea Lange's son give a talk about her life at the MoCP in front of Lange's work is what makes it an incredible night. I wish I could be there for it so I am hoping that MoCP will record it. I am going to go see the show next week before it closes at the end of the month. Lange is a legend - so if you don't come to see me, then go and see her. cheers to all

for your reference:
SAIC - the school of the art institute of chicago
M0CP - the museum of contemporary photography

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

okay - am I going to go off an a tangent here? I guess so if by tangent you mean talking about the state of the architectural profession versus talking about my state of architectural photography. A wise man, like my father would recommend that I keep my mouth shut - but there is a reason that I left behind being an architect and a big part of that was the state of the architectural education in america and the lack of proper project management training in architectural firms. so.....

On Linkedin, someone posted the question "
In your experience, what do you see as the main contributing factor which makes it difficult for a designer or architect to make a smooth transition into the role of project manager?"

People posted silly answers like "knowledge, experience communication, vision".... and more. Oops - I guess they wont be hiring me (not anywhere near chicago anyway). But, I think the real issue is an underlying lack of respect of project management in architectural schools and in the profession. So, here was my reply.... and that is the post for today. cheers, rob

I think it is something much more fundamental than all of these things. Yes, the items everyone has listed gives a PM the depth, etc.... that comes with age and experience. Those are the skills. However, I think there are 3 fundamental barriers for designers and architects becoming good PM's.

1. many people go to architecture school because they love design and architecture - not because they love project management. And yet, the architectural and design structure is such that there is the need for many to execute and only a few to design. Project management is the fundamental basis for executing any design and like a pyramid - many are needed at the base to execute the design concept at the top.

2. the typical architectural education re-enforces this concept that everyone should be a designer (at the top of the pyramid) and that project management is for those who can't be king of the hill like a Philip Johnson, Helmut Jahn, Frank Gehry, etc.... Not true so please don't get upset, but that is a very general assumption that is still out there. The schools emphasize a right answer and a wrong answer and worry more about design concept than possible execution of the design. This breeds a distain for team approaches and project management.

3. and this is the kicker. architecture firms do nothing to train people for project management. Oh, I am sure that many are out there ready to type me a zippy reply about how they help train those underneath them - but it is true. When did you send your associates to a project management training seminar? When did you do anything but tell them the procedures? When did you help them hone their presentation skills or talk about setting client expectations? etc.... etc.... My wife went through business school and works in advertising. It is a degree focused on project management and a position defined by project management. When she started at her first big agency, they handed her a nice fat binder that contained, NOT procedures, but training and lessons on the project management skills she would need to advance and do a great job and she has grown from there. I photo copied that binder and kept it at my desk in the architecture firm I worked at. I ran a department at that firm that did interiors. More than once I was told that training manual was a waste of time and yet corporate interiors is an accelerated microcosm of the architecture industry, and more jobs are lost because of not managing the pieces and the clients expectations. And yet, even in the advertising industry shake up that is going on - they still justify and make much more money than architects and yet the fields are remarkable similar - a creative concept with the need to execute it.

In summary, I don't think that the field of architecture values project management skills and develops and rewards them until we as architects have been through the ringer of self-experience to learn the value. At that point, we are the few that have survived and we wonder why those coming up through the ranks don't have the skills and don't value how incredibly necessary project management is to getting the job done and keeping the client happy. You don't transition into project management - instead, it should be a fundamental underlying skill set that is developed throughout your career.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Newberry Library. Amy and I photographed a wonderful wedding on Saturday and the reception was at Newberry Library. No photos of the wedding yet because that wouldn't be fair. This one is of Newberry's staircase which is just beautiful. I treated this one with a cool tone. The color difference comes from the different kinds of light bulbs on the staircase versus the downstairs lobby. I had never been in the library before I scouted it for the reception and it is one very cool place.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

John Barnett, jbd design ltd

I had a great time today. I did spend some time going through paperwork to be ready for tomorrow's appointment with the City of Chicago for a permits (yes, I still do some architecture work, my oldest client and I love them to death and - I gotta make ends meet.)

Anyway, besides getting ready for city hall, I got to photograph 3 of John Barnett's projects and I had a great time. John is a designer of furniture, space, etc... and he runs renovation projects of older homes and condos, particularly in the Gold Coast area. In the above project there were several built-in pieces of furniture and a few other things by John; but, this photo is after something different. Here, John stripped the stone mantel and wood top. Instead of painting the wood top, the decision was made to leave it raw and I think the result is both subtle and striking; and the charcoal and mixed media artwork drive home the fact that it was intentional. I'm not sure that I would have been brave enough to leave the mantel top raw (maybe if I had a can of paint as backup) - but the more I look at it the more I am drawn to it.

This photo is using natural light but the mantel does have a little extra on it so it doesn't get lost compared to the direct light from the windows. I like the way this photo layers light to dark and space to space. It will be a few days before I get all of the photos processed but this one caught my eye and so was the first.
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