Learning to be a #GIRLBOSS


So here it is my first book review! On many of the blogs I follow there was mention of #GIRLBOSS and I decided to investigate for myself. I can see now why the book is so popular! It was really great – particularly because I have been trying to figure out this whole working-forever business and the book was very motivational and inspiring (but not in a ‘self-help’ way).

For those of you that don’t know #GIRLBOSS is a book by Sophia Amoruso who is the head of a multi-million dollar company called Nasty Gal (online clothing store). Of course being a CEO/Creative Director she has many insights on how to run a business and be professional – but the best part about the book is how she describes her journey to becoming one of the largest online clothing stores. She has had quite the experiences in her life, but she isn’t looking for sympathy – in all her stories she has tied the important tips and lessons she has learned for all women out there.

I have picked out a few quotes that particularly resonated with me:

“…the everyday kind of magic that we make ourselves. And that’s not really magic at all. It’s just recognizing the fact that we control our thoughts and our thoughts control our lives. This is an extremely simple, totally straight forward concept, but for a lot of people, it’s so alien that it might as well be magic. Chances are you know someone who is really negative… these people are convinced that life is shit – and so it is… You get back what you put out so you might as well think positively, focus on visualizing what you want instead of getting distracted by what you don’t want, and send the universe your good intentions so that it can send them right back” – Pages 119-120

“Your challenge #GIRLBOSS is to dive headfirst into things without being too attached to the results. When your goal is to gain experience, perspective, and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility. Failure is your invention. I believe that there is a silver lining in everything, and once you begin to see it, you’ll need sunglasses to combat the glare. It is she who listens to the rest of the world who fails, and it she who has enough confidence to define success and failure for herself who succeeds.” Pages 138-139

“Nasty Gal would have surely failed had it been my goal to grow a business to the size that I have today. When you begin with the finish line in mind, you miss all the fun stuff along the way. The better approach is to tweak and grow, tweak and grow. I call it the incremental potential.” Page 181

“Life stops for no one, so keep moving. Stay awake and stay alive. There is no Autocorrect in life – think before texting the Universe. Breaking the rules for fun is too easy – the real challenge lies in perfecting the art of knowing which rules to accept and which to rewrite.”  Page 238

I would highly recommend this book to anyone starting out in the workforce, starting their own business, or just looking for general motivation (I would say that it is definitely more female oriented BUT I could see men enjoying her humour and learning quite a bit as well). Her style of writing is not condescending and she basically puts it out there for you to take it or leave it. Not once did I feel she was preaching, or promoting herself or her company (well okay maybe a little bit on the promoting but hard not to when you are telling the story ABOUT your company). Even the life-lessons stuff I had heard before from other people, sorta just clicked even more.

I am proud to say that I am determined now to become a #GIRLBOSS – and as you will see in the book that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a boss, you just have to be your own boss.





Don’t we all wish that we could work like this! Still accomplishing something but enjoying the great outdoors or having more fun in general! Studies do show that employees who are provided with built in “break” spaces and/or connections to nature are much more productive and of course happier. That said, obviously we can’t work outside all the time – but these companies have come up with some great solutions to keep their employees engaged:




This Architecture office, located in Madrid, Spain, takes “going outside” quite literally with the clear glass walls and submerged floor plate. The space almost looks like it is outside at first glance, which must make for a pretty serene work experience. The perspectives of this building must be very interesting, as employees are sitting with the ground directly at eye-level – a view you normally do not get to see! I like the fact that the interior of the space is very simple, which does not distract from the views. It hearkens back to ‘glass box’ spaces that Mies van der Rohe and others were designing in the Modern period – and at the same time the curved edges and wacky colors are a bit more space-age.


The organization of the office interior is really well done, given the tightness of the space. The desks are cantilevered off the wall to reduce the space required underneath the desk and it does make it look cleaner (though of course when a photographer is taking photos usually you do clean up!) I like the playful bands of green and yellow, it would be a pretty bright (uplifting) place to work throughout all the seasons. The only thing I wonder about is how often they have to clean that huge glass wall/roof!


Images from: http://www.archdaily.com/21049/selgas-cano-architecture-office-by-iwan-baan/




This office, in Paris, France, literally brings the outside inside! The trees in this greenhouse-esque structure are embedded into the desks. The whole thing reminds me of a boardwalk through the rain forest, and definitely takes ‘employee desk plants’ to a whole new level.


In fact the entire office is a series of levels – it was a renovation of an existing 19th century industrial warehouse (hence the greenhouse-esque steel structure! Think Eiffel). The hall was restored, and then in order to create the space needed for the offices, the hall was split into several built-in levels. The lower level accommodates board rooms, a recreational room, and restrooms (as well as all the comms requirements, electrical, and soil/watering of the trees); the main level consists of the embedded desks; and the surrounding space contains executive offices, archival space as well as the kitchen and staff area.


Atop the ‘cubicle’ desks among the trees are these strange pod contraptions – they call them ‘telephone’-domes and they are made of plexiglas. They are there to keep the reverberation from phone conversations to a minimum as the ceiling of the space is so high (in a normal office there is usually a drop ceiling or something similar that makes this unnecessary). I am not totally sure I like that aspect (it would look a lot cleaner without it) or perhaps there was a more organic way to deal with the sound issues – but in the end it does look pretty cool. (Below is another example where things are a bit cleaner – though note the ceiling is a lot lower and the trees are tiny!)


Images from: http://www.contemporist.com/2011/02/18/pons-huot-office-by-christian-pottgiesser/ & http://www.marvelbuilding.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/workspace-in-Modern-Working-Space-Featuring-Living-Trees-and-Unique-Desk-Unit.jpg



I actually don’t have much to say about this next set of images… they kinda speak for themselves! Other than it looks like so much fun to work there! (And I do have to say some of the spaces are waaaaayyyy too themed for me –  BUT still really really neat).






Till next week! Ciao


 1. Find a Buddy. Not necessarily to make sure you don’t get lost, but in essence to make sure you don’t get lost in your own drawings. At work I am always checking with others to see what they think, or collaborating in real-time while I do the work. It is amazing how many little mistakes you can miss when you keep looking at the same stuff. When the professors are telling you to work in Studio and talk to other people its not a load of crap – BUT it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be IN studio – you can have people check your stuff via dropbox, screen shots etc. the important thing is just to look over each other’s work.


photo (2)

my metric calculator

3. Always save views in your 3D programs every time you export or render. You never know when you may need to re-render that view and you’ll be screwed if you didn’t save it. (ie. If you already spent like 6 hours photoshopping the shit out of it and you realize you need to change a few things…)

4Save yourself some time – use CAD and/or REVIT to your advantage. Take the basic elevations from these programs and just colour them in photoshop or illustrator. It may look a little less realistic/more graphic, but with labels and elevation lines etc. it looks pretty darn professional (like you know what you are doing). Added benefit it is a lot easier to change than having to re-render all your elevations to the level that you need (particularly the night before your final presentation).

5. On that note – pick and choose carefully what you decide to change. People’s opinions are great, but only change what really resonates with you. DO NOT CHANGE YOUR ENTIRE PROJECT LAST MINUTE. Often all your project needs is a change of materials or colors, or a slight tweaking of masses or sizing in order to look better. The same thing happens in the real world, often you provide the client with options, but really not much but the materials have changed to play things down or play them up.

6. Free shit is always awesome – free food, free printing, free materials, free vectors, free photoshop textures – but don’t skimp on the important stuff. If you have a tried and tested cracked version from your architecture friend that just finished their entire schooling with the thing then okaaaay – BUT finding out your cracked photoshop crashes at a certain file size at 1am before a big presentation.. . not worth it people.

7. NEVER forget people in your drawings – it gives scale and reminds you that you still have to design with people in mind. One of the worst things that people got criticized for in school was designing architectural objects that in no way could ever be inhabited by real people. Not saying you can’t design monolithic BUT there still needs to be a relationship. (NORTH ARROWS, DIMENSIONS, AND SUCH ARE REALLY IMPORTANT TOO)

8. Renders are important! BUT don’t do them exclusively – orthographic drawings are just as important to actually understand the space – if anything you should spend more time on these! Also pick your views carefully, they need to talk to your concept or reveal something really important about your design. Some of the best presentations I saw in school didn’t even have that many renders but the ones they had were clear and AMAZING. Remember, in the real world rendering is almost considered a privilege – it takes a lot of hard work to get to the rendering stage, and as they are expensive to produce they have to be RIGHT and showing the client only IMPORTANT messages.

9. ALWAYS PRINT TO SCALE or at least provide a really good bar scale – that way things are proportionate when you draw them! (and people can actually understand the drawing).

10. TRACE PAPER IS YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND – seriously – I rarely used trace to my advantage in school I use it ALL THE TIME at work. Trace paper in conjunction with juicy fat markers is a deadly combination. Use it to adjust elevations (or even create them to begin with!), to tweak floor plans, to program spaces, to program the site, to draw landscape! Sketches with trace paper can get you a long way before you even have to start really drawing things up in hardline on the computer. At work sketches like that are really great to show to the client for a number of reasons: first, it shows you are working towards a design not just thinking your first one is amazing, second, it helps them to feel like they are part of the design when you can whip out the trace paper and make real time modifications as you go, and finally, you don’t spend so much time creating a drawing on the computer and end up have to change the entire thing when a client doesn’t like the design!


So some of these things may be common sense or you have heard them before, but these things do actually really help. I struggled big time with time management in school, and at work so far I have not felt stress or struggle (of course the time periods that you are expected to have things done are much more realistic BUT). Anyways – I will keep posting these as I think of them, or as I learn efficient ways to do things in my Internship!

THursday Three



These Gardens located in the Hedong District , Tianjin City, China are a whirlwind of colour and texture in both landscape and hardscape. The project, completed in 2008, was a remediation project to improve the soil and water conditions on a site that was highly polluted and full of garbage. It looks to be a bright and happy place with a variety of ‘banded’ gardens (different levels with different types of ecologies) that make the development very engaging. The designers abstracted important local patterns in their design of the park, including water borders, crop fields, harvested farmlands, rivers, marshes, meadows and pastures. According to many articles, the place has become an extremely important to the hugely populated communities surrounding it.

turenscape.com2What I like about the project in particular is the tactile nature of the design. This picture expresses that well, I can imagine how the grass would feel as I ran through it – something that some people may have never felt before. That is why I am a huge fan of city parks, urban landscapes, and anything that brings a bit of nature into the craziness of the city. The feel, the smell, the sound of grass, flowers, water, trees etc. has no replacement.


(Bridged Garden images from http://www.turenscape.com/english/projects/project.php?id=441)



This project is quite exciting to me. Though it is extremely simple when compared to many other designed landscapes, its simplicity is what makes it so powerful. The project done by Balmori Associates for Bilbao Jardin 2009 Competition, literally stretched the rules. Each architect was given a 100 square meter square to design a garden in, and Balmori decided to stretch that square so that the garden could extend up the staircase. What resulted is a temporary structure that created a dynamic interaction for users of the staircase. It is a contradictory feature in many ways. First, the nature of the design, that is something that attracts you and wants you to stop and literally ‘smell the roses’ is so different from the movement and transitional nature of the stairs.


I have always thought that wildflowers are rarely taken advantage of in our designs. We prefer to choose obedient and clean lined plants to line our streets and parks, but the unruly wildflower is so much more attractive! Here we can see another juxtaposition in even the materials of the project. The boxes containing the flowers are made of core-ten steel which is more of a permanent and slowly changing material. On the other hand the flowers themselves are so fleeting and seasonal in comparison.


(All The Garden that Climbs the Stairs photos are from: https://acdn.architizer.com/)



The Edge Park looks a bit more traditional now-a-days in terms of edgy (hehe) park designs (somewhat like the high line). Shapes and angles and divisions have been thoroughly explored in a variety of spaces. I like this project because it expresses the struggle between the natural and ecological forms of the river, and the geometric gridded form of the city. This project is located in Brooklyn, New York and was completed in 2011 by W-Architecture (who are also currently working on Calgary’s Riverwalk).


I like how the park looks to be a mix of features that provides a place for everyone wishing to use it – the busy families and active people, and the people just looking for a place to sit and enjoy the views. I also think that the variations of textures, materials, and plant life are particularly well done here (though it does look like there is a lack of wildflowers!). For example the rockiness and grittiness of the river stone, contrasts with the smooth and particularly coloured pavers. It keeps people interested through variation – which is so important in public spaces – but at the same time all works together in harmony.


 I think the only thing missing for me in this project is a greater variation in the levels at which the pedestrian inhabits. The whole site seems quite flat despite the changes in pattern and texture. It would be nice if a more dramatic change occurred to facilitate different views or frame them, but perhaps that is just my personal preference :).

(All The Edge Park photographs are from http://www.landezine.com/index.php/2011/11/the-edge-park-landscape-architecture/)

Thanks for reading the first “The Thursday Three” Posts – I hope you enjoyed the projects! I look forward to any suggestions or ideas for posts so leave a comment!