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"I find myself preaching the gospel of symmetry" says project manager Michelle Blahovich

Michelle Blahovich shares 3 books that have influenced her life in architecture.

March 2019

Michelle Blahovich architect

Michelle Blahovich

Project Designer/Manager at Alliance Architects

Michelle Blahovich is a Project Designer with Alliance Architects, in South Bend, Indiana. Working in a smaller firm, she has been able to truly experience the apprenticeship practice of the profession, and has learned that every individual provides key tools in making a great firm. Interested in the Psychology of the built environment, she finds herself filled with constant wanderlust. Enjoying the experience and education of a culture by exploring new built realms, all over the world.

What 3 books have impacted your life in architecture and why?

7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Stephen R. Covey, 1989

As a self-improvement book I had my doubts when I was recommended this one. I figured it wasn't going to live up to the hype, and started the read begrudgingly. In the end, the 7 habits became a language for me.

  1. Be proactive,
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

In the profession of architecture we are in the business of people and the built environment. Many times our services rendered come with education for our clients, the community, and even ourselves. When you start to understand that this book is trying to get you move from dependence to independence, followed by developing your collaboration skills and then finally reminding you of continuous growth, it spurs on a habitual thought process of growth and becoming a good citizen. In the end I found myself saying, how can I provide better service for our clients and keep our company moving forward?

The Ten Books on Architecture

Vitruvius, 30-15 B.C.

I know, I know. If you were once an architecture student this one will be all too familiar but it was one of the most mind boggling books I read as a student. More recently I picked it up again to see if I had been using the information I gained in this oldy-but-goody read and to my surprise much of what Vitruvius talks about has become second nature in design. To see the foundational values of classical architecture in almost a comical view, it is no wonder we took an entire semester in school to go through the book. There are times in current charrettes where I find myself preaching the gospel of symmetry, harmony and proportion. More recently at a Middle School STEM presentation, I caught myself peering over the shoulders of students, asking them if they thought the school campus they were drawing felt "Balanced". Understanding that many of the principles discussed in this book are a direct reflections of the life and beliefs of the Romans at the time, there are great key principles that designers can take away today.

The Architect Says : Quotes, Quips, and Words of Wisdom

Laura S. Dushkes, 2012

This one for me is almost like reading the funnies in the newspaper. It was given as a gag gift for my birthday one year. I think everyone in architecture gets those fun "archi" type gifts from those closest to them. I can't count how many times a Lego set, book, or wonderful set of pens has been bestowed on me. However, going back to the book... it is filled with bite sized insights from people in our profession. I truly enjoy the fact that in the book, opposing views can be seen on facing pages. Both having context in some application as it pertains to the profession. You have to take it with a grain of salt and a little humor, since most of the quotes come from Starchitects and are often subjective. Overall the book makes for fun conversation around the office, and usually sits on my desk. A great book helps spur on new perspectives and conversation, even if those perspectives differ from your own.

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