September 2013 Newsletter


A brief hello to all who welcome fall – whether for football season, cooler weather, or just a change in scenery. I’m excited to share that we are adding two new pieces of equipment in the month of October.

First, we are doubling the size of our flatbed scanner. This means we can scan original artwork and other precious items up to 36”x72”! Our folks do a great job, so please keep us in mind.

We are also adding the ability to print using outdoor inks, so again, this adds a whole range of products that we will mention in the upcoming months.

Thanks again for continued support!

Luci Miller
direct: 512.381.5266

“Bertha” Digs Into Seattle

Bertha3Tunneling is hard work. Tunneling two miles through uneven material under a major city is nearly impossible. But that’s the task that faces “Bertha,” a 326-foot-long, rocket-shaped tunneling machine poised to dig a transportation tunnel under Seattle.

“Everybody’s watching Seattle, because this is the trickiest, most ambitious, most technically challenging operation now going on in the world,” said Douglas B. MacDonald, a former Washington state secretary of transportation, in an article in the Los Angeles Times about the project.

Bertha, which began digging in early August, weighs 7,000 tons and is as tall as a five-story building. It was built in Japan and came across the Pacific in 41 pieces. It was designed to handle the rough, uneven glacial fill found under Seattle, which includes clay, sand, silt, stone, and boulders.

The two-mile tunnel Bertha is digging will replace an unsightly double-decker highway that was damaged during an earthquake in 2001. The highway currently runs along the waterfront, separating downtown Seattle from the charms of the coast.

After the 2001 earthquake, Seattle officials considered several options for replacing the 60-year-old highway – including a Boston-style “dig-and-cover” operation – but settled on tunneling as the least disruptive solution. When the tunnel is finished and the highway is torn down, the resulting new acreage will contain a city park and a surface street.

Bertha is starting slowly, at about six feet per day, so workers can make sure everything is working well. Eventually she will accelerate to 35 feet per day, and she should finish the whole dig by September 2014.

During the dig Bertha will pass under the highway, which is still in use, as well as under the foundations of 160 buildings, an old railway tunnel, a major sewer line, another automobile tunnel, and the foundation of Seattle’s monorail. At its lowest point the tunnel will be 200 feet below the surface.

Bertha will return to the surface near Sixth Avenue North and Harrison Street. She is laying the road surface behind her as she goes, but other necessary work will delay the opening of the tunnel until sometime in 2015.

To view photos and interesting graphics of Bertha and the path she is taking, click here:


Five Tips for Presenting Plans to the Public

MeetingIt’s a lucky architect who has never faced public scrutiny for his or her plans; most architects and developers need to show their stuff in front of the public at least once in a while. Here are five tips on how to do that successfully:

1) Be prepared to face the music: Anytime you plan a project that is likely to impact neighboring properties, expect to face some opposition. Consider the case of a Chicago-area developer who snagged a rare affordable chunk of property in the suburb of Oak Park in the early 2000s and decided to plant a small hotel there. The second the neighborhood caught wind of the plan, media-savvy moms marching with strollers and placards filled the street in front of the site, creating countless hours of negative publicity for the developer; a lawyer in the neighborhood filed suit against the developer; and within weeks he threw up his hands, never realizing what hit him. The moral to the story: Check out the community and its history of dealing with developers BEFORE you commit to a project; if the community is likely to object, get community leaders involved early and plan for many meetings and updates.

2) Leave your ego at the door. You might be the world’s greatest living architect, but the little old man whose garden is going to be shaded by your new apartment building couldn’t care less. Show up on time, don’t brag about your past work, listen carefully to questions and comments, and generally show respect to the community. If they like you, they’re much more likely to vote your way.

3) Know what matters. When you showed that skyscraper to the client, you highlighted the functionality, the key design elements, and how confident you were that the units would lease quickly. When you present that same skyscraper to the neighborhood advocacy group, remember that they care much more about how long the neighborhood will be disrupted by construction, what will physically change in the neighborhood, what kinds of people your building will attract, and other things not related to how beautiful the interior design will be. Sure, they want to know that the new building will be attractive and fit into the neighborhood from a design perspective, but they’re probably more concerned about traffic flow and density.

4) Rehearse. Even the most talented performers in the world rehearse before performing. Rehearsing – even if it’s just in front of a mirror or your colleagues – will help you identify holes in your presentation and will make it less likely that you’ll get flustered at show time. Your audience may not expect to be entertained, but if you give a concise, well-thought-out and smooth presentation, you’ll have more success selling your pitch than if you stumble around, forget key points, and look flustered.

5) Make some friends before you start. If you can meet with key community leaders a few days BEFORE your presentation and learn what their chief concerns are, you may win some of them to your side even before the presentation. Then the day of the presentation, as people come into the meeting, shake hands with a few attendees (not just the people you’ve already met), ask their names, and make small talk. Now you have a few more “allies” in the audience even before you start speaking. It’s much harder for people to dislike people they feel a personal connection to, and if they like you, your chance of success is much greater.

These tips won’t salvage a bad project, but they will definitely move the needle in your favor.

Final Days for Canon 0% Financing on Select Models


Until September 27, 2013 you can finance select Canon ink jet printing systems for 36 months at 0%.

If you are considering a Canon ink jet printer, now is a great time to buy! Contact John Beckerley at 512.852.0361 or

Or, to learn more about Canon Ink Jet Printing Systems visit the Miller Blueprint website at

Tips and Tricks: PDF Conversion for Print

By the time you’re ready to create a PDF of your document, the hard work is usually over and you’re ready to send that file to print ASAP. It’s tempting to breeze past all of the seemingly endless options in the PDF Conversion dialogue box. But taking a few extra seconds to customize the settings for your intended use could save you extra time and frustration later on in the printing process.

Let’s begin with the basics. PDFs are extremely useful because they create a packaged document that preserves fonts, images, layout, and the original design integrity. Creating a PDF of your document ensures that the recipient sees what you want them to see.

If you intend to send the PDF to print, it’s important to check with your printer for preferred presets. As a rule of thumb, Adobe’s standard “Press Quality” preset will ensure that you get the best quality when printing the document. You should never use the “Standard” or “Smallest File Size” presets for print use. Other important settings that your printer can advise you about include marks and bleeds and color conversion.

As with any print job, it is best to consult your printer before you design the document. For more information about how to setup your document for optimal printing results, contact our printing specialists at

Stay tuned for next month’s Tips & Tricks – PDF Conversion for Digital Use.

Amazing Architecture – Tunnel Edition

Jiucyudong Tunnel, China – This tunnel looks natural, but it was blasted through the rock formations of Taroko National Park in 1996:

Cu Chi Tunnels, Vietnam – These tunnels, built during the Vietnam War, reveal how the Vietcong were able to so effectively infiltrate the South before the Tet Offensive:

Tokyo Bay Aqualine, Japan – This bridge and tunnel combination saves motorists 45 minutes each way on the trip from Kawasaki to Kisarazu:

Laerdal Tunnel, Norway – This is the world’s longest roadway tunnel, and features subtle design elements to keep drivers awake over the 15 mile ride:

Chunnel, England and France – Perhaps the most famous modern tunnel is the Chunnel, which connects France and England under the English Channel:

Five Route 66 Architectural Gems

Wigwam Hotel – This chain of faux Indian dwellings-cum-motels once dotted America. There are just a few left, including this one at the end of Route 66 in San Bernardino, California:

Hundreds of motels served Route 66 travelers during its heyday. Check out this collection assembled by architecture students at the University of New Mexico:

Route 66 travelers had to eat, too, of course, and many stopped at diners made in the “Valentine” style:

Bunyon’s Statue – Giant fiberglass advertising statues were a staple of Route 66. This Paul Bunyon holding a hot dog greets visitors to Atlanta, Illinois today:

Gas stations grew up with Route 66, and some of the architecture was remarkable. Check out this example in Shamrock, Texas:

Being Green: Plumbing Edition

The Smart Faucet features an extra valve to control water flow and reduce waste water:

The Niagra Stealth Toilet uses air pressure to help flush toilets with only 0.8 gallons of water:

The Toto High Efficiency Toilet features two nozzles instead of rim holes to maximize flushing power with only 1.28 gallons of water:

The Moen Envi showerhead has an 8-inch diameter head that conserves water without sacrificing performance:

News You Can Use

Architect Builds Dog Park, Restaurant, Bar Combo:

$32 Million New Construction Approved for UT Austin:

Austin Architect Chosen for Longview Animal Shelter:

West Lake Hills Examines Strict Codes:,-increase-presence-on-bee-caves-road/

Housing Starts Rise 5.9 Percent in July:

October Special

Mention this ad to receive discount, or click here for printable version.