December 2013 Newsletter

Season’s Greetings!

This is the time of year when we wrap up many things. We plan for the year ahead, we reflect on the year past. We wrap up the financials, and we plan to celebrate the holidays. So again, a time to thank all of you who have trusted us this year. I hope we performed well for you – surprised you in a positive way – shared a smile or put a smile on your face – made a suggestion or hit a deadline that helped you. Thank you! At this time of year we also make our year end donations to support nonprofits in town. You have enabled us to make those gifts, and for that we thank you yet again. Peace be with you in this holiday season.

Luci Miller

Miller Wall Calendars Now Available!

Our annual Miller Wall Calendars, featuring the work of Don Collins, are here and available for in-store pickup or order via


Landscape Architecture: Profession on the Rise?


Landscape architects occupy a unique niche among designers – their work can be seen surrounding typical architect-designed structures, such as homes and buildings, and also in spaces devoid of structures, such as parks and gardens. The profession is a bridge between the built and the natural.

And now it seems demand for their services is rising.

“In recent years, landscape architects have seen their profile rise. The discipline has gained stature in the public’s imagination, as well as among the allied disciplines of architecture, planning, and even civil and transportation engineering,” said Alan G. Brake in an editorial last December in The Architect’s Newspaper.

Indeed, the numbers back up this growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 16 percent rate of employment growth between 2010 and 2020, compared to 14 percent for all occupations. The National Endowment for the Arts places the growth of landscape architects as third among all artist occupations, behind only museum technicians/conservators and museum curators.

Three Reasons

What is causing an increased demand for landscape architects? It appears that three key factors are fueling the need: the growing prominence of parks and open spaces, the continued interest in “green” issues, and the obesity epidemic.

The growing prominence of parks and open spaces is evidenced by high-profile projects such as Millennium Park in Chicago, New York’s High Line, and the new Grand Park in Los Angeles. These spaces have attracted a lot of attention for their respective cities, and raised the image of outdoor spaces in general. The crowds at these parks – and the potential increased tourist revenue – is not lost on municipal leaders seeking to improve their cities.

The value of adding landscaped green spaces to buildings and homes is certainly nothing new, but the rise of environmentalism, and how even small things can affect the environment, has increased the perceived value of quality landscape architecture. And there’s no doubt that a landscape architect increases that quality of a home’s or building’s landscaping. But the issue of green design goes much further than just the bushes planted around a new house, of course. As Brake notes in his editorial, many landscape architects have taken on a larger civic role and now work to influence the environmental nature of a community’s infrastructure. As cities, especially on the coasts, face more pressure from rising sea levels and global warming, the potential role of design professionals who can help with those issues will only increase.

“Climate change has provided a much overdue wake up call to all professionals dealing with the built environment,” according to the 2012 employment statement of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA).

Finally, the well-documented obesity epidemic is pushing more children outdoors, and they need green spaces to play. The NFL’s Play 60 Campaign, which encourages children to play outside for an hour each day, is just one example of the movement to drag chubby kids away from their video games and out into the sunshine. Nicely landscaped parks, play areas, and sports fields play a role in that movement.

Altogether, these issues should continue to influence the demand for quality landscape design. In their employment document, the AILA noted: “It is indeed a great time to be dealing with place making. It is the right time to be a landscape architect.”


World’s Fair Remains – 5 Architectural Gems That Still Play a Role


World’s fairs have been held since in 1870s, and it’s no secret that many of the structures created for the events have become lasting architectural gems. Here are five well-known remnants of world’s fairs:

Eiffel Tower, Paris – The Eiffel Tower is perhaps the most famous remnant of a world’s fair. It served as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, and is the tallest structure in Paris. It is the most-visited paid monument in the world – 7.1 million people went up in 2011. The tower, named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, stands 1,063 feet tall.

The Space Needle, Seattle – Tall buildings are frequently parts of world’s fairs, and the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle featured one of the most fabulous. The Space Needle is 605 feet high and is built to withstand 200 mph winds and a 9.1 magnitude earthquake. The tower was built in just a year, on a plot of land within the World’s Fair boundaries that the developers bought for $75,000.

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago – The 1893 World’s Fair, also called the World’s Columbian Exposition, was famous for its white structures. One of them, the Palace of Fine Arts, survived and is now the Museum of Science and Industry, the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. A key reason this building survived when others from the White City did not was that it was built with a brick substructure under the white plaster exterior.

The Millennium Dome, London – This grand structure was created for the 2000 Millennium Festival by architects at Richard Rogers Partnership. It is now used for concerts and it hosted the basketball and gymnastic events during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The China Art Palace, Shanghai – This 160,000-square-meter building was constructed for the 2010 Expo in Shanghai, China. It was the China pavilion during the expo, and is now the China Art Palace, a five-floor museum. One of the expo’s highlights, a digitally animated rendering of an ancient scroll, is still on exhibit there.

Image credit: Paukrus, used under the Creative Commons License.

Indoor and Outdoor Banners Increases Your Brand Awareness

Your company name is your brand.  You want people to think of your company first when they are considering architectural services, constructing a home, or are in need of landscaping, plumbing, electrical or mechanical work.  Indoor and outdoor banners are a proven form of advertising that will increase your firm’s brand awareness.

Three reasons why banners are such an effective form of advertising:

  1. Return on Investment – Compared to other forms of advertising, banners are relatively inexpensive to design and create.  Also, because banners are durable you can use them over and over again.
  2. Versatile – Banners can come in various sizes and shapes; on a variety of materials such as vinyl and Tyvek.   Banners can also be placed virtually anywhere indoors and outdoors.
  3. Easy to Install – Lightweight and flexible, you can easily transport banners and install them in minutes.  When done, you can easily roll or fold and store your banner until you need it again.

Invest in banners and get your brand out there.  The more people see your name, the greater the likelihood it will be the first thing they think of when they need your services.

Call Ian Cousins at Miller Blueprint for assistance with your next banner at 512.381.5276 or


Mention this ad for discount, or click here for printable version.Click here for a printable PDF of this coupon.

Tips & Tricks: Which color space is best for your needs?


In last month’s Tips & Tricks: Understanding Color Spaces, we provided a brief overview of this important document setting.  This month, we’re delving a little deeper to help you decide which color space is best for the project at hand.

•    Best used for fine art printing, including artwork reproduction, photography, and renderings
•    Has a larger printable color range (called a gamut)
•    Color accuracy and consistency isn’t as strong with RGB

•    Best for publications, brochures, reports, and marketing materials with a high text to image ratio
•    Slightly smaller color range than RGB, but is more consistent across printers and more controllable
•    The best color space for precise color matching with logos, corporate colors, etc.

•    More economical option
•    Can be paired with colored paper to increase visual effect

Helpful Hints for Converting Between Color Spaces:

Converting from RGB to CMYK
Some color range and vibrancy may be lost – for color critical pieces, always request a proof

Converting to Grayscale:
Can lose contrast when converted, so it’s best to design in grayscale from the start if you are choosing to work in this color space


5 New Books for the Designer on Your Gift List

A Field Guide to American Houses, by Virginia Savage McAlester and Lee McAlester

The Invention of Craft, by Glenn Adamson

Architecture on the Carpet: The Curious Tale of Construction Toys and the Genesis of Modern Buildings, by Brenda Vale and Robert Vale

Common Room: Arts for Living

Drawing Ideas: A Hand-Drawn Approach for Better Design, by Mark Baskinger and William Bardel

Amazing Architecture: North Pole Edition

North Pole, Alaska has its share of beautiful spaces.

Here’s the original “Santa Claus House” that inspired the surrounding town of North Pole.

Here is a new barracks building designed by Design Alaska architects at Ft. Wainwright.

Check out the new Spirit of Alaska Federal Credit Union building designed by David A. Whitmore Architect LLC.

This new school in the remote Arctic village of New Stuyahok, Alaska is an educational and community hub for the small community.

Being Green: Insulation Edition

UltraTouch Denim Insulation contains 80 percent post-consumer recycled fibers and has no scratchy fiberglass feel.

Nu-Wool cellulose insulation is made from 100 percent recycled paper.

Insulation made from sheep’s wool is naturally “green” and doesn’t settle or compress over time.

Soy-based foam insulation contains no formaldehyde and emits no VOCs or CFCs.

News You Can Use – Austin

Special Olympics Texas breaks ground on Austin headquarters

Real Estate Finance Exec Takes Austin ULI’s Top Spot

Texas added 14,500 construction jobs in past year

Dallas Company Plans $50.8 Million Project on South Congress

Society of Architectural Historians will meet in Austin in April