July 2014 Newsletter

Hey Friends,

We have been so lucky with decent weather and rain here in Central Texas that I hope many of you have continued your outdoor activities. In preparing for our only “shut in month” – August, due to the heat – get out while you can! I love a good sweat on the trail, so today I’ll say thanks to those involved in the Trail Foundation for keeping our trails accessible to all – and I love the extension east of IH35 along Riverside. Several customers were involved in that fantastic project. Thank you! Also, don’t forget the Zilker Hillside Theatre production this summer of Oklahoma! Remember to go early and enjoy the company of others, which to me is the true spirit of the hillside theater!


Luci Miller


Public Housing Today – Back to the Future?

Public housing has a tortuous history in the United States, though each time a new project starts, optimism reigns. The same is going on today – new projects are replacing the despised projects that seemed delightful 75 years ago. In early July the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced another $120 million in grants to help four cities redevelop their public housing.

Will these new projects succeed where their predecessors failed? That won’t be known for a generation, but here is a run-down of a few recent developments:

Chicago: Chicago tore down the last of its notorious Cabrini-Green public housing towers in 2011, and has embarked on a plan to spread the former tenants into various neighborhoods and various types of housing. The project has met with mixed success – many former tenants are still not in permanent homes – but from an architectural standpoint there’s no question that the newer homes, mostly rowhouses, are much more beautiful, and many are mixed-income projects. For example, the Jazz on the Boulevard development in the Bronzeville neighborhood is a mix of rowhouses, townhouses, duplexes, and flats. The buildings are masonry, and feature private balconies, stone detailing, bay windows, and decorative iron fencing. Quite a contrast from the frightening public housing towers of the past!  Learn more here.

San Francisco: Parkview Terrace is a good example of innovative public housing. Designed by Fougeron Architecture in 2008, the 101-unit building is designed to take the stigma out of public housing. It features a dramatic glass and concrete exterior with undulating windows that increase floor space and break up the monotony of the front of the building. The units are laid out so that all of them have excellent views of the surrounding parks and hills, and plenty of sunlight. The building features a community center, beauty parlor, therapy center, and other amenities not commonly found in low-income senior housing. Learn more here.

Portland: Portland has been known for innovative public housing, and the Stephens Creek Crossing , which opened in May and replaced an ugly cinder-block public housing project built in 1968, is a good example. The new $54 million project includes 122 units in a solid, middle-class community. The developers also are working on a kids’ center for 3-6 year olds. Sustainability features in the new project include bioswales and cisterns to address moisture concerns that had plagued the previous development; a geo-thermal heating and cooling system; and construction materials that help maintain indoor air quality. The project was designed by Michael Willis Architects of San Francisco.

And, to show a bit of how remarkable public housing can be, consider the Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna, Austria. Public housing in Vienna is notable in that 60 percent of the city’s residents live in some kind of subsidized housing. It’s not that they’re all poor, it’s that the society generally believes that housing should not be subject to the same market conditions as other industries, so much more public money goes into it. Naturally, this greatly increases the volume and variety of public housing projects – in fact, the public housing administration owns one quarter of the city’s housing stock. One of the most amazing is the Hundertwasserhaus, designed by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and architects Joseph Krawina and Peter Pelikan. The building, erected in the early 1980s, features a colorful, disjointed, abstract elevation behind which lie 52 apartments and four offices. Many of the floors undulate, the roof is covered with earth and grass, and live trees grow inside the rooms, with their branches extending out the windows.

Hopefully in 30 years observers will look at the new projects in the United States and admire them as much as people admire Hunderwasserhaus today.

Photo credit: Peter Whatley


What’s the Future of Paper in AEC?


Paper copies of drawings have been part of the building industry since its inception, and for two decades people have been saying the end of paper is near. Many signs have indicated that prediction is accurate, as anyone preparing digital CAD drawings can attest.

But tech giant Hewlett-Packard has just invested millions on launching a new printer aimed at the AEC hard copy market, and a recent survey of reprographics shops shows that half of the respondents are enjoying growth in their printing business.

So who’s right? Is paper dead, or is it about to hop out of the grave and run a few laps?

There’s no question that the quantity of paper construction documents has dropped dramatically over the past decade. Rarely does a general contractor order dozens of massive sets of paper drawings for all of its subcontractors and other stakeholders these days. Now it’s common for drawings to be created, stored, edited, and viewed digitally.

But some signs are pointing to a renewed life for paper. Hewlett-Packard just announced a wide-format version of its PageWide single-pass inkjet technology with an elaborate announcement event in San Diego. The presentation was aimed squarely at AEC paper printing.

“We certainly understand that some segments will go more digital, but there’s definitely a longevity to paper printing,” says Jamie Sirois, an HP DesignJet segment manager. “There’s something about having that physical piece of paper in your hand. I would go to conferences and people would say, ‘No I’m not going to hand over a pad to every worker on the site, they still need a plan.’”

Some quantifiable data also point to a continued pulse in paper. The survey of the reprographics industry asked members of the International Reprographic Association whether their large-format monochrome printing business was up, down, or flat during the first quarter of 2014, and 50 percent of the respondents reported that it was up. Only 11 percent reported a decrease.

There is no question that digital documents have advantages – they’re easy to edit, transmit, and store – but sometimes nothing beats holding a paper drawing in your hands. It may be old fashioned, but paper seems to be here for good.


Touchscreen Technology Benefits Communication & Collaboration

Large multi-touch screens are finding their way on to more construction job sites. However, they are not just being used in trailers – they are also inside the project, right where work is occurring.

Swinerton Construction is one company that places their touchscreen plan table in rugged custom-made toolboxes for team members to access inside the project. Swinerton has found that these digital plan tables in combination with Bluebeam software are improving communication and collaboration amongst project team members. This Bluebeam Swinerton Construction case study spells out the benefits of this great combination of software and multi-touch screens.

As architecture and engineering firms look forward, they too will begin to see multi-touch screen technology in the form of interactive drafting tables. SMART is a firm that has developed very powerful collaborative solutions for the AEC industry.

Another touchscreen company, Ideum, develops touchscreens for many applications including a multi-touch drafting table.

Miller Blueprint is an authorized reseller of iPlanTables and Bluebeam software. For more information on iPlanTables and Bluebeam software contact Webb Fox at webb.fox@millerblueprint.com or 512.200.6549.

Tips and Tricks: Durable Maps & Schematics

Do you find yourself pulling a set of dirty, damaged, and illegible plans out of the back of your truck?  Need to post mission critical schematic changes on site that will last through all weather conditions?  Or perhaps you need a topo map to bring into the field with you.

Miller Blueprint offers a line of durable, weatherproof outdoor materials and finishing options to help you when paper prints just won’t cut it.


Lamination is the easiest, tried and true method for protecting your prints. Laminate consists of a plastic sheet pretreated with heat activated glue. Prints and laminate are put through heated rollers to melt the glue and adhere to the prints and laminate.

For the best protection and longevity, the lamination should encapsulate your prints. This means the lamination on the front and back will extend past the edge of the print and stick together. Trimming to the edge of the paper, or and holes put through the paper by staples or nails, will expose the paper and put it at risk for water damage or delamination.

While lamination can be rolled, it is not easily folded. Continuous folding and bending will eventually damage the lamination. For heavily handled and folded pieces, we recommend other options.
Miller Blueprint can laminate prints up to 56” wide, and offers quick turn times on lamination up to 24” wide.


Solvent printing is typically used on banners, car wraps, and other outdoor signage. The solvent inks chemically bond with substrates, forming a long lasting and durable print. The same equipment we use for signage can produce durable and weather proof maps and schematics.

For maps and schematics, we recommend using our lighter 10 oz vinyl banner. The smoother finish increases detail, while keeping all the same qualities that makes banners durable and strong.

Not only can we use the same vinyl banner materials for maps, we also offer substrates specifically used for maps. Our Endura 250 and Endura 375 are latex saturated durable papers. The smooth finish means we can print high resolution detailed maps with ease. Since it is still paper based, it folds and rolls easily. The latex makes the paper water resistant and is great fit for field maps.


The same equipment we use to print reports and postcards can produce water proof maps and signage.  The toner used in laser printers is carbon based and will bond with pre-treated synthetic stocks.
Miller Blueprint carries a 10 Mil soft polyester stock that feels similar to our 10 oz banner. The material is durable, flexible, and extremely hard to tear. It is a great option for small maps and temporary outdoor signage.

For more information on our durable materials and finishing options, contact Ian Cousins, Customer Sales Service Rep, at 512-381-5276 or cssr@millerblueprint.com.


July Coupon


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


News You Can Use

Developer Picked for Central Austin Project

Workers on Austin School Project Get Raise

Austin Developer Robert Lee Building Big

Concrete Wasteland Becomes Art Park

Affordable Housing Complex Rising in Austin


Product of the Month: HP T3500



The HP T3500 is a mid-volume production printer aimed at replacing older Océ, Kip and Xerox plain paper plotters.

Learn more on our website.


Current Promotions

90- or 180-day “same as cash” on Canon printers!

Learn more about this promotion here.


Seven Biggest Categories of Non-Residential Construction Spending in May 2014

$107 billion

Highway and Street
$83 billion

$78 billion

$53 billion

$49 billion

$43 billion

$42 billion

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


2014 Top 10 Undergraduate Architecture Programs

1. California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo
2. Cornell University
3. Rice University
4. University of Texas at Austin
5. Virginia Polytechnic
6. Syracuse University
7. University of Southern California
8. Auburn University
9. Southern California Institute of Architecture
10. Rhode Island School of Design

Source: Greenway Group

Five U.S. Presidents Who Could Probably Read a Blueprint

George Washington
(land surveyor)

Thomas Jefferson

Abraham Lincoln
(land surveyor)

Herbert Hoover
(mining engineer)

Jimmy Carter
(Navy officer, worked on a nuclear reactor shutdown)