Category Archives: DESIGN

Programming – Criteria Development Consultant

Ryan Davis, Assoc. DBIA, ADMG

What does my proposed new facility need to include?  This is one of the most daunting questions an owner has to answer. The problem is that most organizations and businesses do not have the ability to allocate the required time and resources into exploring this question. Or, they do not have staff that is trained in preparing and organizing this type of technical information. The end result is usually a lot of wasted time (and dollars) spent with a design professional starting at square one to develop the standard from the bottom up.  Worse yet, is getting to opening with a building that does not fully meet your needs!

At the heart of the question lie all the requirements for a building to function properly for its intended end use.  These requirements do not only include the structural and aesthetic considerations, but more importantly the “programmatic elements” or the various pieces, such as different functional spaces that make up the “whole.”

A client may approach an architect or engineer and spend a lot of time trying to determine the spaces a building requires, their sizes, the seating, storage, the adjacency and circulation to other spaces, the mechanical, electrical and plumbing requirements, audio visual and the list goes on.  Figuring out what each pieces is, what its requirements are, how it fits in to the puzzle, and that it includes everything you intend is where a Criteria Development Consultant can come in.

The solution to this problem is to have a written standard of requirements, “criteria”, used as a guideline standard for your organization or business.  By doing this you can ensure all stakeholders have their say in the design process and that nothing is left out when it may be too late, too costly to redesign or even rebuild.

Before starting a new building project it may be a cost effective solution for your organization to talk with a Criteria Development Consultant. Handing off an approved written standard to a designer is a lot easier than trying to get all stakeholders on the same page, let alone the same room during design and construction.   Doing so just might save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road!

Google

Leave a comment

Filed under DESIGN, TECHNICAL

ADMG General Projects – see admgusa.com for credits

Leave a comment

Filed under DESIGN

The Future of Retail

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Meehan, LEED AP, ADMG

An open letter to Retail projects:

Dear Retail,

We miss you.  We cherish the fond memories of partying with you just a few years ago.  You used to overwhelm us with acres of square footage, generous fees and an endless supply of tenants…and now, we would consider ourselves lucky to find a hot dog cart or a lemonade stand remodel.

Please send us a sign.  Were you kidnapped by an Amazon warrior?  Were you Netflix’d out of the picture?  Were you auctioned off into slavery on Ebay? Retail, we will not give up the search.  We are holding out hope for your safe return.

Sincerely,

ADMG

Okay, let’s be serious.  There is a glimmer of hope for retail, especially here in Southern California.  Marcus and Millichap recently released a promising 2011 retail report for San Diego, LA and Orange County.  While all of these locales have traditionally been at the top of this list due to the development restrictions inherent in California, even a slight projected strengthening is promising news.

And while some brick and mortar retailers like Blockbuster and Borders have fallen on hard times due to virtual competitors, others are poised to increase their market share.  The same report forecasts significant future development for drug stores and ‘extreme value’ retailers like Dollar General and Family Dollar.

ADMG boasts an extremely strong and diverse portfolio of retail projects, and we will be working hard to ensure we are in attendance at Retail’s big welcome back party.  Just as value is driving the decisions of the average consumer in a down economy, so too will it drive those of our clients.  Our service-oriented approach benefits both small-box and big-box retailers alike.

Google

Leave a comment

Filed under BUSINESS & ECONOMY, DESIGN

How We See Architecture

Ryan Davis, Assoc. DBIA

There are many factors that contribute to great Architecture.  One very important factor is our visual perception of the built environment and the elements that contribute to the pleasure we derive from what we see.

How the mind interprets forms and patterns is the subject of Gestalt psychology (Gestalt, German for “form” or “shape”).   It is through this study and the understanding of our brain’s hardwired inner workings that Architects are better able to design buildings that are pleasing to the eye.

So what is it about Architecture then that makes it great, beautiful, or ‘pleasing’?  Is it merely in the eye of the beholder?  Is it subjective? Why does something look “just right” to you?   Is the Pritzker Architecture Prize winner doing the same things as the guy who drew up your local big box store?  Well, it all depends…

Our mind, without us necessarily knowing it, organizes visual data using certain built-in preferences such as:

Proximity: Click Link

Repetition: Our mind will equate things as equal (spacing, etc.) when we see more of them, even though they might not actually be equal.

Simplest and Largest Figure:  Our mind will complete/subtract (from) images in order to recognize and understand the simplest and largest figure.

Figure/Ground Relationship: Click Link

The ‘parts’ we perceive are greater than the whole.  Each part or element contributes to what we perceive as the ‘whole’ and thus how we interpret and enjoy it.  It is order out of visual chaos.

Important Elements that contribute to our “delight” in seeing Architecture include:

Proportion: The mind seeks out mathematical and geometrical relationships whether we like it or not.  Some are more pleasing than others.  This concept is as old as time and is the foundation and basis for not only Art and Architecture, but music and many other sciences.                        The most well known proportional system in architecture is based on the Golden Section or Golden Mean. Also see, Modular.

Scale: The relationship of the building and all its elements to the average size of the human body.  It is our perception of how ‘big’ things are and/or supposed to be.  The parts (e.g. doors, windows, etc) relate to the whole and give us visual clues to piece together a full concept of what we are looking at and how big it is. When elements are ‘out of scale’ our minds typically are confused by this and     therefore it is less enjoyable.  More information on Scale in Architecture.

Rhythm: Click here for more on Rhythm in Architecture and an exercise.

Texture: In terms of building materials/methods, both optical (visual pattern at the large scale as compared to smaller local human scale) and tactile (what can be physically felt by the human being). Each greatly affects our perception, feelings, and understanding of a building.

Light and Color: One of the most powerful element in the perception of Architecture. Without light we do not see, and the light determines ‘what’ we see.  Colors can affect our mood and change the perception of elements.

Our mind looks for these elements whether we like it or not.  It is wired into us as human beings.  These principles are all around us in nature and we experience them every minute of every day.  The design of great architecture is not accident.

Whether it is a big box store, or any other building, if it is designed with these principles in mind then it should prove to be good Architecture and pleasing to the eye.   What is pleasing to the eye should draw more attention and hopefully customers thus helping your bottom line.

Google

Leave a comment

Filed under DESIGN, IDEAS, TECHNICAL

Notable Architecture of Orange County

Lovell House

Sean Meehan, LEED AP

While Los Angeles boasts a bevy of architectural landmarks, Orange County’s prominent buildings are far fewer in number.  LA features the works of prominent masters of the past and present such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Eames, Richard Meier and Frank Gehry, but the suburbia of Orange County has given rise to few memorable buildings.  In a sea of generic Italianate quasi-villas, I will lead you on a brief virtual tour of a few of the OC’s notable exceptions.

Lovell Beach House, Rudolph Schindler, Newport Beach

On the National Register of Historic Places and dating all the way back to 1926, the Lovell Beach House was designed by Rudolph M. Schindler for Dr. Philip Lovell, a health and fitness advocate.  Schindler came to the US from Austria, and ended up in Chicago where he became an embattled employee of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Eventually he came to Los Angeles to work on some of Wright’s local projects, and the Lovell Beach House was one of his first commissions on his own, and historically considered one of his most important.  This thing is still standing, though looking a bit beat up, as it celebrates its 85th birthday.

This poorly-translated page has some excellent historical photos and drawings:  WikiArquitectura

Segerstrom Concert Hall, Cesar Pelli, Costa Mesa

Designed by Cesar Pelli to accompany his nearby stainless steel Plaza Tower office building, the Renee & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall is Orange County’s answer to the Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry in LA.  I was fortunate enough to live and work in the area as this project was under construction, and the glass façade is truly a spectacle, especially at night.  30,000 sf of curved, laminated glass encloses the main lobby and circulation areas.  The project went $40 million dollars over budget and endured a lengthy legal battle as a result.  Troubles aside, this is a good looking building.  If you have a chance to visit, be sure to check out the enormous COR-TEN steel sculpture by Richard Serra in the nearby plaza.

A few high-res photos of the Concert Hall may be found here:  South Coast Metro Galleries

Portabello Estate, Brion Jeannette, Corona del Mar

This project garnered national press a few years ago as one of the most expensive homes in the U.S.  While it was probably something of a publicity stunt to list this house for $75 million dollars, it is a stunning yet corny (see the underground mall) example of Orange County excess.  It recently sold for $34.1 million – a real bargain.

There is a great gallery of pictures for the ‘Portabello Estate’ here: Portabello Estate

Google

Leave a comment

Filed under CONSTRUCTION, DESIGN, HISTORICAL

Forecast 2011

Sean Meehan, LEED AP

Another year has passed, and many in the construction industry are still waiting for that elusive ‘recovery’ to kick in.  Statistically speaking, 2010 was disappointing in the overall sense, but there were also some highlights that may foreshadow a better outlook for 2011.  Let’s take a look at the data and forecasts that are out there for present activity, as well as for the future.

The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is an economic indicator that tracks architecture billings and new project inquiries on a month-to-month basis.  A cross-section of A/E firms is polled to gather billing data, and this data is then adjusted for historical seasonal variation using the Census Bureau X-12 software.  Currently, the November ABI shows an overall national strengthening in billings, but the West region continues to lag behind other parts of the country, and commercial/industrial construction has dipped slightly from the previous three months, which had reflected modest growth.  Read more about the current ABI here:  November Architectural Billings Index

McGraw-Hill Construction, the construction industry division of the publishing giant, issues a construction index that reflects new construction valuations.  Their November report reflects an overall decline, but with some strengthening in residential construction.  The data in this report is not encouraging, but there is typically a lag that occurs between architectural billings and construction activity and in their discussion of this month’s index, they describe an up-and-down pattern for construction at the moment.  See more details on the current construction index here:   November Construction Index

McGraw-Hill also releases an annual forecast for the construction industry, and while 2011 is predicted to reflect a slow recovery, their 2010 forecast was quite a bit off, and these kinds of far-reaching predictions should be taken with a grain of salt.  The Wall Street Journal analyzes the predictions of the 2011 Construction Forecast here:  McGraw-Hill 2011 Construction Outlook

Statistics and predictions are one thing, but at ADMG we have seen and heard of first hand growth which looks promising.  We know some architects that are doing very well with design work, and we hear that some local firms are re-hiring employees laid off earlier in the recession.  Overall activity still seems low in California (with the exception of healthcare and K-12), but there is a sense that things have bottomed out and that we may experience a slow but steady growth in the future.    We are optimistic, we are setting our goals appropriately, and we will be wishing all of our friends and associates a fantastic 2011!

Google

Leave a comment

Filed under BUSINESS & ECONOMY, CONSTRUCTION, DESIGN

Keeping Up with Materials, Methods, and Everything Else in the AEC World

Ryan Davis, Assoc. DBIA

The other day I found myself in Target to pick up a couple of things.  As I stood and stared blankly at a wall of toilet paper nearly the size of the climbing wall at my local gym, I could not help but feel a bit overwhelmed.  Do we really need 25 different kinds of toilet paper, in 15 different package sizes in order to complete what might be the most basic of human tasks?  Because of my profession this got me thinking about just how many building products there on the market in this day and age, if they are all really needed, and just how to absorb all the information.  It is daunting enough for a full time professional, so what about owners and facility managers who wish to make informed decision for their projects?  Luckily there are some good ways to keep up with the ever growing market.

20 year ago there were not as many options in building materials, let alone methods and techniques for using them. Today many large firms employ full time people, known as ‘Materials and Resources Managers,’ just to oversee this effort.  However, for smaller firms (yes like ADMG) it can become overwhelming and honestly too expensive. Still, it is our goal to always offer our clients the best possible solutions for each project.  We of course like to use new materials and methods technologies where appropriate and cost effective, and have found several good ways to stay on top of this information and make it a manageable task. The following ideas help us, and can also help our clients, keep up with trends in the design and construction industry:

BPM Select, http://www.bpmselect.com/

They claim to be the premier building products search engine and they just might be.  Just type in a word, anything really, and like Google it will pull you up products that match what you are looking for.  It is like a big online Sweets Catalog only better.

 

Hanley Wood University, www.hanleywooduniversity.com

Want to know more in depth information on building products, best practices for use and installation, and life-cycle information?  Look no further.  Hanley Wood University offers courses on all the above.  You can also earn continuing education credits.  Now, the spec book doesn’t become so daunting and you might even give your GC a tip or two.  Best of all it’s free.

Conspectus, Inc., www.conspectusinc.com

These guys are great and one of my personal favorites.  This Company writes specifications and puts out a greatly monthly Tech Tips and News Bulletin that you can subscribe to.  It covers all kinds of things from new methods, proper installation techniques, new products, and even contracts and administration information.  They tell you what works, what doesn’t, and what to avoid.

Finally, publications such as Architect Magazine, JLC (Journal of Light Construction), Construction Superintendent, various trade magazines, and of course, last but not least, this Newsletter you are currently reading also have great information that can help keep you current with all that is going on in the industry. These methods for staying ahead of the game are not only good for smaller offices, tradespersons, but especially for the owner who doesn’t do it every day.  Nothing better than a savvy informed owner to compliment his design and construction team in completing a successful project!  Now the tools are just a click away.

Google

Leave a comment

Filed under CONSTRUCTION, DESIGN, IDEAS, MATERIALS + METHODS, TECHNICAL