Thursday, November 12, 2009
The kiosk is the newest addition to the history museum we designed at the North American Headquarters for MBRDNA, and will be completed in the next two weeks.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Below is an elevation drawing of the improved exterior of the building.
The design was inspired by California-Mission style architecture. A false wall was created with a parapet extending above the roof to give more presence to the entry and also to create more room for the signage. We re-used the existing columns in the front to form and arbor and added exterior lighting along the walkway to the parking lot.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The entry door was moved from the side to the front of the building to face the street. This made the surgery more inviting and noticeable.
Five consultation rooms were placed around the central garden to give patients a calming, peaceful atmosphere.
A separate children's waiting room away from the adult waiting room was created for children to watch T.V and play computer games.
The reception area was relocated from the center right to the center left of the surgery in between the adult and the children's waiting rooms. A large window opposite the reception would provide plenty of natural light and again a view of the garden.
The restrooms were enlarged and modified to meet accessibility needs for disabled people.
A curved ceiling element running through the length of the surgery was introduced to define areas and circulation paths.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The owner's original drawings for the building showing survey dimensions. (Owner's drawings do not match existing conditions)
Pre-design bubble drawing showing early space planning.
With the programming information and the bubble drawing we could see how all the spaces could fit together with the existing building.
CONima Architects was recently contracted to remodel an existing building and transform it into a dental office.
A view of the dated existing bathroom.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
To answer this question however is simple once a distinguishment is made between the two.
Art is defined as: the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects
Craft is defined as: an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill
When taking these definitions into account, architecture does use skill and creativity, but the objects that are created are not purely aesthetic. However, architecture does involve both artistic skill and manual dexterity (in the form of construction knowledge, drawing, and specifying) to create. This is not to say that by being a craft, that great architecture is not also capable of transcending to also be 'art', appreciated for aesthetics regardless of function. With that said though, great architecture is still a craft as well.
Much in the same way that all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares; architecture is a craft, but on occasion is capable of being art as well.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Using the figure that 1 tree can make 16 reams of paper, which is just over 5,000sf, this means we are capable of saving an average of 4 trees for every project we do.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
As I push my way through multiple 14 hour workdays, my mind has begun to stray from the task at hand. What seems more interesting to me now than coordinating a multifloor bathroom redesign and whether or not I will meet my deadline, is the role of stress in creativity, and the human capacity for motivation.
In architecture school I would often complain that programmatic and code requirements were totalitarian like obstacle in the path of great design. The truth however is that these obstacles are the only possible way to achieve great design. Not only do they provide purpose, whether filling the needs of a client or ensuring safety and accessibility to the occupants, they provide the basic challenge that must be struggle with and against in order to create something that is both beautiful and original.
What also strikes me is how significant the role of music is in creative enterprise. It allows your mind to be free from sensing all that present and around you. By engrossing your senses, it allows greater focus. The constancy of its rhythm allows you to charge through the night as if you were charging into battle.
However, this is not a thesis. The Stanford drawings are waiting for me…
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The main aspects of quality that suffer when a project does not have adequate time are materials. Almost all common building materials, unless already in stock and available, take 4 to 6 weeks to make. If specialty finishes or items are needed for their fabrication, then it can take 8 to 12 weeks. To break this down, use carpet as an example:
If a construction schedule is less than 4 weeks, carpet selection is limited to in stock items only.
If the schedule is extended to 6 weeks, 'standard' and 'quick ship' items now become available, even possibly if they are not currently in stock because the manufacturer already has the necessary yarn
However any higher end carpet will require a minimum 8 to 12 weeks in order to aquire the yarn, ship it to the carpet factory, make the carpet, and ship it to the construction site.
Now consider in the carpet scenario that the same thing is occurring in regards to cabinets, doors, furniture, and a host of other items. These items cannot all be installed simultaneously. Once this is taken into consideration, it becomes clear that, unless finish materials are identified and order prior to the start of construction, most tenant improvement type projects will require a minimum 12 to 14 week schedule for construction.
The limiting factors for creativity are two-fold. An abbreviated construction schedule limits the material choices available to a project. Also, the sequence of events that are needed to design properly are often forced to be abbreviated or eliminated altogether. The following stages of events and rough time lines should be taken into account:
Programming - May be done in house prior to hiring an architect, or done over a period of several days or weeks (depending on size) with an architect
Field Survey - one to three days typically for projects that are limited to interior scope
Schematic Design - This phase is highly variable. Depending upon the ability to reconcile a clients programmatic and stylistic needs within the framework of the building that has been selected, it can vary from 1 week to 1-2 months. However, for most small to mid-size projects accomodating 2 weeks for the planning of this should be sufficient.
Design Development and Code Analysis - This phase is mostly determined by the size and age of a building, and should range from 2-4 weeks. However on smaller projects this can commonly be condensed to one week.
Contract Documents - The final phase of architectural work prior to permitting is the creation of all drawings, details, and specifications for construction, as well as all information related to accessibility and life safety necessary for permitting. This work requires several weeks in most cases.
With all of this work taken into account, the design phase of a tenant improvement project should include 4 weeks for small projects, and 12-16 weeks for larger and more complex ones. When this process is shortened, proper programming usually has not taken place and the project specifications are left more generalized. Under extreme shortening of the process, an initial set may be required for permitting purposes only, with the knowledge that some construction details are not fully resolved. This of course leads to the last area of sacrifice.
Cost gets impacted in three ways primarily.
Incomplete designs are bid to contractors, which result in modifications along the way that result in change orders to the construction contract.
The construction schedule does not have adequate time to allow for proper sequencing of events which results in overtime costs for construction labor
General Contractors are not given adequate time to investigate possible hidden deficiencies within a building, resulting in added costs to remedy those unforeseen conditions.
The variations of problems and requirements are endless, and ultimately every project must make sacrifices somewhere along the way. However having an experienced architect involved as early in the process as possible will help tremendously to navigate through these issues. A good architect can also overcome most of the scheduling hurdles thrown their way, but if the process is shortened, both the client and architect should discuss what sacrifices it will entail prior to starting work.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Let me start by saying "Modern Architecture" is a misnomer. The term modern simply represents the current style of the day that reflects society's impression of itself to the world. Modern architecture as we know it today however started with the International Style, Bauhaus, and the impact of cubist art on the form of a building. Like most styles, it began as a rejection of what was accepted and as an embrace of new technologies. In this case, the progression of steel as a building material allowed greater spans, previously impossible cantilevers, and minimized the ratio of thickness for vertical support. All of which meant that buildings could now be built proportionally in such a different way that they actually didn't even look as though they were capable of standing.
'Brutalism' Paul Rudolph's Westport House (demolished):
image source nothingliving.com
As technology advanced, the limits began to push further. Architects began a new style a 'Deconstruction' which was based on taking traditional geometry, breaking it apart, and then recombining it in different forms. Simple things such as the value of right angles finally came into question, as architects attempted to incorporate new ideas such as chaos theory into space and form.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Unfortunately, I've probably seen clients spend well over twice that amount trying to resolve fundamental problems with buildings that went unnoticed because they were not evaluated prior to leasing.
So numbers are easy to throw out and they sound impressive, but they mean very little without understand what an architect actually does during the site selection and lease negotiation phases of a project. For this article, I will focus on tenant improvement related work only, as core and shell construction has an entirely separate set of concerns.
So what are the tasks?
Programming and Fit Planning:
Every client knows how many people they have working for them, and most have an idea how many they want to plan for in the future. However working off of simple ratios of square footage per person ignores office standards, adjacency requirements, ancillary spaces, labs, data centers, etc...all of which are critical components to laying out a space successfully. Unfortunately, once a lease is signed, it is too late to make sure that the building suits your needs, and typically will result in making some level of sacrifice in programmatic functionality of a space.
Egress and Path of Travel:
Nobody would advertise a building that doesn't meet code, right? This is a much more frustrating problem for clients that I've had to resolve for both landlords' and tenants'. The problem is twofold.
- Codes change every few years, and things that were legal when a building was built are no longer so. With the recent adoption of the International Building Code this problem has become so exaggerated that many buildings are no longer considered legal because the method of calculating allowable floor area has now changed. Modifications to the occupancy classification further complicate this, resulting in different exiting and fire rating requirements.
- Subdividing floorspace for multiple tenants is the other major cause of headaches. Code requirements change significantly when trying to exit multiple companies from one building or floor as opposed to just one. In this case the distance between exits, overall exit travel distance, fire protection systems, and fire separations become critical. As a simple rule of thumb, one of my professors once told me,"Draw a fire in front of an exit, now see how many will die as a result. If the answer is more than zero it's your fault."
This category has unfortunately made a few landlords hate me. Accessibility is a very broad topic, but the priorities to negotiate into a lease are those deficiencies that are the most expensive to repair.
- Bathrooms, not just having a 5ft wide stall, but making sure the toilet is spaced the correct amount from the adjacent wall, are grab bars present, how much clearance is in front of the toilet? How high are the counters? Is there adequate knee space below them? Do the shower dimension comply? Fixture mounting heights? etc... A single bathroom can quickly cost over $100,000 to bring into compliance
- Building Entry, the accessibility requirement for most buildings is to have a fully accessible path to the public way. Most cities will bend this to just require it to the parking lot, but this is not much relief. In California especially, for years California's guidelines differed from federal in how to create a curb ramp to an accessible parking space, causing a great deal of commercial parking lots to currently be illegal. Additionally, the slope of the sidewalk to the building, irregularities in pavers, damaged or raised door tresholds, etc...can also lead to a great deal of remediation work. A recent client had to spend $40,000 repaving the entry plaza to their office because their lease did not include a provision for maintaining and accessible pathway into the building.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I've told contractors that I will be the best friend they've ever had on a job because of the fact that I like to build projects on my own and know how hard it is to build buildings well. It requires an attention to the details of a wall before it is even built. Verifying layouts and making adjustments constantly while still keeping the exact detail dimensions of a piece of millwork in your head.
Every person should build something on their own as long as you can live with the failure of your own mistakes, or have the patience and money to correct them. It gives a satisfaction and respect for architecture and construction that no amount of writing can describe. My only bits advice are:
- Know your ability limits and tolerances for imperfection
- A good architect is there to facilitate your vision, not his/her own.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
So to begin, at the surface the difference is very simple:
A designer can be anyone. A homeowner with an idea and a sketchbook, a contractor working at a drafting table to fix a problem, or a consultant hired to coordinate a project. A designer is any unlicensed person who designs buildings, and due to that lack of license are restricted by most states to a very limited number of building types that they are allow design.
An Architect is a state licensed professional in the design and construction of all buildings. The licensing process is for most a 10 or more year path that includes a university degree in architecture, and a multi-year internship, followed by 5 written examinations, 3 graphic examinations, and in California an additional oral examination. This process ensures that a licensed architect is knowledgeable in project planning; interior and exterior design; site planning and drainage; construction methods; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; construction management; construction contract and dispute resolution; mechanics liens...essentially all the tools needed to effectively manage any building project from house, to office, to university building, from start to finish.
A prevalent myth is that hiring a designer is less expensive than hiring an architect. In most cases, an architect's fees for basic services and those offered by a designer are actually quite similar. Most services typically range from 5-10% of construction costs depending on the level of complexity of a project and the amount of construction supervision an owner wants to leave to the consultant. If engineering is required in addition to the basic design, that may cost an additional 2-5%.
What the price myth also fails to take into account is the benefits of qualifications. An architects experience not only equips them with more knowledge in how to design a more cost effective construction project, it also includes many benefits in relating to contractors. A great deal of architectural training is in what are referred to as "CD's". Most people mistakenly refer to these as the 'construction documents' because they include the drawings that a general contractor will build from. The true meaning is 'contract documents', and drawings make up only one piece of them. A projects drawings, specifications, and written contract are all equal parts of the contract between and owner and a builder. The accuracy of these documents is the only real basis that an owner has to protect themselves from change orders in the construction process. Additionally, an architect will typically review all contractor payment request for accuracy to ensure that overbilling has not occured and that mechanics liens are released upon payment.
So the virtues of the architect have been extolled, even so there are projects where hiring an architect is excessive. If you want to replace cabinets, remodel a bathroom, or do a similar interior project that does not include the relocation of walls, it is typically safe to assume that a contractor can handle the needs of the project without involving an architect. Likewise, an designer can be incredibly valuable in helping you envision a particular layout, color scheme, or fabric and furniture coordination. However if a project involves adding space, raising ceilings, moving walls, or cutting large openings, an architect is the only professional specifically trained to manage all the disciplines of design, engineering, and construction necessary to make the project successful.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
The Ranch Style is considered one of the more varied and difficult styles to define. This is because it is one of the rare styles born out an socioeconomic shift more than an actual architectural movement. The roots of the ranch style were the tremendous housing and commercial construction needs of post World War 2 America and the Baby Boom. America's most renowned architect of the time was arguably Frank Lloyd Wright who's 'prairie style' had gained much popularity do to it's rejection of victorian box and its vertically accentuating aesthetic. Concurrent with the Crafstman Style, it featured long overhangs, but was driven primarily by an accentuation of the horizontal plane and the use of open spaces within the interior.
The Ranch Style continues this stretching of the horizontal plan but, while still not formal in its spacial arrangments, is less open in plan in order to simplify the structural loading of the building. In addition, the common ranch will typically have more simplified detailing and smaller overhangs in its original condition in order to be produced more quickly and efficiently.
As a result of this lack of true stylistic origin, the Ranch Style has been adapted to many different types of homes and as a result is derided by many critics of architecture as not being a true style. However, with roots in the one of America's most celebrated styles and being perhaps the most widely implemented building type in this country, it would be a mistake to simply dismiss Ranch Style. It may lack the openness and sophistication of detailing that a Prairie home would have, but in doing so it created a vernacular for the middle class that is maleable to regional and individual tastes.
For Architects, this creates an unique remodeling situation where changes to the original structure can be driven by a client's personality as much as the original style of the home. Because of this, for better or worse, the Ranch Style should be considered a true style of american individualism and the middle class.