People /

Lawrence Group People

Each month we highlight a few of our employees by having them share everything from their personal motto to their favorite architect to what’s on their bucket list.

Theresa Hunt
Director of Furniture Procurement
With Lawrence Group since 2013 

What do you like to do outside of work (favorite pastime)?
Play with my new puppy, Bo.

What do not many people know about you?
I was born in Japan — the first place I camped was Mt. Fuji! (more…)

Interior Design /

Salmon Fillets and Clay Bowls Oh My

SHERWIN WILLIAMS COLOR OF THE YEAR 2019: CAVERN CLAY SW 7701 (290-C6)

Now I know that designers and fans alike get excited about the color of the year announcements from their various color institutions. I am no different, I love to see what the taste-makers think is the hot new thing. As we’ve talked about before, the “colors of the year” announcements generally are in design but eventually work their way into all facets of mainstream design. Sherwin Williams has just introduced their color of the year 2019, and it’s a little hue called “Cavern Clay” . . . and I am not a fan. I might even say that I hate it. I know, strong words for some pigment squirted in a can.

When I first saw Cavern Clay, all I saw was end of summer sun-burned skin . . . that fleshy peachy tone that really is flattering on very few people. It’s reminiscent of those memes of people wearing skin colored jeggings, not a good look. Possibly, it’s more of that southwestern, Tuscan feel, but I just can’t see through the almost orange, not quite there, shade. Sherwin Williams coins it as: “Forged by sun. Fired by desert . . . . Ancient, yet fully alive. Bohemian, yet totally refined.” A little Google search with the color found me in the land of clay bowls and salmon fillets, all tones that Google Image thought I would like from searching Cavern Clay.

I will admit that as we wind down the summer season, I am as basic as the next person awaiting all the fall colors. Autumn tones start to magically work their way into our palettes without us even realizing it. We start to work some of those burnt oranges and dusky red hues into our scarves and boots attire, wishing the season in with our wardrobe. I guess I could paint my whole house (or worse yet a client’s space) with this tone to really surround myself in the autumn glow, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. (more…)

Architecture, Interior Design /

Lighting: A Path to Health

Sleep is essential to health and just plain awesome. It regulates hormone cycles, recovers the muscles, and promotes rejuvenating and balancing effects on the digestive system, immune system, and nervous systems. Chances are you are not getting enough of it. This could be caused by many things, but one of the most overlooked factors affecting your quality and quantity of sleep is light.

Our bodies have evolved to tune into the rhythms of day and night. This biological rhythm, or internal clock, is called the circadian rhythm. It tells your body when to be awake and when to sleep. The primary control of the circadian system comes from an external source — light. We wake up to bright sunlight, are awake during daylight hours, calm down at dusk as light levels decrease and rest during darkness. You may have noticed how your mood can vary greatly from sunny to overcast days.  During fall/winter months, people often complain of seasonal affectedness, with symptoms similar to depression, due to the short duration of daylight. This is due to the diminished amount of light received at the eye during these times and can have negative effects on a person’s health.

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People /

Lawrence Group People

Each month we highlight a few of our employees by having them share everything from their personal motto to their favorite architect to what’s on their bucket list.

Andrew Billing
Associate
With Lawrence Group since 2007 

What do you like to do outside of work (favorite pastime)?
I really enjoy playing disc golf. It’s fun, gets your outdoors, inexpensive to play & no need to make tee times. If you ever want to play, or learn to play, let me know.

What is your personal motto?
Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional… let your inner kid have fun every once in a while. (more…)

Architecture, Projects /

The Fred Pirkle Engineering Technology Center: Honoring a Legacy

After two years of construction and anticipation, the Fred Pirkle Engineering Technology Center opened early last spring. The innovative learning center houses state-of-the-art classrooms, specialized labs, and faculty and staff offices for the Agricultural Sciences and Engineering Technology departments at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). Made possible by a generous donation by SHSU alumnus Fred Pirkle, the building is already enhancing learning for the programs’ 1,500+ students.

I chatted with Lawrence Group’s Earl Swisher, principal-in-charge of the project, to learn more about the design process and the creative influences that went into the new home of the Agricultural Sciences and Engineering Technology departments of SHSU.

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Architecture, General /

Podcasts: The Future of Storytelling

Essentially a modern version of talk radio, podcasts allow for true unaltered content on literally any topic — where anyone can make one and be their own Howard Stern or Ryan Seacrest.

Podcasts are fairly new to the media scene (becoming popular with in the last 10 to 15 years) but have taken off quickly becoming a big hit with the younger population and slowly swaying the older generations that grew up with traditional radio. Traditional radio still reigns supreme solely based on the number of people it reaches because it has been around for longer, but has limited options to the content it can put out on different topics.

Podcasting’s meteoric rise has been greatly attributed to the fact that they give a new and refreshing take on the way people in our current society process information or storytelling. So much of our information today is taken in through our eyes — watching movies on Netflix, videos on Snapchat and Instagram, or simply reading articles on our smart phones or laptops. Listening to another human’s voice discussing a topic that you want to hear about (like architecture) gives the appearance of direct conversation or connection that makes the listening process so much more enjoyable or intriguing. Industry giants are even seeing the writing on the wall that podcasts are becoming more popular and are here to stay. An article written by Chris Giliberti for Forbes in 2016 explained how roughly 21% of the U.S population or 57 million people listen to podcasts daily, and those numbers are growing. Companies like Spotify, Pandora and Apple have all invested heavily in their own podcast divisions as they can see the impact they generate or will in the future.

If you haven’t started listening to podcasts yet, you should try it. You can find them on the internet, or through Spotify and SoundCloud, or an App store. Here are some podcast recommendations that focus on architecture.

  1. 99% Invisible­- https://99percentinvisible.org/
  2. Archispeak- https://archispeakpodcast.com/
  3. DnA Design and Architecture- https://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/design-and-architecture
  4. The Urbanist- https://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-urbanist/
  5. Design Matters with Debbie Millman- https://soundcloud.com/designmatters

 

Written by Emilio Pinero.

About Emilio: Emilio is going into his senior year at Saint Louis University, finishing a Bachelor’s in Marketing and Business Analytics. He joined Lawrence Group this summer as a marketing intern and has enjoyed his time here. Emilio loves to play soccer, hang out with his friends, and watch movies. 

Inspiration, People /

Lawrence Group People

Each month we highlight a few of our employees by having them share everything from their personal motto to their favorite architect to what’s on their bucket list. This month, learn about our 2018 emerging professionals that are joining us for the summer.

Bryana Cozart

Interior Design

What’s on your bucket list?

The first on my list is to dance in a parade at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

What’s your favorite thing about Lawrence Group?

I love the atmosphere at the Lawrence Group. It’s a safe zone for learning.

Gen Daley

Interior Design

What’s on your bucket list?

To see all the National Parks.

What’s your favorite thing about Lawrence Group?

The People!

 

Gabrielle Nagel

Accounting

What do you like to do outside of work (favorite pastime)?

I love acting.

What’s your favorite thing about Lawrence Group?

The fact that people are so patient and willing to help guide me through things and teach me things.

 

Emilio Pinero

Marketing

What’s on your bucket list?

Travel to Africa and go on a safari trip.

What’s your favorite thing about Lawrence Group?

I love the environment, it’s very welcoming and everyone is here to help you succeed.

 

Joey Rocha

Architecture

What do not many people know about you?

I played Division 1 college baseball at the University of San Diego Toreros.

What’s your favorite thing about Lawrence Group?

The office location in the heart of Austin’s most rapidly growing neighborhood on the Eastside.

 

Nick Schurk

Architecture

What do not many people know about you?

I lived in Greece for a time, performed in a few plays, have sung opera, play harmonica, made it on the news.

What’s your favorite thing about Lawrence Group?

The versatility with which design is approached, and surprise, the work environment.

 

Shawn Waddell

Architecture

What do you like to do outside of work (favorite pastime)?

Writing poetry, cooking and weightlifting.

What’s your favorite thing about Lawrence Group?

It’s really the people I work with, everyone is supportive and wants to help you learn.

 

Steffen West

Architecture

What do you like to do outside of work (favorite pastime)?

Swim, run, and play soccer.

What’s your favorite thing about Lawrence Group?

The people.

Architecture, Inspiration, People, Projects /

Challenge Accepted at Habitat for Humanity

THE BEGINNING

Have you ever made an offer to someone thinking that they wouldn’t take it…then they do? That’s exactly what happened in the case of the new Habitat for Humanity Restore location. In this instance, I’m glad our team accepted the challenge and volunteered their time to create nothing short of a piece of art.

   

When Linda Loewenstein approached Lawrence Group to come up with signage schemes for the new Restore location, the scope was vaguely defined. They wanted something that differentiated their merchandise space from their office space and that was more than just vinyl graphics for wayfinding. They wanted something that would activate their space and give life to their new home. As a not-for-profit, cost was important, and it was anticipated that a lot of the time, labor and materials would be donated. Lastly, the timeline was aggressive — a little over a month from start to finish. All of these seemingly impossible factors helped shape the beautiful product and made for a great experience.

THE TEAM

The team started with Alex Duenwald and Galen Vassar. Rawan Abusaid and I were brought on soon after the first meetings. We came up with a few possible schemes, or kit of parts, that could be repeated throughout the space. Restore was instantly drawn to one in particular for the office lobby. After a few modifications, the concept was finalized and documented. By this point, we only had two weeks to acquire materials and build it. I consulted with Scott Zola, our director of construction services, to make sure we weren’t crazy by thinking we could build this in basically five lunch hours! The construction team was comprised of several people over the course of the week; Galen Vassar, Alex Duenwald, Rawan Abusaid, Andy McAllister, Melinda Starkey, Mary Sue Sutton, Dean Sutton, Julie Spengler, Olivia Welby, Jenny Brcic, Adam Brcic, Erin Hoffmann, Alicia Luthy, Sue Noce, John Smith, and Linda and John Loewenstein.

HAPPY ACCIDENTS : AN ANECDOTE

We designed and documented the bench and wall-piece around 2’x4’ units that were cut at 1”, 1.5” and 2”. However, when Linda sent me a progress update on how many pieces her husband had cut (500+), she mentioned she had him cutting 4×4’s. In a state of panic, I called her to see if John could halt that operation and cut 500+ 2’x4’s so that we wouldn’t have to alter the design and measurements. Much to their chagrin, they obliged. When they dropped the materials off, it was clear that the bare 4’x4’s had a lot more charm and character than bare 2’x4’s. The team took a vote and decided that using the 4’x4’ would not only look better, but we would have significantly fewer units to work with. This meant I had to call Linda back and beg for her to beg her husband to cut 500+ MORE 4’x4’s! This was a lesson of recognizing when to stick to the original design and when to entertain something new, even when it means altering a PERFECT set of drawings.

 

CONSTRUCTION : A CLICHE OR TWO

Pictures are worth 1,000 words…

   

    

    

With the change from a 2’x4’ unit to a 4’x4’ unit, many details had to be figured out during the construction process. It was extremely beneficial having a variety of volunteers on the team, each with different skillsets. One lesson we learned was that even if you have many people helping, it’s only efficient if you have enough of the right tools. The cliché “too many cooks in the kitchen” held true. My rebuttal, there can be infinite cooks in the kitchen if you have enough space and equipment. Here are some stats:

  • 500+ 4’x4’ blocks glued down
  • 130 linear feet of 2’x4’ used
  • 1 person cutting 1,000+ blocks = 8 hours
  • 67 total man hours of construction

All of the wood for the project was reclaimed from Habitat for Humanity build sites around town.

 

CONCLUSION

Not only were people excited and willing to give their time to create something beautiful, but the product truly transformed the space. Volunteering can be so much more than just giving up time if everybody involved can be excited about something tangible. I hope that other organizations and institutions see this project as a testament to the diligence of design, commitment to our community and willingness to give more than just time to any given project.

   

Check out this article in Town & Style’s June 6, 2018 issue.

 

Architecture /

Fake Architects / Real News

I came across a news article about a fake architect named Paul J. Newman who went to prison for posing as a licensed architect. Apparently he “had rendered fraudulent architectural services” for seven years in upstate New York and was charged with six felonies including grand larceny, forgery, unauthorized practice of a profession and fraud. He was not licensed as an architect in any state or jurisdiction and was practicing architecture in New York state using a fake New York stamp. He got caught because he started to do work in Florida and neglected to make a fake Florida stamp for himself. Someone reported him to the Florida state board, which informed the New York state board about the infraction, and when the New York board looked into disciplining him they discovered that he was a complete fraud.

Some people are unaware that it’s illegal to call yourself an “architect” unless you are licensed in one of the states or jurisdictions. In addition, if you’re licensed as an architect in one state, it’s illegal to perform architectural services in another state (or even offer to do so) without a license in that other state. Usually, violators of these laws are fined by the state board and/or are placed on probation or have their license suspended. Sometimes the offenders are truly unaware of the law, and sometimes they are aware but try to get away with it and only stop if they are caught. The case of Paul J. Newman is the first time I heard of someone going that far to fool people into thinking he was a real architect (and therefore going to prison for it).

Is licensing of architects really so important that someone pretending to be an architect should go to jail? They say that the purpose of licensing architects is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. People spend a lot of time indoors, i.e. inside buildings, and the fact is that buildings have the potential to kill or harm lots of people. You may have heard the news stories last year about the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in west London, UK. While the responsibility for the disaster is still to be determined, it demonstrates the importance of life safety and building codes.

You may wonder, if the purpose of licensing is to ensure that those who design buildings protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, then why do designs need to be reviewed by the building department? I think the reason is that we are all human and are vulnerable to making mistakes. The Grenfell Tower renovation project was designed by licensed architects and reviewed and approved by building officials, yet the consensus seems to be that the design was flawed and caused the death of 71 people. Building department review is a belts and suspenders approach to make sure buildings are safe. Although clearly some mistakes still slip through the cracks. We are only human, but I believe the risk of mistakes is decreased when the individuals providing architectural services are real licensed architects, who by definition have undergone the education, experience and examination required to call themselves “Architects”.

General, People /

Lawrence Group People

Each month we are highlighting three of our employees by having them share everything from their personal motto to their favorite architect to what’s on their bucket list. We are hoping this gives you a glimpse into the people of Lawrence Group.

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