General /

‘Tis the Season for Gratitude

Early this month, Monica Conners, senior director of client development, and Marian Rein, marketing manager, gave a presentation to employees about gratitude. It was a great reminder about the benefits of gratitude, not only to the receiver but also to the giver. Monica and Marian shared tips from Toni Powell, author of Happiness and its Causes, who stated, “When gratitude is practiced in the workplace, relationships are transformed, complaint is minimized and satisfaction levels skyrocket.” They also recommended checking out these two Ted Talks:

Gratitude Sticks: Why Small Acts of Kindness Matter by Kaitlin Garrity

Want to be happy? Be grateful by David Steindl-Rast

After discussing the Ted Talks, we talked about some of the ways we’ve received gratitude like handwritten notes, thoughtful gifts, heartfelt acknowledgements – the more personal, the more meaningful.

I also like these “6 Easy Ways to Show Gratitude Every Day” from themuse.com summarized below:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal
  2. Verbally thank someone
  3. Clean up after yourself
  4. Don’t complain for a day
  5. Write a thank you card
  6. Volunteer in your community

So, what is a gratitude journal? Pretty much what it sounds like – taking the time to write down what you are grateful for, thereby bringing more awareness to the good things in life, large and small. (Of course, you can Google templates to download and create your own journal!) I’m not sure if I have room in my day for journaling, but incorporating a few minutes to name some things I’m grateful for seems doable.

Is there a special way you practice showing gratitude this holiday season?

Architecture, Inspiration /

Quality + Quantity: Infinite Innovation

Without a progression of ideas, materials, and methods in the architecture community, the palette we have to work with becomes stagnant. That is why “innovation” is a word that frequently comes to mind when considering design solutions. We seek out innovative ideas, not just because they are new, but because they stand on the shoulders of giants, meticulously improving upon the past. High-pressure compact laminate panels are not just a high quality exterior cladding, but a tool that leads in innovative design.

Innovation in Science
The science behind the production of high-pressure compact laminate panels is relatively complex, which is reflected in the quality of the end product. There are two main processes the panels go through. 

Compression: Each panel, or high-pressure compact laminate, is made with a mixture of 70% wood fibers, along with resins, which, when compressed at high pressures and temperatures, creates a very dense molecular foundation, making them extremely durable and impact resistant, the perfect material for high traffic areas. The dense nature of the panels also provides extreme resistance to weathering, meaning temperature, UV radiation, humidity and rain are unable to significantly affect the panels’ structure, or color over time. These panels are completely non-porous as well, a very practical feature, meaning that they are very resistant to dirt accumulation, making cleaning the panels as simple as washing them with water.

Electron Beam Curing: Electron Beam Curing (EBC) is a technology which is the secret behind these panels’ ability to sustain color over time, as well as scratch resistance. In this process, a specific color is applied to a single sheet of wood fibers, which is then put into the EBC machine, bombarding the sheet with electrons at a high velocity. This causes the sheet to harden immensely, making it scratch resistant, as well as color fade resistant. This treated sheet is then adhered to the high pressure compact laminate boards, creating a panel.

Innovation in Design
Durability in a material is highly sought after, but design options are equally important. Trespa International B.V. is a producer of compact laminate panels that understands this tenfold, with a spectacular array of colors, textures, sizes and shapes in their inventory. While they have a plethora of options for exterior panels, siding, and interior applications, two of their products stand out above the rest. 

Trespa Meteon: The landmark feature of the Trespa Meteon Panel is its range of use. With over a 100 options in color, texture, and pattern, these panels can be used in any type of project, leading to very diverse results. Whether you want a solid colored panel, a natural finish, or the perfect wood décor pattern, Trespa has you covered. While you can create a stunning façade using solely Trespa Panels, such as the Microsoft Building in Santiago, Chile, or the Home and Office building in Luxembourg, some of the most exciting results occur when using a mixture of Trespa panels along with more traditional materials. A great example of this would be the SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital Addition, done by Lawrence Group. Using the Trespa panels as a sort of accent, the upper building is adorned with glass and Trespa, and sits atop the original construction using a more standard brick face. The end result is a beautiful combination of materials that are reinforced with the Trespa Panels’ flowing pattern.

Trespa Meteon Lumen: Adding the element of light as a design tool, Trespa’s Meteon Lumen series of panels is a unique addition to their collection. The Lumen panels come in three different finishes and a multitude of colors, and give the designer the ability to reflect and redirect light to give depth to a flat surface. One successful case study would be the Asport building in Ingeldorf, Luxembourg. Using different shades and finishes of gray, along with highly angular shapes, this building successfully manages to elicit the impression of depth on the flat surface.

An architect should never settle for less, and these types of panels make it so you don’t have to. Featuring quality and quantity, with hundreds of design options and world renowned technology, you will never have to hesitate again when searching for an exterior cladding system. The panels give designers an innovative tool, the rest is up to us.

 

*All information and photos were gathered from the Trespa website

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.

Jon Mueller
Helpdesk Specialist
With Lawrence Group since 2018

What do you like to do outside of work?
I read fiction books such as Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.

What do not many people know about you?
I have read the entire Lord of the Rings’ series four times! (more…)

Architecture, Inspiration, Interior Design, People, Projects /

Movement in Design: 6 Ways to Encourage Movement in Our Designs

In a previous blog post, Lisa Morrison, Lawrence Group workplace designer, shared her experiences with a radical idea dubbed “the standing meeting.” After struggling to find a place for a “normal” sit down meeting due to conference room demand, her team decided to move counter-culturally and stand for the meeting. They had a quicker, more productive meeting and enjoyed the change.

This idea of incorporating movement into design is not so new. People have begun to realize that we sit a lot, and that it might not be so good for your health. If you think about it, we do spend a lot of time seated. As an office worker, your typical day probably looks something like this: You commute to work, seated. You sit at your desk, seated. You go to lunch and sit. Back to your desk, sit, attend a meeting, sit, drive home, sit. And, if you just feel worn out after a long day, relax and watch some Netflix, while you sit.

Sitting really isn’t the problem though. The extended periods of sitting, creating a lack of movement in your day, is the real problem. One of my favorite coaches, Dr. Kelly Starrett, mobility expert and personal trainer, says that the best position to be in is the next position. Basically, we should always be in motion. Our bodies were made for it. Here are some ways that we as designers can encourage more movement and activity with our designs.

1. Encourage an alternative commute. Now, we really can’t change your commute, but we can encourage people to do something different. First, consider the location of your building. Locating near a public transit route and within a walkable neighborhood can make alternative commutes such as walking or biking more achievable. By providing facilities for bicycle parking, showers, lockers, etc., in a workplace there are limited barriers to riding your bike to and from work. This could mean a bike parking area to lock up your bike outside, or even better, inside to protect them from the elements. More than half of Americans, 55%, say they would like to walk/ride rather than drive more throughout the day either for exercise or to get to specific places. (http://brspoll.com/uploads/files/walkingrelease.pdf)

2. Showcase the stair not the elevator. When designing, we often consider the stair for code purposes only, tucked in the back corner and used only in emergencies. The elevator is the main means of transportation between floors. In buildings of two to four floors, occupants will often feel more compelled to take the stairs knowing that the task is not overly daunting and would be faster than waiting for the elevator. Not true for skyscrapers.

  • LEED v4 Pilot Credit 78 Design for Active Occupants gives credits for design considerations that encourage users to take the stairs.
  1. Providing at least 50% of tenant floors access to a “primary stair”
  2. Locating the stair within proximity to the lobby edge
  3. Making the stair visible before the elevator
  4. Providing generous width to this stair over the code minimums
  • Highlight Circulation Paths: Making circulation paths more stimulating visually/aesthetically helps to encourage movement throughout the day. Adding visual stimulation such as artwork, views, and amenities along the circulation paths makes movement more enjoyable by allowing the mind to wonder instead of focusing on the end destination.

3. Provide Workstation Options –If you’re like me, sitting all day is tough to do. I need to move. I get up and walk around, do some stretches, then return to my seat. I would love the option to work standing up or sitting down. When choosing furniture, consider a blend of heights. Standing or variable height workstations facilitate standing meetings, conversations, etc.

4. Outdoor Walking Amenities/Site Destinations – Adding an outdoor amenity or destination helps in welcoming visitors and encourages passing through or to these items. This could be a water feature, a plaza, a garden, outdoor walking path, or just as simple as a bench or cluster of table and chairs. A walking path trail is a nice addition to any outdoor space.

5. Incentivize – Engaged/healthy employees often participate in extracurricular activities focused around fitness. Consider supplementing the cost of programs like gym memberships to show as an owner/employer that you are devoted to their health and well-being.

6. Provide a Dedicated Activity Space – Sometimes people can’t make it to the gym and would prefer to participate in activities with their coworkers. Providing a dedicated space for recreational activities and fitness facilitates movement in the design. WELL design also gives credit for dedicating such a space for exercise over 200 square feet.

 

 

 

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.