Architecture

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

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.

 

 

 

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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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. 

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”.

Architecture, General /

Drones and Architecture: Becoming Certified to Fly

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or more commonly referred to as “drones,” are a somewhat new and emerging technology, especially in the field of architecture. As prices of this technology fall while its features and capabilities increase, we are starting to see the benefit of being able to utilize UAS’s in house. As with most emerging technology, the rules and regulations surrounding drones are relatively new, especially when you are dealing with something as controversial as a flying camera. Part of dealing with some of the red tape surrounding commercial drone use is gaining your Part 107 certification.

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Architecture, Interior Design /

Healthcare Looks to Provide Great Guest Experience Through Design

Hospitality environments continue to influence trends in architectural and interior design projects within the healthcare market. What was once designed with a sterile, institutional feel now includes visual elements to increase patient satisfaction and enhance the overall patient, visitor and staff experience. The challenge is no longer just to design a space where patients are treated, but to provide environments where patients can heal and recover with their family members by their side, and where staff can provide the optimum care-giver experience.

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Architecture /

If Our Walls Could Talk

Full-time working professionals spend much of their lives at the office, and it just so happens that our “work home” at Lawrence Group comes with a quite the history beyond its architectural framework.

Daniel Catlin, a wealthy tobacco magnate and largest holder of downtown business realty, bought the parcel at 319 N. 4th Street in the 1880s and formed a syndicate of important downtown figures to commission a grand office building for the site. They viewed their undertaking as a personal monument expressive of their wealth, status, taste and civic spirit. Named the Security Building, it was constructed in the 1890s by the design of renowned Architects Peabody, Stearns and Furber. It was one of 30 tall office buildings in St. Louis of late 19th Century design, of which few remain today. It survived massive urban renewal programs which removed almost all of the historic 4th Street financial district and remains one of the finest example of office interiors from that era.

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