Inspiration

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

General, Inspiration /

Reflecting on Music & Creativity

When stripped down, music isn’t so different from design—silence the blank canvas, the instrument, the chosen design utensil, and as with any creative endeavor, always the mind behind it all, reeling with possibilities.

At their best, both carry a certain universality. A relatable song, a familiar space—both lend a greater sense of connectedness to those around us. The ideal composition, like a well-executed design, feels so natural to the consumer that it becomes difficult to actively notice what’s so pleasing about it. I guess it’s sort of paradoxical in that sense—each element meticulously crafted, yet somehow culminating to produce something that appears effortless in its composition. The intuition and skill required to achieve such an effect continues to routinely astound me, and I often find myself pondering the nature of inspiration, searching for the foundation of what it takes to create something new. I suppose there’s not really an objective truth to it, but for me, it always goes back to music.

Though it’s fairly common to search for inspirational content somewhere within your own medium, music has this bizarre, near-transcendent quality to it that seems to improve one’s output across all mediums. There’s a particular type of music to enhance every activity—“Eye of the Tiger” for your daily workout, some instrumental stuff if you’re attempting to focus, and, most importantly, that one Springsteen song you belt out on every road trip. Point is, music can often serve as an integral counterpart to existence. I find it has this endless ability to complement and enhance day-to-day life, and perhaps when it comes to our creative endeavors, we sometimes take it for granted. When performing any creative activity, our carefully selected assortment of tunes provides some loose form of escapism. While plugged into Nina Simone’s greatest hits, it becomes easier to attain an effective, lasting creative rhythm. Suddenly, you can’t hear the sound of the radiator turning on and off in its habitually tedious 15-minute cycles, nor the shrill beeps and ominous cranks of the elevator as it travels up and down. Lost within the illusion of your own personally catered universe, I suspect a creative endeavor may begin. Pretty neat.

 

Inspiration /

ReDesign to Make it Better

Perennial is a local St. Louis non-profit organization doing some great things. Their mission is to build a creative culture of sustainability by transforming discarded items into valued and cherished resources. Through their mission, they aim to teach people to creatively reuse objects in order to divert waste from landfills, foster thoughtful consumerism and generate revenue to support the underserved. Under this mission Perennial challenged the community of designers, crafters, and local architects to participate in their “ReDesign” Challenge. This annual challenge coincides with their annual “Lost + F(o)und” fundraiser to auction off the completed pieces.

Lawrence Group was up to the challenge. We put together two teams, got our “Lost” objects, and set off to “Find” something great hidden in them. Each team conceptualized, analyzed the materials, and came up with a plan. One of the most fun parts of this challenge was getting to know and collaborate with people from all different areas of the organization that we do not get to work with regularly and put something together with everyone’s unique skills. The objective is to only use the materials that come with the table and put the new item together using only fasteners and tools already owned. (more…)

Inspiration, People /

Inspire Your Imagination: Dreams Do Come True

One of my favorite quotes that is always in the back of my head when setting a personal goal is “If you can dream it, you can do it.”- Walt Disney.

Having my own photography show was a long lost dream of mine that always got postponed due to everyday struggles. After a very rough year, I decided to share my perspective on inspiration through photography. I started by gathering photos I took since I started my path in photography. After that, I went on a hunt for the right space! I started brainstorming spaces that could bring the design industry together for a fun night full of art and networking and that is when CI Select came to mind. (more…)

Inspiration, Interior Design /

Into the Deep Blue Hue: Deciphering the Sherwin Williams Color of the Year 2018

Ask people what their favorite color is and a clear majority of men and women will answer: “blue!” Maybe not that enthusiastically, but we designers generally get excited about color. Each year, top paint manufacturers issue their color of the year, and I always find it interesting to see what they think we should be buzzing about in the next year. It’s no Pantone Color of the Year, but when Sherwin William introduces its Color of the Year, we run the proverbial color up the design flag pole and dissect it for a hot minute.

(more…)

General, Inspiration /

Rise in the City: A Unique Blend of Creativity and Altruism

rise in the city is a unique art event created to catalyze social enterprises in Africa, featuring an artwork competition, exhibition and auction. The concept began with splitting Manhattan into 100 virtual blocks; leading artists, designers and architects were then invited to create a work of art representing a block of the city. The challenge was to get inspired by Lesotho. One could reference the white, blue and green colors of its national flag, incorporate the traditional blankets or famous Basotho hat, or even re-interpret the traditional Litema patterns that adorn Lesotho’s vernacular buildings. All proceeds from the event go towards the construction of an accommodation block for an orphanage in Lesotho. Additionally, proceeds will fund entrepreneurship training for orphanage staff to promote the development of income-generating activities and reduce aid dependency.

(more…)