People

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…)

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…)

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, 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.

(more…)

People, Projects /

3 Intangibles to Design-Build

The design-build delivery method can set the stage for a smoother running project. The designer and the constructor sit at the same table with the owner from the beginning, understanding requirements and minimizing lapses in communication. When done well, this single source method of contracting has several side benefits for the project team such as quicker speed to market, higher quality, better overall value and cost, less change orders and less claims.

Some owners, designers and contractors dive right into the design-build contract arrangement thinking it will solve any problem, but the legal contract alone is not enough. There are several intangibles that contribute to the repeated success of the often complex commercial construction projects. Below are just three:

Awareness: The first step in working better together is to make sure team members are aware of, understand, and respect the roles and goals of the stakeholders in a project. For example, the designer should provide a safe, functional, code compliant project that meets the owner’s needs in addition to a creative, unique design. The contractor is responsible to control safety, risk and schedule while maintaining quality to “get the job done”. Owners must sometimes go through the craziness of design and construction in order to make their operation better. All parties involved desire to build an ongoing relationship and be profitable.

Attitude: Success in the design-build arena requires a different attitude than the traditional design-bid-build method of construction delivery. Collaboration and cooperation are critical for the betterment of the project and the relationship of the project team. Everyone needs to be in the same boat rowing the same direction at the same time, and successful teams have a good row master to keep everyone focused. A little fun sprinkled in never hurts either!

Integrity: This is one of the most important intangibles for each independent team member, because without integrity all other metrics for a great project are out the window. From a contractor’s point of view, one example would be how the GC acts when presented with a problem at the job site. There is often a “right” way to fix something and a cheap way. A good moral compass will point the GC to think about the best interest of not only his short-term bottom dollar, but also the longevity of the solution, the other team members and the impact of the project. Every team member will have similar challenges.

Having grown up in commercial construction, I’ve enjoyed using this project delivery method for many years. Each project is unique, and having the right team with the experience and the intangibles can make a big difference in creating a win-win for all the stakeholders.

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.

(more…)

General, People /

Out and About in Q1

Hard to believe that April is almost here. After enjoying some time off for the holidays, we hit the ground running fast in January, and it’s been a bit of a blur since. But, in between all the deadlines, we managed to get out and about in the first quarter. Here’s a look at a few of those fun, extracurricular activities:

In January, Lawrence Group sponsored the 13th annual St. Louis Business Journal Women’s Conference, which attracted nearly 1,000 business leaders. Principal Becky Egan and I staffed our exhibit booth, while almost a dozen other LG architects, designers, managers and leaders were able to take advantage of the great speakers and networking opportunities at the conference. During the opening ceremonies, CFO Laura Conrad represented Lawrence Group on-stage with other sponsoring organizations.

Two LGers also took time out to speak at local events in January. CEO Steve Smith presented an education workshop for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) St. Louis on January 10th, and Micah Gray, our digital practice manager, spoke at the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) on the pros and cons of the use of drones and lasers for construction estimating.

In Austin, Principal Earl Swisher, Associate Director Julie Steffens and I enjoyed a beautiful night out at the Sam Houston State University Department of Agricultural Sciences “Honoring Traditions, Creating Futures” dinner.

February was career fair mania. Our architects and designers kicked it off at Iowa State and ended up at Kansas State meeting lots of curious students and sharing what it’s like to work at Lawrence Group. In February, Monica Conners and I also attended the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Leadership Summit in Tucson, Arizona. The summit was filled with lots of great networking and leadership training.

This month, Associate Director Sharon Henderson and Senior Associate Lisa Morrison presented “The Science of Workplace” at the International Facility Management Association (IFMA)’s Facility Fusion 2018 Conference and Expo in Chicago, Illinois. On the 15th, Steve Smith also spoke to attendees at the Building Owners and Managers (BOMA) St. Louis March luncheon about the City Foundry STL development.

So, what’s next? On April 4th, stop by our booth at the annual Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) St. Louis Prime Time Event: Diversity Outreach at the Sheet Metal Workers Hall. On April 10th, it’s the Chouteau Greenway Design Competition Community Kickoff Day at The Sheldon. On April 19th, our creative (and competitive) LGers will be watching their car in the annual construction industry’s Pinewood Derby at the MOTO Museum. Hope to see you out and about soon!