Architecture, Inspiration, Projects /

Security Building Mural

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It has been nearly 15 years since Lawrence Group acquired the Security Building in downtown St. Louis and renovated it as our corporate headquarters. Being a native St. Louisan (and one to never turn down the opportunity to hear a good story), I’ve enjoyed learning about the role the Security Building played in St. Louis history. Some of the stories are verifiable, but some of the best ones are not:  Charles Lindbergh signed the financing deal for his historic transatlantic flight in the bar of the Noonday Club on the tenth floor (or did he?); the Security Building actually bests the Wainwright Building as being the first steel frame high rise in St. Louis (or are the dates on the Security Building construction drawings somehow misleading?).

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Architecture, Projects /

Sun Theater – Revisited – Part 1

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Anyone tired of hearing me talk about the Sun Theater Historical Restoration yet? Well tough. But I am going to highlight something that I have not highlighted before. The extensive plaster restoration that took place. This is the most eye popping and jaw dropping part of the restoration (at least that’s what I think!)

Well let’s start with my first visit to the space. Aside from some sunlight coming from a “skylight” (hole in the roof) it was pitch black in the theater. It was clear that the elements had their way for quite some time. We cautiously walked across the stage being careful not to fall through. As we walked into the theater we turned our flashlights on the space and only then did we really understand the magnitude of what we were attempting.

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General, Inspiration, Uncategorized /

Biking St. Louis

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I have been fortunate enough to live in several different US cities. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I spent a summer in Memphis over a decade ago, suffered through a couple winters in Chicago and then ventured to perpetually sunny Las Vegas to finish college. I spent two years enjoying Los Angeles, and since January I find myself nestled here in St. Louis. Throughout all of the change, however, one thing has remained constant – I love to cycle, and there is nothing that could get me off my bike. I bike for fun, for exercise, for transportation and for competition.

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General, Interior Design, Uncategorized /

Another Perspective on Millennials

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If you read any reports on Millennials in the workplace, you’ll probably see the phrase “entitled.” But, people often forget that Millennials were raised in a different time than Gen X or Y and went to school under a different style of learning than most of us.

Back in the early 2000s, a style of learning and teaching in primary schools was introduced called the Individual Education Program or IEP. This program was introduced to combat the issues that children with learning disabilities experienced in the standard classroom. The most basic definition of an IEP is a customized learning plan. It was the first type of pedagogy that worked to tailor the learning experience to the student’s individual learning style. (more…)

General, Uncategorized /

5 Habits for a More Sustainable Lunch at the Office

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With every new season come new adventures, new opportunities and new chances to make small changes to your everyday lifestyle. Reporting on behalf of the Green Team, an internal Lawrence Group committee dedicated to sustainability, this summer we’re exploring ways to incorporate sustainability into our everyday habits, starting with the office lunch hour. Inspired by incredibly dedicated, environmentally conscious Green Team members (and my pretty new lunch box!), here’s a list of sustainable habits to incorporate into your daily lunching routine:

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Architecture /

Designing Forgiveness

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Design perfection requires intentional forgiveness. I am going to let you in on little secret in our profession. We are not perfect!  Okay, well maybe that’s not a secret! We are a peculiar bunch of people with an O.C.D. like complex for perfection. If we had it our way: buildings would always be the right shape and size! Drawings would be the most perfectly clear, complete set of instructions, and contractors would ask ZERO questions, finishing with perfect execution. The end result would be a magnificently crafted building with perfectly plumb and straight walls, all gaps perfect, parallel and pointed.

But unfortunately, that won’t happen. It can’t happen, at least while humans are still involved in construction (remember we aren’t perfect). Here is how I propose we solve that problem so that things turn out “perfectly.” We design in forgiveness. Examples of this idea are evident in almost every product and every design solution. Materials are always imperfect, substrates bowed, corners not square, walls not plumb, and lines untrue. The idea is to accept these imperfections, even embrace them, and provide construction detailing with forgiveness in the design so that when constructed it looks perfectly intentional.

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Architecture /

Parking Beautifully

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Can parking garages be considered beautiful? Is there a way to design parking garages that positively impact the built environment of a city? Every day, I find myself walking past Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis, which is in the middle of construction as part of City Arch River. One garage in particular will be a main backdrop for the new design. With Kiener Plaza getting some much needed attention, it struck me that the parking garages surrounding the plaza are in need of some love as well. It doesn’t have to mean redesigning the whole garage, but instead potentially focusing on the façade and exploring different ways to liven up the design and the spaces it impacts.

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Interior Design /

Sitting is the New Smoking? Meetings Are the New Second-Hand Sitting

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I recently attended a WELL Building seminar and was reminded of the importance of this mantra in workplace design:  “Sitting is the new smoking.” It’s not exactly a new idea; you probably first heard it with the Steelcase introduction of the treadmill desk in 2008. The term actually originated from Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and the inventor of the treadmill desk. Although the treadmill desk may seem like a novel concept, the science behind it was quite ahead of its time.

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Architecture /

The Long and Winding Road to Licensure

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To become a licensed architect in the U.S, you usually have to meet at least three requirements:

  • Education: Graduate from an accredited architecture program.
  • Experience: Have about three years of relevant work experience.
  • Examination: Pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

Some states require a degree from a National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB) accredited program, while others allow “broad experience” as a substitute. Some require work experience to be documented via the Intern Development Program (IDP). Some states allow you to take the ARE only after graduating from an accredited architecture program, while others allow you to take the ARE only after completing IDP, and some require both.

I was living in Reno, Nevada when I landed my first job in 1990 with an architectural firm and started looking into the process. Nevada required a degree from an NAAB-accredited program, participation in IDP, and passing the ARE. Unfortunately, NAAB only provided accreditation to U.S. programs, and I went to college in the Philippines. Fortunately, you can have a foreign education evaluated by Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) to determine if it is equivalent to an NAAB accredited program.

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Inspiration, Interior Design /

Design Competition? I’m In!

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As designers, competition is a priority. You can say it’s our way of showing off and sharing our creativity with the rest of the world. It is absolutely fascinating seeing what the restrictions, challenges and guidelines of each competition lead us to create.

Once we get together, nothing can stop us from coming up with a unique idea that breaks “the rule.” I recently entered two design competition with several of my colleagues at Lawrence Group including; Dean Sutton, Jerod Thornton, Terry McCoy, Theresa Sahrmann, and Kevin Le.

The first competition was the 2015 eVolo Furniture Design Competition. Designers were given multiple categories to choose from. In each category teams were tasked to build a furniture piece that would transform the way we live and interact with our environment. As a team we chose “planes” as our category and used it to create “Pop-Up Adventure.” Pop-Up Adventure is a versatile space that transforms into a living room, dining room, or bedroom by simply folding out the furniture from the surrounding corresponding walls, floor and ceiling…similar to a children’s pop-Up book. Furniture is made of thin planes of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber has been selected for its high strength to- weight ratio.

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