Architecture, Inspiration, Projects /

Security Building Mural

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?).

(more…)

General, Interior Design /

Another Perspective on Millennials

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 /

5 Habits for a More Sustainable Lunch at the Office

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:

(more…)

Architecture /

Designing Forgiveness

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.

(more…)

Architecture /

Parking Beautifully

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.

(more…)

Interior Design /

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

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.

(more…)

Architecture /

The Long and Winding Road to Licensure

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.

(more…)

Inspiration, Interior Design /

Design Competition? I’m In!

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.

(more…)

Architecture, Projects /

A Whale Tale

No, this is not a story about “the one that got away” or a close encounter with humpback whales while aboard a zodiac raft in Kauai (which actually happened). It is a humble story about a reception desk.

Lawrence Group was engaged by Answers.com to design a new 29,000-square foot interior satellite corporate office space in New York City. The client envisioned a space that integrated interactive media with a progressive design. The energetic and vibrant location in the heart of Midtown suggested a signature presence.

The schematic design process commenced with an analysis of the city landscape and overlooking building views that were offered throughout the floor in coordination with the client’s space needs program. The floor was a blank canvas with the exception of the elevator and restroom cores present. As a result, we had the ability to define the elevator lobby and common area corridors thus controlling the circulation and experience to the new office entrances.

(more…)

Architecture, People /

No More Christmas Breaks

“Hey how’s your portfolio coming?” “That’s not your final portfolio is it?” “Where are you looking to work?” These were common questions circulating the 5th Year Studios after Christmas Break at Kansas State University this past January. Oh, how the time had flown! All we had to do before graduation and final presentations was finish portfolios, update LinkedIn profiles, and pester principals across the country to give us interviews and hopefully jobs.

Throughout my post-grad summer, I spent time hanging with family and friends, playing golf, and occasionally applying for jobs. I was certainly enjoying my time off, but towards the end of July I knew it was time to take my job search seriously. After many emails, calls and hoping for the right opportunity, I got offered a full-time position at Lawrence Group. Everything I’d worked so hard for was validated at that moment, and I knew I was in for a great start to my career. (more…)