Monday, March 28, 2011
This was one of those perfect-weather days that we all cherrish! So perfect, in fact, that it inspires you and elevates your spirit as much as any religion can. It also got me thinking about just how essential a clean, safe, healthy environment is for the sustenance of ALL LIFE!
Exxon Valdez, Chernobyl, Times Beach, The Gulf Oil Spill, Fukushima Power Plant, pollution, garbage "islands" floating in the world's seas, overfishing, the voracious demand for energy, food and water......HUMANS, not anything else, but HUMANS are literally destroying planet Earth. This is not an opinion, it's a fact. So, we have to ask ourselves, if we maintain status quo, how in the world can this tiny planet with LIMITED RESOURCES possibly continue to support this unconscionable behavior along with population growth that will only require MORE food, MORE water, MORE energy???
For the survival of ALL species, we MUST, MUST conserve energy and resources while implementing alternative energy sources. We must stop SUPER-SIZING everything -- waste less food, water and natural resources. We MUST recycle more and throw less in landfills.
If we don't change our destructive behavior RIGHT NOW, there won't be many days like this left. ALL life DESERVES a clean, safe, healthy environment in which to live peacefully. ALL life around the world deserves to enjoy many perfectly beautiful days!
Friday, March 25, 2011
There have been many movements, or styles, in architecture throughout history, from Classical and Baroque to the Prairie Style, Modernism and Deconstructivism, etc. Today’s new buildings continue this evolution in the perpetual search of expressing our time. The one constant through all this change that will always be the basic purpose of architecture is shelter! Shelter has, throughout time, been especially concerned with the overhead, expressed by visible roofs with names like gable, hip, shed and dome, etc. Because these roofs were visible, a variety of materials and colors were used to celebrate this function of shelter.
However, with the Industrial Revolution and the turn of the century, the visible roof began to disappear and give way to the “flat” plane (which still, by the way, has some slope). This “flat” roof plane sometimes still had an eave, but with the International Style and “machine-age” becoming more popular, the visible roof vanished and metamorphosized into parapets and flatter, abstract forms & surfaces. This challenged the notion of what shelter could be while breaking free from traditional forms, which coincides with what was happening in the art world regarding challenging traditional subject matter in favor of a new expression of a brave new world (which I think is utterly essential!). But, this all has raised a question within me – what has “removing” the roof done to much of the architecture today??
Many of today’s more publicized buildings appear to me as “machines”, devoid of the sense of human scale and shelter that generous roofs can help provide. Roofs protect us from the elements (which tend to come from above) as well as protect the exterior building “skin”, which can help reduce maintenance. With flatter surfaces and more box-like forms, today’s buildings do not invoke the same feeling of comfort that can come from a good “hat” to keep the sun and rain off.
Most of the “cutting-edge” structures in the magazines today also seem to depend heavily on new technology for everything from heating & air conditioning requirements (which a good roof with appropriate overhangs could minimize), to electrical and security systems, as well as for the exterior materials. Again, while I encourage R&D for a better future, there is a tendency for the mere celebratory expression of technical prowess, resulting in buildings appearing thin, fragile, temporary objects, separate from nature and the very people for which they were designed.
So, what about the roof? I think it’s important we don’t lose sight of what a good roof represents in architecture for our fellow human family – shelter, protection and comfort. Nature’s elements should and will always play the leading role in how we build in harmonious connection with them (especially with today’s climate issues), regardless of how “advanced” technology may seduce us into a false sense of detachment from an ever-changing environment. What do you think?.....
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I recently returned from a presentation by a countertop manufacturer for continuing education credit. He discussed how solid surfaces can now look like marble or granite for much cheaper prices. He spoke about benefits of seamless transitions, easier repairs and installation, etc. Someone even asked if this solid surface material could be made to resemble wood. He said the technology was coming.
This got me thinking.......is artificiality OK in architecture or our world in general for that matter? We now have artificial turf and plants, vinyl siding resembling wood clapboard, concrete roof tiles resembling wood shake, vinyl flooring resembling wood plank, plastic laminates resembling about any material you want, etc., etc. We have new buildings that look old and older people that look younger. Brunettes are blond and grey hair is never to be seen. By the way, most of what we eat and drink is artificial. It raises the question if this should be acceptable? Doesn't it just FEEL like somehow or other this is going to come back and bite us?
Of course there are pros and cons to everything. The artificial products briefly mentioned above do have some big positives -- lower financial cost and maintenance, less depletion of certain resources, greater durability and lifespan, etc. But what will be the catch? There is ALWAYS a catch! Could we be poisoning our bodies and increasing certain disease risks with artificial foods or from product off-gassing? Are we building a world where PERCEPTION of truth is replacing truth? What would be wrong with a world where very little is as it seems? It feels like a philisophical question -- one that I've not heard posed, until now. I haven't formulated my own definitive opinion yet, other than it just FEELS like we are headed in a dangerous direction.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
"The good life is planned like a good game of golf -- never perfect but able to recover" is a quote of mine that I live by daily. Whether it's space planning, financial planning, vacation or retirement, all of us need to plan for the future. Planning means preparing for what we WANT to happen, or what we think we can control. However, just as important, it means preparing for the unpredictable, or what we don't think we can control. It's comparable to insurance, I suppose. I've heard many people say that life is too unpredictable to plan, that "things just happen". This implies a philosophy that we are all on some roller coaster ride we didn't choose and that we are at the mercy of only one set of tracks as a mere passenger -- such is our lot in life!
However, if we CHOOSE to THINK differently, to change our perspective from passenger to driver, then PLANNING becomes a powerful tool for not only accomplishing goals, but VISUALIZING constructive options and opportunities for a better life -- our own set of tracks! Life may have some unpredictability, but planning is still the key to achieving goals and being better prepared for the unexpected. I've read that Arnold Schwarzenegger has had a "Master Plan' for his whole life and that he has achieved almost everything on it thus far.
So, despite some detours en route, keep moving forward according to plan. Just as with Master Planning large developments, we need to "see" the big picture, the end goal so that we can initiate the first smaller steps toward ultimate accomplishment!
Monday, March 21, 2011
After photographing this recently-completed office and talking with the Client (Phoenix Foot & Ankle Associates, PC), it came to be realized that the design has been good for the staff (they LOVE their new space) as well as the patients (they are more relaxed). This was achieved due to a close working relationship with the Client in terms of understanding the program, budget, image, project goals and requirements.
Color, texture, pattern and a variety of different lighting types helped create visual interest and a comfortable ambience that isn't usually found in most medical offices. In working with Leighann Jacobi of Jacobi Interiors, the "clinical" feel most medical offices have was completely done away with. Instead, it feels more like a home, which I know is a very cliche' comment, but the doctor agreed that this feeling was better for patients and staff. I think more medical outpatient facilities would benefit from this kind of design approach. As you can see in the photos below, we employed the following design strategies to create a truly unique space:
1. Variety of color, pattern, texture and lighting.
2. A planter and water wall in the Waiting Room bring in nature and create a soothing spa-like space.
3. Glass walls at the hallway offices bring in natural light.
4. Stretched fabric ceiling "clouds" soften the otherwise exposed roof structure.
Because of all the medical and dental office work we do, we are inspired by the trust the Client had in us to think outside the typical medical box and design a space that's win-win for both patient and doctor. We look forward to spreading much more of this design philosophy across the industry.