Pro (Save) Prentice!

Posted in opinion, other architects, projects, responsibility, sustainability by DS26 on 04.28.2011

In the recent weeks I came across the very controversial issue of the Prentice, a Goldberg-designed concrete structure, originally a women’s hospital in downtown Chicago.

I am a mid-century and concrete lover… all things cast-in-place, or raw exposed concrete, are my thing and I am with those in effort to save it.

Northwestern University, currently (and seemingly stubborn about it) are looking to demolish the place to build a new tower. A research facility. If you asked me that seems… counter-productive.

Demolition Costs + Expenditure in New Construction ≠ Gain

Plus, there is significant architectural value that is inherit of Prentice, and it adds to the significant architectural value of the city of Chicago.

As a (soon to be) builder – and aside from my design self (architecture licensing in progress) – what really hurts in this case is the disregard for the methods used in the creation of this project.

Why, you ask?… well, it is cost-prohibitive.

Meaning that the costs that are incurred in an all concrete structure or cast-in-place project, the labor costs, and its curvilinear form (which comes with formwork costs), all come together to insurmountable amounts in today’s market… not to mention the lack of craftsmanship that comes with today’s workforce.

Oh, and let me guess?

Northwestern wants a LEED certified building?… Am I right?…(yes! Probably.)

Have you not heard? :

The most sustainable building, is the building already built!!

I was reading and looking through the reuse plans that have been published, and all seem very adequate, achievable, and effective for their purpose. I especially liked the residential study (and can imagine that firm that actually came up with it – trying to add interior curvilinear value to Goldberg’s current curvilinear exterior shell).

But – and just throwing in my opinion here – a potentially more successful, and maybe a more easy model to sell, would be that of a hybrid project. An even more flexible one that those that have been presented.

I would have proposed a mixed housing + research facility, where Graduate and PhD students would want to move in to exploit this space as a live/work-share/work environment… that, as supposed to watching tv in the center of the structure.



ProBono Architecture…

Posted in responsibility by DS26 on 12.19.2010

We firmly believe that good architecture is a public right and not the wealthy’s priviledge.

With that said, we have made a commitment to regularly help 501c(3) and other community-based organizations develop their projects. We are a registered group under  the 1%.

So if you, or someone you know is looking for some help… and are a 501c(3) exempt organization (or pending) let us help you.

We have the combined experience of nearly 20 years in architecture and construction, most of which we have spent in completing public works.

Send us a note telling us more about your goals : Tabitha@DS26.com

Fees vs. Free

Posted in opinion, other architects, responsibility by DS26 on 07.23.2010

We, in the profession of architecture, have this tendency to ‘budge’ in terms of money.

I don’t know if you have heard this before but…

what horrible business people!!    :@

A couple of days ago the AIA (American Institute of Architects) was looking for the topic for the next #aiachat session.

( in case you have not been there… it is a moderated online event hosted by @AIANational, through Twitter.com, where professionals like @NextMoon, @Urbanverse, @ladyAIA, @mike_kohn and some maybe emerging like ourselves @DESIGNSTUDIO26 basically chime in on a topic… it happens every 1st Wednesday, at 2Pm ET )

This coming #aiachat I proposed be about Fees.

I guess, understandably, Fees are of legal concern in terms of being a topic for #aiachat… with that said, it is not of legal concern to us (until we begin to get paid for services)… so here it goes:

People, free work (unless it is to help a non-profit or effort) is NOT good for you or the profession.

There. Pheww. I said it.

This market we know is compelling to run, side by side, with the next guy, in a race to the “lowest bid” just to get the work. But, as you should know… specially if already in the profession… lowest bid?!… mmmhhh. Sketchy.

Just think of it the way you would if you were the Architect going through the bidding process with the Owner… and you run into the lowest bid. What is your first reaction? What is it, especially, if the lowest bid is so inconceivably far off from the second lowest? What if it is almost “impossible” (because the materials alone cost that..)?…

See it now?

As we approach ‘o’ in terms of our fees, we approach ‘o’ in terms of respect/consideration and of course ‘value’ (see definition below).

Monetary value and worth go hand in hand. They cannot be separated. That is the mindset we’ve created ourselves with the introduction of money into society (back in the day).

It is inevitable !

You cannot, CANNOT, work for free haphazardly and save any value.

It may seem the opposite for a minute… FREE? Great value!… Everyone loves FREE.

Surely, if it’s an ice cream or dessert on your birthday.

But, Let me paint the picture a different way :

If you were in legal trouble (besides remembering not to admit to anything without a lawyer present) … would you not pay the best lawyer you could find? the best you could afford?

Why would you then think for a second that, somehow what we do is different? Isn’t what we do about life safety? about the places that people inhabit and use everyday? about the work, health, livability, joy, play, use, learning (i could go on and on) of everyone?

Where in your mind does it fit that ‘the Owner’ would have any consideration or give you any value if you’re handing off your services for free?

Or, where in your mind does it fit that, furthermore, they would consider or value others in the profession?

Its tough, right now, I know… believe me.

But, rather than handing off your services, you must (find a way to) educate your clients that this is a ‘win-win’…

It is not that you work, and they gain. There is supposed to be gain-gain.

Same deal when I run into emerging professionals looking to work free.

People, the employer gains as well as you. Why would you do that to yourself?

After all that…

we are not going to tell you what the fees should be. That’s for you to decide… but we will tell you this:

‘o’ is a cheap way to cheat yourselves from what you deserve.

(and by the way… ‘cheap way’ for the owner… very costly for you my friend!)

If you’re work is that poor, invaluable… that is worth ‘o’ to you

(we assume because that is what you will charge…)

it definitely is worth ‘o’ to everyone else out there…

and ultimately adds ‘o’ to architecture as a whole.


the definition  of value :

Main Entry: 1val·ue
Pronunciation: \ˈval-(ˌ)yü\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, worth, high quality, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *valuta, from feminine of *valutus, past participle of Latin valēre to be of worth, be strong — more at wield
Date: 14th century

1 : a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged

2 : the monetary worth of something

3 : relative worth, utility, or importance <a good value at the price>

4 : a numerical quantity that is assigned or is determined by calculation or measurement . . .

7 : something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically valuable or desirable

{ from Merryam-Webster online }


what IF the earth did stand still ?..

Posted in opinion, responsibility, sustainability by DS26 on 06.04.2010

we watched a movie last night.. “The Day the Earth Stood Still” ( i love Keanu )

Now, I would even love him more if I knew that his intentions of participating in the movie were far more than those of just another leading role. Will I ever know ? Keanu, did (do) you care ?


We knew some of the plot based on the previews… and since we are movie buffs (watch too many to count).

A couple of things that stood out : first the idea that someone, other than humanity, would come save the earth from ourselves, and the advanced (conceptualized for the movie) materials.

Sure we need it ! … that is : someone to save the earth from us…

Have you seen the Oil Spill .. & the damage we’ve done ?

Don’t know about you but, I wish someone would come and save us.

Unfortunately (or should i say tragically) the ones of us that care.. not a little, but truly do care, are not nearly the slightest of enough, empowered, or able, to save our planet. It is a truth we must admit.

We (not just BP) are killing our planet.

Right now BP is the target since they are the ones in the public’s eye, and no.. I’m not making excuses at all… but,

What about technology ?

We were in discussion yesterday the we dispose of so many parts & materials that are inert, that cannot be re-used or recycled… we just, throw them out.

Began because Bobby’s computer totally went out. Three years of life, and out. It is a crime when we cannot do anything now with what’s left.

It may simply, as all others, end up here :

Another example is the iPhone (& i’m sure its not the only one) but, when I asked about replacing the battery for the original one I purchased (remember the metal one)… I was told by a ‘genius’ that I needed to simply buy a new one. No battery to be inserted.

I did, as everyone else in the planet does, get a new one. Now the old sits around, and I dwell plenty on what the heck to do with it.

Do you still doubt that we are far from the land of “WALL-E” ?


( I do hope Pixar is working on developing the real thing… )


On the Advanced materials mentioned…

How wonderful !

Wouldn’t it just be great to have a protective self-healing skin/body wrap? … maybe it would have saved some of our victim friends from the Spill.

What about a bio-material as powerful and organic as the one on the big BIG guy that is protecting Keanu ?

If you refer to my  ” Let’s talk CONCRETE(ly).. “ post you will see that, there are individuals all around the world working on such technologies. We’re looking to be those people.

In the case of those individuals, and of us, it’s for architecture/construction… but how about just all material ?

What if we could not dispense of technology parts, or iPhones, or anything for that matter ?! .. what if we could co-exist in-sync with our planet & its resources, and that all be bio-degradable, re-generating, self-healing, self-protecting… etc…

That’s the world I want to live in!… Will it be your world ?


What IF the earth did stand still ?..  and to give us a warning :

Change and move on… Or you’re moving Out !

( ohh wait a minute… what was that?… was that another earthquake? )