DS26

3 #GC thoughts for better #Architecture

Posted in Architecture, Business of Architecture by DS26 on 04.30.2011

It is 4:29 am, and I could not stop thinking (since yesterday) about writing this post.

There are very obvious differences between the two minds that must come together, as seamlessly as possible, to make a building happen efficiently.

The Architect (the ‘creative mind’) could learn a thing or two from the Contractor (the ‘practical mind’), and vice-versa (though that post is for another day), ultimately to run a more effective practice (or project) :

1. Think Money, not Time.

Architects seem to have a single daily resource focus : time.  Contractors, in the other hand, focus every day on at least two separate though equally important resources : time & money.

There is nothing wrong with thinking of time, except we all tend to forget that “time is money”

Architects tend to function trying to beat a clock, their deadlines, continuously inflating their work within that time…  therefore minimizing significantly their yet-to-be-received or reserve money resource.  Contractors, unlike Architects, are keenly and constantly aware of their yet-to-be-received or reserve money resource, and continuously make stride to minimize their use of the time resource, which in turn inflates their money resource (and not their work).

So, think more like a Contractor, and run your practice (or project) with both resources in mind, or even better…  think Money, not Time.  You might find yourself probably being more efficient, and potentially pocketing some of that cash or buying that new printer you always wanted.

2. Think Building, not Design.

The design phase…  to some a very abstract idea.  And, what is design?

Architects all know it is the process of conceptualizing and developing better spaces, to be included in the project.  At times this is a difficult pill to swallow for people.  They cannot grasp why this may be a valid (or valuable) process.

Architects should think of their work more as Contractors think “Pre-Construction”…  what I mean by that is stop thinking about the “conceptualizing of a better environment” and start thinking of the tools for a better building.

Thinking of the end product will help you regain control of the value of your own work, and the profession.  Of course, design should always be inclusive…  but that is a given for any good architect.
Still, remember to  Think Building, not Design.

3. Think Owner, not Building.

The last and crucial piece.

Architects focus so much on the design (not even the building – see #2), that they may loose grip of the client and reasons why there is a project in the first place.  It may not seem so as you read this but think back…  Most Architects, as you may have once or twice, see Owner meetings as tedious work and designing as the fun work.

What if Architects could shift their train of thought :  Owner meetings are fun, and designing is just the project’s requirement?

By doing this, Architects could better hold on to the “Business” that is Architecture, like Contractors have held on to the business of building.  Regain the ability to deliver a tangible valuable asset to the Owner, while being  profitable, effective and efficient through this delivery process…  Think Owner, not Building.

~

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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.

~

the Target effect…

Posted in opinion, stuff by DS26 on 01.16.2011

Architects should look closely at a certain retail giant, and take note.


If you’re now finding yourself thinking

“what the hell is she talking about?… i’m an architect for god’s sake…”

… hence my point… & I’m going to walk you through this:

> The other day, browsing the tv (which is mostly crap by the way… don’t know what they’re thinking…), we ran into a documentary about Target. Everything about its inception, founders, business strategy, today and where they’re going.

We were quite surprised at how old Target is. Not originally named such, Target’s inception came to be from Dayton Dry Goods, a company founded in 1902 in Minneapolis. A family of entrepreneurs that constantly held their post dominating retail, though slowly and inconspicuously through “affordable” stuff (the downstairs store)

For years they continued to try, and try hard, to succeed with all of the best, newest, one of a kind stuff, when deep down their “downstairs” was what was soaring (they did not realize then…)

It took about 50 years, and a couple of generations involved, to realize that it was about quality, but about affordable quality, for the masses.

So… today Target is a place that, regardless of who you are, lower to middle class, professionals, the snobby and rich… even the elite above and beyond, you love the place because it is “affordable” (not cheap) quality and aesthetic stuff. Target, like other corporations we know, is almost cult-like in terms of its customers.

We, the profession of architecture (architects), have gone in the complete opposite direction of what makes sense. The opposite direction that those designers have taken, like Isaac Mizrahi, or the beautiful products by such as Liberty of London… and now William Rast (by Justin Timberlake) or my personal favorite Mossimo (because they have the best fitting jeans and tees I’ve ever encountered… and I’ve even bought $100 jeans before).

[ Remember… Michael Graves?… tea pot now a Collector’s item ]

Why can’t we take note, and realize that we are not above and beyond others… we serve others. Like retailers do. Like the hospitality industry does. The public.

Sure, we train and become highly specialized… but we’re still ones that must sell “our business” to the public. Really! Don’t you see it?

I know you would like to say “we don’t sell a product… we sell a service…” but blah blah blah! to that. We sell a product. You cannot deny that, even though not in existence, your design is a product… the product that is your client’s eventual built environment.

Have you ever stopped to think about why Contractors do better? Get respected more? Or make more money?… Even after not receiving or enduring as much education or training (not even close) as we do? You know, they could also make the same BS statement that “they provide the service of building construction”… but they don’t. They sell their clients a product. The building.

In the same way you should be selling your client a product. The building.

If you disagree, then look around you. Why are we in such depths of disarray in this market? No one has to be. No one should be.

Did you know Target recently opened their first store in the island of Manhattan?… Do you have a project in Manhattan?… Looks to me like Target’s got you beat (bahaha… bad joke)

But honestly… re-think your practice, re-think your strategy, and I would strongly recommend you put into perspective exactly what it is (& how it is) that you’re doing  it all. Put into practice “the Target effect”.

AND… if this at all sounds interesting to you… got get yourself some additional free business skills from Barnes & Noble, for the small price (or big depending how you look at it) of a stbx cup of coffee.

growing up to be #BIG… ?

Posted in projects, sustainability by DS26 on 01.06.2011

As we quickly approach yet again another graduation, a license and legitimate practice, and the place in adulthood of no return (and no excuses)… we continue to strive to understand what it is DS26 will be.

We spend a lot of time looking at firms that we greatly admire, BIG among others.

Bjarke Ingels, a 36 year old Danish guy with fantastic architectural vision and mad skills to retain private developers as perpetual clients, has lead BIG (the Bjarke Ingels Group) to become one ‘universal’ practice. He’s being recognized for his radical aesthetics yet he insistently retains sustainability as a core value in the work… creating many instances of daylighting, endless paths for pedestrians, and must-have routes for bicyclists. BIG recently opened shop in NY.

One should have great admiration for such projects accomplished as the mountain and the 8 house.

We always joke saying “we want to be like BIG when we grow up”… but is it really this BIG?

~

Spontaneously the both of us continue to feel there has to be more to life than simply a design-service pratice… and more to life than design for money. That sustainability does matter a great deal. And that there must be a way we can actually have a BIG-ger impact.

We (definitely I) don’t want to deal with the everyday headaches I’ve already experienced… client-based practice, billing, contract issues… and in this market? We (definitely Bobby) would much rather experience design in its pure form, unapologetic, unbound by the mundane. See design actually change lives… that it becomes appreciated… enjoyed.

I, particularly, think education is a great part of my calling. I want to educate through Arts+Sciences. I mentioned in my “death” the High Tech Center.

So maybe we should be looking at other big ones, with a different type of architecture and maybe a bit more impact, like Samuel Mockbee

Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee (12/23/1944 – 12/30/2001) dedicated his life, as a teacher and as an architect, to creating architecture that not only elevated the living standards of the rural poor but also provided “shelter for the soul.”

He, with his Rural Studio at Auburn, managed to lift many spirits in the rural south. His architecture was BIG in other ways.


Also Michael Reynolds (aka Garbage Warrior), who in his own quirky way is slowly building what he calls ‘biotecture’.

Reynolds’ work is so radical, even the AIA banned him from his credentials at one point.


We recommend you watch the movie ‘Garbage Warrior’ because in a little bit of his madness, it actually makes sense. He builds a city with man hours in exchanged for your eventual own home. He uses garbage disposed (by the megatons) every day as building materials… and with it he is creating a completely self-sustained community. Talk about a living city

Here’s your sneak peek… Believe me it’s so worth your time…


> We think there’s something to this “helping others” and “truly sustainable practice” thing…


Tabitha, of DS26, dies in 2088… ‘pouring’ party scheduled.

Posted in #letsblogoff by DS26 on 01.04.2011

Tabitha, of DS26, dies at 107 on this month of March of 2088.

She was found with a smile, but forehead on table with the signature black ‘lePen’ (now only found at their shop) in hand, at their offices in the more recently formed island of “Las Olas”.

Her ashes were cremated, as requested to save square footage, and will be dropped into the foundation mix of the newest High Tech Center, one of a group of education facilities she spent her whole life conceptualizing and developing.

Concrete foundations are no longer common-place, but she insisted an exception be made upon her passing. She also suggested a ‘pouring’ party, now scheduled.

She leaves behind a very young BobbyZ, now 104, their pet JadaZ III, and no children but a legacy of architecture, education, and music.

~

In “Las Olas Times” :

“Newest High Tech Center, developed, designed and built by famed award-winning firm DS26, had its concrete foundation slabs tested. It has been found that a new super bioconcrete material was developed at curing.

No one knows how, yet, and further investigation is necessary.

BobbyZ, the elusive co-founder of DS26, was not found for comment.”

Blogger Twitter LetsBlogOff Post
Denese Bottrell @Denese_Bottrell Thoughtful Content
Bob Borson @bobborson Life of an Architect
Tabitha Ponte @DESIGNSTUDIO26 26 [at] 41
Madame Sunday @ModernSauce Modern Sauce
Becky Shankle @ecomod Eco-Modernism
Jenny Roets @arch_girl JennyRoets
Cindy FrewenWuellner @Urbanverse Urbanverse’s Posterous
Amy Good @Splintergirl Thoughts of a Splintergirl
Saxon Henry @saxonhenry Roaming by Design
Rufus Dogg @dogwalkblog DogWalkBlog
Jerlyn Thomas @jerlyn Design Lady NYC
Paul Anater @paul_anater Kitchen and Residential Design
Sean Lintow, Sr. @SLSconstruction SLS-Construction.com
Jody Brown @INFILLnc Jody Brown’s Blog

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

GB10… the best of…

Posted in events, opinion, other architects, sustainability by DS26 on 11.18.2010

It all started bright and early when we showed up at McCormick Place in Chicago… we were directed by friendly faces to pick up our name tags (since we had registered online).

This took an entire 3 whole minutes… and truly I thought WOW!… what a change since the last time Greenbuild came by Chicago in 2007 (where they were not short of endless hours-long lines for registration).

Roaming around our 1st stop was the Bookstore… there I found my friend Marcy’s ADA book (I was so excited to see it there… I tweet-ed it). You can find her tweet-ing all about her expertise (and I suggest you listen) @abadi_access.

Next, we stopped by the merchandise shop… not that I would necessarily get anything, but pure curiosity… but there it was:

OMGB! (Oh My Greenbuild)… I LOVED IT!! (too bad I forgot to take a picture)

Eventually we made our way

The first thing we saw was a cool wind generation vertical turbine called Eddie… It was a beauty (though I still did not take a picture… boo me).

Shortly thereafter, a very cool water collection system pillow (air-less closed system) made to sit inside or outside. It was pretty ingenious.

Eventually, as we kept walking, I finally thought about the camera I was carrying (duh!), the pictures I could be taking, and the potential blog post (this one).

I made up my mind… I will blog about the best in the Greenbuild 2010 exhibit hall.

So.. now that I was enlightened, we were at the Haworth booth. They had a really nice set up, and a very friendly rep that did not hesitate to help us (though many people did not due to our very laid back outfits and very young faces)…

We found they were featuring their custom pieces/sufaces… and saw this table

Could not resist the opportunity to make our mark. ”  DS26 was here!  :)  “

The next coolest thing, and this really was cool, was the knauf insulation. Besides the fact that the insulation was innovative, what really impressed me was their business card, check out the back

Plant this card, and you will get a flower bed. Awesome!

This is truly creative. We picked up a couple, and could not help but to repeat  to everyone that is probably one of the best marketing pieces around.

To keep up with the insulation theme… of course the jeans insulation

I thought it was pretty fun that also, as innovative marketing, they had a fantastic ‘jeans’ cookie.

Also, started to see other inspired & designed booths, this one for example (notice the carpet), where the floor plane lifts into their banners.

I believe that, at this time, we met up with @hern_jenn & @matthewcarbonne … said hello for a bit.

Moving along…

We made it to where I am supposed to be. I love concrete… and I saw the tee. I MUST HAVE IT (and so I do)

In the front “Think. Harder. Concrete.”. In the back

It is debatable, the sustainability of concrete. Natural materials & life?… certainly. Very sustainable. Process?… mmmm.

Best tee shirt I got though. Or, is it?

We kept walking.

Then Boom!!… Black & white, but screaming for us to walk up to it… Interface Flooring

Brains are greater than Oil.

A fact. Anyone would agree.

I walked up to them, and told them how much I liked their marketing… they said that they were doing an on-the-spot social media marketing campaign.

I WANT IN!

So I created our own @DESIGNSTUDIO26 equation… take a walk!  (Walking is greater than driving). They tweet-ed.  :)

If you follow their #greenbuild tweets, via @InterfaceFLOR you will find us there.

Other great installations

The fresh greens installation (above) and the cool FSC lounge (below)

By the way… see that bike there? Wood crafted. Yes, and unbelievably beautiful.

And always cool, young & hip… Bluebeam.

It’s PDFin time!  (chuckle)

So, as we’re winding down… after a long day walking (though I’ve shown you a handful, we’ve covered some 600 exhibitors by now)… In the realm of cool materials check this out

Hand chiseling the USGBC logo… on Aircrete… Hebel.

They showed us the material… very neat. Not only you can chisel it, but also hand saw it, cut it, etc.

The most impressive fact, however, is that there is an hour of fire protection per inch of material… in addition to the drastic reduction in weight from your standard concrete. Impressive!

Now we are very tired… there was a severe lack of seating.

Even at spots where there was coffee, or drinks and food, no tables or chairs. Really?… We could not get more chairs and tables in there?… How much is each person paying again?…

Of the things we missed, I can I admit… I COULD NOT FIND BIG ASS FANS. What the heck happened? Were they even there?…

We found comfy leather benches at Kone… and I decided to give the reps a hard time (since we were ignored)… all in good fun.

And, when we thought it could not be more fun, my business card was drawn at the Weitz Construction booth, and I got to play the cash machine… Though I made $7 bucks (enough to get my caffeine fix) I felt like a million bucks. lol.

Afterward I finally found my friend Robyn, on twitter @robbiejep (one of the original WIAfund collaborators, along with Marcy mentioned above) after chasing her for a couple of hours…

She is presenting a class at Greenbuild on Friday morning early. Catch her if you can… she is a great ‘sustainable’ inspiration from Orange County, California.

And my buddy Lira, on twitter @liraluis, this year’s Athena Young Professional Award-ee, and whom I consider a good friend.

It took about 3 shots to get to this one…

All of us mingled for a little, spoke of Gehry in South Florida (of course), and the USGBC lawsuit… and the Living Building Challenge, from the International Living Building Institute.

Before I forget… the ILBI was kind enough to give me some cool materials for my kids at Duke this coming summer (I’m staff for the “Green Architecture” summer course in their Duke TIP program)… I like to introduce the students to it, and now they’ll have a pocket guide to the process. YAY!

But.. the button is mine!   :D

So next time Greenbuild is around, I suggest you visit. It is a wonderful place for free t-shirts, gain some info, learn, and mingle…

.. Honorable Mention for Design !

Posted in DS26 work by DS26 on 10.06.2010

We love Habitat for Humanity. In fact, we were actively involved with Habitat for Humanity Broward County for a while.

Now, from Habitat for Humanity Indianapolis competition jury, Bobby Z gets a design honorable mention …

YAY !  :)

let’s talk CONCRETE(ly)..

Posted in a design education_@Duke by DS26 on 05.28.2010


(CEMENT+WATER)+AGGREGATES

. . . + C H E M I C A L   A D M I X T U R E S  +  R E I N F O R C E M E N T . . .


Simply put, the material rules our world. It can be found everywhere from infrastructure (roads, bridges, tunnels, highways, etc) to buildings, sidewalks, furniture, and more.

Understandably, it is so widely used because of “permanence”. It’s ability to exist, its strength, and to resist wear and tear, all for a really long time.

Don’t take me wrong… we love it. Concrete that is. It can be ‘formed’ at will.

[ formed: cast – in – place by means of wood formwork ]

Why are we discussing it if it’s loved, widely used, and “permanent” ?

Good question !

Concrete is really old, and common place. At one point in time, back before we lost its recipe (after the fall of the Roman Empire) it might have been a ‘Sustainable’ material.

Today, the process of making concrete is everything but sustainable.

Also, we’ll look to see if there are alternatives…

IN HISTORY [ Opus Caementicium ]

Caesarea Maritima, city harbor built by Herod the great (25-13 B.C.) now found in ruins in the mediterranean coast of Israel, is the earliest known use of underwater Roman Concrete technology.

Types of Concrete, as well as preparation methods and instructions, can be found in the “Ten Books of Architecture” by Vitruvious, dating back to 25 B.C.


BASIC COMPOSITION (in summary)

CEMENT:

‘Clinker’ is made by combining limestone and clay, and heating in kiln at 1450 d C. (2642 d F.)

Following, the clinker is ground to powder form. Now clinker, in raw material is a combination of elements such as calcium, silicon, aluminum, oxygen, and iron.

[ So far so good… sustainably. Or so it seams. What about the grinding process ? The equipment required ? or the energy used ?… and furthermore, the energy that is used by the kiln ? ]

WATER:

Water will be the agent to take cement into the process of ‘hydration’.

Depending on water to cement ratio, one can control workability versus strength.

AGGREGATES:

Fine or coarse. Usually sand, crushed stones, and other natural material.

Most of the time recycled aggregates (those from previously demolished material) can be used in mix design, helping preserve those ‘sustainable’ construction methods.

So… they are all natural materials ?… Doesn’t that make it ‘Sustainable’ ?

The answer to that, sadly, is no.

Even though all materials are natural, the processes we use to crush and grind the materials, the energies used in the ‘kilns’, and even all of the oil used for transport, and emissions, actually create one very un-sustainable cycle.


ADDITIONAL ADD-ON(s)

ADMIXTURES:

Additional substances that, combined with the Basic Composition of concrete, will give the material additional desired qualities or specific characteristics.

EXAMPLES of Admixtures:

1. Superplasticizer: increases strength by reducing needed water in mix.

2. Accelerator: reduces time needed for curing.

3. Retarding: increases time needed for curing.

4. Pigment: adds color to concrete.

[ curing: the process of the concrete drying, while gaining strength… must be according to engineered mix design, strength desired, etc. ]

Unlike the basic composition of concrete, now we have seen that artificial additions are made for either looks or characteristics.

This ‘artificiality’ only exacerbates our ‘sustainability’ (lack thereof) problem.

REINFORCEMENT:

Reinforcement is steel, in the form of bars or ties.

Concrete is reinforced because without it the material is weak in ‘tension’. Concrete without reinforcement is good only in ‘compression’.

Reinforcing Steel (or commonly ‘rebar’) is made of carbon steel, carbon as an alloying natural base, but then manufactured into ribbed barks.

And, you guessed it ! … creating ribs cannot be too sustainable.

For a Bigger Picture of the material, and processes related, do refer to bottom of post for the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels – Concrete”

SO… WHAT CAN WE DO ? … AND, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE TO MAKE IT MORE ‘SUSTAINABLE’ ?

Listen in to a leader in the forefront of bio-material development. The video will speak for itself…

But, isn’t Rachel Armstrong just speaking of an idea ? a concept ? … she is not showing us anything.

well, that is true, but hold on.. there are other people that are diving into this with some physical evidence.

SO… THERE ARE NEW SCIENCES ?

Correct !

for example, Ginger Krieg Dosier, an assistant architecture professor, received the 2010 Next Generation Design Competition award for the development of a bio-brick.

– Dosier’s act of alchemy was to apply science to design. “There are thousands of examples of microbial mineral precipitation in the scientific literature, but few if any of them have been explored for use in fabrication of construction or design materials”

( excerpt from Metropolis Magazine )

For more on her design / development, you can visit the article for [ Next Generation Design ]

~

Also, let’s listen to someone that’s thought up a natural remedy for concrete…

Bio-Concrete. He poses the possibility of “maintenance and repair in the future”… but

what if we could implement the same natural processes for simply its creation ?

BIOMIMICRY (or Biomimetics):

A new emerging science where natural processes, systems, and materials, are being emulated for the creation of problem solutions.

The one at hand : Architecture and Construction.

If you are interested in learning more about Biomimicry, visit the [ Biomimicry Institute ]

~

~

MODERN MARVELS – CONCRETE part 1

MODERN MARVELS – CONCRETE part 2

MODERN MARVELS – CONCRETE part 3

MODERN MARVELS – CONCRETE part 4

MODERN MARVELS – CONCRETE part 5