Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Daniel D’Agostino, AIA of Plan Architecture

Who is Daniel D’Agostino, AIA?

Dan D’Agostino is an architect with over 15 years of experience as an architectural designer and project manager.  

Mr. D’Agostino has extensive experience working on projects of varying scales.  His portfolio of work ranges from new and renovations to single-family dwellings  to high-rise mixed-use buildings in dense urban areas.  Mr. D’Agostino’s work has been recognized for achievement on multiple levels.  Winning an AIA Gold Medal for a mixed-use structure designed for Lower Manhattan, recurring appearances on NBC’s George to the Rescue and achieving the coveted “Best Of” award on Houzz.

Daniel received his Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the New Jersey School of Architecture at NJIT where he continues to serve as a visiting critic.  He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Little Falls Planning and Zoning Board and Little Falls Economic Development Committee.  He is a licensed Architect practicing in Northern New Jersey.  In his free time he enjoys being the best father and husband he can be, golfing and playing music.

About Daniel’s firm:

planarchitecturellc is a full-service design firm which specializes in producing innovative client-driven program-based architectural design and budget appropriate problem solving. 

Founded by Daniel D’Agostino, AIA, planarchitecture’s mission is to arrive at client and site specific architectural solutions to unique client demands.  The firm produces work for public, commercial and residential clients. 

You can find Daniel Online by clicking on the following links:

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

I found drawing to be a great pastime as a kid.  I also enjoyed building with my father.  Inspired by curiosity, I always wanted to find ways to make things better.  Design happens to be a way of making things better.  Architecture seemed like a natural fit for me. 

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?     

Becoming an architect in general is a challenging process.  While I’m patient with people, I’m not always so patient when it comes to progress.  I like to see things getting done, movement and motion.  Five years of schooling, 3 years of internship, 7 months of licensing, in the middle of a recession was challenging.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?  

Each project has a stand out moment.  The best moments occur when we are a part of the building process and able to walk a project with a client and discuss additional opportunities.   

How does your family support what you do?   

I am lucky to have a very supportive family.  Architecture is a big part of our lives.  We just had the amazing opportunity to design and build our own home so design is very much a part of our daily conversation.  Prior to that, we would travel to see buildings, stop on a walk to discuss a building material.  Dining experiences are typically accompanied by a short analysis of how things might have been better.

How do Architects measure success?     

I think Architects are an odd bunch if I may say so myself.   As such, it’s hard to generalize.  For me, if I’m happy – I am successful.  Some of the things that make me happy related to the profession are having the time to do something creative or inventive.  Having a staff meeting where everything gels.  Client meetings that end in laughter, hugs and an optimistic plan for advancing a project.  Discussion with a contractor where we walk away saying – this is going to be amazing!

What matters most to you in design?      

Function, daylight and views.  Each of our projects start and end with how the plan works, how we experience daylight and what we see both internally and externally along a view corridor.

What do you hope to achieve over the next 2 years? 5 years?  

I enjoy single family design and construction.  Over the last two or three years, we have designed a number of medium density residential developments.  I discovered that we were able to bring a neat little twist to this market that isn’t commonly found in these developments.  Our attention to detail and space making is needed in these larger projects.  I hope that in 5 years, we are doing a lot more of this.   

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?     

It’s a toss up – Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Kahn

As an architect, saying you like FLW is like saying you like the Beatles.  I mean, the Beatles are mainstream, have a ton of hits, and reinvented themselves multiple times over the years.  FLW did the same thing.  His work is accessible and always delivers.  If you dig deep and learn about why his buildings look the way they do (sustainability, economics, desire to build cheaply, wartime rationing, etc.) they are amazing.  

Louis Kahn, on the other hand, not so mainstream and certainly not so accessible.  His buildings manage to be incredibly complex yet simple.  Having traveled the world looking at architecture, the Salk Institute was my greatest experience.  When you walk that plaza, it’s an actual experience.    

Do you have a coach or mentor?     

Not really.  I’m a pretty good listener and observer.  If you keep your antennas up, you are going to learn a lot.

What is your favorite historic and modern (contemporary) project? Why?  

The Pantheon in Rome is my favorite historic work.  It is structurally significant.  The sun is used as a light fixture in the building charting messages.  It’s all encompassing.  The Salk Institute is my favorite contemporary project due to its connection to site.  A strong axis of symmetry and orientation with the horizon.  It’s breathtaking.

Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades?  

I see the profession going more toward design-build.  There’s a lot of waste in the profession.  It’s impossible to get every single detail included in a set of plans if you are trying to adhere to an architectural budget and short timeline.  In New Jersey, the cost of land and taxes are so high, there is hardly ever an opportunity to draw every single detail and review it with your client.  The industry has therefore come to accept (through demanding) a set of plans for base building, and finer elements being decided by the builder.  As this process has evolved, we have come to see many features lost because original design intent isn’t considered.  It will also help to minimize the number of projects that come in “over budget”.

What type of technology do you see in the design and construction industries?  

I think modular still has a chance.  When I was leaving college, modular was the new thing because it was faster and cheaper.  Over time, it turned out, modular wasn’t exactly faster, or cheaper.  We should pay attention to modular building with an emphasis on trying to work aesthetic into it.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?      

Walt Disney.  We need to make sure our buildings work functionally but we also want to be entertained while being part of an experience.  Disney was great at this.

Which building or project type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet?    

I’d like to do a New York City high rise on the West Side.  Growing up in Hudson County, New Jersey, the New York skyline was a big part of my childhood.  I drive down a street and see projects I designed going up or completed and you feel a sense of pride and permanence.  I’d like to have that feeling looking at the skyline.

How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?   

Our office consists of 10 people, 9 of which are designers.  I constantly put forward that our job is to help our clients and serve them.  Listen to them and find the best way to deliver that which they are requesting.

What advice would you give aspiring architects (K-12)? College students? Graduates?  

I started working as a Sophomore in High School at an architecture firm.  I would recommend it.  It gives you an opportunity through college to understand “how” you might use what you are learning.  I would recommend college students get involved in outreach.  Get involved in your local community and start planting seeds for future networking opportunities.  Can you join the planning board? Is there a historical society you can join? 

For Graduates, it’s going to sound funny but go work at a restaurant as a server.  You are going to learn how to interact with people, understand how a person asks for something they need either verbally or with body language.  You’ll learn how people feel comfortable by studying where they ask to sit, the way they face, how they talk to one another.  You’ll learn about working in a tight space in the Kitchen and the importance of efficiency and flow. 

I was lucky – I learned how to speak Spanish working a restaurant while working with the Kitchen staff.  This has proven to be invaluable as the two predominate languages spoken on a job site are Spanish and English.  I am able to converse in both languages.  While sad, it’s worth noting that when I graduated from college, I made more money as a weekend waiter than I did as a full time draftsman.  It helps to have money.

What does Architecture mean to you?     

Simple, a place to be comfortably protected from natural elements.

What is your design process?     

My design process starts with the site.  From there, I sit with my clients and I start designing with them.  I’m not the type that comes to my single family residential clients with plans for how they should live.  With my larger development work, we analyze the site to maximize efficiency and density.

 If you could not be an Architect, what would you be?     

I couldn’t imagine myself being anything else.

What is your dream project?     

I’d love to work on a stage set.  Loose some of the parameters of gravity, building code, weather resistance to create an environment.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?     

Surround yourself with great people in all aspects of your life and consistently invest in yourself.

What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today and one trend you see in your industry?     

As a business leader, I find staffing challenging because we are a service industry – not just design and construction so personnel is the most important.  You can get anyone that meet’s your qualifications.  You can also get anyone with a good personality.  Getting them both isn’t always the easiest.  When you do you, do everything you can to keep them.  Balancing the administrative elements of the business while maintaining your service qualities is a challenge.  I was only able to find success here after hiring administrative personnel.  When I started the business five years ago at 29, fresh out of a recession, no portfolio of work and competing against other architects more than double my age was a challenge.  We’ve now developed an impressive resume to support my interview process, however being the “young” architect seems to rear its head.  I try to convince people, it’s not the number of years you’ve been doing it, rather the number of years you’ve been doing it right.  The trend now is the integration of internet design.

What one thing must an executive leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years? 

Develop patience and resilience which has no regard for timeline.  Patience, as I stated earlier, wasn’t one of my virtues.  Everything takes time.  Resilience is important because the highs are way up there and the lows – we don’t talk about them.

What are some executive insights you have gained since you have been sitting in the executive leadership seat – or what is one surprise you have encountered as the world of business continues to morph as we speak?     

As the world of business continues to morph, our industry has stayed the same in principal.  We have to be flexible in how we deliver information.  A BIM model isn’t always the answer, sometimes a sketch to be texted out in 20 minutes is more important.  We also have to remember, architecture is a business.  The more successful firms know this.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?           

Surround yourself with great people.  It starts with family and follows through staff, clients, contractors.  Work as hard as possible.  While it’s important to get your sleep and rest, you still have to write that extra email or do that extra sketch.  Go that extra mile, especially when it may not be needed or no one may be watching.

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

Gift Ideas from ILMA


#EcoMonday Contemporary Mediterranean Home With a “Breathing” Eco-Façade

Breathing House 14

Excerpt from “Freshhomes Design & Architecture”: Travessa de Patrocinio is one of those bohemian places in Lisbon that require a sweet disposition while visiting. The unique collaboration between these three designers, Luís Rebelo de AndradeTiago Rebelo de Andrade and Manuel Cachão Tojal, gave birth to a project inspired by minimalism, with an interesting Mediterranean “coverage”. Imagine a thick “coat” of plants shadowing the entire façade of a house that spreads vertically. “Its walls are completely covered with vegetation, creating a vertical garden, filled with around 4500 plants from 25 different Iberian and Mediterranean varieties which occupies 100 square meters. So, short levels of water consumption are guaranteed as well as little gardening challenges.”  Click here to read the rest of the story.

Breathing House 00

Breathing House 0

Excerpt from Architizer News: The House in Travessa do Patrocínio by RA\\ ( Luís Rebelo de Andrade, Tiago Rebelo de Andrade, Manuel Cachão Tojal) does just that. The narrow townhouse is situated smack dab in Lisbon, in a neighborhood with little access to green spaces. To compensate for this lack, the architects draped the house with lush green facades that cover 100 square-meters of wall space. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill green building accessory. The facades are integral components to the architecture, not just tacked on for a higher LEED score. They’re planted with approximately 4,500 plants sourced from 25 different local varieties, which  all require little maintenance. The result is a vertical garden that the architects say functions as an urban “lung” within the pavement-heavy area, helping to rid the residential street of excess noise, carbon, and other pollutants floating about. Click here to read the rest of the story.
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A Brief History of Green Walls

The concept of green walls is an ancient one, with examples in architectural history
reaching back to the Babylonians – with the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one
of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Highlights of the history of green walls are
provided below:

  • 3rd C. BCE to 17th C. AD: Throughout the Mediterranean, Romans train grape vines (Vitis species) on garden trellises and on villa walls. Manors and castles with climbing roses are symbols of secret gardens.
  • 1920s: The British and North American garden city movement promote the integration of house and garden through features such as pergolas, trellis structures and self-clinging climbing plants.
  • 1988: Introduction of a stainless steel cable system for green facades.
  • Early 1990s: Cable and wire-rope net systems and modular trellis panel systems enter the North American marketplace.
  • 1993: First major application of a trellis panel system at Universal CityWalk in California.
  • 1994: Indoor living wall with bio-filtration system installed in Canada Life Building in Toronto, Canada.
  • 2002: The MFO Park, a multi-tiered 300’ long and 50’ high park structure opened in Zurich, Switzerland. The project featured over 1,300 climbing plants.
  • 2005: The Japanese federal government sponsored a massive Bio Lung exhibit, the centerpiece of Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan. The wall is comprised of 30 different modular green wall systems available in Japan.
  • 2007: Seattle implements the Green Factor, which includes green walls.
  • 2007: GRHC launches full day Green Wall Design 101 course; the first on the subject in North America.
  • 2008: GRHC launches Green Wall Award of Excellence and Green Wall Research Fund.

Source: GreenScreen

Biofiltration

An ‘active’ living wall is intended to be integrated into a building’s infrastructure and designed to biofilter indoor air and provide thermal regulation. It is a hydroponic system fed by nutrient rich water which is re-circulated from a manifold, located at the top of the wall, and collected in a gutter at the bottom of the fabric wall system. Plant roots are sandwiched between two layers of synthetic fabric that support microbes and a dense root mass. These root microbes remove airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs), while foliage absorbs carbon monoxide and dioxide. The plants’ natural processes produce cool fresh air that is drawn through the system by a fan and then distributed throughout the building. A variation of this concept could be applied to green facade systems as well, and there is potential to apply a hybrid of systems at a large scale.

Source: GreenScreen

Public Benefits of Green Walls

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Source: GreenScreen

Private Benefits of Green Walls

Breathing House 101a

Source: GreenScreen

Also Check Out:

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.


Shipping Containers Can Be Used for Retail, Residential Projects & Beyond

Image courtesy The Buchan Group

Architect: The Buchan Group

Shipping containersare in many ways an ideal building material. They are designed to carry heavy loads and to be stacked in high columns. They are also designed to resist harsh environments – such as on ocean-going vessels or sprayed with road salt while transported on roads. Due to their high strength, containers are useful for secure storage.

All shipping containers are made to standard measurements and as such they provide modular elements that can be combined into larger structures. This simplifies design, planning and transport. As they are already designed to interlock for ease of mobility during transportation, structural construction is completed by simply emplacing them. Due to the containers’ modular design additional construction is as easy as stacking more containers. They can be stacked up to 12 high when empty.

Pre-fabricated modules can also be easily transported by ship, truck or rail, because they already conform to standard shipping sizes.

Used shipping containers are available across the globe.

Many used containers are available at a cost that is low compared to a finished structure built by other labor-intensive means such as bricks and mortar — which also require larger more expensive foundations. Construction involves very little labor and used shipping containers requiring only simple modification can be purchased from major transport companies for as little as US $1,200 each. Even when purchased brand new they seldom cost more than US $6,000.

“Temporary” Uses

“One year after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 185 people, much of the city still lies in disarray. The central business district remains restricted to the public, with guards standing sentry at access points. Within this “red zone,” innumerable residential and public buildings have been earmarked for partial or complete demolition, including the iconic, Gothic Revival Christchurch Cathedral, whose 19th-century spire and tower sustained heavy damage. New Zealand economists speculate the rebuild will cost insurance companies between $15 million and $25 million.”  Click here for the rest of the story.

Image courtesy The Buchan Group

Architect: The Buchan Group
“Another temporary project is the Re:START shipping container mall, a 27-store complex located just outside of the city’s cordoned-off center. When Re:START opened on October 29, 2011, at the start of the country’s tourism season, thousands of people, local and foreign alike, flocked to the shopping center, says Anton Tritt, a Christchurch native and project architect with the mall’s design team, the Buchan Group. “It’s really been adopted by the local community,” he says. The mall continues to generate interest: It sees 50 percent of its foot traffic from tourists and will likely remain open beyond its projected disassembly in April 2012, pending approval by the landowners.” Click here for the rest of the story.

Image courtesy The Buchan Group

Architect: The Buchan Group

“Commercial centers are not the only building type getting the temporary treatment. Construction will soon begin on an 8,611-square-foot provisional cathedral designed by Tokyo-based architect Shigeru Ban. The $3.3 million, 700-seat church, slated to break ground at the end of April, will be made of cardboard tubing and polycarbonate, with shipping containers lining the base. It is meant to serve as a stand-in for the Christchurch Cathedral.” Click here for the rest of the story.

Image courtesy The Buchan Group

Image courtesy The Buchan Group

Architect: The Buchan Group

“Residential” Uses

Click here to see shipping containers used in residential applications.

“Other” Uses

Click here to see shipping containers used in other applications.

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551  
direct: 973.970.3551 
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://www.fc3arch.com
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.

Awesome Modern House by Mima Architects

After a strong finish to 2011 and slow start 2012 (slow only in terms of blogging), I would like to share this really cool project with you.

For those interested in becoming Architects, Architecture Education is offered in an increasing amount of ways. From night school to accredited online degree programs, it is possible to participate in the evolution of structure and design. Design and community inspire learning and technological advancements expand the possibilities for what will stand and what will not. The movement toward a environmentally friendly society also creates a need for students who have fresh ideas and a green thumb, so to speak. In the coming decades, the need for students with the knowledge necessary to convert old buildings into efficient ones will give many a chance at a career that makes an impact on the beauty and function of the world around them.

Designed by Mima Architects, the Mima House has a modular structure and can be divided into rooms with a grid of removable partitions.

This prefabricated house in Portugal costs about the same price to manufacture as a family car (all photographs by José Campos).

Plywood panels transform the windows into walls to create privacy where necessary.

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Click here to read the rest of the story about Mima Architects by “Dezeen

Click here for more stories about Architecture in Portugal by “Dezeen

If you like this post please share it.

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III 
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Sustainable Cities

written by Cathe Reams

The challenges presented by sustainable urban development are immense. Today, more than half of the world’s population already lives in cities and the numbers are rising. Cities are responsible for around 75 percent of all energy used, 60 percent of all water consumed and 80 percent of all greenhouse gases produced worldwide. To face the multitude of challenges arising from urbanization and demographic change, cities are looking at ways to improve the efficiency of their infrastructures. With the right technology cities can become more environmentally friendly, increase the quality of life for their residents, and cut costs all at the same time.

For a real-world look at how our solutions can be implemented today, please download “Smarter Neighborhoods, Smarter City”. This report contains detailed recommendations on how to help America’s largest urban area – the City of New York – plan for more sustainable growth.

Sustainable development & urban infrastructure

Cities continue to grow as more and more people move into urban areas and with this shift towards urbanization, cities are experiencing an increasing strain on their current infrastructure systems. Roadways, power grids, telecommunications lines and public transportation are all systems which rely on a strong infrastructure to handle demand. Optimizing these infrastructural networks is an immense task which requires public and private cooperation.

Power generation and distribution

To meet the growing demand for power, an intelligent and flexible grid infrastructure, is essential. An overloaded power grid can cause the kind of blackout which swept through New York City and much of the Northeast corridor in the US in 2003. Blackouts like these can be prevented with a modern, reliable, environmentally friendly, and affordable energy grid system which works to match the supply and demand balance of our energy systems.

Siemens offers components and solutions for the entire energy conversion chain. This starts with power generation in highly efficient combined gas and steam turbines, solar power plants and wind turbines. The electrical power generated there can be transported to cities with little loss via high-voltage direct current lines which help maintain and efficient transmission on energy through the country.

Sustainable transportation

How do we get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner possible? How do we get people out of gridlock and on the move again? For starters, intelligent traffic control systems contribute to helping traffic flow. They reduce fuel consumption, air pollution, and noise by allowing cars to stop less frequently. Additionally, particularly in cities where space is limited, public transportation systems become increasingly important network for connecting people. Trains in particular are an environmentally friendly alternative to cars and airlines. The Siemens Velaro is a good example. This fourth generation high-speed train consumes only 0.14 gallons of fuel per seat per 100 miles.

Sustainable healthcare infrastructure

In healthcare, too, a shift in thinking about the use of energy and raw materials has set in. Both ecological and economical requirements must be considered when faced with the challenge of creating sustainable infrastructure solutions. Siemens helps hospitals to pave the way for the future – with green hospitals. With its modular Green+ Hospitals concept, Siemens is firmly gearing its healthcare portfolio towards environmental care and sustainability.
The most decisive factor for protecting the environment and minimizing costs in hospitals is power consumption. Energy costs can be reduced through energy optimization, building automation, and the use of energy-saving equipment. A smooth and safe workflow with structured clinical pathways, short examination times, and the comprehensive use of IT is also key to the economic efficiency of a hospital. And with more comfort and gentle treatment for patients, Green+ Hospitals can attain greater competitive appeal and also ensure a better quality of life. 

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

What’s a green city to you, how is your city green, how can it be more sustainable?
Include the hashtags #GreenCity and #AIANJ & share your thoughts on Twitter.