Personal Reflection on the Tragedy of April 15, 2019 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France #Paris #Fire #NotreDame #Reflection #Architecture #CarpeDiem

Reflection on the Tragedy of April 15, 2019

This week is Holy Week, when millions of Western Christians mark the death and resurrection of Jesus. Under normal circumstances, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris would have been preparing to display its holy relics to the faithful on Good Friday.

But as fire engulfed the sacred site on April 15, 2019, Catholics across the world reacted in horror and disbelief, particularly when the cathedral’s iconic spire toppled amid the flames.

For generations, Notre Dame Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage and prayer, and, even as religion in France has declined for decades, it remained the beating heart of French Catholicism, open every day for Mass.

Source: CNN

REFLECTION

When something that is tragic like the Notre Dame Cathedral fire occurs, it is important to take time to reflect on what happened.  First, I look at this tragedy as a Christian, then as the grandson of European immigrants, and finally as an Architect.  I reflect on these recent events using three distinct but entwined lenses:

  • As a Christian, I reflect on what it means to be Christian.  Although imperfect, we are all put on Earth to accomplish great things.  Some have more than others, but we all have our crosses to bear.  As Easter approaches, for many Christians around the world who celebrate this holiest of days it is a time of reflection and hope of things to come.  As Jesus said, you are not of this world (we belong to Him).  When these events happen it also makes us aware of our fleeting earthly lives.
  • As a grandson of Europeans, I feel a strong camaraderie with my neighbors in France.  As technology helps the world shrink we are becoming global citizens.  But as someone who has spent many summers and taken many trips to Europe (probably more than 30 trips over my four decades), I feel a strong connection to what happens in Europe.  I have the same feeling in my stomach that I had when 9-11 happened in New York City.  We take for granted that these beautiful structures will always be here with us.  These events remind us that we must cross off trips that are on our bucket lists sooner rather than later.
  • As an Architect, my primary objective is to safeguard the public.  Sure, I love great design and inspiring spaces as much as the next designer.  However, being an Architect means that we must put safety above all else.  When these events occur, I cannot help but think how vulnerable we are.  As Architects we are always trying to evoke safety and security into our projects – Many times decisions are made with money more than risk aversion.  A 100% safeguard world is not possible, but I challenge my fellow Architects to consider ways that we can educate and confront our clients to ensure that all our buildings are safe.  We are all human with earthly perspectives and we are all bound to mistakes as we manage economics with safety.  Take for example, the Seton Hall student housing fires that changed safety for campus of higher educations around the country.  Can this tragedy bring some good? Perhaps as leaders in our industry we can shape the safety and preservation of our landmarks and new building projects to ensure the safety of the occupants.

Churches, castles and forts are the primary reason I chose this profession. Whenever we lose a structure of significance it is like losing a loved one. Like life itself, our art and architecture must be cherished because it is all temporary after all. Carpe Diem.

We would love to hear from you about 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


What Makes Notre Dame Cathedral So Important as a Work of Architecture? #NotreDame #Architecture #Design #History

Notre Dame Cathedral is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité located in Paris, France. The cathedral is considered to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture. The innovative use of the rib vault and flying buttress, the enormous and colorful rose windows, gothic arched windows and doorways, and the naturalism and abundance of its sculptural decoration all set it apart from earlier Romanesque architecture.

Notre Dame Cathedral is considered to be of the most well-known church buildings in the world. Construction started in 1163 and finished in 1345. It is devoted to Virgin Mary and it is one of the most popular monuments in Paris. The cathedral underwent many changes and restorations throughout time.

The location of this cathedral has a long history of religious cult. The Celts celebrated rituals there before the Romans erected a temple devoted to Jupiter. It was also the place were the first Christian church, Saint Étienne, was built. It was founded by Childeberto I in 528 AD. In 1160 the church was deemed and in 1163 the construction of the cathedral started. Opinions differ as to whether Sully or Pope Alexander III laid the foundation stones of the cathedral. Several architects took part in the construction, so differences in style are clearly seen.

There are around 13 million people who visit the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral every year, which means this is an average of 30,000 people every day, growing to around 50,000 pilgrims and visitors who enter the cathedral on peak days.

History

Construction began in 1163 after Pope Alexander III laid the cornerstone for the new cathedral. By the time of Bishop Maurice de Sully’s death in 1196, the apse, choir and the new High Altar were all finished, while the nave itself was nearing completion. In 1200, work began on the western facade, including the west rose window and the towers, all of which were completed around 1250, along with a new north rose window. Also during the 1250s, the transepts were remodeled in the latest style of Rayonnant Gothic architecture by architects Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil, and the clerestory windows were enlarged. The last remaining elements were gradually completed during the following century.

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris was built on a site which in Roman Lutetia is believed to have been occupied by a pagan temple, and then by a Romanesque church, the Basilica of Saint Étienne, built between the 4th century and 7th century.

Notre-Dame Cathedral suffered damage and deterioration through the centuries, and after the French Revolution it was rescued from possible destruction by Napoleon, who crowned himself emperor of the French in the cathedral in 1804. Notre-Dame underwent major restorations by the French architect E.-E. Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-19th century. The cathedral is the setting for Victor Hugo’s historical novel Notre-Dame de Paris (1831).

Gothic Cathedral Builders

With the aid of only elementary drawings and templates, master stone masons meticulously directed the construction of the great medieval cathedrals of Europe. The practices of intuitive calculation, largely based on simple mathematical ratios and structural precedent, were closely guarded and passed between successive generations of masons. Specific site conditions and the insatiable demand by church authorities for higher and lighter buildings provided the impetus for continual development.

The Spire

Symbolically, spires have two functions. Traditionally, one has been to proclaim a martial power of religion. A spire, with its reminiscence of the spear point, gives the impression of strength. The second is to reach up toward the skies. The celestial and hopeful gesture of the spire is one reason for its association with religious buildings.

Holy Christian Relics

The Relics of Sainte-Chapelle are relics of Jesus Christ acquired by the French monarchy in the Middle Ages and now conserved by the Archdiocese of Paris. They were originally housed at Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and are now in the cathedral treasury of Notre Dame de Paris.  Relics believed to be a piece of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, as well as the Crown of Thorns he wore, have been kept at the cathedral for centuries. The braided circle held together by golden thread has about 70 or so thorns attached. The relics were obtained from the Byzantine Empire in 1238 and brought to Paris by King Louis IX.

Wood Construction

The framing of Notre-Dame de Paris is certainly one of the oldest structures in Paris with that of Saint-Pierre de Montmartre (1147).

It is poetically and endearingly called the Forest because of the large number of wood beams that had to be used to set it up.  Each beam coming from a different tree. It is a framework of oaks. Its measurements are very impressive: More than 328 feet (100 meters) long, 43  feet (13 meters) wide in the nave, 130 feet (40 meters) in the transept and 33 feet (10 meters) high.

In the choir, there existed a first frame with woods felled around 1160-1170 (it is estimated that some could have 300 to 400 years, which brings us to the 8th or 9th centuries !!!). This first frame has disappeared, but woods were reused in the second frame installation in 1220.

In the nave, the carpentry is set up between 1220 and 1240.  The work of the nave began between 1175 and 1182, after the consecration of the choir. The work stops after the fourth bay leaving the nave unfinished while the elevation of the facade is begun in 1208. The work of the nave will be resumed in 1218 to counter the façade.

On this frame rests a lead roof consisting of 1326 tables 0.20 inches (5 mm) thick weighing 210 tons . In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, roofs were covered with flat tile churches because of the abundant clay deposits. Paris, being far from such deposits, was preferred to lead. In 1196, Bishop Maurice de Sully bequeathed 5,000 pounds for the purchase of lead.

Although the carvings of the choir and the nave went through the centuries, those of the transepts and the spire were redone in the middle of the 19th century during the great restoration campaign of the cathedral under the direction of The Duke . Made according to the principles then in force, they differ from the framework of the choir and the nave, in particular as regards the dimensions of the beams which are much more imposing than those of the Middle Ages and more distant.

The Facade

Notre Dame’s iconic facade evokes a harmony of design based on nature and represents a level of detailed craftsmanship that no longer subsists in contemporaneous architecture. From Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s immense plaza the visitor is captivated by a stunning view of the facade’s three elaborately-decorated portals.

The left-side portal of the Virgin depicts the life of the Virgin Mary, as well as a coronation scene and an astrological calendar. The central portal depicts the Last Judgement in a kind of vertical triptych. The first and second panels show the resurrection of the dead, the judgment, Christ, and apostles.The pièce de résistance is the reigning Christ which crowns the scene.

The portal of Saint-Anne on the right features Notre Dame’s oldest and finest surviving statuary (12th century) and depicts the Virgin Mary sitting on a throne, the Christ child in her arms. Above the portals is the gallery of kings, a series of 28 statues of the kings of Israel.

The magnificent exterior of Notre Dame’s West rose window depicts the biblical figures of Adam and Eve on the outer rim. It measures an impressive 33 feet (10 meters) in diameter, which was the largest rose window constructed in its day.

The final level of the facade before reaching the towers is the “Grande Galerie” which connects the two towers at their bases. Fierce demons and birds decorate the grand gallery but are not easily visible from the ground.

The Cathedral Towers

Notre Dame’s ornate towers became a legend thanks to 19th-century novelist Victor Hugo, who invented a hunchback named Quasimodo and had him inhabit the South tower in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

The towers are 223 feet (68 meters) tall offering remarkable views of the Ile de la Cité, the Seine River and the entire city itself.  After climbing 400 stairs you are rewarded with gargoyles of grimacing demons and menacing carrion birds. The South tower houses Notre Dame’s infamous 13-ton bell.

You can also admire the detail of Notre Dame’s magnificent spire, destroyed during the revolution and restored by Viollet-le-Duc.

The Magnificent Interior

Medieval architects represented their idea of human earthliness in relation to heaven through structures that were at once grandiose and ethereal–and Notre Dame’s interior achieves exactly this. The cathedral’s long halls, vaulted ceilings, and soft light filtered through intricate stained glass help us understand the medieval perspective of humanity and divinity. There is no access to the cathedral’s upper levels, obliging visitors to remain earthbound, gazing upward. The experience is breathtaking, especially on a first visit.

The cathedral’s three stained-glass rose windows are the interior’s outstanding feature. Two are found in the transept: the North rose window dates to the 13th century and is widely considered to be the most stunning. It depicts Old Testament figures surrounding the Virgin Mary. The South rose window, meanwhile, depicts the Christ surrounded by saints and angels. More modern stained glass, dating to as late as 1965, is also visible around the cathedral.

Notre Dame’s organs were restored in the 1990’s and are among the largest in France.

The choir includes a 14th-century screen which portrays the biblical Last Supper. A statue of the Virgin and Christ child, as well as funeral monuments to religious figures, are also found here.

Near the rear, Notre Dame’s treasury includes precious objects, such as crosses and crowns, made of gold and other materials.

Countless processions and historical moments took place inside the cathedral, including the crowning of Henry VI, Mary Stuart, and Emperor Napoleon I.

Sources:

http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/en/la-cathedrale/architecture/la-charpente

https://www.tripsavvy.com/notre-dame-cathedral-highlights-and-facts-1618863

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haussmann%27s_renovation_of_Paris

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre-Dame_de_Paris

We would love to hear from you about 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


Notre Dame du Haut by Le Corbusier

The chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, designed by (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) “Le Corbusier” is located in Ronchamp. The Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, a shrine for the Catholic Church at Ronchamp was built for a reformist Church looking to continue its relevancy. Warning against decadence, reformers within the Church looked to renew its spirit by embracing modern art and Architecture as representative concepts. Father Couturier, who would also sponsor Le Corbusier for the La Tourette commission, steered the unorthodox project to completion in 1954.


Architect’s Follow Up on the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris and Creating Safer Work Environments #UnderConstruction #Safety #Design #Architecture #LessonsLearned #SafetyFirst #Design #Build #Architect #ilmaBlog

Follow Up on the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris and Creating Safer Work Environments

A few weeks ago on April 15th, 2019, a fire destroyed the roof and wooden spire of the Notre-Dame de Paris.

One of the most famous timber frame fires started just after midnight on the 2nd September 1666 in Pudding Lane. After burning for three days it destroyed nearly 90 percent of the inhabitants of London’s homes.

Getty Images

Possible Causes For Blaze

Although officials say that the investigation could last several weeks and nothing can be ruled out at this time, there is much suspicion that the blaze may have been started by a short-circuit near the spire.

The short circuit may have been possibly caused by electrified bells, or negligence by construction workers carrying out the ongoing renovations, a theory fueled by the discovery of cigarette butts.

Typical Sources of Ignition

Not related to the fire, but for a matter of reference, sources of ignition during construction may generally include: (1) Hot works – cutting, grinding, soldering, hot pitching; (2) Faulty electrical equipment – damaged sockets and equipment, service strikes, temporary supplies and halogen lighting; (3) Arson – works in high crime rate areas, protests and objections to the scheme, disgruntled employees or contractors; (4) Reactive chemicals; (5) Fire Loading; (6) Fire Spread – The Offsite Risks; (7) and Constrained sites.   It will be interesting to see what the investigators are able to uncover in the following weeks.

André Finot, the cathedral’s spokesman, pointed out traces of damage. “Everywhere the stone is eroded, and the more the wind blows, the more all of these little pieces keep falling,” he said. (Photo Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times)

Ongoing Renovations

Fallen stones on the cathedral’s roof. Experts say that the building has reached a tipping point and that routine maintenance is no longer enough to prevent rain, wind and pollution from causing lasting damage. (Photo Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times)
Masonry that has broken away or that was taken down as a precautionary measure has been piled up on a small lawn at the back of the cathedral. (Photo Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times)

According to the New York Times, the biggest renovation at the cathedral took place between 1844 and 1864 when the spire and the flying buttresses were rebuilt.  The most recent overhaul, however, was meant to be understated. “The idea isn’t to replace every single stone. I don’t want to give this cathedral a face-lift,” said Philippe Villeneuve, the chief architect behind the project.  The renovations, which are estimated to cost $150 million euro ($169 million) were still ongoing when the cathedral caught fire.  Most likely something to do with the renovations of the cathedral led to its temporary demise.

Design Input

The event, which occurred during holy week sparked an intense national debate on how the 856-year-old cathedral should be rebuilt.  The French public will get a say on how the fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral will be rebuilt, officials say. 

FYI: In a separate blog post, ILMA plans to do a write up on the current designs that are being suggested by Architects and designers around the world.

Construction Workers – Risk Management

As a matter of course, this heartbreaking occurrence give us pause to consider the threats that can occur during construction.  Some risks to workers that need to be managed during construction and renovations include the following: (1) Working at Height; (2) Slips, Trips and Falls; (3) Moving Objects; (4) Noise; (5) Manual Handling; (6) Vibrations; (7) Collapses; (8) Asbestos; (9) Electricity; (9) Respiratory diseases. (Sources: Top 10 construction health and safety risks) and OSHA’s Top Four Construction Hazards); From the perspective of keeping the building safe during renovations and/or construction and saving lives, the following should be considered:

Building Safety – Risk Management

  1. Installation of sprinkler systems and fire detection systems early on in construction
  2. Availability of standpipes
  3. Commissioning the sprinkler system
  4. Access to fire extinguishers
  5. Make sure your fire detection and warning systems work
  6. Maintaining means of egress; Building compartmentation and protected fire routes in as the building is constructed
  7. Protect emergency escape routes
  8. Secure the site against arson
  9. Protect temporary buildings and accommodation
  10. Store equipment safely
  11. Design out hot works
  12. Keep the site tidy
  13. Keep project site and equipment safe
  14. No smoking
  15. Increase security for the site – CCTV, Full height hoarding, signage
  16. Engagement of local fire departments – to assess water pressure and accessibility
  17. Proper fire risk assessment that considers fire loading and fire separation distances

Learning From the Tragedy of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris

As timber is becoming increasingly more popular in high rises it is important to consider the past when managing the risks of projects utilizing wood framing.  Although there are many studies and test on modern day timber/wood designs, it is still important to consider the risks that are present on any jobsite.  Spending the money to do construction the right way will help reduce the inherent risks with construction – both to safeguard people as well as the buildings that we cherish.

For more information on my take on what happened at Notre Dame, please consider checking out the original articles: Personal Reflection on the Tragedy of April 15, 2019 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and What Makes Notre Dame Cathedral So Important as a Work of Architecture?.

Additional Reading:

We would love to hear from you about 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


Purpose of Architecture: Part 2/12 of the 12 P’s–– A Guideline of Design for Architects and Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect #ilmaBlog #Architecture

A 12 part series on the 12 P’s Doctrine: A Guideline of Design for Architects & Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect; developed by Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB, MBA.

PART TWO

Purpose of Architecture

The purpose of Architecture is to improve human life. Create timeless, free, joyous spaces for all activities in life. The infinite variety of these spaces can be as varied as life itself and they must be as sensible as nature in deriving from a main idea and flowering into a beautiful entity. The overriding essence is found in the intangibles, life–heart–soul–spirit–freedom–enduring within the structure. The basic needs of the human being and the subtle variations of the individual are the source for Real Architecture as well as, of course, the natural environment and the natural use of materials. Thus creating – new- changing- to infinity yet timeless Architecture.

–John Lautner, Architect F.A.I.A.

The quote above from Lautner captures the essence of what Architects try to achieve. You can learn more about Lautner by clicking here for his biography. Great design is all about great purpose. Without a purpose Architecture is just a sculpture. Learn more about “Sculpture Architects” by clicking here.

To design with a purpose is the ability to find a special meaning and correlation (and co-relationship) with the occupant and the built work itself. The space transcends the normal reality and lifts the spirits in a way that is difficult to describe in words, but offers us a special feeling. (You can read about design that transcends by clicking here.)

Architecture that is purposeful can lift the soul – take for example, Notre Dame Cathedral, the design of the space helps lift the occupant in mind, body and spirit through the use of architectural elements: sacredness, sublime, spaces that reach for the sky, ornamental detail, colorful fenestrations, light, beauty, rhythm, patterns and repetition, to name a few.

Not only can sacred spaces serve a purpose and transcend the mind and soul, but so can other great works of Architecture, like museums, train stations, office towers, civic structures, homes and schools. Purpose when combined with architectural beauty and refinement offers people something special that has meaning. That is what our souls crave, people, places and things that can fill our lives with meaning.

Subscribe to our blog for updates on each of the 12 doctrines.

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

Inspirational Photo Sources:

Hedjuk Wall House https://i.pinimg.com/originals/4e/41/e0/4e41e019b44ff5475e74a1c2cb78b6e6.jpg

Residential Architecture Example: http://nestpearls.blogspot.com/2013/03/sublime-architecture-chisels-ideal.html

Libeskind Jewish Museum in Berlin: https://www.world-architects.com/it/studio-libeskind-new-york/project/jewish-museum-berlin

São Bento Railway Station, Porto, Portugal: https://mostlytrue.blog/2019/02/16/sao-bento-railway-station-porto/

Thomas Heatherwick’s 2010 Seed Cathedral pavilion: https://archinect.com/news/article/150032966/paul-goldberger-on-the-science-behind-sublime-architecture

Guggenheim Museum in NYC by FLW: https://www.guggenheim.org/the-frank-lloyd-wright-building


The @FelicianoCenter’s @MIXLabDesign Design Charrette for “B.E.L.A.” Summer High School Program Entailing the Redevelopment of a Significant Urban Historic Site #UrbanPlanning #Redevelopment #Business #Entrepreneur #Education #HighSchool #DesignThink #Innovation #NJEd @MontclairStateU

On July 9, 2019, in the capacity of University Architect at Montclair State University (and Alumni of the Feliciano School of Business). I had the privilege of participating in a design charrette with a local high school. The project consists of an urban redevelopment site with a precious historical building at the site. I was invited by the people who run the Montclair State University MIX Lab (Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship), an interdisciplinary hub for transformative innovation, and digitally mediated making.

M.I.X. stands for Making and Innovating for X, where X is the unknown, that which exceeds our grasp, the future, and the open-ended nature of creativity, good design and big problems. The co-directors of MIX Lab are Iain Kerr, associate professor of Innovation Design, and Jason Frasca, entrepreneurship instructor.

I graciously accepted Jason and Ian’s invitation to participate as a guest critic along with another fellow professional, Frank Gerard Godlewski of Fellsbridge Studio LLC, who specializes in historic preservation in the area where the redevelopment project is located.  The format for the design charrette, hosted by the MIX Lab for the high school program led by high school teacher, Kevin Richburg, included: (1) The students, in groups of 4-5, presented their concepts for the redevelopment of the site (there were 5 teams); (2) the guest critics gave suggestions and further thoughts on how to further explore and develop the student’s ideas; (3) the guest critics summed up their thoughts for all the students with key take-aways.  The following is a recap of what I learned from the students (in so far as what is the most significant to them) and the key take-aways I offered the students (in no particular order of importance) from my perspective as an Architect who has been involved in the planning, design and construction of projects over the past 20-years.

What the Student Teams Focused on as Key Ideas for their Projects:

  • Historic preservation of the existing building
  • Connecting with local community
  • Local and state pride
  • Affordability
  • Sustainability
  • Celebration of diversity and inclusion
  • Love of the arts
  • Focus on the user “experience”
  • Spaces for families to enjoy
  • Entertainment
  • Accessibility to quality food and goods
  • Mixing of “Bright and Bold” historic and modern elements
  • Transformative
  • “Modern” vibe

Proposed Amenities of the Re-Development Site:

  • Supermarkets (one group proposed a two-story whole sale supermarket)
  • Open-air markets (farmer markets, etc.)
  • Retail, restaurants, food trucks
  • Open space, a square or plaza
  • Parking for visitors (possible tunnel or bridge)
  • Parking at perimeter

Types of Buildings (Programmed Spaces)

  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Explore modernization of existing historic building interior to suite new uses
  • Mixed use buildings with green roofs and roof top patios
  • Modern, light and transparent
  • Restaurants and sports bars
  • Entertainment – bowling alley, arcade, movie theater
  • Arts – Museum showcasing tradition and innovation
  • Grocery stores
  • Food trucks
  • Retail
  • Technology/electronics-based retail
  • Main historic building’s exterior appearance
  • Explore modernization of existing historic building interior to suite new uses
  • Mixed use buildings with green roofs and roof top patios
  • Modern, light and transparent
  • Restaurants and sports bars
  • Entertainment – bowling alley, arcade, movie theater
  • Arts – Museum showcasing tradition and innovation
  • Grocery stores
  • Food trucks
  • Retail
  • Technology/electronics-based retail

Types of Exterior Spaces

  • Open spaces with green lawns and fountains
  • Places to reflect and remember
  • ·Field with stage and seating
  • Outdoor seating for restaurants
  • Areas to relax

Key Take-Aways & Ideas for Further Exploration:

  • Site plans – Delineate site elements separately from building elements (so easier to comprehend) using color or graphics (Example)
  • Floor plans – Delineate building areas/rooms with designated color so it is easier to understand program of spaces (i.e., circulation vs apartments vs retail vs support spaces, etc.) (Example)
  • Work together as a team – commemorate each other’s strengths but give everyone credit even those whose work may be behind the scenes
  • Focus on one main idea (let other ideas support the one main theme)
  • Context and Scale – Observe and learn from the surrounding community; apply those elements to the proposed project so that it complements the adjoining communities
  • Materials – Understand how the new materials can complement the historic ones (let the original historic building stand on its own and celebrate its historical significance)
  • Consider “big box” retail versus the Local “pop ups” (gentrification good and bad)
  • Parking/Transportation – As mass transportation has changed from ships to locomotives to buses and cars; look to the future as the world heads to autonomous vehicles (particularly China).  If parking is required think about how a parking lot or parking garage can be transformed in the future.  Example
  • Sustainability is important but do not forget to consider W.E.L.L. as well.  LEED/Sustainability concepts Resource 1 ; Resource 2 also check out the following link for ides about other program types for the redevelopment project Resource 3
  • Consider more technology in your projects, for instance: Smart CitiesAR/VR, and other innovate concepts, like: Immersive Experience and Virtual reality in theme park attractions. Also consider utilizing QR Codes as a teaching tool.
  • Consider developing a pedestrian mall by converting an existing street into a pedestrian friendly zone like they have done in Jersey City, NJ or Times Square, New York City, NY or Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas, NV, the taking cars, trucks and buses off the street and giving the spaces back to the pedestrians who can enjoy it (also it would make the entire site one big site instead of two separate parcels dived by thru traffic).
  • Lastly, and not least important, when considering injecting modern elements with historic architecture, it must be considered whether the original is to remain intact or be altered.  There are interesting examples of tasteful alterations, however, the older I get the less comfortable I am with injecting new with old for the sake of “shock” value (where as a student of architecture 20 years ago the concept was more appealing).  I reminded the students of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, and the ensuing debate that is going on whether or not the renovations/upgrades should be true to the original or whether the new design should be bold and innovating and perhaps less true to the original.  Whether the designers choose to go in one direction or another much thought should be given to preserving the historical elements of our precious structures because they are irreplaceable (think Grand Central Station in New York City, NY, which acted as a catalyst for the preservation movement).  Click here to read about the history of the Preservation Battle of Grand Central Station.

Overall, I was impressed by the talent and creativity of all the students and I was pleased with the quality of their presentations. I hope I was able to contribute in some small way to the success of their respective projects.  The high school student participants’ contributions to the build environment would be welcomed by the design and construction industry, since the students are willing to understand and develop their skills in the area of deep thought, innovation, design, construction and socio-economic concepts at an early age.  I gladly encouraged each and every one of them by letting them know that if they choose a career in architecture, engineering, real-estate development, construction or related field that they would certainly all be able to achieve their goals based on their willingness and eagerness to learn and present their visions and concepts.   I hope my involvement was as rewarding for the students as it was for me.

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


The History of Western Architecture in Photos

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Happy Friday and enjoy the brief history lesson!

Prehistoric Times: Stonehenge in Amesbury, United Kingdom
Jason Hawkes/Getty Images

Ancient Egypt: The Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) in Giza, Egypt
Lansbricae (Luis Leclere)/Getty Images (cropped)

Classical: The Pantheon, Rome
Werner Forman Archive/Heritage Images/Getty Images (cropped)

Byzantine: Church of Hagia Eirene, Istanbul, Turkey
Salvator Barki/Getty Images (cropped)

Romanesque: Basilica of St. Sernin, Toulouse, France
Anger O./AgenceImages courtesy Getty Images

Gothic: Notre Dame de Chartres, France
Alessandro Vannini/Getty Images (cropped)

Renaissance: Villa Rotonda (Villa Almerico-Capra), near Venice, Italy
Massimo Maria Canevarolo via Wikimedia Commons

Baroque: Palace of Versailles, France
Loop Images Tiara Anggamulia/Getty Images (cropped)

Rococo: Catherine Palace near Saint Petersburg, Russia
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Neoclassicism: The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Architect of the Capitol

Art Nouveau: Hôtel Lutetia, 1910, Paris, France
Justin Lorget/chesnot/Corbis via Getty Images

Beaux Arts: The Paris Opéra, Paris, France
Francisco Andrade/Getty Images (cropped)

Neo-Gothic: The 1924 Tribune Tower in Chicago
Glowimage/Getty Images (cropped)

Art Deco: The 1930 Chrysler Building in New York City
CreativeDream/Getty Images

Modernism: De La Warr Pavilion, 1935, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, U.K.
Peter Thompson Heritage Images/Getty Images

Postmodernism: Celebration Place, Celebration, Florida
Jackie Craven

Neo-Modernism and Parametricism: Heydar Aliyev Centre, 2012, Baku, Azerbaijan
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Prehistoric to Parametric: Prehistoric Stonehenge (left) and Moshe Safdie’s 2011 Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore (right)
Left: Grant Faint / Right: photo by William Cho

(Source: Craven, Jackie. “Architecture Timeline – Western Influences on Building Design.” ThoughtCo, Apr. 21, 2018, thoughtco.com/architecture-timeline-historic-periods-styles-175996)

We would love to hear from you about 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


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Reginald Thomas

New York, New Jersey Reginald L. Thomas, AIA has garnered over twenty years’ experience working with a diverse group of distinguished architectural/design firms in New York City.  Reginald L. Thomas Architect LLC specializes in historically based, high-end, residential projects. Recently, he has added commercial and institutional work to the firm’s diverse clientele. His work has been featured in several prestigious publications, notably The New York Times and Architectural Digest.

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ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect? 

  • I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was 10 years old. During a weekend visit to the local art store to purchase paints, a how to book on architectural rendering caught my eye.   I remember thinking that the floor plans seemed magical.
  • We can thank Mike Brady, of the then popular Sitcom, the Brady Bunch, for that.  My first introduction to renderings and models came from watching the episodes after school and I was hooked.
  • Growing up in New York City, however, I visited the Museum of Natural History and MOMA regularly.  I was fascinated by the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History and the artwork at the MOMA and so at first, I dreamt of being an artist and being able to create this kind of beauty.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?    

  • I grew up in the South Bronx, so the first challenge was of course, money.  I fretted about how I was going to pay for college or even how I was going to apply to college.  It was stressful to think that I would have to help my siblings after college and therefore not be able to realize my own dreams.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?   

  • I’ve had the pleasure of working with corporate giants, entertainment and sports celebrities as well as hard working people who are interested in living in beautiful spaces. All are special to me.  Each project has its own individual story However, I have had clients that allowed me to design and build every inch of their space including the furniture. That’s amazing in today’s climate.

How does your family support what you do?    

  • College was a priority in my household as both my parents attended college.  My dad for his Associates Degree and my mother for her Master’s in Education.  , Although I did not have money I had an abundance of support for what I wanted to accomplish and an expectation that I get there.

How do Architects measure success?   

  • I believe versatility is a skill we all value as designers. We build projects that are beautiful as well as functional. Being able to create an aesthetically pleasing space to satisfy each of my client’s specific   taste and at the same time ensuring that it functions is its own reward.

What matters most to you in design?

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

  • To grow my business using all of the experience I’ve garnered over the last 30 years in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Like most artists, I also wish to push the barriers of my creativity while remaining true to the traditional and timeless nature of my designs.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?    

  • Paul Rudolph for salesmanship, talent, and cultural navigation skills which were beyond belief
  • Frank Lloyd for his skill, as well as his ability to convince his clients to be daring and tenacious.
  • Julia Morgan for her dedication and ability when she was the only one, and her clients who recognized and rewarded her abilities.

Do you have a coach or mentor?

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

  • The Great Pyramids of Giza. They are pure form, functional and beautiful.  It was once written by an early 19th century explorer who catalogued the proclivity for ornamentation throughout the known world that what we are able to see of Egyptian Architecture now is this architecture represents the last 2500 of this work in decline, what left of this 5000 year old architectural culture.
  • If that be the case, then how much more glorious the architectural vocabulary of this civilization must be. The elements of order including the concept of hyper style halls must be astounding. These are the elements that make an edifice “timeless.”
  • Notre Dame du Haut: The building teaches the intangibles of architecture as art. How does one use light as a design element?  Most people will never even notice how the intangible shapes made by light in their space let alone the effects on their psychological health.
  • The Mildred B Cooper Memorial Chapel: The boundaries that identify characteristics of nature and the difference from manmade structures are so blurred I this building that it is magical. I think in this design he did make his mentor proud. It is truly great work.

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

  • I think we are finally reaching the point where we are accepting the fact that we are part of a global community.  That means a true understanding, in real time, of the relationship and importance of urban design, architecture and interior design etc. to the human conditions.
  • Our use of technology will continue to grow at a rapid pace and architects will be required to leverage their expertise to benefit the world community especially in the areas of sustainability, and resilience.
  • I am most excited by the possibility of the profession as the lead, taking on the real-estate profession as developers

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

  • The digital drafting board and smart drafting solutions. The stylus is back, Instant 3d models and the expansion of BIM as a tool.
  • Wireless outlets
  • ASCII, GPS, LiDAR technology continue to advance. Assisting historic preservation giving a vision of what was formally unseen thereby assisting design and limiting errors.
  • 3d modeling, as a tool, will advance to the point that we will grow more independent of contractors and furniture designers

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?  

  • The reading of a Pattern Language. The book continues to teach me to think in layers until I get to the optimum solution.
  • Jean Michele Frank: The comprehensive business model that he practiced was one to be envied and to be emulated.
  • My mentors Max Bond and Richard Dozier.
  • New York City designers that I’ve work for like Peter Marino and Juan Montoya

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

  • A Place of worship on an island site

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

  • I hope to inspire the next generation through visibility. African-American descent represents a very small part of the architectural demographics.
  • I hope to write treatise and guides thereby leaving a guide to others to build on.
  • My suggestion always is to be assiduous; to be relentless, recognizing that  this is a lifelong area of study, one that requires . “long distance runners.”

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

  • The best advice for K-12 is to engage with architects when they come in to your schools on career days.  It is important as this stage to really get a clear understanding of what an architect does and the value of architects’ play in their daily lives.
  • College students: Provide information and honest dialogue on expectations after graduation; how to set reasonable and attainable goals, and lastly the many ways to measure success.
  • Financial guidance on how to plan for a secure retirement.
  • Explain what it means to own one’s own firm.

What does Architecture mean to you? 

  • Architecture is life.  It is the culmination of the aspirations of the human condition at different time periods.
  • Architecture means being conscious of the places and spaces we occupy as humans.  It’s being in the unique position of being able to effect change in the communities welive in a way that is unique to no other profession

What is your design process? 

  • Client interview: Do more listening than writing.
  • Who or what community am I designing for.
  • Identify client particulars not just in program but culturally. How does the client perceive and use space. What is the corporate or family dynamic?
  • Where am I being asked to design?
  • What are the constraints of the site or space?
  • How do I make it function perfectly and at the same time be beautiful?

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

  • Apart from very early on when I wanted to be an artist I have never given thought to being anything else, however, if you were to ask my father, a surgeon would have been his preference.

What is your dream project?  

  • One that encompasses urban planning, landscape architecture, architecture as sculpture, interior design and furniture design; the complete package in the vernacular of the local culture.

What advice do you have for future Executive leaders?  

  • Seek out and work with like-minded people who share your vision and whom you can trust to honestly evaluate, and counsel you.  Also, do not be afraid to delegate or share responsibility giving you the time and space you need as the leader to imagine and create.

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

  • The challenge of finding curious and willing junior staff who are willing to put in the long hours needed to really learn the ins and outs of the profession.
  • Loyalty
  • Finding staff that is willing to learn how to build, even, by drawing the components rather than by cutting and pasting.
  • My hope is that with the advances in Wacom Tablet technology we will have monitors as drafting boards and stylus as pencils causing the young architect to unconsciously pay more attention to what and how the building is being created.

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

  • The executive leader must to be able to leverage the power of the internet and especially social media

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?    

  • I have been surprised at how much television, social media and the internet have impacted the decisions we now make as leaders.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?   

  • Improving and adapting are keys to longevity and to success.   Be relentless in your desire to grow and learn recognizing that learning is a lifelong pursuit.

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