THE SPIRIT OF CAMPUS DESIGN: A reflection on the words of Werner Sensbach #Campus #Planning #Design #University #ArchitectPosted: January 25, 2019
In 1991, Werner Sensbach, who served for over 25 years as Director of Facilities Planning and Administration at the University of Virginia, wrote a paper titled “Restoring the Values of Campus Architecture”. The paragraphs that follow were excerpted from that article. They seem particularly appropriate to Montclair State University as it looks at its present campus facilities and forward to the planning of future facilities on a piece of land of spectacular beauty.
Nearly two thousand years ago, the Roman architect Vitruvius wrote that architecture should provide firmness, commodity, and delight. It is the definition of “delight” that still troubles us today. This is especially so on college campuses. Many who try to give voice to what it is that brings delight in a building or an arrangement of buildings may mention the design, the placement on the site, the choice of building materials, the ornamentation, or the landscaping. But mostly it’s just a feeling, or a sense that things are arranged just right, or a sensation of pleasure that comes over us. So academics, like nearly everyone else, often are unsure when planning for new campus construction about what is likely to be delightful. Even though the United States has 3,400 colleges, while most other advanced nations only have a few dozen, we simply have not developed in the United States a sensibility, a vocabulary, a body of principles, an aesthetic for campus architecture.
That each campus should be an “academic village” was one of Thomas Jefferson’s finest architectural insights. Higher learning is an intensely personal enterprise, with young scholars working closely with other scholars, and students sharing and arguing about ideas, religious beliefs, unusual facts, and feelings. A human scale is imperative, a scale that enhances collegiality, friendships, collaborations on research.
I believe the style of the campus buildings is important, but style is not as important as the village-like atmosphere of all the buildings and their contained spaces. University leaders must insist that architects they hire design on a warm, human scale. Scale, not style, is the essential element in good campus design. Of course, if an inviting, charming campus enclosure can be combined with excellent, stylish buildings so much the better.
The third imperative for campus planners, the special aesthetic of campus architecture, or the element of delight, is the hardest to define. It is the residue that is left after you have walked through a college campus, a sense that you have been in a special place and some of its enchantment has rubbed off on you. It is what visitors feel as they enjoy the treasures along the Washington Mall, or others feel after leaving Carnegie Hall, Longwood Gardens in southeastern Pennsylvania, Chartres Cathedral, the Piazza San Marco in Venice, or the Grand Canyon.
On a college campus the delight is generated by private garden spaces in which to converse, by chapel bells at noon or on each hour, by gleaming white columns and grand stairways, by hushed library interiors, by shiny gymnasiums and emerald playing fields, by poster-filled dormitory suites, by a harmony of windows and roofs, and by flowering trees and diagonal paths across a huge lawn. The poet Schiller once said that a really good poem is like a soft click of a well-made box when it is being closed. A great campus infuses with that kind of satisfaction.
In my view, American’s colleges and universities—and especially their physical planners—need three things to become better architectural patrons. One is a renewed sense of the special purpose of campus architecture. A second is an unswerving devotion to human scale. The third is a sense of the uncommon and particular aesthetic—the delight—that a college or university campus demands.
A surprisingly large sector of the American public has conceded a special purpose to higher education. College campuses have provided a special place for those engaged in the earnest pursuit of basic or useful knowledge, for young people devoted to self-improvement, and for making the country smarter, wiser, more artful, and more able to deal with competitor nations.
Therefore, college and university campuses have a distinct and separate purpose, as distinct as the town hall and as separate as a dairy farm. For most students the four to seven years spent in academic pursuits on a university campus are not only an important period of maturing from adolescence to adulthood but also years of heightened sensory and creative ability, years when the powers of reasoning, feeling, ethical delineations, and aesthetic appreciation reach a degree of sharpness as never before. During college years, young minds absorb impressions that often last for a lifetime: unforgettable lectures, noisy athletic contests, quiet hours in a laboratory or library, jovial dormitory banter, black-robed commencements, encounters with persons of radically different views, the rustle of leaves, transfigured nights. The American college campus serves superbly as an example of Aristotle’s idea of a good urban community as a place “where people live a common life for a noble end.”
No architect should be permitted to build for academe unless he or she fully appreciates that his or her building is an educational tool of sorts. New buildings should add to the academic ambiance and enrich the intellectual exchanges and solitary inquiries. They should never be a mere personal statement by the architect or a clever display of technical ingenuity or artistic fashion.
Campus facilities planners need to be sure that the architects they choose are able to incorporate surprise, touches of whimsy, elegance, rapture, and wonder into their constructions. This special campus aesthetic is definitely not a frill. It is what graduates remember decades after they have left the college, and what often prompts them to contribute money to perpetuate the delight. It is what captures high school juniors and their parents in their summer pilgrimages to numerous college campuses to select those two or three institutions to which they will apply.
I think the best way to preserve the particular values of the American college campus is through a three-pronged effort:
The first is to recognize that the village-like university campus is a unique American architectural creation. No other nation has adopted the “academic village” as an architectural and landscaping form, though the ancient Oxbridge colleges came close. Academic leaders should become more knowledgeable about the distinctiveness of their campus communities and more proud of and assertive about maintaining the values of this inventive form.
Second, universities should have a broadly representative and expert blue-ribbon committee to watch over all new construction, not leave it to the vice president for administration, a facilities planner, or a trustee committee. The campus environment should be guarded and enhanced as carefully as the quality of the faculty.
Third, each college and university should draw up a set of design guidelines to help it become a patron who can list what is essential in its campus architecture. These guidelines will differ from campus to campus, but nearly all institutions should include concern for the three fundamentals: academic purpose, human scale, and a special campus aesthetic. Architects can de- sign more effectively and sympathetically if they understand the expectations of the college.
Although these words were written in 1991, they remain true today as Montclair State University continues to grow its enrollment, academic programs, research programs…and the facilities that serve them.
Source: “Restoring the Values of Campus Architecture” by Werner Sensbach (who served for over 25 years as Director of Facilities Planning and Administration at the University of Virginia)
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The design of this house is a continuation of a ‘building in the forest’ research done by BAK arquitectos, which started in 2004 with the design of their first house in Mar Azul. The architects examine the possibility of building without losing the environmental quality of the site, proposing alternatives to ensure the survival of natural environments. This involves a Minimal Architecture in terms of not only of form but in materials and particularly minimum site intervention. This is achieved by ‘listening to the forest’ and what the site tries to communicate, along with practicing ‘seeing for the first time’ on behalf of the architects.
The low budget along with the no maintenance requirement set the aesthetic and construction limitations of the project. High compact, waterproof, fair faced concrete provided the necessary insulation and covered the no maintenance factor. The use of glass captures natural light and allows views of the landscape in all directions.
Casa JD has two bedrooms with the flexibility to transform part of the large living/dining space into a third one, a kitchen as well as generous outdoor spaces. The design concept is based on two intersecting prisms situated on a naturally inclined site within the trees, in this way hiding part of its volume. The trees seem to penetrate the house as wood, along with concrete, is a predominant feature of its interior. Wooden steps and a deck lead to the living room. Wooden sliding panels provide a seamless continuation of the exterior and the interior. This level of access is a unique space where different uses are defined by height differences caused by the intersection of prisms and cross sections of concrete walls. Except for the beds, couches and chairs the rest of the equipment of this housing is concrete cast.
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Ask the Architect
by Frank Cunha III
What is a High Performance School?
A “High Performance School” is a well-designed facility can enhance performance and make education more enjoyable and rewarding. A “High Performance School” is healthy and thermally, visually, and acoustically comfortable. It is also energy, material, and water efficient. A “High Performance School” must be safe and secure; easy to maintain and operate; commissioned; environmentally responsive site. Most of all a “High Performance School” is one that teaches and is a community resource. It should also be stimulating as well as adaptable to changing needs.
Improved Student Performance
Evidence is growing that high performance schools can provide learning environments that lead to improved student performance. Recent studies show that effective daylighting has contributed to improved student test scores by 10-20%. Intuitively quieter, comfortable classrooms with good lighting and good air quality yield better students/teachers. Low- and no-emission building materials can reduce odors, sensory irritation, and toxicity hazards. Efficient windows also reduce outside noise distractions. Improved heating and cooling systems permit students to hear the teacher better and avoid room temperature swings. Adequate lighting improves students’ ability to read books and see the blackboard. Considerations for “High Performance Schools”include: siting; indoor environmental quality; energy; water; materials; community; faculty and student performance; commissioning; and facilities performance evaluation.
Siting is critical for “High Performance Schools” with regards to the environment, energy consumption, and indoor environmental quality, transportation, greenfields, endangered species, wetlands concerns, existing pollution on the site, and stormwater management. A key factor in site design is orientation of the building, which can influence passive heating, natural ventilation, and daylighting. Optimal orientation can reduce year-round heating and cooling costs and optimizes natural lighting. If possible orient buildings so that the majority of windows face either north or south. Strategic placement of vegetation can be used when this orientation cannot be utilized.
Positive affects on the energy and environmental performance of a school include primary consideration for the environmentally sound school building. A school building should complement its environment. Working around existing vegetation to shade building and outside cooling equipment to reduce HVAC load help ensure good environmental performance of school by lowering energy bills and reducing local pollution. Locating a school near public transportation and within walking distance to a majority of students will further reduce energy use, while lowering local traffic and pollution.
Stormwater management is vital to safety and ecological health of a school’s site. Moving stormwater quickly to gutters, downspouts, catch basins, and pipes increases water quantity and velocity requiring large and expensive drainage infrastructure. Water should be captured in cisterns and ponds, or absorbed in groundwater aquifers and vegetated areas. Remaining water runoff should be slowed down and spread across roof and paved surfaces evenly before entering bioswales and creeks. Perforated drainpipe and filters, and “Green” roofs promote water absorption.
“High Performance Schools” promote student safety and security. Visibility of school entrances from main office and general accessibility of the school grounds can affect security. Lighting quality in halls and corridors is also critical.
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ)
“High Performance Schools “ optimize IEQ by considering it throughout the design and construction process. IEQ includes indoor air quality; acoustics; daylighting; lighting quality; and thermal comfort. Benefits include: reduction in student and teacher absences; increase student performance; reduction of illnesses related to indoor toxins; improved teacher retention rates; reduced distractions; improved comfort levels; and maintenance of healthy students, teachers and staff.
Proper siting contributes to positive daylighting potentials and acoustics. Building envelope design affects thermal comfort, daylighting, and indoor air quality. Material choices can also have a positive affect on IEQ. Construction process and the operations and maintenance affect Indoor Air Quality. Key elements of building’s indoor environment affecting occupant comfort and health include: Thermal comfort – temperature, radiant heat, relative humidity, draftiness; light – amount and quality, lack of glare, direct sunlight; noise – levels and kinds, classroom acoustics, inside and outside sources; ventilation, heating & cooling – fresh air intake, re-circulation, exhaust; microbiologic agents – infectious disease, mold, bacteria, allergens; and chemical agents in air or surface dust –volatile organics (formaldehyde), pesticides, lead, asbestos, radon;
Ill health effects associated with poor IEQ can cause students, teachers, and administrative staff to experience a range of acute or chronic symptoms and illnesses including: headaches and fatigue (from VOCs and glare); irritation of eyes, nose, and throat (from VOCs, particles, low relative humidity); respiratory symptoms – allergic reactions (from mold, animal allergens, dust mites); breathing difficulties – increase in asthma symptoms (from allergens, particles, cold); increased transmission rates of colds and flu’s (due to poor ventilation); and poor IEQ can also lead to excessive exposure of classroom occupants to some carcinogens.
Important decisions school designers should pay particular attention to key buildings elements: building materials and surfaces (low-emitting for chemicals); ventilation systems (quiet, efficient filters, adequate fresh air); fenestration (adequate and operable windows); site drainage; envelope flashing and caulking; ande ase of maintenance for building components (e.g., floor cleaning, filter changing).
Common IEQ problems in classrooms include: excessive levels of volatile organic compounds, like formaldehyde, which can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and pose cancer risks (these compounds are emitted from new pressed wood materials, and in some other building materials and furnishings, especially in new or remodeled classrooms); although classrooms have individual control of HVAC systems, these systems are often noisy and are not continuously operated (causing large swings in both temperature and humidity levels, and allowing indoor air pollutant levels to build up); moisture problems are sometimes present in roofing, floors, walls, and exterior doors; operable windows are often small or absent; siting can be problematic relative to pollutant and noise sources, poor site drainage, and shading.
It is critical to manage and conserve natural resources in “High Performance Schools.” This can be done by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by using renewable energy resources; integration of concerns with design process; building siting and orientation; buildings shape; and landscaping; lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation sources. Integrated design can yield long and short-term savings. Reduced heat from an energy efficient lighting system and good natural ventilation designs can reduce the cooling demand, and thus the size and cost of the air conditioning units. All members of the design team should meet early on in the planning process and continue to coordinate integrated design concepts throughout the project in order to reduce energy costs.
The end result of integrated design is reduced overall energy consumption, thus saving construction costs through the downsizing of the systems and on-going costs of operation through reduced utility bills.
Many programs are available to help schools build energy-efficient facilities. Educate students about energy issues and to install renewable energy systems in schools. By taking advantage of these programs, schools can realize cost savings, better educate their students and help to ensure a cleaner, more stable environment for the future.
During the rush to construct new school buildings, districts often focus on short-term construction costs instead of long-term, life-cycle savings. The key to getting a high-performance school is to ask for an energy-efficient design in your request for proposals (RFP) and to select architects who are experienced in making sure that energy considerations are fully addressed in design and construction. Unless a school district directs its architect to design energy-efficient buildings, new schools may be as inefficient as old ones, or they may incorporate only modest energy efficiency measures.
Total construction costs for energy-efficient schools are often the same as costs for traditional schools, but most architects acknowledge a slight increase in the capital costs maybe necessary (as some energy efficient building features may cost more.) Efficient buildings have reduced building energy loads and take better advantage of local climate. A properly day lit school, for example, with reduced electrical lighting usage and energy efficient windows can permit downsized cooling equipment. Savings from this equipment helps defer costs of daylighting features. Even when construction costs are higher, resulting annual energy cost savings can pay for additional upfront capital costs quickly.
Older “cool” fluorescents had low quality of light that gives human skin a sickly bluish color. Newer fluorescent lights are both higher light quality and higher efficacy. Daylight, the highest quality of light, can help reduce energy use if the lighting system is properly integrated, with ambient light sensors and dimming mechanisms.
The design and construction of a school’s daylighting systems can cost more money. Properly day lit school (with associated reduced electrical lighting usage) can lead to downsized cooling equipment. The savings from this smaller equipment helps defer the costs of the daylighting features. Hiring an architect or engineering firm that is experienced in good daylighting design, especially in schools, will minimize any additional costs from the design end of a project. As with any building feature, effective daylighting requires good design.
Today’s window technology and proven design practices can ensure that daylighting does not cause distributive glare or temperature swings. Exterior overhangs and interior cloth baffles (hung in skylight wells) eliminate direct sunlight, while letting evenly distributed daylight into rooms. “Daylight” is in effect controlled “sunlight” manipulated to provide useful natural light to classroom activities. Moreover, daylight by nature produces less heat than that given off by artificial lighting.
The application of daylighting without control of sun penetration and/or without photo controls for electric lights can actually increase energy use. Design for daylighting utilizes many techniques to increase light gain while minimizing the heat gain, making it different from passive solar in a number of ways. First of all, the fenestration (or glazing) of the windows is different. In a day lit building, the glazing is designed to let in the full spectrum of visible light, but block out both ultra violet and infrared light. Whereas, in a passive solar building, the fenestration allows for the full spectrum of light to enter the building (including UV and Infra red), but the windows are designed to trap the heat inside the building. In addition, in day lit rooms, it is undesirable to allow sunlight in through the window. Instead, it is important to capture ambient daylight, which is much more diffusing than sunlight, this is often achieved by blocking direct southern exposure, and optimizing shaded light and northern exposure. Passive solar maximizes south facing windows, and minimizes north-facing windows, thus increasing heat gain, and minimizing heat loss.
As population growth increases demand for water increases. A “High Performance School” must reduce water consumption and use limited water resources wisely. This can be achieved by utilizing: water-efficient landscape techniques; water-efficient fixtures and controls in indoor and outdoor plumbing systems. The largest use of water in schools is in cooling and heating systems (evaporative cooling systems, single-pass cooling systems, etc.), kitchens, maintenance operations, landscaping irrigation, locker rooms, and restrooms. Good landscaping design including specifying native plants, proper spacing, and low-flow irrigation (that runs at night) will reduce a school’s water demand and expenditures.
High-efficiency irrigation technologies such as micro-irrigation, moisture sensors, or weather data-based controllers save water by reducing evaporation and operating only when needed. In urban areas, municipally supplied, reclaimed water is an available, less-expensive, and equally effective source for irrigation. The siting of a school and the shape of the land upon which is resides have tremendous impact on water resources. Selecting drought-tolerant plants will naturally lessen the requirement for water. In addition, using mulch around plants will help reduce evaporation, resulting in decreased need for watering plants or trees.
Drip irrigation systems with efficiencies of up to 95% rather conventional spray systems with efficiencies of only 50 to 60%.
The treatment of sewage is a costly process taken on by the local utility at the customer’s expense. The wastewater is typically treated and released back to the environment. Waste materials extracted from the wastewater must be further disposed of according to local codes. Considering on site water treatment will reduce the load on the local utility, offer an opportunity for students to learn about the biological and chemical processes involved in water treatment, and reduce operational expenses by avoiding a utility bill.
Greywater is water that has been used in sinks, drinking fountains, and showers. Black water is water that has been used in toilets. Greywater is fairly simple and safe to clean and reuse, whereas there are more health risks associated with black water.
“High Performance Schools” utilize material efficiency, which includes durable, reused, salvaged, and refurbished or recycled content. Recyclable materials manufactured using environmentally friendly practices.
Material efficiency can often save schools money by reducing the need to buy new materials and by reducing the amount of waste taken to the landfill. “high Performance Schools can reduce the amount of materials needed by: reusing onsite materials; eliminating waste created in the construction and demolition process; choosing materials that are safe, healthy, aesthetically pleasing, environmentally preferable, and contain low embodied energy.
Waste reduction planning is essential for school districts. These wastes represent a significant loss of natural resources and school district funds as well as a potential threat to student/staff health and the environment. To be responsible stewards of environmental quality, school districts should review new school construction, processes and operations, and even curriculum choices and evaluate the economic, educational, and environmental benefits of implementing effective waste reduction measures. Incorporating waste reduction as part of the school district’s overall way of doing business can provide a number of important benefits: reduced disposal costs; improved worker safety; reduced long-term liability; increased efficiency of school operations; and decreased associated purchasing costs.
Building materials may have a number of associated operating costs beyond the straightforward, initial capital costs. Proper selection is essential to minimize these secondary costs. Building materials may pose future health hazards, costing schools absentee time and lost student and faculty productivity. Consider the dangers of volatile organic compounds, dust, and moisture when selecting materials. Keeping these indoor pollutants at a minimum will ensure a healthy indoor environment and improve the learning environment.
Consider also the composition of the materials and how recyclable, durable, and refinishable they are. Keeping each of these characteristics in mind when selecting materials, the building will provide better service and reduce maintenance and operating costs. Source building materials from local distributors and save transportation energy costs if possible.
Transportation costs are sometimes referred to as part of a material’s embodied cost (and energy). Purchase building materials with low embodied costs such as local regional certified wood harvested from sustainable and well-managed forests. Onsite waste reduction and reuse during demolition and construction can save money by reducing amount of money spent at landfill, and by reducing initial amount of money spent on new materials. Save on labor costs by providing a Construction and Demolition waste plans before starting operations and identifying where to recycle materials and what materials to salvage.
The location where a “High Performance School” is constructed impacts the surrounding community. It can affect pedestrian and automobile traffic; quantity and quality of open space in the neighborhood; location within the community; and may be used as a tool to revitalize a community.
Once the school site is determined, the school’s design, construction, and use should be considered. Aspects such as the exterior design, amenities that it may provide and environmental design features can be a source of pride to the community. Schools can be a center for teaching and learning, and also add functional value within the community by providing access to facilities and play fields, and services such as after-school daycare and extended education.
High performance design for schools can be a selling point in bond elections because energy, indoor air quality, and other improvements translate to more comfortable classrooms for students, reduced energy bills, and lower operating and maintenance costs. Schools become healthier learning environments, reduce waste, and have less impact on the environment. Good indoor environmental quality has been proven to increase average daily attendance of students.
Faculty & Student Performance in High Performance Schools
Challenges include: tight budgets; an ever-increasing student enrollment; growing need for the renovation and building of many schools; higher expectation of faculty and student performance among these compelling circumstances. Sustainable schools can have a favorable impact on the school’s budget; help protect our environment; and encourage better performance of faculty and students as a result of a better learning environment.
“High Performance Schools” integrate today’s best technologies with architectural design strategies to achieve a better learning environment. These include: lighting – integration of daylighting and electrical lighting technologies; reduced noise levels by using acoustic materials and low-noise mechanical systems; healthy air quality, temperature, humidity levels – indoor air quality; thermal comfort; HVAC systems; low-emission materials; and reduce distractions and create environments where students and teachers can see and communicate with one another clearly and comfortably.
Without properly commissioning a school, many sustainable design elements can be compromised. In the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Guideline, The Commissioning Process is defined as follows: “The Commissioning Process is a quality-oriented process for achieving, verifying, and documenting that the performance of facilities, systems, and assemblies meet defined objectives and criteria. The Commissioning Process begins at project inception (during the pre-design phase) and continues for the life of the facility through the occupancy and operation phase. The commissioning process includes specific tasks to be conducted during each phase in order to verify that design, construction, and training meets the Owner’s Project Requirements.” By implementing a commissioning plan, a school can be sure that all of the systems function at optimum levels.
Facilities Performance Evaluation
Building and its systems are tested one year after completion and occupancy. Surveys are conducted to evaluate the satisfaction of occupants and maintenance and operations personnel. Alert school to system operational performance errors and potential hazards created by poorly operating systems. These problems can be corrected.
Data can be provided to school districts on what building attributes do and don’t work for their schools. Schools can develop guidelines and protocols that can help create better schools in the future.
Key Benefits of a High Performance School
Benefits include higher test scores, increased average daily attendance, increased teacher satisfaction and retention, reduced liability exposure, and sustainable school design.
Financing and incentives
Total construction costs for high performance schools are often the same as costs for conventional schools. Design costs may be slighting higher, but resulting capital and long-term operation costs can be lower. Properly designed day lit school with reduced electrical lighting usage can permit downsized cooling equipment. Even when construction costs are higher, resulting annual operational cost savings can pay for the additional upfront in a short period of time. High performance schools are falsely understood to be high-budget construction projects. Schools can find ways to finance a school beyond the State Allocation Board process. A collection of financial incentives in relation to energy, water, materials, siting, green building, landscaping and transportation from the Federal, State, Local, and Utility sectors may be available.
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!
Frank Cunha III
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FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.
Robert Irwin was born in 1928 in Long Beach, California to Robert Irwin and Goldie Anderberg Irwin. After serving in the United States Army from 1946 to 1947, he attended several art institutes: Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1948 to 1950, Jepson Art Institute in 1951, and Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1952 to 1954. He spent the next two years living in Europe and North Africa. Between the years 1957-1958, he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute.
In 1977, Robert Irwin wrote the following about himself: “I began as a painter in the middle of nowhere with few questions… My first real question concerned the arbitrariness of my paintings… I used my paintings as a step-by-step process, each new series of works acting in direct response to those questions raised by the previous series. I first questioned the mark as meaning and then even as focus; I then questioned the frame as containment, the edge as the beginning and end of what I see… consider the possibility that nothing ever really transcends its immediate environment… I tried to respond directly to the quality of each situation I was in, not to change it wholesale into a new or ideal environment, but to attend directly to the nature of how it already was. How is it that a space could ever come to be considered empty when it is filled with real and tactile events?” (Robert Irwin, 1977) Robert Irwin’s notion of art derived from a series of experiential perceptions. As an abstract, open-minded thinker, he presented experience first as perception or sense. He concluded that a sense of knowing, or ability to identify, helped to clarify perception. For example,
“We know the sky’s blueness even before we know it as “blue”, let alone as “sky.”
He explained later that the conception of an abstract thought occurs in the mind, through the concept of self. Following, the physical form is then recognized, communicating the form to the community. Then, the Objective compound occurs, delineating behavioral norms and artistic norms, becoming identifiable. Then the boundaries and axioms introduce logic and reasoning and decisions can be made: either inductive or deductive. Formalism follows, proving and convincing a decision about the object being perceived. The study done by Irwin suggested that: “…all ideas and values have their roots in experience,… they can be held separate at any point and developed directly on the grounds of function and use, both that they in fact remain relative to the condition of both our subjective and objective being.” Robert Irwin’s philosophy defined his idea of art as a series of aesthetic inquiries, an opportunity for cultural innovation, a communicative interaction with society, and as compounded historical development.
In his book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, Lawrence Weschler documents Irwin’s process from his early days as a youngster in Southern California to his emergence as a leader in the post-abstraction art world. Weschler describes the mystifying and often enchanting quality of these works in his book’s cover notes:
- In May 1980, Robert Irwin returned to Market Street in Venice, California to the block where he had kept a studio until 1970, the year he abandoned studio work altogether. Melinda Wyatt was opening a gallery in the building next door to his former work space and invited Irwin to create an installation.
- He cleaned out the large rectangular room, adjusted the skylights, painted the walls an even white, and then knocked out the wall facing the street, replacing it with a sheer, semi-transparent white scrim. The room seemed to change its aspect with the passing day: people came and sat on the opposite curb, watching, sometimes for hours at time.
- The piece was up for two weeks in one of the more derelict beachfront neighborhoods of Los Angeles: no one so much as laid a hand on it.
Because of the ephemeral or subtle nature of his work, this book became not just an introduction but, for many artists and art students, the primary way that Robert Irwin’s work was experienced. He told Jori Finkel of the New York Times in 2007 that people still come up to him at lectures for book autographs. In that article, Michael Govan, the director of LACMA who previously commissioned Irwin to “design our experience” of Dia:Beacon” said he believes the book “has convinced more young people to become artists than the Velvet Underground has created rockers.”
Feel free to contact me if you have any interest in my professional services.
Building Design: Professional and efficient development of new construction or renovation plans that successfully resolve a client’s space planning and design requirements.
Facility/Building Analysis|Existing Conditions Report: Evaluation of an existing building including components such as walls, windows, roofs, floor plans, room layouts, building science audits and equipment resulting in a summary report of the findings.
Code Analysis: Project-specific review of applicable codes including building codes, accessibility standards, energy standards, local zoning ordinances, land use plans, and other regulations.
Energy-Efficiency Assessments: Review of building components, insulation levels, heating and lighting systems, and operational features to assess current performance levels and opportunities for energy savings.
Feasibility Study with Cost Estimating: A report outlining options and associated costs for potential solutions to a stated project goal, for example, change of use for an existing structure. Often includes basic drawings or sketches explaining the solutions.
Space Planning: Graphic study showing arrangement of spaces, room layouts, and activities making up a floor plan. Studies will show room dimensions, shapes, number and types of spaces, and relationships (adjacencies) for all desired spaces. Multiple arrangements can be developed and evaluated for efficiency and functional success.
Site Planning: Development of site plan options showing boundary lines, potential development boundaries, building location(s), pedestrian access, sidewalks, parking, landscaping, lighting, surrounding context and other features.
Permitting: Production of drawings and permit applications necessary to submit for zoning or building permits. May include formal presentations to review boards or informal negotiation with regulators, zoning/planning administrators, fire marshals, and other officials.
Contractor Selection/Construction Administration Assistance: Professional and experienced assistance with the selection of qualified General Contractors or Construction Managers. This may include the preparation of competitive bid packages, review of bids, recommendations for award of bids, preparing owner-contractor agreements, and construction administration.
Creative, Artistic & Technological Design: Imaginative, functional and aesthetic solutions to a client’s stated needs. Assistance with envisioning new, creative solutions to problems that have been difficult to solve.
Other services provided:
Historic preservation research, evaluation and design
Existing building measurement; preparation of existing building drawings
As-Built record drawings documenting existing or recently completed work
Master planning research and analysis
Cost estimating related to design options
Project information surveys
Design team and process/integration management
Conceptual design and regional/cultural context
Sustainability and energy use/production analysis and design
Water and wastewater use analysis and design
Project programming, pre-design planning
Rating system (LEED, WELL, Passive House, etc.) coordination and management
Space utilization, functionality, economic and pre-design analysis
Indoor air quality and interior analysis
Accessibility (ADA, Barrier-Frees) evaluation and design
Site selection, studies and design
Land use analysis and design
Specifications writing, bid package preparation
Consultant coordination and management
Construction administration, time, cost and quality management
Public hearing and data collection assistance
Contractor bidding, negotiation, contract and process assistance to the owner
Project-related public agency coordination and management
Illustration rendering and 3D design modeling
© 2018 Frank Cunha III. All Rights Reserved.