Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Felicia Middleton @UrbanAesthetics

Felicia Middleton is an Architecture Design Professional, an Author, an EPA Certified Renovator and an Entrepreneur. She is the principal of Urban Aesthetics, LLC serving the Philadelphia metropolitan area.  She specializes in Residential and Commercial Architecture and Interior Design – both Renovations and New Construction – as well as Commercial and Residential Kitchens and Baths, Quality Assurance, Interior Material Specifications, Interior Commercial Design including Restaurants and Bars, Salons and Spas, Education and Church Facilities and Corporate Design and Retail Planning. She also provides Construction Administration and Construction Management services.

She can be found on social media by following these links: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?

At the young age of 15, while attending the Carver H.S. of Engineering and Science I took a drafting class and decided what I wanted to do as a career. I told a drafting teacher that I wanted to draw on computers. We had a drafting teacher who was very encouraging, named Mr. Avant. The students loved him so much because he would let us eat lunch with him in his drafting class and he had a genuine interest in each one of us. Sadly, he passed last year. I always wanted to thank him for his help and encouragement.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

College financing often was a challenge for me. My family had difficulties and paying for college became a struggle. I had to work many jobs while in college but I realize now that those jobs helped lay the framework for my future. Thank God for making it possible for me to overcome so many obstacles and pursue and achieve my dream.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?

Earlier in my career, I designed a Commissary Kitchen Warehouse and several cafeterias for the Vineland School District in Vineland, NJ. I learned so much from that project. I learned a lot about the operations of school food facilities. That learning process really reinforced how important the use of a building is in design and planning.

During that same time, I worked on many well-known food facility projects in casinos throughout the country. I found a design niche that I grew to love and still love over a decade later.

How does your family support what you do?

My immediate family supports me 100%. Especially my mother. She has been my biggest fan. My friends and family will often pass my name to others who may need my services. In addition, they support events and projects sponsored by my company, especially the community projects.

How do Architects measure success?

Many architects measure success via projects and achievements and the impact that they have on others. I would also add that success is measured by the way we are able to make a difference in our communities.

What matters most to you in design?

Safety, is extremely important to me, also function and aesthetics. Buildings are where we spend the majority of our time so they should be safe spaces that add to our well-being.

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!

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

Over the next two years I will focus on managing Urban Aesthetics projects while developing my own individual brand. Within 5 years I will have my brand developed in Food Facility Design and operate separately from Urban Aesthetics.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?

I feel in our profession mentoring and inspiring is very important. Your life, work and values should inspire your followers. My favorite historical architect, Daniel Burnham’s life story is inspiring, his buildings are beautiful and he has written very inspiring quotes. I have used his quote as a motto for my business.

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency…”

My favorite current architects are my colleagues.

Do you have a coach or mentor?

I have a Business Coach but unfortunately, I do not currently have a mentor. I have been blessed with many mentors throughout my life and career and I have mentored many.

Mentoring relationships are not permanent. They end or change as we grow. I have desired to find a mentor for a couple of years but I have not been able to create the relationship.

The architect that I share an office with is probably the closest person to a mentor that I currently have. He is a senior on the architecture profession and he offers advice and gives advice when I ask. I have a great deal of respect for him.

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

My favorite historic project is the Colosseum. The Colosseum is a grand structure located in Rome, Italy. It is beautiful and strong, representing the games that were performed for spectators. Amazingly, it has stood robust and tall for almost 2000 years.

My favorite modern building has changed a many ties over the last 20 years, as innovation, design and the environment surrounding me changes. Most recently, the Cira Center, in Philadelphia, has been a favorite. I love it because it stands a jewel above the surrounding buildings and it represented the expansion of our downtown to the other side of the Schuylkill River. An added bonus is that the building is green, LEED Certified.

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

For a while, it seemed as if there was a decline in the profession but I have noticed a recent resurgence. I do believe there needs to be some liberation in the process involved in becoming an architect and function within the profession. I see the profession opening up to multiple careers, interchanging with architecture.

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

Virtual 3d Modeling is a form of technology that I have seen most recently. Virtual reality in design will help us communicate designs to clients who have difficulty understanding plans. In addition, advances in project management software helps to streamline the planning and construction processes.

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?

The Green Movement has been my greatest influence in design. I became serious about environmental issues while in college and there I decided that it would have a big impact on my work. I worked for an environmental organization for a couple of years while in college and I learned so much. I added a few environment-centered courses while in college and

my senior internship included researching Brownfield’s Redevelopment. When I first entered the design world, eco-friendly design was not a large part of what we did. I was a bit discouraged at first but was reenergized in the early 2000’s when the green movement really started taking shape.

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

A LEED project. My current burning desire is to participate on a LEED project.

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

I will to continue mentoring our young people by explaining to them as many aspects of our work as I can, to help the understand all that is included and let them see that this profession has so much to offer, depending on what direction you wish to go. I will let them see that when you fall in love with your work, it can be very fulfilling. I hope to let them see that you can make a difference in your community and also the world while working in this field but you MUST find your way.

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

Fall in love love with architecture and the profession if you want to succeed and endure the work. You will have to put your time in while working but be sure to learn more than what is expected.

What does Architecture mean to you?

Architecture is art in the form of function and use. We create structures that affect people physically and emotionally. We discover solutions to problems both spatially and creatively. I learned at a young age that I liked seeing how things come together. In architecture, part of your work is to develop the way a building comes together. At times we have to take a building apart to bring the desired project together.

What is your design process?

I follow a basic process:

  • Determining the client’s Gain an understanding of their situation (financial, time constraints and any limitations)
  • Preliminary Research – Code, Zoning, Needs of Use, Property,
  • Pre-Design – Discuss research findings, create
  • Design Development – Develop the concept into a more workable Additional research.
  • Coordinate with project team.
  • Complete

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

If I could not work in this great profession, I would be a writer. I guess I already am a writer. I have always excelled at writing. Writing is my second love, next to architecture. I have published 2 books, written for magazines and published several blogs. I absolutely love to write.

What is your dream project?

I have a strange desire to design a high-end Starbucks, similar to the project in progress in Chicago.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?

Take time to let things develop. Relish in the importance of being guided by others, mentors who can help you and your interests. You must share in your success, look to give to your fellow business colleagues. Develop a relationship with fellow business owners and remember that collaboration produces multiple wins. Work with partnerships, strategically develop partners with whom you can develop lasting business relationships.

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

Maintaining Momentum is a challenge that requires constant thought and planning. Moving to the next level while continuing a current pace is very important for success.

Keeping the needs of our community in focus while maintaining momentum is important and also challenging.

One trend I have seen in my industry, especially locally is the explosion of development within the inner city. It is similar to the Mc-Mansion boom we saw years ago.

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

Remain relevant to society, business and your community. Offer a unique service that keeps the client as a focus.

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 learned that business is difficult and you have to extract emotion from the process or it will wear you out. I work in a creative profession but often the bottom line drives my work. I’ve read about and followed the lives of innovative leaders in business to inspire me, geniuses such as Steve Jobs. Although they are one-in-a million I you can be one, I can make a difference. I strive to learn as much as you can from these leaders, both good and bad and use their tools in my work.

Shark Tank may be entertaining but you can learn a lot watching that show. Learn where you can. Never stop educating yourself. Follow the rules.

A surprise I have encountered is the number of opportunities that are available for current and future business owners.

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?

Read as much as you can. Keep learning. Be honest, thankful and give back as much as possible. Follow the rules. To me, true success, being able to use the resources that you’ve been blessed with to bless someone else. Whether it is with your money, labor, knowledge, time, mentoring, etc.

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

Christmas Gift Ideas from ILMA


THE SPIRIT OF CAMPUS DESIGN: A reflection on the words of Werner Sensbach #Campus #Planning #Design #University #Architect

Montclair State University
Photo Credit: Mike Peters

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.”

Montclair State University
Photo Credit: Mike Peters

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)

For a list of my projects: Click Here

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 Matthew B. Jarmel, AIA, MBA of @JarmelKizel

Mr. Jarmel is an Architect, Real Estate Developer, Renewable Energy Enthusiast, Entrepreneur and Owner of Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers Inc.

He received a Bachelors of Architecture from NJIT in 1990 and an MBA from Rutgers University in 1994. He can be found online at the following social media sites: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

About the Firm

Since the firm’s founding in 1975, Jarmel Kizel has worked its way from the inside out; originally concentrating on the interior design of corporate offices and since has grown into a full-service Architectural, Engineering, and Interior Design firm that provides a single point of accountability for all aspects of design services. The firm’s size and abilities enable it to handle a broad spectrum of projects while allowing the principals to put their seal on every one. With in-house Civil, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Protection Engineering, clients can look to Jarmel Kizel to have all aspects of their projects designed and managed by one firm.

Today the firm provides a unique service platform that provides a single point of accountability for architectural and engineering services formatted to assist clients with managing their project’s design needs from site design and land entitlements to building design through construction oversight.

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

I knew when I was in Junior High School that I wanted to become an architect.  I grew up in the industry in that my father is a commercial interior designer, he actually founded our firm in 1975, and I was exposed to design and construction at a very early age.  My dad totally remodeled our home and he had my brother Richard, who is a civil engineer and partner in our firm, and myself helping and working with tools. 

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?  

The architectural and engineering industry can be very rewarding.  There is tremendous emotional fulfillment to see your ideas first take shape on paper and then through construction.  I take great pride driving by a building our firm has designed and saying we did that.  Despite the rewards the business of architecture can be very difficult.  Our industry is first hit by a recession, hardest hit and usually the last to recover.   One of the greatest challenges of working in the profession is learning how to batten down the hatches and weather the economic storms when they come. 

Any memorable clients or project highlights?  

I have many projects I am proud of many clients that I respect and that have become good friends and even partners over the years.  Some of the more notable projects I have worked on include designing the Bear Stearns Campus in Whippany, NJ.  This project was developed over years and ultimately included approximately 700,000 sf of office and data center space in five buildings, two of which we designed and the rest we designed major renovations to.  Unfortunately Bear Stearns does not exist anymore but the campus is still there.  We also were fortunate to design the first major redevelopment project in Plainfield, NJ where we designed four buildings for the Union County Improvement Authority that included a 100,000 sf office building, two retail buildings totaling 40,000 sf and a parking structure.   This project acted as a catalyst for new development in the city.   Over the last several years the firm has been very active in NYC designing many mixed use large scale projects, we have a 17 story building under construction in Queens right now.   One of my most memorable clients is The Learning Experience.   The Learning Experience is a national and soon to be international brand of child development centers.  We designed their first center 16 years ago and have since completed over 200 projects throughout the country for them.  Because of the volume of projects we have completed for them, about 70 in NJ alone, I gained tremendous experience in land entitlements and have become an expert in land entitlement strategy.

How does your family support what you do?    

The creative process can be very time consuming, running a business and being creative magnifies the time required to be an architect.  Some days I leave the house at 7 and if I have a hearing don’t get home until midnight.   Other times I am hopping on an airplane and away overnight.   My family is supportive in that they understand the taxing requirements of the job.   With that said everything I do is for my family.  So I make sure my wife and children get the attention they need from me and we plan as much quality time as possible.

How do Architects measure success?     

Some might say you measure the success of an architect by the quality and aesthetic of the buildings he or she designs, or by how much wealth and fame they have obtained.  To me a successful architect you have to be a strong leader, a strong communicator and be able to balance the aesthetic and technical issues of a building’s design all while understanding the functional and economical goals of your client.  The architect that can achieve this can become successful.  Ultimately success is measured by obtaining the respect of your peers, clients and even contractors in the industry.  

What matters most to you in design?      

Achieving my clients goals of function and budget while creating a building that is safe and attractive.   

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

Our firm has developed strong skills in real estate development which include land entitlements and real estate economics.   Many times we set the strategy for how to present a project to planning and zoning boards, explain the process to our clients and even their attorneys, advise on PILOT and other incentives, building valuation and assist in making introduction to equity investors and lenders.   These skills make us stand out from our competitors but not necessarily obtain higher fees.  Our goal for the next 2 to 5 years is to expand our Real Estate Advisory services to create additional revenue as a “Fee Developer” and on our own development account.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?     

I respect the design styles of many current and historic architects.  I am a big fan of the Chicago School and of those architects Louis Sullivan is probably my favorite.  I like this style for the buildings of the time were the first commercial buildings and first to break away from using ancient detailing by employing and emphasizing technology in design.

Do you have a coach or mentor?

I do not have a specific coach or mentor but I like to bounce ideas off of my team, clients and friends.  

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

My favorite historic building is the Roman Pantheon.  It was built around 113 AD and has the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever made which has a giant hole in the center that allows the sun and the moon to shine in along with the rain.  It still stands 2000 years later.  The Romans were great builders, they invented concrete, experimented with reinforcing concrete with brass chains and even developed zoning rules and regulations.   As far as contemporary buildings there are so many that I love.   I lean towards high rise sky scrapers

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

Although new technologies are implemented in the profession and we go through these stages where we preach design build vs a separation between design and construction professionals the industry has not changed much in my career.  I find it interesting that Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” which was written in the 40’s and takes place in the 20’s and uses the architectural industry as a back story to promoting her political views speaks to many of the same type of players and issues in the industry today.  There are developers, contractors, politicians and architects.  There are residential, public and commercial buildings and she even tackles issues such as affordable housing.  All the same issues we deal with today.   I do not see major changes in the business of the profession.  Although I do see major technical influences which will affect the way we design and build buildings.  There is a robot that lays brick now.  I think as the world gets smaller through technology building codes and licensing laws will become more standardized.

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

The use of BIM is becoming the most prevalent tool used in the design of buildings.  It allows architects and engineers to work in 3 dimensions, quickly and efficiently to improve coordination and actually see the building take shape on the screen.  Despite my comment about the brick laying robot above most construction is still done with heavy machinery and by hand.  However, technology has taken over the management of projects from creating schedules, to tracking financing and creating a database of information.  

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?      

This answer may seem odd to most architects but my great influence in design arrives from an understanding of real estate economics tied to a building’s function and economics.   When a student at NJIT I took an elective in real estate development.  It was taught by a gentleman who ran the development arm of a now defunct savings and loan so we will allow him to remain nameless.  However, he was very influential in that he said he hated architects and found them to be a necessary evil in the process because the law forced them on him to use.  Obviously, this got most of the students in the class upset but I wanted to know why he felt that way.  He thought that architects only cared about what the building looked like and had no understanding or really care for what it might cost to build, what’s its function was to be or how it generated revenue for its owners.  He introduced me to the business side of why clients build in the first place.  This motivated me to go on and obtain an MBA with a concentration in real estate development and urban land use after architectural school.  I feel that the business education in conjunction with my architectural education make me a stronger architect and have been the most influential on my design.

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

I have been fortunate to work on almost any type of commercial project.  I would like to be exposed to more hospitality projects.

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

I hope to mentor the next generation of architects in a way that they can understand the business goals of the client and why they are building so that they can better respond to the client’s needs I also want to mentor them to be strong leaders and great communicators.

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

I would advise them to not only pursue their dream of designing buildings but to learn about the profession as a whole, to learn about the process of becoming an architect and career choices in the industry.  When I was in school no one told me how to become a licensed architect I had to figure it out on my own.

What does Architecture mean to you?     

It is my profession, it is my life!

What is your design process?     

First understand the client’s program goals and budget, then study the site and zoning constraints, roll up my sleeves and dive in.

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

A civil engineer and or real estate developer.

What is your dream project?     

A really tall building in a major city that becomes a landmark for years to come.  If I can be a partner in its ownership even better.

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?     

Respect and care about the people you are leading, be kind but stern.

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

All challenges revolve around people.  First finding qualified people, there is a tremendous shortage of qualified architects and engineers, second finding people that can see the big picture first before the crawl into the details and finally finding people that can communicate effectively.   As far as trends see my answer to where I see the industry going above

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

I am optimistic that we are at the beginning of a sustainable economic growth period.  This will provide many of us with significant projects to choose from and an even more challenging labor shortage.  An executive leader will need to be able to recruit talent and keep them motivated to stay.

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 do not know if I am any smarter today at 50 then I was when I got out of school in my early 20’s what I have gained is life experience.  The most important lesson is that people will surprise you. Some will impress you, some will disappoint you, some will be loyal and others not.  I have seen some crazy things happen some good and some bad.   Just when I think I have seen everything someone surprises me. 

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?      

Learn your trade, be good at and then learn to be a good communication and leader and business person.

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


Modern Retreat in Argentina, “Casa BB” by BAK Arquitectos

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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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What is a High Performance School?

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

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.

Energy

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.

Daylighting

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.

Water

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.

Materials

“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.

Community

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.

Commissioning

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!

Sincerely,
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

FC3 ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, LLC
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e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
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“Seeing Is Forgetting The Name Of The Thing One Sees” by Robert Irwin

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 SeesLawrence 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.”

Buy the book on Amazon.


Contact Me

Feel free to contact me if you have any interest in my professional services.

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  • 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

  • Interior design

  • Accessibility (ADA, Barrier-Frees) evaluation and design

  • Site selection, studies and design

  • Land use analysis and design

  • Landscape design

  • Specifications writing, bid package preparation

  • Consultant coordination and management

  • Construction administration, time, cost and quality management

  • Public hearing and data collection assistance

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