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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed Amenities of the Re-Development Site:

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

Types of Buildings (Programmed Spaces)

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

Types of Exterior Spaces

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

Key Take-Aways & Ideas for Further Exploration:

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

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

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

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Creating High Performance Buildings through Integrative Design Process

The “High Performance by Integrative Design” film by RMI includes examples of how design teams collaborate in new ways to integrate high-performance design elements, such as daylighting, energy efficiency and renewable energy, for optimal performance. Viewers experience charrette discussions and see the design process unfold on projects such as the Empire State Building retrofit, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Phipps Conservancy in Pittsburgh, the Desert Living Center in Las Vegas, Willow School in New Jersey and Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Typical Design & Construction Process

Conventional planning, design, building, and operations processes often fail to recognize that buildings are part of larger, complex systems. As a result, solving for one problem may create other problems elsewhere in the system.1

Integrative Design & Construction Process

Collaboration leads to innovation

An integrated design process (IDP) involves a holistic approach to high performance building design and construction. It relies upon every member of the project team sharing a vision of sustainability, and working collaboratively to implement sustainability goals. This process enables the team to optimize systems, reduce operating and maintenance costs and minimize the need for incremental capital. IDP has been shown to produce more significant results than investing in capital equipment upgrades at later stages.2


As discussed in a previous post, the integrated process requires more time and collaboration during the early conceptual and design phases than conventional practices. Time must be spent building the team, setting goals, and doing analysis before any decisions are made or implemented. This upfront investment of time, however, reduces the time it takes to produce construction documents. Because the goals have been thoroughly explored and woven throughout the process, projects can be executed more thoughtfully, take advantage of building system synergies, and better meet the needs of their occupants or communities, and ultimately save money, too.3


Considerations and Advantages of an Integrative Design Process:

  • ID&CP processes and strategies can be implemented to varying degrees depending upon the complexity of a project and an owner’s project goals.
  • A project team must be carefully assembled very early on in the process to ensure success.
  • All key participants must subscribe to the collaborative effort of establishment clear goals.
  • All project stakeholders must be involved and remain involved in the project, and must communicate openly and frequently.
  • Key participants must employ appropriate technology to foster collaborative design and construction.

Similar to the Construction Management at Risk approach to project delivery, the owner can benefit from the following IPD advantages:

  • Owner receives early cost estimating input, sometimes as early as conceptual design.
  • The owner can take advantage of special services such as:
    • Feasibility studies
    • Value engineering
    • Life cycle costs
    • Identification of long-lead items and their pre-purchase
  • Significant time can be saved because the design effort is emphasized and completed earlier in the process, and because construction can begin before the design is fully complete.
  • Architectural and engineering fees can be reduced by the early involvement of the specialty contractors.
  • Construction costs are minimized by incorporating constructability reviews into the process, and by the designers incorporating materials, methods, and systems that the team knows are more cost effective.
  • Operating costs can be reduced by providing opportunities to greatly affect long-term energy and resource use through design.
  • Capital costs can be reduced, thanks to clearer and better coordinated construction documents, which should minimize the incidence of change orders that impact both cost and time.
  • Misunderstanding between the parties is minimized when the IPD Team works together during the planning stages of the project.
  • The owner’s risk is minimized as the IPD Team approach tends to focus on early identification of potential conflicts and issues through the utilization of modeling tools. This early identification results in timely problem solving and resolution of issues through the use of models, as opposed to problem solving in the field and constructed environments.


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


Conceptual Design – Study Atrium

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Project Information: Design Charrette for Student Study Space

My Role: University Facilities, University Architect

Architect of Record: KSS Architects

Client: Montclair State University, University Facilities

About the Project:

Working with KSS Architects we analyzed how best to utilize the space between two existing buildings to maximize study areas for students. The proposed space would encourage chance encounters between students of different majors since the two adjacent buildings serve two different colleges at the university.

Project Status:

There are currently no plans to further develop this conceptual design.

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