Green Specification Guidance

GENERAL

● Include a requirement in specifications that contractors and subs review HomeFree.

● Ask for and prefer products that have a Health Product Declaration (HPD).

● Avoid products marketed as antimicrobial and claiming or implying a health benefit.

FLOORING

● Prefer non-vinyl flooring products.

● When vinyl is used: Specify phthalate-free; avoid post-consumer recycled content.

● For rubber flooring: Avoid post-consumer recycled content (crumb rubber).

● For carpets: Look for products that don’t use fluorinated stain-repellent treatments; specify backings that are vinyl-free and polyurethane-free and do not contain fly ash.

● For ceramic tiles, prefer those made in the USA where most manufacturers have eliminated toxic lead compounds from ceramic tile glazes. Avoid post-consumer recycled content from CRTs (cathode ray tubes) which contain high concentrations of lead.

INTERIOR PAINT

● Prefer paints that meet the Green Seal-11 (GS-11) standard from 2010 or later whenever possible or specify paints known to be free of alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs).

● Specify bases with 10 g/L of VOCs or less and colorants that do not increase the overall VOC content.

● At a minimum, specify paint bases and colorants with a VOC content of 50g/L or less.

● Look for paints that have VOC emission testing and meet the requirements of the CDPH (California Department of Public Health) Standard Method for Testing VOC Emissions (01350).

DRYWALL

● Specify boards made with natural gypsum.

● If possible, avoid pre-consumer recycled content (also known as synthetic gypsum or FGD) to avoid the release of mercury in manufacture.

THERMAL INSULATION

● Specify residential fiber glass batt insulation — it has been reformulated to be free of formaldehyde — or formaldehyde-free mineral wool batts. Unfaced batts are most preferable.

● For blown insulation, prefer cellulose or un-bonded fiber glass.

● Consider alternatives to rigid board insulation whenever possible. If board insulation is required, specify mineral wool boards and look for those that meet the requirements of CDPH Standard Method for Testing VOC Emissions (01350) for residential scenarios. If plastic foam insulation is used, look for those that are halogen-free. Consider upgrading to expanded cork insulation.

● Avoid spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation whenever possible.

● For sealing applications, prefer caulking or sealant tapes to spray foams.

COUNTERTOPS

● Think of countertops as a system of products: the surface itself, an adhesive, and potentially a surface treatment, which may need to be re-applied regularly. Each of these elements have different health concerns.

● Sealant products can introduce hazardous chemicals. Specify countertops that do not need to be sealed after installation, such as engineered stone, cultured marble, or solid surfacing.

● Plastic laminate is not a top countertop choice, but if used, specify that the substrate be made with NAF (No Added Formaldehyde) or ULEF (Ultra Low Emitting Formaldehyde) resins. © Healthy Building Network [June 2018]

CABINETRY & MILLWORK ​+​ DOORS

● Prefer solid wood products over composite.

● When using composite wood, specify materials that are NAF (No Added Formaldehyde) or ULEF (Ultra Low Emitting Formaldehyde) whenever possible.

● Prefer products that are factory-finished.

● For edge-banding, specify products with veneer rather than vinyl.

(Source: https://homefree.healthybuilding.net)

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


Connected Spaces

Connected-Life

The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Connected spaces are networked to enable the interconnection and interoperability of multiple devices, services and apps, ranging from communications and entertainment to healthcare, security and home automation. These services and apps are delivered over multiple interlinked and integrated devices, sensors, tools and platforms. Connected, real-time, smart and contextual experiences are provided for the household inhabitants, and individuals are enabled to control and monitor the home remotely as well as within it.

Connected-HomeThe technologies behind connected spaces can be grouped in the following categories:

  • Networking: Familiar networking technologies (high bandwidth/high power consumption), such as Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, as well as 3G and Long Term Evolution (LTE), are complemented with low-power consumption networking standards for devices and sensors that require low bandwidth and consume very little power, such as thermostats.
  • Media and Entertainment: This category, which covers integrated entertainment systems and includes accessing and sharing digital content across different devices, has proved to be the most prolific and contains some of the most mature technologies in the connected home.
  • Security, Monitoring and Automation: The technologies in this category cover a variety of services that focus on monitoring and protecting the home as well as the remote and automated control of doors, windows, blinds and locks, heating/air conditioning, lighting and home appliances, and more.
  • Energy Management: This category is tightly linked to smart cities and government initiatives, yet consumer services and devices/apps are being introduced at mass-market prices that allow people to track, control and monitor their gas/electricity consumption.
  • Healthcare, Fitness and Wellness: Solutions and services around healthcare have proven slow to take off, because they have to be positioned within a health plan and sold to hospitals and health insurance companies. The fitness and wellness segment has strong and quickly developed ecosystems that range from devices to sports wares to apps, which integrate seamlessly with each other to create a strong customer experience.

(Source: https://www.gartner.com)

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


Passive Temperature Control and Other Sustainable Design Elements to Consider

With a growing interest in green and sustainable home design, there have been a lot of changes in the way people design their homes. A green, sustainable home is made using different design elements and materials, which help to create a more energy-efficient home that minimizes the homeowner’s negative impact on the environment as much as possible.

From the various sustainable design elements to the materials that help make it happen, there are countless ways for homeowners to create a green, sustainable design that is beautiful. Here is a list of some of the most popular sustainable elements and materials for homeowners to keep in mind when building or renovating their home.

Temperature Control

One of the major points of sustainable home design is concerned with temperature control. Everyone wants a home that stays cool during the warmer months and warm during the colder ones. Although the common method people turn to is air conditioning and heating, neither of these is very energy-efficient nor environmentally friendly. Instead, people are now turning to tried-and-tested sustainable alternatives to cooling and heating.

ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) homes are one popular sustainable design element that homeowners are turning to for their homes. These ICF homes are made using an insulated concrete form, which fit together like puzzle pieces to form the shell of a new house, which is insulated inside and out. Due to the way the forms are put together—and are supported with extra concrete and rebar—there are very few cracks, which helps minimize the potential for air leaks, therefore increasing the effectiveness of the insulation overall.

All of this combined means that homeowners who choose ICF homes will be able to save a lot of money on cooling and heating costs, and will not be releasing so many harmful greenhouse gases into the environment.

Additionally, temperature control can see improvement through the sort of siding that homeowners select for their home. While traditional vinyl siding is most common, it is not the best option on the market in terms of protecting your home and helping with insulation needs. Other options, like fiber cement siding and steel log siding not only offer more durability, but they also will work better at helping to insulate a home. Due to the materials and how they are put in place, homeowners can rest assured that there will be very few air leaks, especially when combined with a well-insulated home.

Weatherproofing

Another common element found in sustainable home design includes weatherproofing the home. Weatherproofing helps to ensure further that there are no air leaks in the home, regardless of how well insulated it may be. Furthermore, as the term implies, weatherproofing helps to ensure that the home’s structure is well-protected from potential harm that can from the elements. All-in-all, weatherproofing will help ensure a home can hold up against different types of weather and help save the homeowner energy, money, and resources by covering up any air leaks that may still be present even with insulation.

The best way to weatherproof a home is to invest in and install a high-quality house wrap. House wrap is the layer of material that separates a home’s siding from its overall structure. It uses a perforated polyolefin membrane material, which is wrapped tightly around the entire structure and secured with capped fasteners. Because of the material, house wrap is extremely strong and durable, which helps to ensure it will stay in place and last for a long time.

Additionally, a good house wrap will prevent any air infiltration and easily allow moisture to escape, rather than staying trapped and creating a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Durable Exterior Siding

A third major element of sustainable home design is a good, durable exterior siding. Although vinyl siding is the most known type of exterior home siding, it is not necessarily the most sustainable option available. Similarly, siding options like traditional log siding are also not sustainable nor eco-friendly. Instead, homeowners looking for better, greener siding options that can further increase their home’s sustainability.

One of the most popular sustainable siding options around includes fiber cement siding. Fiber cement siding is a kind of siding resembles the classic wood or vinyl siding, but is made of a much more durable mix of wood pulp and cement. This makes it an option that can stay looking new for years, without warping, fading, or any damage from weather and insects. Because of this durability, homeowners do not have to worry about having to replace pieces over time due to damage, which allows them to save money over time. Additionally, fiber cement siding is a low maintenance option that will add yet another layer of protection to any home, on top of things like house wrap and ICF homes.

Creating a green, sustainable home is not difficult, but it does take a certain level of dedication. Besides choosing the right energy-efficient appliances, homeowners need to ensure that the home’s overall structure is made using sustainable elements and products.

From being aware of temperature control and weatherproofing to finding the perfect exterior siding, there are countless ways to start making a sustainable home. Even if some of these elements go visually unseen, the differences will be seen and felt in the comfort level of the home and the utility bills.

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

 

 

 


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Reginald Thomas

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

Web | Blog | Facebook | LinkedIn | Houzz

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect? 

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

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?    

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

Any memorable clients or project highlights?   

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

How does your family support what you do?    

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

How do Architects measure success?   

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

What matters most to you in design?

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

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

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?    

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

Do you have a coach or mentor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?  

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

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

  • A Place of worship on an island site

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

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

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

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

What does Architecture mean to you? 

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

What is your design process? 

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

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

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

What is your dream project?  

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

What advice do you have for future Executive leaders?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?   

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

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

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

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Our Exclusive ILMA Interview with Jeff Venezia, AIA of @DIGroupArch

Who is Jeff Venezia, AIA?

Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia and has practiced in New Brunswick since 1981. He is presently a Principal Owner and President ofDIGroupArchitecture, a 32 person firm specializing in K-12 Education, Higher Ed, Senior Living and Healthcare. He heads the design and marketing efforts of the firm as well as the Academic Studio which includes K-12 and Higher Ed.

About the Firm

DIGroupArchitecture is a process-centric architecture and design firm. We work tirelessly with our clients to understand their priorities, evaluate the physical and budgetary constraints, and communicate potential options. As a result we create distinctive design solutions that help our clients achieve their vision, with unwavering attention to detail at every scale.

It is our unbiased approach to scale that helps us evolve in the changing climate of contemporary architecture. As many of our clients’ priorities have shifted away from ground-up architecture to renovations and adaptive reuse, our interiors studio has flourished and our graphic design studio has developed a diverse portfolio of projects in environmental graphics, signage and wayfinding, and brand identity.

80% of our business comes from repeat clients.They appreciate our “whatever it takes” approach and principal involvement at every level of every project. Our goal is to make every client a “legacy” client doing project after project and improving the experience of those who occupy the facilities we have created together as partners.

         Memorial Elementary School

         Phillipsburg High School

         Remsen Ave. Firehouse

         Jonathan Dayton High School Media Center

 

Click to Follow the DIGroup: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was about 12 years old.  I loved model building, drawing and construction and just knew from that time on what I wanted to be.

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?

I think the biggest challenge has always been living up to the level of trust your clients place on you to deliver a project that meets or exceeds their expectations.

Any memorable clients or project highlights?  

Most clients are memorable in their own way.  Since a lot of our work is for repeat clients we get to know them extremely well over time, both professionally and personally.  The best highlights of any of our projects is the reaction of the end users as to how we’ve improved the quality of their everyday lives.  That occurs most often in our Healthcare, K-12, Senior Living and Community Rooms projects.  One of our top highlights was having our Memorial Elementary School in East Brunswick receive the 2013 AIA New Jersey Honor Award for Excellence in Design, the first NJ public school to be recognized with that award (see photos above).

How do Architects measure success?     

We measure success by how a project meets the goals established in the very beginning, especially with regard to program, design, budget and schedule.

Good design does not have to cost more – it requires patience and commitment to doing it right.

Grow the business, develop a transition of ownership strategy, continue to focus on improving our architectural, interior and graphic capabilities.

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?  

Unquestionably Alvar Aalto.  I love the way his buildings embrace the landscape and often look to him for inspiration.

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

My favorite historic building would be the Pantheon in Rome.  Favorite contemporary – the Kimball Art Museum in Texas by Louis Kahn.

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

We need to reverse the trend of being considered by the public as a commodity.  We need to educate the public and our clients on the value added in what we provide in the services we perform.  We are not copy or toilet paper. 

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?      

The greatest influence on my design work was my 3rd year architecture professor who demanded only the highest quality work from me and forced me out of my comfort zone to continually strive to learn from every project, to grow and become better as an architect.

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

Airport – I love the idea of doing something at that scale.

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

A National Geographic photographer.

 What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?     

Always be true to yourself, treat people fairly and conduct yourself with the highest level of integrity.  Your word should be your bond.

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

Challenges:  the economy, dealing with diversity in the work place and the ever-increasing reliance on technology.  As mentioned above, the competition and lowering of fees continue on a downward spiral.

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

Don’t just adapt to change – embrace it.

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?     

Take risks and have the commitment to see them through.  Be a good listener.  Show a concern and appreciation for your employees.  Be proactive in solving problems.  Never let anything fester.  Once the attorneys get involved no one is happy with the outcome.

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


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

Who is Daniel D’Agostino, AIA?

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

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

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

About Daniel’s firm:

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

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

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

ILMA INTERVIEW

When and why did you decide to become an Architect?     

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

What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?     

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

Any memorable clients or project highlights?  

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

How does your family support what you do?   

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

How do Architects measure success?     

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

What matters most to you in design?      

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

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

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

Who is your favorite Architect? Why?     

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

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

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

Do you have a coach or mentor?     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?      

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does Architecture mean to you?     

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

What is your design process?     

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

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

I couldn’t imagine myself being anything else.

What is your dream project?     

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

What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?           

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

For more exclusive ILMA interviews click here.

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

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

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Materiality and Green Architecture: The Effect of Building Materials on Sustainability and Design

The types of building materials you use on your home can greatly affect the sustainability and design for years to come. Here are some high-quality, green building materials to look into for your home.

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Solar Reflective Roofing Shingles

Having high-quality roofing shingles on your house is important to help your home stay protected longer.  There are many sustainable materials on the market for roofing shingles that you should consider for your home.

One type of sustainable roofing shingles is made up of solar reflective granules with a type of polymer modified asphalt, making your roof tough and long-lasting against the effects of harsh weather. This type of material reflects solar rays that may enter your home and heat up your house which raise your electric bill for A/C. By reflecting the solar rays, the color of your roofing shingles also lasts longer, maintaining the beauty of your home for many years.

The asphalt is strong enough to keep your roofing shingles in perfect condition even during storms with high winds and high volumes of rain. This type of product will have warranties on the roofing shingles, ensuring that they will last for usually at least 12 years and in up to 110 mph wind. Investing in high-quality roofing shingles is something that you are sure to benefit from.

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Strong, Sustainable Exterior Siding

When it comes to the exterior of your home, fiber cement siding is a great alternative compared to more traditional materials like vinyl and wood. This type of siding will ensure the sustainability of your home for longer, often with a warranty of up to 50 years. With great protection against the harsh elements of the weather, fiber cement siding does not warp or fade as quickly as other materials, keeping the design of your home looking its best.

This material comes in a variety of textures so you can customize your home with whatever color and finishing look that your desire.  Fiber cement siding protects your home from water, frost, and cold weather, keeping you warm and dry. Being a product that has the designation of National Green Building Standard, fiber cement siding is a building material to use when thinking about high-quality, green architecture.

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Eco-Friendly Interior Design Material

For the interior design of your home, consider using bamboo panels. Made from bamboo grass, these panels are sustainable and support green architecture. Bamboo panels can be used in many places of your home. From cabinets to tables, and even accent walls, bamboo is an innovative material that will also give your space a modern feel.

Great for designing, this material comes in a variety of designs and textures including chocolate bamboo, natural bamboo, carbonized bamboo, and bamboo veneer. Bamboo panels are very strong and dense, long lasting and may qualify you for eco-friendly construction credits.

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Reduce Your Heating Bill with Great Insulation

Insulated concrete blocks are a great material to consider that often outperforms other building materials for the exterior of your home.

This type of material is installed as one continuous system with no breaks in the wall, ensuring complete protection of your house from bugs and elements of the weather. Insulated concrete blocks keep your house warmer in cold weather and can greatly reduce your heating bill, which is also good for the environment.

The core is made up of concrete, making this wall material durable and strong.  These concrete blocks are easier and safer to install than other materials, taking out some of the risk of constructing the exterior of your home. With this type of material, you can also design the exterior and interior walls however you would like as insulated concrete blocks come in a variety of finishes.

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Materials for Green Architecture

These eco-friendly materials can have a large effect on the sustainability and design of your home. They can increase the lifespan of your home, saving you time and money and the long run. These materials also come in a variety of designs so you can build and design your home how you want, making it the beautiful place to live that you imagined.

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