Wednesday, 20 February 2013
In a provocative blog post on beauty in architecture, 2012 Summer Design Fellow Amrita Raja commented upon the reluctance of many contemporary architects to discuss the role of beauty, relying instead on more purely rational justifications such as performance. It reminded me of the 2009 NY Times article about Douglas Bowman who very publicly left his position as Google’s top visual designer because, in his words, “at Google design lived or died by data.”
Amrita’s post also reminded me of the scene in the documentary film Helvetica, where Michael Place from UK-based design firm Build talks candidly about how, for him, design is primarily ...[more]
Friday, 14 December 2012
While ADA standards for accessible design strive to provide persons with disabilities the same ease of use and access in a building as a person without disability, they do not take into account the needs of the visually impaired. Unlike patients who are blind, those with low vision have limited sight, and must deal with difficulties that include lack of depth perception, clarity, and the ability to distinguish foreground and background.
To accommodate this patient population, in addition to meeting ADA accessibility requirements related to mobility, the toilet rooms at the Vision Rehabilitation Center (VRC) at Mass Eye and Ear had to address these challenges.
It was clear from the ...[more]
Friday, 9 November 2012
We live in a time of constraint and experimentation, when both the state and the nation are seeking ways to enhance our economic well-being. No single institution is more on the front lines of these changes than the community college and nowhere is that more apparent than when examining the physical fabric of the school.
Over the past year I’ve worked with a Massachusetts community college, developing a campus master plan to guide the future physical development of the campus. When we raised the idea of arranging future buildings to create a traditional ...[more]
Friday, 2 November 2012
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (“Scientific Discovery, Inspired by a Walk to the Restroom”) made the argument that locating key support facilities has a role in fostering collaborative research environments.
As a design researcher, whenever I read a piece like this that cites research without providing citations or references, I become concerned about the quality of the evidence.
I decided to do a little digging. Although I was unable to find a research study documenting a 50-foot rule (“collaboration drops to 10% when workers are more than 50 feet ...[more]
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Beauty has been banned from the studio. She peers through cracks in boarded windows at the new architecture of performance. The story of her exile is one that spans two disparate events: Sullivan’s dangerous assertion that “form follows function” and the economic downturn that forced a restructuring of architectural practice in the 21st century.
The latter was the blow that erased Beauty’s place in public discourse. A capitalist economy relies on progress and growth, especially in times of duress; this necessity in times of dwindling funds produces a desire for cheaper, more efficient structures, where discussion of Beauty are seemingly moot. It appeared that for the contemporary client, a building’s ability ...[more]
Thursday, 6 September 2012
“What do you do?”
When asked to describe what you do during the day, it’s natural to answer in the context of your current work environment. Its spaces, adjacencies, and physical parameters determine how you interact with others, how efficiently you function, and how effectively you do your job. But it doesn’t answer the question.
When it comes to the lean healthcare design, the question isn’t “how do you function in your current space?” It’s “what are you trying to accomplish?” Applying lean principles when designing a space that will optimize efficient and effective healthcare delivery means putting the outcome first.
Lean design isn’t just a matter of common sense. It’s the cornerstone ...[more]
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Shepley Bulfinch invited Hamline University student Jena Felsheim to be a guest blogger, offering her impressions of the Anderson University Center, which opened this fall:
I feel like I have to issue a warning. I’m easily distracted, I’m impressed by the most banal of things, and I know almost nothing about architecture (the only architectural jargon I know is “buttress”). As much as I would love to be able to stand confidently in a pair of perfectly ironed slacks and offer intelligent musings on architecture, instead I’ll be slouching in a skirt that ...[more]
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
A significant part of our practice as architects is to convey abstract, mostly visual design concepts in ways that make them accessible to a wide range of people, most of whom are not fluent in architectural drawing conventions. We are so focused on visual representation that we are often shocked when the audience does not understand the basic experiential qualities of the spaces we are trying to convey.
How can we help clients and future users understand what it will be like to interact within a building that only ...[more]