By Travis Smith, Assoc. AIA, Design Professional
Editor’s note: This year Ambient Principal Architect Rachel Stemach and Design Professional Travis Smith had the privilege of participating in Oregon’s Architects in Schools program. Here, Travis shares his experience teaching the importance of communication in architecture to LaPine Elementary kiddos.
Each spring for more than 30 years the Architecture Foundation of Oregon has connected design professionals and architects with teachers in elementary schools across the state as part of its Architects in Schools program. I felt fortunate this year as a representative of Ambient Architecture and worked with Mr. Chris Bagley’s 3rd grade class at LaPine Elementary (Rachel worked with Ms. Dawn Williams’ 5th grade class at Miller Elementary).
Architects in Schools is meant to open the eyes and minds of young students in Oregon, and this spring more than 60 designers were paired with classrooms introducing 2,200-plus youngsters (grades 3–5) to the design profession. The program begins with an orientation class, where designers and teachers gather to learn the history of the Architects in Schools program, as well as a great deal of information that will help the classroom experience of both the students and designer/architect.
Held in the early part of February, the orientation session is a time for designers/architects and teachers to sit down and organize a plan for the spring in which the designer/architect will make at least six visits to the classroom. During these visits, the architect/teacher pair applies basic architecture concepts to the already established curriculum and teaches students architecture fundamentals as they might apply to everyday life.
The first classroom visit brings along many emotions with it: Intrigue for the teacher, extreme joy for the students (do you remember having that much energy?!) and nerves for the design professional (at least that was my experience!). I found the students inquisitive about the architectural profession, asking questions about the designers and their work that are surprisingly deep and captivating.
Each classroom visit also has a “project” for the students to get hands-on experience in the day-to-day activities of an architect. Established previously by the teacher/designer pair, these projects have been designed in a way to teach the students concepts pertaining to the everyday lessons they’re already learning in the classroom.
For example, in 3rd grade, a large part of the learning experience is communication. This is also an important skill for architects, who work daily with clients, engineers and contractors. With that in mind, we found it easy to incorporate this concept into our lessons.
In one project, we split students into groups of three. Each student in the group was given the designation as either a “client,” “contractor,” or “architect.” Using communication skills they had learned in preparation for the designer’s classroom session, the students then communicated their ideas down the line from “client” to “contractor” using the “architect” as the main communicator.
We asked the students to create a paper bag mask, but the “client” could only use words to tell the “architect” what he/she wants. The “architect” then used written words and drawings to show the contractor what the “client” wanted. And finally the “contractor” made the mask and handed it back to the “client.”
After the masks were handed back (and the general grumbling from the students is over—this is a hard assignment!), we then used the results as a way to show students how important communication is in the architecture profession.
Our projects were also designed to build upon each other, culminating in a final project that the students will create and display. This year in Bend the participating classrooms, teachers, and architects will be displaying their final projects as part of the First Friday Art Walk on May 3rd in The Old Mill.
We’re three days into our new office, and as our real estate broker said when he stopped by, it looks like we’ve worked here for months. That’s a compliment, right?!
Our new space located at 920 NW Bond St., Ste. 204, in downtown Bend (inside St. Clair Place) nearly doubles our previous square footage. Plus, the suite includes a reception area and a large conference room–no more hallway meetings! The large, open studio allows for collaboration between principals and professionals.
If you haven’t yet, please feel free to stop by and visit. The coffeemaker is always fired up.
We’re excited to announce that we’re moving on April 15! Our new space downtown in St. Clair Place (just across from our current location and upstairs from Hola!) offers extra room, a much needed reception area and conference room, and an open studio to help promote team collaboration. Please update our contact info, and feel free to stop by and visit!
By Lynn Baker, Ambient Architecture Interior Design Professional
Recently, I visited the School of Design and Human Environment at Oregon State University (OSU) and attended Dr. Seunghee Lee’s interior design studio class. The class included senior interior design students assigned to design a Veterans Administration memory-care facility.
My task: to observe the students’ final design presentations and offer constructive criticism.
The OSU School of Design and Human Environment has a background of faculty and student research in design for aging populations, and the students were well-prepared to fully investigate the design needs of seniors.
Students consulted the staff of a Corvallis memory-care facility to help establish the program, amenities and design features needed for their projects. The students used floor plans of an existing assisted living facility, modifying them to suit their chosen location and the program.
The project included space planning, furniture selection, finish material selection, lighting/ceiling design, and interior renderings.
Memory-care facilities are specifically intended for those with Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia, and the students planned for residents with varying levels of memory care needs in their projects. Several groups of students provided way-finding by designating different colors for different areas of the building. Other way-finding features, such as memory boxes for residents to display personal items, were incorporated to help residents personally connect with and recognize locations in the building.
Another important aspect of the student projects were “Snoezelen” rooms, which featured lighting and water effects, soft music and chairs that “cocoon” the resident. These rooms are based on “Snoezlen” therapy in which sensory stimulation is used as a method of relaxation.
In addition to memory care accommodations, students included a variety of amenities, from putting greens to spaces for gardening to a resource library for family members. With their color and material selections, students created warm, welcoming and nature-inspired environments, desiring to make residents feel comfortable and at home in the facilities.
Overall, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness, effort, and professionalism in the student presentations and work. For those with experience in design reviews, I’m happy to report that no tears were shed in the critique process. The students gained valuable, real-life experience and learned about the needs of a unique population.
The Bend Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2013 Real Estate Forecast Breakfast at the Riverhouse Convention Center on March 19. Below are some of the highlights presented by speakers Bruce Kemp, partner and broker at Compass Commercial Real Estate Services, and Ralph W. Cole, SR. VP of research, Ferguson Wellman Capitol Management:
· Home values should increase 4 to 8% annually for the next couple of years.
· Lack of housing inventory in Bend will continue to put pressure on home values.
· As the economy strengthens and younger workers gain employment, members of this generation will seek housing and move out of mom and dad’s house. This should create a strong demand for apartments.
· There is a general lack of residential and industrial land in Bend.
· Industrial property in Redmond is undervalued, and lease rates remain low.
· New housing starts are up both locally and nationally.
· 2012 showed good absorption of retail and industrial space, but vacancy rates remain above average, leading to depressed lease rates for the near term.
By Rachel Stemach, Principal/Architect, Ambient Architecture, LLC
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Cascade Business News.
Tenant improvements (TI) turn commercial spaces into places where businesses can thrive. These design and construction projects can vary in scope—from building out previously unused square footage to completely gutting and remodeling a space for a new use.
According to the State of Oregon, a licensed architect or structural or civil engineer is required to design and stamp any TI project in a building greater than 4,000 square feet or 20 feet in height. This law protects life safety and ensures buildings meet local, state and federal building codes.
The prospect of creating the perfect space for a business is often exciting but can also be overwhelming, especially for those business owners who haven’t previously gone through the commercial design and construction process. With that in mind, the following 10 tips will help guide you through the process and, hopefully, save you time and money.
1. Select already built-out spaces.
Some demolition is usually necessary to obtain the layout you want, but an existing space is typically less expensive than building out from scratch. Many existing features are reusable for new businesses—think doors, interior windows, lighting, plumbing fixtures, carpet, ceiling tiles and cabinetry. What you don’t have to purchase and install saves money.
2. Discuss municipal system development charges (SDCs) with your commercial real estate broker and building owner.
If your TI is a change from an original use (for example, a retail space turning into a restaurant) the municipality might require SDCs. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who’s paying those fees. It could be you, the building owner or a shared responsibility between both parties.
3. Make sure you have a complete architectural design and construction team.
As mentioned, you’ll need a licensed architect or engineer to create, stamp and submit your drawings for permit, but also make sure you have a general contractor on board who understands your needs and budget. Ask your architect for recommendations early on—a contractor brought in during the design stage can assist with cost estimating and offer mechanical, electrical and plumbing sub-contractors to develop drawings for permit applications. The reverse is true as well. If you’re starting your TI by hiring a contractor, you’ll want to follow up by securing an architect. Doing so can help ensure the space you’ve selected meets your operational needs and TI budget.
4. Understand architects offer many different services that can fit within your needs and budget.
Not only can your architect assist in getting your building permit approved, but he or she can also provide space planning and programming, fixture and material selections, structural coordination, assistance with energy incentives, retail design and more. Architects can also perform feasibility studies and accessibility evaluations for a potential business location and help with site selection. This information can help with financial decisions as you do your business planning. Most standard design fees typically cover just the document production and permit correction responses, but additional contracts or hourly rates can include architectural services beyond basic permit acquisition.
5. Jurisdictions can and will enforce laws and codes.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other accessibility requirements ensure that all customers and members of the public can use your business location, regardless of disability or physical challenge. Your architect is an accessibility expert and can make sure rest rooms, door opening weights, handicap parking and ramp slopes, bar and dining seating, aisle widths for clear passage and reach distances all comply with ADA standards.
6. Buildings are different, just like people.
Whether you’re looking at refurbishing a small modernist-era building and replacing HVAC, windows and insulation, or you’re moving into a young, mixed-use building with post-tensioned concrete floors, each one can have very different structural systems, exiting and fire protection needs. It’s up to the architect and engineers to determine which codes need to be followed, depending on the building type, use, age and overall condition.
7. Restaurants, cafes and bars present unique challenges.
You’ll need to set up initial meetings with the county health department and obtain your alcohol and server licenses and/or U.S. Department of Agriculture reviews to make sure nothing is overlooked in your business’ layout. Find a reputable kitchen equipment vendor who can provide equipment drawings to the design team for coordination (your architect can help with this as well). The jurisdictions performing permit reviews will always ask to see material and equipment cut sheets of your restaurant. Also, pay careful attention to sinks/dishwashers, floor sinks and Type I and II hood requirements.
8. Medical, chiropractic and dental clinics also present unique challenges.
Architects work with vendors to locate and coordinate specific medical equipment needs. Whether it’s consulting with a structural engineer to enforce the floor where a CT scanner will attach; working with a physicist to provide adequate lead lining for x-ray rooms; providing soundproofing between exam rooms for auditory privacy; or coordinating finicky plumbing and pumps in dentists’ offices, your architect can account for the detailed requirements of each piece of equipment.
9. Energy efficiency plays a big role for successful tenants.
As energy codes become stricter and the availability of incentives for efficient lighting, appliances, HVAC systems, water conserving fixtures and window and insulation values rise, it’s clearly a win-win situation to select the most efficient materials, systems and equipment on the market for your TI. Payback can vary from just a few months to a few years, depending on incentives available and the scope of improvements made.
10. Follow your schedule and know your budget.
You must let your architect and contractor know how much you can spend on your TI. Not only is the construction budget necessary so your architect can specify materials accordingly, but your general contractor needs to get bids from sub-contractors. The project team needs to understand your schedule for beginning work; submitting for jurisdictional reviews; permit submittal; and the anticipated timeframe for permit acquisition. Your move-in date should take into account how many days are needed for set up and inventory, final inspections and certificate of occupancy, and what date was agreed upon in your lease negotiations.
Interior designer Lynn Baker joined Ambient Architecture in August 2012, adding a set of specialized skills to our core group of architects and architecturally trained designers.
Lynn started her career in Portland, Oregon, working primarily on medical and dental clinics and offices. She holds a bachelor’s degree in interior space planning from The Ohio State University and a master’s of science in textile and apparel design from Oregon State University. She’s also an associate member of International Interior Designers Association.
Since joining Ambient, Lynn has worked on Casual Elegance Salon, Best Care, the EDCO and Visit Central Oregon offices, multiple restaurants, 18 Oregon (commercial office remodel), Frazer Avenue Apartments, medical clinics and several senior living facilities.
We recently sat down with Lynn to learn more about her interior design philosophies. This is what she had to say:
Q: How would you describe your aesthetic sense and personal taste, and how does that play into your interior design work?
Lynn: I like a variety of styles and approaches to design. In general, though, I appreciate simplicity and bold use of color. In my interior design work, I try not to subscribe to any one particular style. Every client has different aesthetic preferences, and I think it’s important to be flexible so that client expectations are met.
Q: How do you ensure a space meets your clients’ tastes as well as functional needs?
Lynn: I try to ask a lot of questions and listen carefully. It’s also helpful to survey clients to have an idea of their aesthetic preferences. Once I’m developing a concept, I like to show the client visual examples—such as inspiration photos—to help them picture the design and verify that what I’m creating is really what they want. To meet their functional needs, it’s important for me to understand how they’re using the space—not just what needs to go where. A designer needs to understand why an object needs to go in a certain place.
Q: Why do you think interior spaces are important to an architectural project?
Lynn: Interior spaces are important because they create an environment and feeling and make up the components of the design that the clients and users interact with the most. Interiors can make a person feel welcome, energized and comfortable. They can also improve work efficiency and convenience or help sell products.
Q: What kind of project is your favorite to work on?
Lynn: My favorite projects are any of those that have open-minded, positive clients. It’s fun for me when clients are open to suggestions and willing to take approaches to design they may not have initially considered.
Q: How would you describe your design philosophy?
Lynn: I think simplicity is always a good approach to take in design, regardless of the style or ambience we’re trying to create. That is not to say there needs to be an absence of color, pattern, or design features but just that there needs to be a balance in the space between items of interest and places for the eye to rest.
You’re invited to a free lecture!
Ambient Architecture is a proud sponsor of the upcoming Building a Better Bend lecture “Integration, Revitalization and Transportation: Opportunities for a Small City Campus” by David C. Bagnoli, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, McGraw Bagnoli Architects. We hope you can attend this free event that will help influence Bend’s future as a home to higher education.
Date: Tuesday, October 23
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Bend Parks and Rec building at 799 SW Columbia Street
Lecturer David Bagnoli, an expert on smart growth at colleges and universities, is an architect and urban designer who has written extensively on the benefits of balanced town-gown relationships. Bagnoli will discuss ways that educational institutions can physically integrate campus buildings into surrounding neighborhoods while minimizing traffic and other impacts. He will address the physical, economic, and transportation challenges and opportunitie created by colleges in small cities and describe how such institutions have engaged their surroundings to various degrees. Real-world examples will include:
- Campuses which fully integrate into a community’s traditional streetscape and historic structures;
- Campuses which partially engage a community at one edge, with a visible, positive, and often defining presence; and
- Campuses that remains separate both physically and ideologically from its respective community.
The benefits of each can include downtown revitalization, neighborhood enhancement, and sensible solutions for transportation issues, including bicycle/pedestrian access and public transit. The presentation will conclude with a conversation about potential approaches for Bend as it considers its unique opportunity of integrating Oregon State University into a historic area.
- Acadia Properties
- Ambient Architecture
- Bryant Lovlien & Jarvis
- Mill Point Business Campus
- National Association of REALTORS®
- Northwest Crossing
- Oregon Transportation & Growth Management Program
- Oxford Hotel
- Timberline Construction
For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/events/115111088636704/.
Building sustainability has been in the industry for quite some time now, long enough that a couple of different rating systems to exist that attempt to score project sustainability performances. Existing green-building certification systems try to communicate to the average person the impact a project has on its surrounding environment; the quality of its indoor environment; and its energy-consumption performance.
While comprehensive and detailed, these rating systems have also come at significant cost, making them out of reach of a great number of projects. With Earth Advantage Commercial (from the Earth Advantage Institute) and its prescriptive approach to whole-building sustainability and highly efficiency performance, a much more accessible and cost-effective rating system is now available to a broader range of projects.
To preserve the program integrity and ensure compliance with the rating system, the Earth Advantage Institute requires projects to have certified Project Trustees on the project and be affiliated with Preferred Partner firms. Training in sustainable building practices, energy efficient design and implementing the Earth Advantage Commercial program is required before a professional can be tested and certified as a Project Trustee. This strengthens the core rating system and helps each building project meet the sustainability goals of the Earth Advantage Commercial certification levels.
By creating a streamlined recipe of required items for each certification level, Earth Advantage Commercial has been able to drastically reduce the cost of third-party building certification. This opens up opportunity for more projects to embrace, document and share their commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency.
In late August, Ambient Architecture had the opportunity to take part in the Earth Advantage training and professional certification program. Design Professional Travis Smith attended the two-day training and upon passing the certification tests, were awarded the designation Project Trustee.
Ambient Architecture also became a Preferred Partner firm with the Earth Advantage Institute. Since many of our project already incorporate sustainable building practices, we are eager to offer this building certification opportunity at a significant cost savings to our clients and projects.