We believe a building should be of and about its time
We approach architecture as a unique response to a particular site, program and client’s needs. Buildings should be easy to understand and appropriate for their use. Vitruvius’ description from classical antiquity of the tripartite ideal of “commodity, firmness and delight” still rings true.
Good architecture brings life to space through the interaction of sight, sound, touch, and smell. Physical comfort, a sense of shelter and prospect, an orientation to the outside world, and psychological well-being all help to create an environment that uplifts one’s spirit and provides a nurturing, healing environment.
Although we eschew “isms” in our practice—modernism, post-modernism, deconstructionism, minimalism-- we believe a building should be of and about its time. Today that means designing with a view toward the future as well as the immediate use, keeping in mind how a project might be expanded, renovated or repurposed thirty years hence. Basic modernist design principles have served our healthcare practice well, with an emphasis on large windows for natural light, clear circulation, legible exteriors, clean simple detailing, and long-lived building components that can be easily replaced when necessary.
A building’s exterior is the natural expression of its interior spaces
Interior design is sometimes dismissed as paint and palettes, but we prefer to think of it as interior architecture, reflecting the idea that a building’s exterior is the natural expression of its interior spaces. The two should work together to create a seamless whole. A good interior unfolds effortlessly, providing orientation, clear delineation of public and private realms, views of nature, and delight. Careful attention to materials and finishes provides cues to mood, behavior and level of activity. From a practical point of view, the sequence and treatment of interior spaces has the greater impact on building occupants, as we spend most of our time indoors.
Our healthcare interiors reflect patient-centered care and evidence-based design principles, maximizing views that connect to the outside world. Private patient rooms reduce infection rates and promote faster recoveries, while common areas accommodate family visits that have also been shown to aid in the healing process.
High tech and corporate interiors reflect changes in the American workplace-- open plan offices have become more collaborative and less hierarchical. Corner offices are now common team areas, and high-walled cubicles have evolved into low-walled workstations designed for a collaborative computer-based work force. Kitchens and break spaces are strategically located to encourage employee interaction.
Building and landscape work together
Our approach to landscape design is grounded in holistic observation. Our mission is to design with purpose, solve spatial problems with imagination and implement solutions that are beautiful. We work in harmony with existing natural conditions so that building and landscape work together.
If the site is the canvas on which the architect works, that canvas should support the intent to create a singular place. Landscape architecture offers multiple opportunities to celebrate the natural environment and promote stewardship of the land. We consider approach, siting, topography, drainage, planting, and hard scape materials to bring out the most of a setting.
Our healthcare practice takes advantage of the landscape to provide views and outdoor spaces that improve patient outlook and help speed recovery. Likewise, for our high tech and office and corporate work, outdoor spaces to relax and recreate make workers happier and more productive.
Plan for the future
Master planning takes a bird’s-eye view of a potential project from a thousand feet up. Once a program is defined, the master planning phase encompasses several of the most important decisions an owner will confront when developing a new site: project size and site capacity; a logical place for public entry; site circulation; building location; parking quantities and distribution; service access; and the project’s relationship to its surrounding context. Quick massing studies help to evaluate whether a project is better long and low, or smaller and taller. Further studies build on these decisions to explore solar orientation, areas of tree planting, locations for utility feeds, and local regulations that might impact these choices.
We also like to think long term—how can the project expand in the future? Are we planning adequate infrastructure to accommodate that potential? How do we preserve the best features of the landscape?
Master planning should include an overview of the approvals process to give an Owner a realistic sense of a project schedule. It is also the time to assemble the rest of the project team that will carry the project through design.