Our Buildings Tell a Story
Q: When it comes to designing commercial spaces, what are your guiding principles?
I like to engage the client first to find out not just what they want, but what they need and how this new space is supposed to function. How could the architecture support their needs? What is their definition of “green” or “sustainable design”? Successful projects are the result of a good team effort whereas the client provides a framework of a program and budget. Then the architect collaborates with them, a contractor, and consultants to use their respective knowledge and skills to provide a design solution that satisfies a client’s needs relative to their budget. Good design is not merely aesthetics, but also a building or space that functions well and efficiently.
Q: You have worked with some well-known institutions like the Monastery of the Holy Spirt, Boys and Girls Club, and Families First. How do you build consensus on projects with a wide variety of stake holders?
All organizations have leaders with whom we engage to set the parameters of the project, but there are usually stakeholders within each organization that will need to provide input. We seek to interview them all for an inclusive process, helping us to better understand how things operate, and we usually get some great improvement ideas and input from staff. In doing so, they all have a voice and as the design progresses decisions will be made in regard to budget. Having inclusivity sets a trust level that later when some tough decisions need to be made, there is a better understanding and acceptance of the give and take of that budgetary process.
Q: What made you become an architect?
Once I knew what an architect was and discovered the resources of encyclopedias and a library, my mind was awakened to the world of architecture. I soon discovered Frank Lloyd Wright, whose work was unlike anything else I had seen. The overlapping spaces in open plans, the juxtaposition of vertical and horizontal planes in the forms of Fallingwater and multi-level interior spaces his buildings achieved captured my mind. These were spatial three dimensional puzzles that were far more fun and challenging than the mathematical or word puzzles. My lifelong love affair with spatial organization and manipulation was born.
Q: How has technology affected the architectural design?
In 1985, we were the last Auburn class to graduate without any CAD training. Over the next ten years offices went from all hand drafting to CAD. We now have endured the proliferation of cell phones and their quick evolution to their current mini-computer state along with the development of BIM and 3-D platforms such as Sketch Up. In the last 25 years we have seen architectural design take a quantum leap from the hand drawn to the 3-D modeling of complex geometries that basically makes anything possible given the budget.
Q: How are sustainable practices advancing in the industry?
My personal opinion is that the promotion of LEED and other energy efficient initiatives has caused the profession to rediscover what used to be common knowledge of historically learned truths. As awareness grows and results are measured, our building codes are adopting many of various green certification requirements thus making them more the norm than the exception. It is a win-win for everyone if our building science improves the energy efficiency of our built environments which consume 45% of our country’s energy.
Q: How is the development and construction landscape changing for architects today?
I think architects’ opportunities are increasing. Business people are discovering that architects’ educations provide them with a broad bandwidth of skills because of the balance between the mathematical and technical with the history and creative education received. We have partnered with clients to help re-structure their business plans through organizational efficiencies found during programming. Other clients have hired us to collaborate in establishing new brands through the design of their building; Midtown Bowl is a great example. We have also worked with established clients like Sodexho and Cortland Partners who wanted help re-branding new properties to their updated visual language. We not only help clients, but we also have helped the City of Atlanta revise their Zoning Ordinance by chairing a committee of stakeholders to assess and propose revisions to certain areas of the code where most known problems were occurring.