I grew up around the construction industry. Visiting job sites with the Boy Scouts and spending time around my family’s construction company’s warehouse as a child are some of my favorite memories. However, I wanted to be different. My mother has a passion for art and design that I fortunately inherited while my father works in construction. Growing up, I knew there had to be a career that married my interest in construction with my passion for art; architecture.

After two years as an undergraduate I decided that a traditional architecture career was something that did not meet my need for hands on method of design. My father and I discussed a method of project delivery called design-build. After researching the topic, I quickly signed up for a few construction management courses, which helped my understanding of the construction industry. Also, I enrolled in an independent study revolving around renovating a facility in downtown Muncie. The second semester of my senior year I was in luck. A project was being offered to students to design and build a ‘Playscape’ for a neighborhood in Indianapolis. The five thousand dollar budget seemed like a lot at the time. However, we quickly realized size limitations with our choice of materials. The project was thought provoking because a portion of the neighborhood had no desire for children to use the park, and instead wanted the whole area for themselves without children. This eliminated the option of a traditional playground with swings and a slide. Instead a series of platforms with key features was designed, approved, and built. These experiences led me to search for a graduate school program that expands upon the idea of design-build.

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The single most important lesson I have learned from these programs in my undergraduate career, looking back during my final year of graduate school, has to be that design is on-going, even during construction. Design does not stop until construction is complete. This notion can be taken advantage of in a design-build situation to maximize efficiency. Sometimes you find a better method in the field than originally drawn in the documents. I had the privilege to work on a few special case projects that demonstrate that principle, one being a ‘fast track’ project with two components, a pre-engineered metal building (PEMB) and a stick built structure. The PEMB had broken ground and begun construction before the construction documents were even complete for this project.

Knowing firsthand how building systems come together is paramount to the understanding of this profession. There is a dramatic difference between drawing a detail for a set of construction documents and putting it together in the field. It makes you think critically when moving forward with the next project. Having those experiences on a construction site alter and improve your consideration for all aspects and phases of design. It has made me more aware of my design decisions that have an impact on schedule and budget.

There is also an added benefit of understanding a different perspective. Often as design professionals we hear the word contractor and moan while they do the same thing when they hear the word architect. The design-build delivery method allows those tensions to dissipate because unlike a typical design arrangement, all entities and firms, on both the architectural side and construction side are involved from the inception of the project. The client ultimately receives a better product as a result of proactive collaboration between the architect, contractor, and owner. Even when the design and construction is handled by two separate entities, this process is beneficial. There is a mutual understanding from day one that contractor and architect will work together to achieve a better product.

Design and construction both hold a very important place in my life. I am thankful for the opportunity to join my two passions into a career and hope that others will see the merit in enrolling in design-build courses while in college.

 

Max Wurster is an Architectural intern with Cripe. He studies Architecture at the University of Kansas with a focus on design-build and will be in his final year of graduate school in the fall.

Earlier this year the Cripe Architecture department had the opportunity to work on their first “CANstruction” project- designing a large scale, hand built art installation out of non-perishable food. Canstruction design competitions have become increasingly popular in cities around the country as a means of donating food to food pantries and having fun in the process. They are typically targeted at the design/architecture/construction sectors to solicit creative design solutions. Additionally, they provide an opportunity for fun, team building, and giving back.

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Cripe was the design architect for the new food pantry for Lawrence Township here in the greater Indianapolis area this past year, called “The Cupboard”. They desired to have a Canstruction installation for their grand opening, partly as a centerpiece and partly as a way of providing a baseline stock of food to fill their shelves. Carl Sergio offered to lead a departmental design and construction team.

The design task was similar to that of any real building- provide something attractive, agreeable to the client, under budget, and on time. Playing the additional role of “contractor” on the job, since Cripe was also building it, provided the additional challenge- not only did we have to design it to stand up, we had to ensure that it actually did.

What follows is a series of images to illustrate the design process that took The Cupboard”s original logo (at the top of this post) and turned it into  an elliptical wall, pixelated to a scale that was readable, affordable, buildable, and designable using the colors of available canned-food labels. The ellipse was hoped to be relatively self-supporting, but also a nice elongated shape to complement the space it would be in.

Reformatting the logo into a shape that would wrap into a long (and not too tall!) ellipse…

The Cupboard Logo Revised

 

…pixelated into pixel sizes representative of the size and shape of canned food…

The Cupboard Logo Revised Pixelated

 

The final gridded graphic used as a map for the team to build the real thing.

Can Layout Print

 

(Turns out laying out an ellipse on the ground is more difficult than previously thought…)

Ellipse dimensions

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We also had to get an accurate count of the cans we would need, based on the type of food (i.e. color of the label!) and the number we would need…enough requiring a preorder.

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Every project has a hangup or two (yep, we had two)…so when we picked up our cans, a third of the order hadn”t arrived, and we had to raid the shelves at Kroger. TWO Krogers.

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This many cans required five cars to transport everything!

 

Let the construction begin!!

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(Cripe Design Associate Eric Beaman supervises as his volunteer wife Cassie does work) (credit william)

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(Design Associate Andrew Adegbamigbe”s sister Jumoke (left) also volunteered to help!)

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(It looks just like the logo, honest)

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L-R: Matt Amore, Carl Sergio, Eric Beaman, Andrew Adegbamigbe, Shawnita Washington

 

(It was standing straighter than it looks…though we did have an accident later………..)

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Imagine a doctor being called into emergency surgery. As they rush to the operating room, with a few voice commands, they are able to see the patient’s prep status, access the patient’s vitals, view the injury and view the pre-surgery check list all while in route to the OR. With Google Glass, this is possible. Technologically advanced doctors are able to do all of this through Google’s eye.

What is Google Glass?

Google Glass, in essence, is eyewear that has all of the capabilities of a smartphone. Information can be accessed through voice or touch. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, email access and a notepad for verbal notes and reminders. A built in camera also allows the wearer to transmit photos and video to anyone, anywhere.

How can Google Glass be used in Healthcare?

Google Glass allows healthcare professionals to view, disperse and collect information quickly in a hands-free manner without the restrictions of desktop computers, laptops or tablets.

Google Glass has been tested mostly in OR situations. This device gives doctors the ability to focus solely on their patient. They do not have to look away from their patient to view vitals, x-rays or any other patient information. All of the information they may need is available at a glance.

Doctors also have the option to consult with other doctors who are not present in the OR in real time. The consulting doctor will be able to see the procedure from the performing doctor’s point-of-view. Procedures can also be recorded for future educational use.

Even after the surgery is complete, doctors have the ability to view their patient in the recovery room and track their progress.

What are the drawbacks of using Google Glass?

With any new technology, there are benefits and drawbacks. One concern is the privacy of patient information. Because Google Glass can access patient information through touch or voice, there is a concern that anyone who picks up the eyewear will have access to private patient information. Also, there is a possibility that pictures and video can be taken without patient consent.

Also, the fact that Google Glass information can be accessed by touch, raises infection control concerns. If unsterile eyewear is touched during a procedure, everything touched after that is compromised.

Futuristic?

Technological advances are quickly changing the way healthcare is provided. Healthcare providers are always on the lookout for ways to offer patients the best care possible. With Google Glass being in its infancy, there are still questions surrounding the security of patient records and the advantages of using this technology. The cost associated integrating Google Glass is also a major concern. Over time, Google will continue to work to perfect the use of Google Glass in Healthcare. Seeing patient care through Google’s view may not be as futuristic as one may think.

 

Written By:  Shawnita Washington

Recently I had the chance to visit the Miller House and Gardens in Columbus, IN. Commissioned by J. Irwin Miller in 1953, the home and gardens are a masterpiece of midcentury modern architecture. Designed by 3 leading designers of the day- architect Eero Saarinen, interior designer Alexander Girard, and landscape architect Dan Kiley- the home features an outstanding example of the integration between architecture and landscape. However, it was the function of the home that struck me the most.

Irwin and Xenia Miller, along with their five children, resided in the home full time following its completion.  That’s correct, the FAMILY lived there.  The Miller’s had the joy of raising 5 children in the house. When thinking about Mid-Century Modern homes, this is not something that most typically consider. Much of the tour actually discussed how the home was designed to create living spaces for the parents, children, and guests, as well as how the family lived within the space. (For example, the children often roller skated across the white terrazzo floor, and the colorful pillows designed by Girard made for a soft landing when diving into the sunken conversation pit.) While our tour guide detailed the excellent qualities of the architecture, textiles, and landscape, he made sure we understood that this was first and foremost a home, in which the Millers resided until 2008.

This is something that we should always consider.  Buildings and spaces only reach their full potential when we allow for interaction with the user.  Designers often fixate on resistance of wear (i.e. keeping things looking as good as new), and while longevity of a space or materials is important, we have to allow a user to personalize or take ownership of their space.  We need to give them opportunities to stretch their own creativity.  These opportunities allow architectural spaces to become what they are meant to be, spaces for memories, interactions, and relationships.

If you’d like to see more photographs of the interior of the home, go to the following link

http://www.dwell.com/house-tours/slideshow/miller-house-columbus-indiana-eero-saarinen

I was originally bitten by “the travel bug” in 2002 when my dad followed through on a long-standing dream to do as his dad had done for him- take his son(s) to Italy, the land of our not-so-distant-anscestors. During my Master”s of Architecture program in 2009, three months living in Barcelona and four months abroad total, in eleven different countries, permanently imprinted me with the value of the personal and professional impact of traveling on my career as an Architect. Experiencing things firsthand is important to me, which is a large part of why I travel- everything becomes suddenly and amazingly real when you see it with your own eyes.

This past February I took advantage of the amazing chance to visit an old friend in South Africa, living and researching for nine months in a small town an hour outside of Cape Town. I wasn”t fully or nearly prepared for the impact of a trip flying 21 total hours, across the Equator, to the Southern tip of a new continent, to a country of many languages and peoples, still awash in racial, political, and economic strife the likes of which we only (rarely) read about in the papers blogs.

My ten days in South Africa was less architecture and more history/language/politics/culture than expected- but more educational than I”d hoped. Personally and professionally, I am particularly interested in residential design- the small scale, the Psychology of the impact the spaces can have on your day to day life. Additionally, I feel a moral obligation and tremendous opportunity as an Architect to use design (and blood, sweat, and tears) to effect social change.

In a confluence of the two, I had the rare chance to tour a “township” outside of Cape Town- a “shantytown”, a settlement of metal shacks- known as a “favela” in Brazil. It was known as “Imizamo Yethu”, which is Xhosa for “Our Struggle”. While a bit disconcerting to be a tourist gawking at the living conditions of some of the poorest in the Western Cape, it was a unique opportunity to experience it firsthand, with a tour guide who lived in the area, for a fee that ostensibly went directly to the community.

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I was immediately struck by the contrast between their poverty and the fact that they still had the basic pieces of a normal life. Many had electricity, some had running water, there was a shocking number of satellite dishes mounted on fences, and people had shoes, clothing, paved streets (with street signs!), some cars here and there, televisions, bars strew about town, a school down the street…but the poverty was obvious in their one-room, corrugated-metal homes.

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Yet I noticed that their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing were met in those humble abodes. I thought back to the 200 square foot apartment I had in Chicago, with a *large* closet and air conditioning, and found myself wondering if I really “needed” such a *lavish* living situation to be happy- or better yet to be actualized, to borrow Abraham Maslow”s term. What do we really NEED from our homes and our lives to happy? How could homes be more modestly designed for necessity rather than contingency?

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A wealthy Irishman had been coming to Imizamo Yethu for five years, bringing money and muscle to build homes and a library. Germans had just built a new school the past year. It seemed a bit “white guilt” or the typical helicoptering help to Africa from the Western World, but it had made a profound impact (credit william). I”m aware of the American concern “why should we send help and money overseas with so much poverty and need here at home” yet I couldn”t help wondering about the impact I could make there in South Africa- and the need and opportunity were clearly there.

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If someone were to ask a group of people what architecture and a tuxedo have in common, the answers would more than likely vary between functionality and aesthetics.  Fashion has long been synonymous with clothing and the textile industry. It’s no wonder the term – fashion show- refers to an exhibition for clothing and related accessories.  But the word fashion is actually defined as “the process of making or shaping of something.”  It wasn’t until the 1500s that the term became representative of the idea of a “prevailing custom” or “popular style of dress” by a group of people acting together.  The truth is fashion affects almost every aspect of our daily lives.  The influence of trends in today’s society is ever increasing, and professionals of every industry recognize the importance of capitalizing on them.  Over the course of history many fashionable trends have emerged in architecture as a result of explorations.  To name a few; structural expression, expression of form, sustainable design, integrated building technology, as well as material and ornamental expression. 

An exploration similar to the aforementioned was recently investigated at the offices of Cripe Architects + Engineers.  Using excess flooring material, designers fashioned a dress to be displayed at the 2014 IIDA Fashion Through the Ages show as well as a tuxedo.  The idea behind both garments was to use the materials required by the competition to create a style of dress influenced by a previous era in clothing fashion.  The Tuxedo – designed by Frank Hindes– was designed in 3 pieces, each one intricately woven together and held in place with rivets.  The rivets served a functional purpose, as well as an aesthetic.  Lining the seams and edges of the suit, they provided an ornamental detail resemblant of metal fasteners on the exterior of a building.  This exploration was yet another example of how designers take great care in developing innovative solutions in order to solve complex problems.  Whether the client is in need of a large building facility with multiple floors, or in need of a garment made from flooring material ; careful listening, proper planning, and attention to detail are essential to good design and a quality finished product.

Written By:  Andrew Adegbamigbe

Previously, my colleague, Matt Amore, wrote on the impact of listening to environment and client on design. Listening is one of those things we all know to be essential to daily life.  Yet, how often do we really do it? And when we do, are we any good at it? And how does it impact our relationships with colleagues, clients, family and friends?

There is a science and art to listening. The science of listening is pretty straight forward, so today I want to focus on the art of listening.    Ask yourself when was the last time you listened to someone – clearly, with intent and without agenda. Not as simple as it seems.  Many factors impact our ability to truly listen:

Time constraints – when someone says “do you have a minute?” – do you really?  Are you able to really listen or will you just go through the motions due to time issues? Many times this type of “listening” results in misunderstood information / intent, wasted effort and frustration.  Being ready to listen not only is productive, but also sends a real message to the other person that you are receptive to what they have to say and leaves the other person with a sense of satisfaction of being heard – of being valued.

Intent – When you “listen” are you actually silently arguing or constructing your response for the exact moment they stop for air? Are you “listening to learn” or “listening to prove”? Next time take note of any agendas, assumptions or biases you may have – leave the baggage at the door – and listen – then formulate your response.

Filters – Receptive listening is difficult as often we have intentional or unintentional filters through which we listen.  Usually one has different filters with different people. At times trust plays a role in how thick and dulling those filters are.  Familiarity may also lend itself to a preconceived notion (filter) of what someone is going to say.  Do you stop listening at a certain point and just assume you know what direction the person is going?

Recently I came across Dr. Mark Goulston, who has authored the book “Just Listen”.  Take a look at this video in which he shares a special meeting he had regarding listening.  Mark suggests that the best way to develop good listeners is to give them a taste of being listened to.  Ready to listen?  Enjoy!

Let me know how it works for you.  I am eager to learn of any new thoughts on listening.

If you haven’t heard of TED, you really need to check it out.  It’s a collection of intellectual talks by experts in all different fields.  This talk by Bjarke Ingels engages the idea of sustainability by creating architecture as an ecosystem that enhance quality of life rather than looking at the practice as a sacrifice.

Read more

What is the role of architecture in today’s society?  How often do we in the design profession really think about this?  What should our role really be about?  I’ve really seen two methods put into practice.  Designers either dictate the environment or they respond to it. Read more