Like my opinion on most topics, this one is based on experience and not research. So fact-checkers have at it, I do not care. I’ve seen proof of this opinion too many times to be convinced otherwise.
The label “Design-Build” (DB) is being blurred with that of “Integrated Project Delivery” (IPD) of projects, so let me first define each method as I have seen them executed over the last 30 years. In the DB approach, the general contractor is a single source of design and construction for the owner: acting as the owner’s architect, engineer and contractor, the general contractor holds the services contracts for all professional and construction disciplines. The Owner then has a single contract direct with the G.C. The IPD method requires the project’s parties- architects, engineers, and contractor(s)- to work together as a team for the Owner’s interests, but with each contracting separately to the owner. These days, general contractors have begun advertising DB as IPD. But no matter what the ads are pitching, the key difference between these methods of project delivery is who holds your contract and what influence that has in identifying and serving the Owner’s interests. There are many variables in any arrangement of project services, all of which rest upon trust. A project’s success in realizing the Owner’s interests is most strongly influenced by who holds whose contract. If your boss says don’t tell the owner or you will not get paid, then an untrustworthy person holds your contract.
I suggest labeling the method of a team of professionals all working together , but contracted separately, as “Team Owner” (TO). If the Owner holds your contract directly, then the Owner is your client, period. No matter the delivery method and what may have been said about it at the outset, the party holding your contract is your client.
On Tuesday evening July 15, 2015, I and about 75 others interested in the future of Gravois Avenue met at the Five Star Senior Center on Arsenal St to discuss the future of this unique boulevard that slices across the dense street grid of the City of St Louis’ southside. Spurred on by recent MODOT plans to improve traffic flow on State Highway 30 within the City limits, neighbors and interested citizens sat at tables of 6-10 each and brainstormed for an hour the possibilities and priorities of what it means for the several pedestrian and bike -oriented neighborhoods along its route to co-exist-with and benefit-from this arterial. Lots of good ideas, generally expressing variations on a common thread of prioritizing safe pedestrian engagement, while at the same time aiming for a less stop-and-go (albeit Slower) driver experience. Design Democracy Lives.
This spring I have had the pleasure of assistant teaching the Design Thinking course at the Graduate School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. This is a research and design exploration class in which students establish the premise, site and program of what will be their capstone studio project (called the Degree Project) in their final semester. Students compile a book that graphically presents their design idea and the data/ thought processes that inspired it. Final books went on display in Givens Hall this week.
There are two aspects of the course that I find most compelling. First, all students are required to locate their project in the St. Louis region. In contrast to other semesters when studio sites range from New York to Shanghai, this encourages them to engage in the issues most relevant to St. Louis and (as simple as it sounds) enables them to physically observe and experience their site. Secondly, students are challenged to overturn any underlying assumptions related to the way we design, the way society operates, and the way we interact with the environment.
The result? A range of unique design ideas representing the particular interests of each student, and suggesting architectures quite unlike those we see in St. Louis today. Here are a few examples of the proposals that came from my group of students:
– The use of temporary architecture in the Loop to experiment with unconventional building programs before investing in more permanent facilities.
– A center for community engagement that seeks to improve Wash U’s relationship with the communities it serves by creating an interface for students and St. Louisans to interact. The intent is to find ways for student initiatives and research to result in tangible and lasting benefits for the city’s neighborhoods.
– The design of a new residential-recreational-industrial-commercial typology that can inhabit abandoned shopping malls and offer a more densified version of suburban life. The proposed site is the Chesterfield Bottoms outlet mall.
– A relaxation center at the Columbia River Bottoms that uses architectural interventions along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to create a variety of “soundscapes” that capitalize on the calming effects of water sounds.
Having graduated from the Wash U program myself one year ago, I have greatly enjoyed this chance to get back on campus and discuss “big ideas” with passionate students excited about the future of architecture and what it can achieve.
Good design should always lead to a great user experience. This is the end result of the Center for Global Citizenship (CGC) project at Saint Louis University (SLU). The University and the CGC were recently recognized by the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) for the Innovation Award in Internationalization. The award highlights exceptional programs, projects or initiatives aimed at advancing internationalization. The important element of the award is focusing on programs that can serve as models for other institutions. As Fox Architects worked with SLU in the programming process, certain design elements that were incorporated into the space are direct contributors to the end result.
Two areas that stand out as a part of SLU’s recognition award are the Development of the Center for Global Citizenship and the Establishment of the SLU Association for International Debate (SAID) Program.
Development of the Center for Global Citizenship: The centers mission was to create a space that would promote collaboration across the university and to educate and engage the SLU community in global awareness, responsibility and participation. Working with Fox Architects through a constant series of client collaboration, SLU was able to adapt the 87-year old Gymnasium into a space that nurtures engagement and collaboration between cultures and the community.
Design ideas that were integral to this mission: Engaging with Surrounding, Good Food, Location, Multiplicity of Spaces, Human Relationship, Informal Gathering.
Establishment of the SAID program: This interactive debate program that brings together universities from all over the world in active debate related discussions has created a rich collaborative environment. The debate program utilizes the technology built into the space to debate in real-time to universities located all over the world. The SAID program continues to grow and has developed into a collaborative organization that has increased the awareness of the center, while enriching the SLU community.
Design ideas that were integral to this mission: Creating Spaces that Foster Collaboration and Discussion, Technology Integration.
Visit our project section for more information. More information on the Award can be found here and on SLU’s website.
Last month Fox traveled to Liebert Learning Center in Westerville, OH to meet with Frank Bibens (President, Global Services, Emerson Network Power) and the Director of Corporate Training & Development to discuss the success of the new facility completed in 2009.
The visit went very well and Fox walked away with some valuable insight on the facility and the things they were enjoying as well as what could be done to improve for future projects. Overall the response was outstanding and Frank and his team couldn’t have had more encouraging things to say about the job Fox did on the training facility.
Thanks to Frank and the whole Liebert team for their hospitality.
Last month members of Fox Architects were asked to present to IFMA (International Facility Management Association) at the recently completed RGA (Reinsurance Group- America Inc) Global Headquarters on the design principles used by Fox in designing the new HQ. The panel discussion was titled Focus Privacy in the New Workplace and addressed on two major topics; accommodating generational gaps and how to prepare for the future generations, and how different workplace environments affect the quality of those different generation’s performance.
IFMA was pleased to see their largest turnout as over 100 visitors came to see the panel discussion and get a short tour of the world class facility. Along with myself, Coleen Crutcher and Jacob Coburn represented the three generations (Baby-Boomers, Gen-X, and the Millennials) to offer unique perspectives on the way these generations function in existing workplaces and how with RGA’s new model Fox took evidence-based design to improve quality of space, communication, and create a more efficient workplace. By focusing on core principals like access to daylight and views, balancing individual and shared spaces and giving free access to alternative work spaces, RGA is seeing an increase in collaboration without distracting the more focused workers.
By showing the floor plans which highlighted office traffic control and space zoning, Fox was able to show the importance of a proper layout and how the right environment is integral to creating trust in the office, the key to imparting knowledge from older generations to future generations. The panel ended with a tour of the amenities level which includes RGA’s cafeteria-auditorium, servery, training rooms, and the entrance for the facility.
Fox would like to say a special thanks to IFMA for inviting us to give this presentation and thank RGA for allowing us to host the event in their new facility.
This afternoon Fox is working on the topic of Higher Education and how the employees see the future of this expanding market. Want to know what we think? Here are few topics we’re discussing on the changes in higher education.
2. Fusion Facilities
4. Partnering with Industry
5. Integrated Technologies
6. Changing Markets
7. Facilities as Recruitment – The Campus Experience
8. Adaptive Reuse
Want to know more? Ask any one at Fox about the trends we’re seeing in our current markets.
Driving to work this morning was a bit challenging due to thick layer of fog that settled along Interstate 55 and Saint Louis downtown area. As I am sitting in the traffic I am catching the glimpse of the rising sun through the thick fog. All of the sudden interstate which seemed so ominous transformed into a scenic pathway coated with soothing gold glow. As traffic picks up I start seeing silhouette of downtown Saint Louis and the only thing I could think about was how fascinating the view from our office would be.
Finally I was in our office on the 18th floor of the Gateway Tower. As I walked through the door the warm glow greeted me.
Below are unedited images of the view:
Besides shaping our ability to collaborate and innovate, our office environment provides us with numerous benefits, one of them being the incredible view of downtown Saint Louis. What an amazing feeling is to experience nature in such a pure element from the everyday work environment.
Chris Montroy and I were fortunate this year to give a presentation to the Alberti Program at Washington University. This is something we’ve been doing for about the past 5 or 6 years now. The program is run by Gay Lorberbaum. (factoid – Gay was the first Design Studio Professor I had when I was an undergrad at Wash U – back in the olden days). In previous years we’ve talked about Sketching, Sustainability, Building Systems and general “This is what we are doing now” topics. This year our presentation was on “Things that used to be something else” or “UTBSE”. Architects might refer to this as “Adaptive Reuse” but we thought UTBSE was catchier. We borrowed the thought from the authors of the website “Used to be a Pizza Hut”. For more on that, there’s a great story on the podcast 99% Invisible.
We used several things as examples – warehouses that are now schools,
Former Warehouse – now a Learning and Community Center
factories that are now offices,
Former Factory – now an Office Building
or one of our current projects, a barn that’s now a conference center. In the spirit of the day, we brought a couple of boxes of stuff from the office that the students re-purposed as models for a house they designed.
Students getting ready for the presentation
This is a wonderful program. Gay has recently expanded her reach – she’s now part of a similar program called “Building Futures”. This looks like a great program too – looking forward to what the future generation of aspiring architects creates at both these programs!
For the past few months we have been hosting “Friday Office Presentations” on a variety of the subjects revolving around architecture. The presenters are members of the Fox team who want to share interesting architectural trends with the rest of the office. This past Friday’s presentation was focused on a study performed by Terrapin Bright Green entitled 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design – Improving health and well-being in the built environment.
Terrapin Bright Green is a team of researchers that collaborates with organizations to challenge assumptions and develop solutions that lead to improved environmental and financial performance; information that we as architects can point to when the client is looking for scientific evidence to support our design ideas. The study is particularly interesting because it’s focused on outlining criteria for ways to improve the health of building occupants. A Link to the Terrapin Bright Green website is listed below where you can read the entire study.
After reviewing the patterns identified in the mentioned study we have realized that we have been using similar design principles in all of our designs long before the study was published.
Here are some examples:
We strive to create environments with exterior views and a strong connection with nature. (Terrapin Bright Green – pattern No. 1.)
We work closely with our consultants to create thermally comfortable environments. Furthermore we incorporate operable windows to create airflow variability. (Terrapin Bright Green – Pattern No. 4.)
We utilize use of natural and sustainable materials (Terrapin Bright Green Pattern No. 9)
Based on client needs we strive to create open and freeing environments. (Terrapin Bright Green Pattern No. 11)
In large and open spaces we like to create out break out areas. These breakout spaces serve as areas of withdrawal from the main space. (Terrapin Bright Green Pattern No.12)
We try to incorporate a certain level of mystery in our designs which evokes interest and draws building occupants further into the space. (Terrapin Bright Green Pattern No.13)