Visiting recently completed projects
I recently had the opportunity to tour Emerson Network Power’s Learning Center in Westerville Ohio. The building has been up and running for almost a year now. It is LEED Gold certified. I was certainly aware of the project as it was in the design and construction phase and have seen many photos and drawings, but nothing compares with an actual visit. The clients said several things that really stuck with me.
First, our tour guide told a story about his trepidation during the design phase with the width of one of the corridors – there’s a corridor that creates a central spine along the long axis of the building. This space “morphs” from a corridor to a prefunction space to a cafeteria dining space. When it gets to the dining space it has a wonderful view of a small lake and fountain outside the building. HE noted that when we brought the Revit design model and started cutting sections through the corridor, he was able to get a feel for the volume and understood how this space would work.
I’m a big proponent of Revit. I like the program’s ability to help us with quality control of our documents, linking details to elevations, plans etc and keeping the numbering correct as you move details around on the sheets. Having a client tell me how much he appreciated the communication aspects of the program was also great to hear.
Around the time this project was being designed, we were also using Revit to design and document the XDV piping for the Emerson Data Center. I don’t think we could have designed this as successfully in any other program.
One of the other comments made to me by my Network Power tour guides concerned the building’s finish palette. There’s a lot to like in this building – the use of color as a design tool is high on my list. The palette is linked with a daylighting and wayfinding concept. The materials used are relatively simple – paints, laminates, wallcovering, stained concrete flooring and wood doors and furniture. They are all used to maximum effect – hard to describe but it just feels great. Chalk this one up to Janet Paley. Charles Lipscomb with Network Power told me that he had some doubts initially, but after this project, any palette Janet brings to him will get automatic approval!
That reminded me of a story that Kevin Lee with Loyola Academy told us a couple of years ago. Janet led the design team for Loyola. It’s a simple but power renovation of an old light industrial building in Grand Center. The budget was incredibly restrictive. Janet used color and simple, cost effective materials to maximum effect. The project went on to win an AIA St. Louis Honor Award. Kevin told us that when a group of school volunteers first visited the new space, they started to cry – coming from their old building into this space had that kind of effect on them. Even today when I visit the school, the place just makes me feel good – mostly due to Janet’s work.
Both Loyola and Network Power’s Learning Center are great examples of people centered design. Photos are great but nothing compares with a visit!