Archive for the 'Design' Category

Edit and Amplify

This month’s Fast Company magazine cover story… A very interesting article about Nike CEO (and former star designer) Mark Parker. Certainly worth reading.

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Architects Can Learn Much from Other Industries

What can we learn from other industries to make the traditional architectural and construction processes better?

Hospitals are filled with checklists and other systems to make sure that every step of a procedure is done correctly. NASCAR racing teams also use checklists and directives from multiple layers of team members, each with their own specialty. Toyota uses their Product Development System, also known as Lean Manufacturing, to make every subsequent product better than the last.

At Fivecat Studio, we are developing a Project Manual, filled with checklists, that will make every design process more efficient and will assure that every project is well built.

What are you doing to be more efficient? What systems are you implementing to be sure your clients are happy? Are you learning from other industries?

Please share…

The Process of Architecture?

At Fivecat Studio, our process of delivering architectural services includes a very highly developed set of construction documents. Every possible decision is made. Every product is specified. Every fixture is scheduled, ready for purchasing.

Our intent is to obtain very competitive bids from general contractors, minimize change orders and reduce construction time by eliminating delays caused by slow or incomplete decisions. Most of the time, this focus on detail pays off in an appreciative client and a healthy relationship with the construction team.

Sometimes though, when the well developed design and thoughtful decisions are second-guessed, changes are made during construction. A tight construction schedule does not allow for a fully developed and scoped out process of decision making. Sometimes this leads to a “snow ball effect” of interrelated elements requiring modification. The desired time or money saved by the change is, many times, counteracted by the additional time and money required to handle the unexpected consequences of the innocent (or not so innocent) change.

So, here is my question to you, the Entrepreneur Architect. What does your process look like?

Do you prepare detailed, highly developed drawing sets for construction? Or, are you a member of the camp that believes the preparation of a basic set of “guideline” drawings are better, with the details and design decisions determined during construction, in the field?

Which process makes for happier clients? Which process makes for a most efficient construction schedule? Which process is most profitable for the architect?

Please share. I would love to read your thoughts…

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Building Design that Builds Businesses

Building Design that Builds Businesses – BusinessWeek.

BusinessWeek magazine announced the winners of their annual BusinessWeek/Architectural Record Awards this week. Of all the awards programs, this one is one of my favorites. I appreciate the promotion that great architecture helps build great businesses.

Business Success by Design

I am not the only one who thinks the Apple store on Fifth Avenue is a great example of business success meets remarkable architecture. This past summer it was awarded with the BusinessWeek / Architectural Record Award.

According to a BW/AR jury member,

“it’s mesmerizing as you approach and descend into a beautiful glass bubble — an extremely popular retail space with very high sales per square foot. It’s beautiful, functional, and profitable.”

In fact, it’s Apple’s highest volume outlet. Granted, much of that comes from its location, but there is no doubt that Bohlin Cywinski Jackson‘s architecture is adding to Apple’s bottom line.

Building Wright

Apple.com has a profile of Thomas A. Heinz, AIA, the architect commissioned to reverse-engineer and complete a Frank Lloyd Wright house being built on Petra Island at Lake Mahopac, New York.

The article is mainly focused on Heinz’s use of Archicad and Apple computers. It describes the process he used to develop the design and communicate his ideas to the crew executing the construction.

Don’t miss the trailer for the documentary, Building Wright, in the sidebar. It gives you a glimse of the controversy brewing over the construction of this house. Is it an authentic Frank Lloyd Wright house, or an educated interpretation by Heinz?

Lessons Learned from Apple

If you have not been to the new Apple store on Fifth Avenue, do it soon. In a city where everything is big and loud, the Apple store stands out by being small and quiet. It is simply genius.

When you are there, take a good look at Apple as a business.

The Apple brand is all about design. From the glass cube above the plaza, to the structural glass stair (patent pending by Apple) leading down to the simple, clear layout of the store below. Everything says Apple.

The employees are all very enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. You never feel intimidated. They’re nice. Being nice is my first rule for a successful business.

Apple products are beautiful, easy to use and never fail; the complete opposite of every other computer company.

I am continuously looking to other industries to learn how the best of the best build successful businesses. I take what I learn and apply the lessons to my own firm. A trip to the Fifth Avenue Apple store was a whole semester’s worth of learning all wrapped up in one day.

Corporations Seek MBAs with Design Skills

The February issue of Contract magazine includes an article titled, Design Business. In addition to the prerequisite MBA, top corporations are seeking candidates with empathizing, problem-finding and creative design skills. Many business schools are integrating design courses with their MBA curriculum.

Design schools are finally getting the message as well. Business skills are an important ingredient in the future success of design and architecture students. The Illinois Institute of Technology is the first school to offer a dual degree, combining an MFA with an MBA.


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