PJD Distance M.Arch Blog

A Design Journal

Monday, October 22, 2007

Portfolio: Studio Introduction

The task of designing a signature Apple store in Boston was not to be taken lightly. As an internationally renowned , cutting edge business, for it to truly be a "signature" store, it would have to say something about the very nature of Apple, and its core organizational beliefs.
To summarize, Apple prides itself on its dedication to ingenuity and being on the cutting edge of technology. In this day and age, what is more cutting edge than the sense of environmental stewardship and, for lack of a better term, being "green?" My approach was to capitalize on this type of forward thinking attitude by showcasing it in my design. Beyond the attempts to bring the outside in, I felt that it was necessary to depart from the more traditional vernacular found at the site (Copley Square, Boston, MA) in order to exagerate Apple's obvious penchant for deviating from the norm. At the same time, as conflicting as the "glass box" may be with the rest of historic Back Bay Boston, it is clearly identifiable with the Apple brand.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Practice 1 - Construction Administration Checklist

As my practice curriculum will be focused strongly on the CA phase of a church project that is coming up here very shortly, one of my first steps has been putting together a “checklist” of things to consider once the project gets rolling. Below is an informal list of things that I will be thinking about here in the coming months, in no particular order. (while putting this list together, I had the help of experienced co-workers who have acted as Clerks and Owners Reps on recent projects)

1-Pay attention to the type of contract that exists between the owner and GC (ie. lump sum, unit price) and understand how this will affect the GC’s pay requests.
2-Learn to fully read and understand the pay requests.
3-Understand the importance of retainage and why it is in the owner and architects best interest not to release it prematurely. More retainage equals more leverage with the GC.
4-Understand the architects responsibility to look out for the clients best interests.
5-Understand how to verify pay requests.
6-Read and re-read Div. 1 General Requirements in the project manual. This is vital reference information throughout the construction process.
7-Get a construction schedule from the GC, as required in the Specs, and make sure the GC is updating it. Review it monthly and cross check with the pay requests.
8-Get to know the job superintendent and form a solid working relationship with him/her.
9-Get to know the owner and form a solid working relationship with him/her.
10-Understand the importance of monthly construction progress meeting and my role in it.
11-Whoever prepares the agenda and the minutes for the meeting has the power to drive the meeting.
12-Be sure to thoroughly review change proposals.
13-Double check overhead & profit figures and ask for backup for any numbers that are in question.
14-Respond to Requests for Information in a timely manner.
15-Understand lead times on materials.
16-Understand the importance of a submittal schedule from the GC in keeping the project on track as well as planning time for submittal review.
17-Understand what is my responsibility and what isn’t. Don’t be too quick to solve problems that are not mine to solve. I may be assuming undue liability.
18-Understand allowances and the importance of defining them clearly.
-Don’t ever feel rushed to make decisions. There is always time to do your homework and get the answer right.
19-Take full advantage of site visits.
20-Keep the owner happy. As I watch the project come together, put myself in the owners shoes in terms of what is acceptable quality and what is not.
21-Don’t be afraid to speak up, but be sure to pick my battles.

This is obviously a preliminary list. Having never been through this process, I don’t exactly know what I don’t know. However, I think that this a great start and I already feel as if I have a leg up on the process and what to be looking out for.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My comments regarding the First Semester

First and foremost, I have to say that I am pleased with how this semester went. There were a lot of questions going into it and a lot of concern as to how this would all work. I think that it worked out well.

Because this is the first semester I am sure that feedback from the students is desired, and this is my attempt to offer up suggestions to help further refine the progam.

1. The blog is a fantastic way to post/review work and conduct a dialogue. It is flexible, and enables us all to communicate without having dozens of emails to keep track of every week.
2. Instructor’s blogs were very helpful. This is where we could go to find the latest assignment and perhaps comment on issues raised by the instructor.
3. The blackboard was marginally helpful, in particular for sending emails to the class and for accessing posted reading material. There was the potential for things to get confusing there in the beginning with information being posted in so many places. I think that once things smoothed out, the format was pretty simple;
-Maintain your own blog
-Check each instructors blog for assignments for their respective courses
-Access the blackboard to send emails or to download information posted by the instructors.

If there was anyplace else to go to access information it might have gotten quite confusing and frustrating. I would try to simplify it further if possible, but definitely would not let it get any more in depth than the above. The fewer websites we have to worry about checking every day, the better.
The Intensive was great. We were forced to get to know each other so well in that week that it created a fantastic group dynamic. Exhausting, but great!
Affinity groups are a very good idea. Having to maintain dialogues with the entire group at a distance is kind of cumbersome. Breaking it down into more manageable pieces worked out great.

All of that being said, my biggest suggestion would be finding a way to use “Skype” or a similar program on a regular basis. I just found out about this program within the past few weeks in preparation for this mornings final review. The ability to be conferencing with the instructor as well as other members of the class is amazing. In my opinion, it should be the preferred way to maintain a dialogue. Once per week, the affinity group and the instructor should block out 30 minutes to an hour to go over their posts for that week and talk about the next assignment. They could migrate from blog to blog with everyone having the ability to offer their input and the instructor directing the discussion. Comments and discussions on the individual blogs should continue, but the conference call should be the primary forum. I think that this would make the experience that much better and provide more regular contact with the instructor. It gets difficult to post your work and wait for days before getting the kind of feedback you are looking for, meanwhile you may have been taking your project in the wrong direction. This could almost simulate a formal class meeting atmosphere. I post my work by Monday, and on Tuesday night my affinity group and the instructor meet online to talk about it briefly and get ready for the next weeks assignment. I truly believe that this, in conjunction with the blogs, the blackboard, and the intensive, could be the foundation for an excellent way to deliver this new program!!!

Last but not least, I think that I probably speak for the entire class when I say this, I can’t imagine two better people to have picked to instruct this first semester. Both Herb and Chris have been excellent to work with and I am privileged to have had them as Instructors.

I am proud to be a part of this first class and look forward to next semester!!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Portfolio: Concept #2

I thought that this was a good image to follow with... The assignment was to start thinking in terms of individual spaces that could achieve our concept... in that respect, these sketches failed, simply because they were not focused on individual spaces but instead more of a "whole" building feel.... so, for the most part these images were not successful.... that being said, when I revisited these images after further developing my design, I saw some considerable relationships from this initial sketch to my final drawings which gave this first attempt some renewed merit.... in particular, elements such as the water feature/seating plaza which bridges the interior and exterior...... the vertical space open to the different floors which later developed into the terraced gardens.... the recessed lower level that anchors the building into the earth... and the thin plane of glazing which serves as a subtle break between inside and out... while this image may not have worked in the context of that initial problem, I am happy that some of its key elements were able to be translated into my later design and reinforce my concept....

Portfolio: Street Level Plan

This is the street level floor plan... with entrances from Boylston and Dartmouth streets.. both entrances are on axes which join at a central cashier/information area which is located partially beneath the 2nd level product floor and partially within the double height main entry space. In terms of concept I am most pleased by the seating plaza/water feature and the way that it exists both within the building and outside of it separated only by a transparent glass curtain wall... this water/seating area was a strong element in my initial sketches in an attempt to provide pedestrians and shoppers with a gathering place with both views of Copley square and/or apple product displays.... I think that it has the potential to be a very desireable destination point...

Portfolio: Section A-A

This building section starts to tell the story of the spaces I have throughout the building. A ground level product floor and seating area, a product level/genius bar mezzanine, the main product level which is open to the Boylston st. entry below, and the media labs/green roof/courtyard areas on the top three levels.... the green roof at the main product level which cantilevers out over the the water feature offers a unique area to experience Copley square from an elevated garden atmosphere...

Portfolio: Exterior View 1

This image starts to bring the building to life..... first, I am pleased with the juxtaposition of the new (apple) and the old (tradional Boston streetscape).... apples claim to fame is not sticking with the norm.... it is modern and minimalist and respected as such..... that being said, I feel that this building form, while it injects a less traditional feel into the local fabric, is not disrespectful to the area and fits comfortably on the site... some other key elements are the cantilever of the main product floor which begins to define a space below it as neither/both interior and/or exterior, as well as the ability for the pedestrians to view the cascading greenroofs from the street level which begins to build interest from afar extending the architectural experience well beyond the exterior walls....