Element Restaurant and Lounge a 2015 Design Is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Here, Cara McKedy addresses the design process for Element Restaurant and Lounge in St Louis, MO.

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Describe this project in one word.

Adaptive.

How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?

We believe that the positive reviews this restaurant has received are partially due to the unique atmosphere. We worked in conjunction with the entire restaurant team on this project to support their vision, and it turned out to be a really great showpiece of both design and food. This proves that the atmosphere of a restaurant can be just as impactful to visitors as the food on their plates.

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Design is a process. Explain your journey.

We had a fixed timeline on this project, so we worked from the beginning with a team consisting of Remiger Design as the architects and designers, the owner’s rep, the chef of the restaurant, the general contractor and the food service consultant. This allowed us to include feedback from every party in the design and create a space that met everyone’s needs. The owner wanted to include enough seating to remain profitable, the chef helped our team understand the type of preparation space he needed, and the general contractor worked with us to ensure schedule and budget adherence throughout the process.

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What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?

Creating a well thought-out, functional design is much easier when you have the input of both the contractor and the end user of the space. Our advice to future designers would be to incorporate as much feedback as possible from the end user while working with the contractor to keep the schedule and budget in check. This will help create spaces that meet the needs of the client and don’t exceed budget or timeline limitations.

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ECO a 2015 Design Is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Here, Dagmar von Schwerin addresses the design process for ECO in Boston, MA.

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Describe this project in one word.

ECO-logical.

How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?

Designed for young urban professionals, ECO offers relatively compact units balanced by a variety of common spaces available for use by tenants and their visitors. These gathering spaces support the connectivity and community sought by today’s younger residents.

Flooded with natural light and accented with the warmth of wood, bold red accents and surprises of texture in furnishings and carpeting, ECO’s crisp design creates a welcoming environment for social gatherings. The 24/7 activity in the common spaces – located at the entry, the rooftop and top corner of the building – activates the building, letting neighbors know that the lights are on and “someone is home”.

All aspects of the project were specifically designed to advance the Green District’s theme of eco-friendly living, established as a core design principal for this new, sustainable city neighborhood. It is one thing to build a sustainable building, but if the people who live in it do not live sustainably, the effort is only partially successful. In the Green District, residents sign a “Green Lease”, agreeing to adhere to a sustainable lifestyle including the use of on-site recycling and composting, free hydration stations throughout the building to cut down the use of plastic water bottles, car charging, public transportation, and on-site bike and car sharing. The integration of these sustainable options into the building’s design helps ensure that ECO achieves its full eco-friendly potential.

The elegant, modern look and feel of the project, and its clear focus on sustainable living, generated tremendous interest in the community, with all units leased before opening day.

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Design is a process. Explain your journey.

ECO is the culmination of an ambitious and highly successful development conceived by The Mount Vernon Company of Boston. As the final new building in Allston’s “Green District”, ECO offers a stylish, urban alternative for those seeking eco-friendly, middle income rental opportunities.

PCA’s work with the developer, The Mount Vernon Company, began here with The Edge, a new 79-unit apartment building. Concurrently PCA was asked to upgrade and retrofit façades and building exteriors within the Green District to support the look and feel of the new neighborhood.

The design evolved with every new project, with each building developing a unique style to provide variety and choice to prospective renters. The Edge was designed with an “industrial chic” feel, in contrast to the more traditional themes of the Element apartment building (not designed by PCA) and existing multi- and single family housing in the District.

ECO’s design in turn was inspired by Scandinavian architecture, with clean simple lines and a fresh palette, playful lighting, pops of color, comfortable iconic furniture and the warmth of wood. The continuity of some of the exterior materials used at ECO, such as brick and metal panel, ties ECO back to its neighbors in its urban context. New accents, like the strong blue of the fiber cement clapboards and the pops of red in the fitness room skylights, make a stronger statement about modern style and attitude. The furnishings of the common spaces, visible from the street, further emphasize this approach.

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What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?

When designing residential spaces, it is critical to think about how they will be received long term by a variety of audiences. Designing to current trends can quickly date a building. Aim to use high quality materials to create flexible, clean, neutral environments that residents can customize to their liking.

Well programmed and designed public space fosters a sense of community. Comfortable furniture is key. For people to spend time in these spaces they need to feel like they are at home.

Sustainability resonates with today’s young urban professionals – they truly want to “walk the talk”. ECO proves the viability of high quality, contemporary, housing designed specifically to promote eco-friendly living. In addition to being fully leased on opening day, the three new Green District buildings sold for $147.5 million in March of 2015, the second largest apartment transaction in the Boston’s history.

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Science Pyramid a 2015 Design Is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Here, Kellie Depeder addresses the design process for Science Pyramid in Denver, CO.

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Describe this project in one word.

Biomimetic.

How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?

This design accommodates the natural movement of visitors. As they journey from the entrance of the gardens, the paths and surrounding gardens lead their eyes to the pyramid. The transition from the open air gardens to the interior of the Science Pyramid is fluid and subtle. The skylight fracture down the center of the building along with multiple west facing vignettes allow visitors to remain connected to the gardens as they explore the exhibits.

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Design is a process. Explain your journey.

The design concept is derived from the sites environmental context and program requirements. The architectural elements were created to support the biomimetic design concept.  We developed numerous virtual 3D study models and sketches before we were satisfied with the final design.  Then we refined the custom detailing and material selections.  We worked with building envelope consultants to come up with the best building skin solution to meet a very specific design aesthetic and interior function.

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What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?

Be flexible with the design, but be firm with the design concept.

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Dr. Judah Garfinkle Orthodontics a 2015 Design Is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Here, Alyson Pierce addresses the design process for Dr. Judah Garfinkle in Portland, OR.

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Describe this project in one word.

Energy.

How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?

This project was largely based on the doctor’s charismatic personality and legacy in his profession. Dr. Judah Garfinkle’s objective was to build a state of the art facility which incorporated his family’s rich history in orthodontics and his modern approach of practice. His family’s connection to New York and his love for Portland also played a major role in coming up with the concept of New York meets the NW. We took advantage of the wooded scenery with picturesque windows and panoramic views. The design decision was made to add a layer of transparency to promote the transference of natural light throughout the clinic. The design team also incorporated a seamless glass entry, clear glass sliders, and frosted glass panels in the clinic to further achieve inner illumination.

The doctor wanted his modern aesthetic and energetic personality to also be translated in the design with bright pops of color, speakers pumping out music, and his signature, a bowtie. The front desk design came together by visiting a warehouse with reclaimed wood, and choosing the juniper slab that would be the show piece of the reception area while the white subway tile with dark grout reflects his love for New York. Also integral to the design was the combination of carpet that was used. Since we wanted to achieve a sense of movement and energy throughout the space, incorporating Blur and Overlay carpet tiles was the perfect design solution. Both carpets have a gradation to them that when installed, look like flashes of yellow light. Strategically placed pops of the Colour Plank tile in Saxony Blue reinforced the movement throughout the space.

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Design is a process. Explain your journey.

The 3,400 square foot space required a complete remodel and gut of several vacant suites. The challenging mixture of spaces and L-shaped space was initially thought to be a constraint however the design team was able to take advantage this by creating separate work areas for staff and clinic areas for patients.

Understanding the needs of the staff and optimizing the patient experience were key elements that were emphasized in all phases and ultimately contributed to the success of this project. Thoughtful space planning and placement of patient and staff areas allow patients to move through the clinic effectively while staff remain functional. Wider circulation was implemented, to avoid potential bottle necking at check-in and check-out areas as well as an open treatment bay to maximize the exposure to nature, and to avoid feeling claustrophobic. Due to the ceiling height constraints, the design focused on inset panels of timber to create interest on all plains, and to bring the Northwest outdoors in. Not only is the clinic a fun and memorable space for younger clientele to visit but it is also a modern and efficient space to work in.

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What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?

Collaboration and communication are extremely important in a job as technical as Dr. Judah Garfinkle’s. The design-build process really lends itself well in these situations because solutions are often found before a problem has surfaced. Collaboration between the designers and contractor, was key to the success of this remodel.

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UCSF Medical Center a 2015 Design Is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Here, Trisha Clark addresses the design process for UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, CA.

Describe this project in one word. One-for-all!

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How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?This new children’s hospital activates the imagination and engages children’s in joyful activity.  Colorful and interactive architecture, sculptures and imagery provides a positive environment for patients alleviating some of the discomfort and providing inspiration along their path to recovery.

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Design is a process. Explain your journey. 

Working together side-by-side in a truly collaborative environment like the big room, over a long period of time significantly changed the way our designers integrated with the client and we became them and they became us, sharing each other’s concerns and passion for creativity.

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What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?

It takes a great deal of time and patience in working with your client to reach the optimal design solution.  There really is no one single solution and often reiteration of design is required.

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