Category Archives: Government

PIVOT Architecture | TriMet – 2016 Design…Is Award Global Winner

Shaw Contract conducted interviews with all firms of all Market Award winning projects from the 2016 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we always like to share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn about the winning projects. These are their stories.

Describe this project in one word.


How does this project demonstrate design impact?

PIVOT Architecture in Eugene, OR partnered with TriMet, Portland’s metropolitan transit agency to renovate a few of their existing and leased buildings, with the intention of elevating their level of design. One of the phases of this project, was to reimagine the bus operators’ space at their operation headquarters. The existing space was dark, dingy, and one big open space where a variety of functions took place. Things appeared to be placed haphazardly, without rhyme or reason and there were limited spaces for the drivers to relax and unwind during down time. As
one bus operator summarized during our interviews, “Getting through the daily transition between ‘Work Me’ and ‘Regular Me’ is critical to our mental health and morale, but it’s unsupported at work, and can’t happen at home.” One of our main goals for this project was to use the design of the space to separate out the users’ distinct modes of working and to support these various functions in order to help promote a positive atmosphere and well-being amongst the staff.

Views through floor-to- ceiling windows and glass-enclosed spaces let users remain connected to the outside world and the bus yard, while providing an abundance of natural light. The application of bold color through the carpeting and wall colors simultaneously denotes areas of relevant work-related information and transforms the space into a vibrant atmosphere. At two
entries into the main report area, there are graphic displays made from photos and quotes of bus riders. These graphics help remind bus operators as they enter the building the importance of their job and how they can have a positive impact on others.

Each project is a process. Explain your journey with this space.

Setting the tone for this project and weaving its way through the design of the 14,580-SF space was a top-level directive to reimagine how this almost 24-hour operation functions and reflect
one of its main goals of transparency. Before any decisions were made, the design team held a number of in-depth sessions with the users to examine the functional requirements of the space
and what modes of working were either well supported or lacking. Using that information, we took a fresh look at how their operations could function and designed the space to optimize their
performance while making them feel comfortable, valued, and well supported. Since the design of this space was a drastic departure from their current way of working, TriMet utilized change
management strategies to help the users become accustomed to the new layout and function of the spaces.

Tell us about any challenges or lessons learned from working on this project.

One of the main challenges on this project was that the report area functioned almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and needed to remain fully functional during the six month construction
period. Because of this constraint, TriMet decided to temporarily relocate the 400 + bus operators, station agents, bus transportation managers, and all associated services to a modular building complex situated in an adjacent parking lot.

On trends: Is there anything in particular with this project that is reflective of current culture/society?

Overall, this project is reflective of current culture/society in regards to designing spaces where people want to be. The atmosphere is fun, engaging, bright, and open. This space was designed around the end users and what spaces they need to function and feel well supported. It’s not enough just to provide a space anymore. Design is more about the users and how they
interact with the space than simply having a space that the users occupy. It’s about choice and providing varied spaces for the users to select what is right for them at that moment.

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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.


Describe this project in one word.


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.


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.


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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AECOM Creates a Unique Design DNA for FBI Regional Headquarters

AECOM, out of Phoenix, AZ, designed the FBI Regional Headquarters in Phoenix, AZ (which later became one of our finalists in the 2012 Design is…Award. Read more about them in our 2012 Design Is magazine.). Below, learn more about how AECOM transformed the space and brought its DNA-inspiration to life.

“With the FBI Regional Headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona; a language is born through weaving together graphic abstractions of DNA sequencing with the very concrete security restraints of a sensitive government facility. This weaving of constraint and imaginative design engenders the language of the building with a very purposeful meaning, both functional and iconic. This language creates a visual branding that the client identifies with; while also meeting the restrictive security and constructive requirements of a blast proof facade.” — AECOM – Phoenix, AZ

 “The abstraction of identification technologies became guiding principles for multiple design solutions within the facility. A concrete facade is delicately patterned as a reference to DNA sequencing, the site design bears the identifier of a human fingerprint, tile patterns and room signage are born from genome sequencing — this language speaks throughout all aspects of the design, consistently and fluidly.” 

AECOM used Shaw Contract Group Diffuse tile “as an ideal extension of this genome abstraction.” The product’s strong linear character became the continuation of the project’s design language. Our Site Lines tile was used in all public corridors to the same effect.

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President Truman’s (rather controversial) White House Redesign

Design is universal. Design is an important part of our lives. It’s found in our homes, our offices and in our most recognizable buildings. Design is necessitated by growth, maintenance, better functionality needs or pure aesthetics. Be it a one room renovation or an entire city block complex redesign, the project will undoubtedly grow and evolve from the original conceptual idea.

One of the United States most prominent buildings faced these very same challenges after the Great American Depression. Plagued from years of slashed maintenance budgets and the ever increasing size of the United States Government, President Harry Truman saw the need for a re-design of the White House’s West Wing. After a battle with Congress resulting in reconstruction funds being recalled, the irritated President took bold steps and altered the south face of the White House without Congressional approval. What happened next? It’s all a part of our federal government’s history. Visit the White House Museum’s website to read about the ups and downs of the White House Renovation. Can you relate?

Before: The south face, circa 1848, a century before the Truman Balcony. After: The south face in 1948, after the Truman Balcony was added

Since then, presidents have used the balcony to relax and entertain. Check out some images below:

The Fords mark their 24th wedding anniversary on the Truman Balcony in 1974

Picture 1 of 5

Images: White House Museum

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Shaw Contract Group Provides Carpet at Presidential Inauguration

President Barack Obama was be inaugurated in to his second term as president yesterday. And as you watched the Obama’s waiving at the 3+ hour long parade, take a look at the flooring provided by Shaw Contract Group, that the president, his family and various other dignitaries were standing on. It looks like Shaw Contract Group will be part of a moment in history!


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