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2014 Market Winner: Melton Library and Learning Hub by FJMT

As the winners of the 2014 Design Is…Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog.  Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 40 winning projects.  These are their stories.

Fleur Downey spoke with us about the design approach to this community-focused project.

Describe the project in one word.

Community.

Melton2

How does this project demonstrate the power of design to impact user in a space?

This project has given the people of Melton a space that is community-based and collaborative.  Because of the design approach, varied community facilities are grouped within the building, including Maternal and Child Health Services, Lecture Spaces, Office Space, Cafe, Bookable Community Meeting Rooms and Children’s library and external playspace, along with the library itself.  This encourages the end user to engage with their community on more than one level and in many different ways.  Spaces are both intimate and open, and create a social flow through the building, encouraging patrons to use the spaces in a variety of ways.  Individual groups are catered for, with specific ‘teen’ and kids spaces, the design of which is reflective of their retrospective uses.

Since the opening of the library, memberships have increased by 1000 people per month, reinforcing the sense that the library is now the central community hub.

Design is a process – explain your journey

The journey began with a client (Melton City Council) which was committed to providing a building to serve as more than just a library for their community.  The brief and design was created through detailed consultation with the client, and importantly, end user groups.  The site located in the old township of Melton originally housed the 1970s original municipal library. The brief was to provide a new contemporary library and hub for the local community. The project features a double height reading space, multiple community meeting, theatre and teaching spaces. The project has a very high environmental agenda and will provide a new central civic space for the people of Melton, unlike anything in the existing town centre.

This challenging mix of influences assisted with the delicate refinement of the building and interior design, as what sometimes appeared to be a constraint in fact opened doors to new ingenuity and careful detailing.

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

The public library is a trusted and recognised feature of a local area that makes a vital contribution to the social, educational and recreational development of local communities.  In this way, fjmt feel that true involvement by the architect in the briefing and development of an understanding of the desired outcomes for the community is essential.  This includes workshopping with user groups and stakeholders, as well as gaining a deep understanding of the community itself.  This detailed design process is resultant in buildings that are truly responsive to users.

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2014 Market Winner: Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator by RMTA

As the winners of the 2014 Design is…Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group Blog.  Throughout the year, readers will learn about the 40 winning projects. These are their stories. 

Matt Murphy, Design Associate, spoke with us about this one-of-a-kind venture.

Describe the project in one word.

Collaborative.

MOF14002_c How does this project demonstrate the power of design to impact users in a space?

Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator is unique venture powered by Sprint Corporation and Techstars, dedicated to the growth of the Kansas City tech and entrepreneurship community. The Accelerator is a beacon for entrepreneurship in the region, bringing start-ups from around the world into Kansas City to work on the future of mobile health technology.

Design is a process. Explain your journey.

Understanding these needs, RMTA concluded the space needed to echo exactly what Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator stands for – creativity, diversity, innovation and first to market. The building was originally erected in 1903 as an ice house. The 12,000 square feet second floor space underwent significant renovations while retaining the original structure to accommodate activities within three distinct sections: Community, Accelerator and Co-working.

Sprint desired an environment to inspire and advocate work-life balance; a place where people would want to be. To address their needs, the space was designed to inspire creativity and collaboration. Sprint also sought a backdrop that would let one know they are indeed in a Sprint space without overwhelming visitors with their universal brand. To formulate this distinct subculture, Sprint provided approvals to set aside conventional use of corporate branding identity including color, logo, icons and typography. These subtle, yet complex reminders of Sprint’s presence in the space radiates throughout without being trite or obtrusive.

The project moved at an expeditious speed; wherein RMTA was retained to survey the space and start the design process at the beginning of August and construction was completed by the end of December that very same year. This meant we had to make clear and succinct decisions without jeopardizing the acuity of the design. Each of the team members had their roles and worked within in them, always putting the project first which made for a great and synergistic process. This practice echoes throughout architecture and design on a daily basis; that each of us plays a small, yet significant part that when churned in unison with hard work, knowledge and passion can result in measurable successes.

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

The uniqueness of the design comes from a team whom truly collaborated on all levels. The key to the project’s success was based on pushing the design limits and never accepting the status quo while maintaining the schedule and the budget and never losing sight of the project vision.

 

 

 

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2014 Market Winner: Hotel Tobaco by EC-5

As the winners of the 2014 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 40 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.

The EC-5 team (Luiza Jodłowska, Martyna Nowak, Hanna Pietras, Piotr Płóciennik, and Dorota Szafrańska) spoke with us about revival, mixing old with new, and going back to the 1950s.

Describe this project in one word.
Revival.

The hotel is part of a historic factory building complex. Since 1895, Karol Kretschmer had operated a cotton and wool textile factory there. The factory functioned until the beginning of World War I. Despite the devastation and destroyed by fire, in 1932 the factory changed the profile and resumed production as the National Tobacco Monopoly. Before the outbreak of the Second World War the factory produced several brands of cigarettes. Until the late XX century (during communism period) the factory was known as “Lodz Tobacco Monopoly”. This project converted existing, devastated building into modern hotel.

EC-5_Tobaco Hotel_reception_2

How does this project demonstrate the power of design to impact users in a space?
Tobaco Hotel’s guest enters into modern space, but he never forgets that he stays inside XIX century textile factory. He can see bare concrete, red brick, wiring and pipes exposed in all spaces. There are factory safety signs and posters used as decoration in restaurant.

Interior design has been done according to the newest trends. In lobby there can be found vibrant and joyful colors with energizing connection between blue, violet and green. Yellow used as the leading colour here is also appearing in the rest of the hotel’s interior. Furniture, lighting and accessories have been chosen from recognized designers.

Violet color dominates in single rooms, white and light gray has been used as a background. Colorful accents like a landscape graphics over a bed, chairs and bedspread enliven the whole interior. Furniture made of hazel timber finished with high gloss have been designed especially for Hotel Tobaco with a style of the 50’s.

EC-5_Tobaco Hotel_room2_1

Design is a process. Explain your journey.
First, we spent a lot of time on getting familiar with the building history and it’s industrial character. The main design assumption was to expose the factory background of the complex and to emphasize industrial and rough character. These were the most important for us in every stage of the project – during conception, computer visualisation and technical project. We wanted to create a connection between old and new.

EC-5_Tobaco Hotel_corridor_2

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?
We have learnt how important is to keep original character of historical building and how difficult is to design modern architecture without destroying what is the most valuable from the past.

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2014 Market Winner: Cedar Rapids Public Library by OPN Architects

As the winners of the 2014 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 40 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.

Mindy Sorg, Interior Designer, talked with us about rebuilding a city, engaging with the community, and creating something more than just a library.

Describe this project in one word.
Transformational.

04_Atrium Light Wall

How does this project demonstrate the power of design to impact users in a space?
In June 2008, the City of Cedar Rapids was hit by a huge flood. The city lost hundreds of homes, businesses and public structures including their public library. As the city looked to rebuild, restoring library services was a top concern and the city hired us to help the community develop a vision for library services in the community.

The new Cedar Rapids Public Library opened in August of 2013. The space truly embodies the ‘Big Idea’ behind the design, which was to create a library that in the words of library director Bob Pasicznyuk was “more like an Apple Store than the DMV.” That comment was more about the patron experience than the design, but it really helped drive the decisions to make the library a multipurpose destination and a space for the community to gather, collaborate and celebrate. As a team we embraced the themes of openness, transparency and public engagement.

06_Adult Fiction

From my perspective, the design for Cedar Rapids Public Library pushed the boundaries of what a library can do for a community, and the results have been astonishing. In the first three months alone, the library welcomed 108,900 visitors, issued 6,200 new library cards, provided space for 605 organizations to host events and booked more than 50 weddings, parties and special events. This is in a city of just 128,000 people. After five years with limited library services, it’s incredible to see the ways in which the library is serving as an economic catalyst, a community hub, and haven for users.

01_Exterior Night

Design is a process. Explain your journey.
When the flood hit we donated our services to design a temporary facility in an empty mall storefront. We contacted vendors and industry experts to donate furnishings, made a run to IKEA for lights and fixtures, and had the space up and running in a matter of weeks. We knew the space was temporary, so we selected materials that could be recycled and decided to use the library as a learning lab. Over the next few years, we tested new furniture and materials so that we could make the best choices for the new library that was under design. This part of the process helped us make informed decisions and allowed the staff and library leadership to try out some innovative ideas that made their way into the final design for the new library.

I think it’s so important to remember that a new library represents a tremendous investment of public resources. For us it was critical that we engage our client and the community in the design process. We developed a highly-interactive process that engaged the client in design decisions from kick-off through opening day and we ran focus groups regularly to make sure that our designs were aligning with the community needs. This helped us stay focused on the ‘Big Idea’ behind the design. We worked closely as a team to bring the building materials, lighting and programmatic spaces into harmony creating a simple, clean and highly-functional design. We love the results – this library is truly a welcoming and works incredibly well for patrons and staff.

08_Children's Area

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?
Never underestimate the ability or willingness of your client to allow you as a designer, to take the design to a level that exceeds even your own expectations.

Always educate the client to make educated decisions on design. Decisions that are purposeful and reflect the conceptual foundation of the design are easy to sell, and in the end are the ones the client is most excited to see as successful solutions.

Question the programmatic status quo. In order to give the client something they didn’t even know they wanted, you need to take them outside their comfort zone. Raise and ask the hard questions about how things are done and why. That lets you get to the next level and create a design that is truly transformational.

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2014 Market Winner: TenneT Headquarters by Studio Groen+Schild

As the winners of the 2014 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 40 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.

Tine Groen, interior designer on the project, talked with us about connecting employees, using pure & honest materials, and planning for the future.

Describe the project in one word.
Cradle2Cradle

7.SG+S - TenneT MCE restaurant 2

How does this project demonstrate the power of design to impact users in a space?
TenneT, a utility company for electricity transmission has evolved from a company with a technical identity to a people oriented organisation. The interior of its head office in Arnhem seamlessly matches its new identity. The open and transparency of the interior is designed to improve the mutual connection between all the employees working within this building. Pure and honest materials ensure a timeless base. Meeting places have been given their own look & feel based on three themes: people, nature and technology. This is expressed in colours, materials and signing. The diversity within the themes, brings more diversity within the users minds. The interior is extremely sustainable, even circular: the complete interior package can be dismantled. No glue, silicone kits or other toxic substances were used. The users understand that the whole interior design is specifically chosen for their health being, not only on the short turn, but also on the long run. The end result is a healthy interior that energises the employees of TenneT.

15.SG+S - TenneT MCE meeting office 1

Design is a process, explain your journey.
Disassembling is key within this project. It was our journey to design and connect the whole interior by keeping with this base, easy possibility for future disassembling, with 100% recycling possibilities. We feel that we only are part of the journey. What will be the journey of the selected products? They are here now, in which building will they be 20 years from now. How excited is that! Nothing needs to go to landfills, the selected interiors has many lives.

3.SG+S - TenneT MCE coffeebar

What are the most important lessons that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?
Design with the future in mind.

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