As the winners of the 2013 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 48 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.
Craig Goodman, Principal at CS&P Architects, talked with us about spatial organization & personal growth, harmonious design and honoring family memories.
When did you decide to pursue a profession in design?
Growing up in a quiet corner of Vancouver surrounded by leading designers and artists (Arthur Erickson and Cornelia Oberlander were each around the corner) as well as the vital energy of UBC and the dynamic natural landscape.
How did you find your love for design? Is there anyone who played a major role in that?
My mother was a natural designer.
What about this project represents why you choose to be a designer?
The Headmaster of Crescent School and I have a history of working together since 1999. We share a passion for exploring how qualities of space impact the day to day life of learners. Even when we do not have a specific project to address, we are discussing ideas about new forms of spatial organization and personal growth. These explorations are at the heart of how I see architecture benefiting and enhancing our lives.
What is your first memory of the project?
A free hand sketch during a meeting with the Headmaster that launched a new path of thinking about his needs.
What was the happiest moment of the project?
Watching the young boys moving the furniture around in endlessly unexpected groupings as they developed collaborative work.
Is there anything about this project that touched you personally?
Watching the honest joy and humility of the prime donor (the Lau family) as they dedicated the building at opening. The glass piece etched with Chinese characters to honour the Lau Family in the front entry area was fabricated by my brother (Jeff Goodman). It was the last project we worked on together as he passed away suddenly in the spring of 2011.
Tell me something that was unusual about the project.
While the site is surrounded by a beautiful heritage building, a formal garden, and a natural ravine, the Heritage approvals were delayed by the presence of an existing cedar hedge deemed valuable.
What are you most proud of?
The preservation of the existing natural assets of the site, and the renewed connectivity this project offers.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned during this process?
The difficulty of achieving high quality concrete.
Think about a situation when things turned out different than you expected. How did the outcome impact the end result of the project?
Many challenges with the concrete trade required some rethinking of the exposed concrete finishes.
Tell me about your client.
A highly proactive group of educators that have focused upon the specific needs for boys.
Tell me about the selection process for this project. What do you think made them select you for this work?
We were not competing for this assignment, but chosen as part of a longer term master planning with the School.
Do you think this is will been a new trend in education design (the central, communal space for teamwork and study areas)?
The resulting design provides a test for a hybrid of spatial solutions. It is a mix of some regular classroom spaces combined with ample flexible break-out social spaces and collaborative work areas. The plan is organized around providing these choices for both the learners, and the “head learners” or teaching staff. The school was comfortable with moving forward with the more experimental areas by preserving some aspect of more conventional space. Our further contribution was to add shared break-out rooms between classrooms that are another vehicle for learning space options without increasing staff presence. Also the maximized transparency between the various spaces adds a key element of community definition to the whole middle school. This reflects the direction that learning spaces are moving towards. Eventually the quantity of classroom spaces will diminish in importance, as we trust learners to explore in a more independent and collaborative fashion.
The space is very much inspired by nature. Tell me more about that.
My west coast roots as noted above. It is a prevailing theme that we need to find ways to make buildings that integrate with their sites and emphasize a form of harmony with the seasonal and regional character.
What has the reaction been to the new space?