Performance Hall Tuning: Ensuring the Sound is Sound

As thrilling as the design and construction of buildings are for architects, the life their creations take on when they start to be used for their intended purpose is even more interesting. Before occupation, though, there is an important intermediate step, known as commissioning. This is when all of the systems, mechanical and otherwise, are tested, balanced … Continue reading

From Bowties to Brushstrokes: Traditional Tools for Contemporary Architects

In the days before computers (ancient history for young architects today) architects wore bowties to avoid smearing their drawings,  smoked pipes to keep drawings safe from falling ash and were exposed to potentially dangerous ammonia to make blueprints on a daily basis. Things have certainly changed in the architectural world. Software has brought about a … Continue reading

Craftsmanship Series: Lighting The Smith Center

Architects who enjoy developing all of the details of a project from massing concepts to stair railings, will understand that working on The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, NV was an extraordinary experience. From the Italian marble walls and floors to the custom metal railings and grilles; the custom Venetian plaster … Continue reading

Craftsmanship Series: The Use of Wood in Architecture and Design, Part I

As part of our Craftsmanship in Architecture Series, we will be discussing the use of wood in architecture and design. This topic will span several posts, with this first one focusing on wood sources, sustainable considerations, and species selection criteria. Wood is a nearly perfect building material. A renewable resource, it is readily available and … Continue reading

Craftsmanship: For the Love of Limestone

Limestone is found all over the world: as soft, yellow stone in southern England, creamy buff stone in southern France, a variety of interesting colors found in the Burgundy region, as well as numerous types in Portugal and Asia. It has been used as a building material for thousands of years: from the pyramids of … Continue reading

Architecture and Acoustics: You Know Greatness When You Hear It

Architecture and acoustics are highly dependent on each other. Every design element in the room, down to the smallest ornament, shapes the sound. Nothing should happen by accident. Working with acousticians, one quickly learns that acoustics is one third art, one third science, and one third black magic (actually something between intuition and malarkey). To … Continue reading

Computer Renderings: Perfection & Peril

Computer renderings give us a real clear view of what our building will look like.  Or do they? For centuries, architects have created hand-drawn rendered perspectives and elevations with exquisite detail.  The renderings could be highly realistic or vague and sketchy, depending on the intended purpose and project phase. Clients and users could experience a … Continue reading

When is a Model Worth a Million Pixels?

In this age of computer generated 3D renderings, most architecture firms have come to regard physical model making as an old-school, outdated tool – no longer worthy of a contemporary design process. We’re not talking about formal presentation models here, but rather the “working” models, usually white and made of foam core, that are such … Continue reading