Design in Architecture

Design is very personal. People get upset when discussing their own design or evaluating the design of someone else. But why do people take criticism, whether constructive or not, so personally?

People are generally products of their environment and education. A persons “design” is based on the buildings that they grew up in or around, their experiences from travelling to different areas and cultures, their education from primary on up, and their reading and absorption of reference materials. If a person stays in the same town, on the same street and in the same house, then their design will be centered around that house and environment. They may believe that every house should have a front porch that is 20′ from the sidewalk, because that is where their parents sat in a swing and conversed with the neighbors. They may also believe that all houses should have wood ship-lap siding painted a royal blue, because this is the color that they painted their house every fifth summer. Of course, this may also make them want to have brick or hardi-siding that they do not have to paint. Either way, their design is based on what they experience through their lives.

This is the main reason that they take it so personally. When you are stating that the house should not have a porch because people in the area do not sit and talk with their neighbors in a semi-private area, they may get defensive because that is their life.

I never watched the Brady Bunch, but I have come to appreciate a small concept from the show later in my architectural career. Apparently, Mike Brady tended to design his projects around his home. This is comical, but it very relevant to architecture and design. Our design is typically based on what we know and experience, or basically how large of a design vocabulary we have developed. This vocabulary allows us to design using architectural history and the formation of new concepts from the reinterpretation and fusion of old.

Anyone can open their eyes and see the world around them, and by doing so they can increase their design vocabulary. Yes, there are some people that are incredible at understanding the history, communicating their design, and creating new solutions, but not everyone will view their designs as good because they do not have the same design vocabulary as the other designer. This is not bad but just a different interpretation of what we are both looking at.

David R Hoover, NCARB, AIA


Design in Architecture

Prairieville Middle School

PMeve1 (2)Project: Prairieville Middle School
Location: Prairieville, Louisiana
Completed: February 13, 2015
Budget: $12,850,000.00
Area: 73,000 sf

A major renovation and addition to an existing middle school campus. While the original gymnasium, band building and two small classroom buildings will remain, a new two story classroom building will be added. The 20,000 s.f. structure includes 34 classrooms, an administrative center and a library/media center. A 600 seat cafetorium and kitchen will be added that can seat 900 with auditorium seating. Adjacent to the existing gymnasium will be a new 800 seat gymnasium with additional toilet and locker space and a new concession stand.

Prairieville Middle School

Alexandria Medical Office Building

amob16Project: Alexandria Medical Office Building
Location: Alexandria, Louisiana
Completed: January 2014
Budget: $4,000,000.00
Area: 22,242 sf

A single story Medical Office Building with an exterior facade of brick veneer, aluminum/glass curtain wall and stucco that is accented by a large prominent covered drop-off with handicapped accessible covered parking to the side. From the main entrance an open Lobby runs the full length of the facility. It contains a towered clerestory on one side and raised ceilings to defining individual departments. Each individual department within the Primary Care side of the facility access the Lobby and each contains a systematic and purposeful workflow. In addition to the Primary Care there are three separate tenant spaces that have their own separate entrance and lobby and parking. The functional layout provides tenant spaces for a 13,645 sq.ft. Primary Care Facility, a 2,821 sq.ft. Wellness Center, a 2,699 sq.ft. Pain Management Center and 3,067 sq.ft. ENT Clinic. The building is Phase 1 of a overall 45,000 sq.ft. facility and this is reflected in the design of the plan, structure and site which allow for the connection of the Phase 2 building.

Alexandria Medical Office Building

Let’s Go Dutch

KatrinaSep 05 103
I was listening to another podcast from NPR that further elaborated on how the Dutch are taking water management in another direction. They are now building floating slabs with flexible utilities in flood plain areas as well as inside the protected levee areas (that will no longer be expanded). The government is also paying people with farm land to use their property as an overflow, which tends to work better than trying to contain the rivers, and being surprised when the levee breaks. The point being for New Orleans is that it is a lot cheaper to work in harmony with nature, then trying to control her. That way, Louisiana can pay for her own water management, instead of relying on the rest of the country and the government.
Let’s Go Dutch

Rethinking Water Management

Some Louisiana government officials, including
the ex-governor, took a few trips over to the Netherlands to
“research” how the Dutch spent billions of dollars to protect themselves from the water. When they returned, they were quick to ask the federal government for their own billions, but failed to disclose how the Dutch are now rethinking their water management. The Dutch have decided that it is better to live in harmony with the sea, instead of fighting her with large levees and gates. This
is the foundation that New Orleans was built on (Notice how the older parts did not flood), and it is something that deserves another look. More info located in this NY Times article:
Rethinking Water Management

Flood-Proof Houses

There is an interesting article located here:
It discusses houses located in the Netherlands and Pointe Coupee
Parish in Louisiana that utilize a buoyant foundation made of
expanded polystyrene to raise the house in flood waters. The house
is connected to poles on either side, which keep the house anchored
to the site. Elizabeth English, who is with the Louisiana State
University Hurricane Center, stated that she has met resistance
from FEMA and local building departments, since the housing type is
currently not covered under the International Building Code.
Flood-Proof Houses