Good design is often a direct result of the quality of the relationship between the architect and client and their commitment to the project.
An architect who was known for his close relationships with his clients was the mid-century modern architect Richard Neutra.
After the completion of one of his homes here is what he wrote in a letter to the client . . .
“Every major project like this takes a good deal of ‘starch’ out of me, my life strength, but there is always deep satisfaction. … This production would not have been possible if I had been a little more casual about what concerns you, or take it all less to heart than I did. After all and in the end, life is a lonely business for each human being even when there is a crowd around us, and an architect and a client must naturally come close and stay in mutual sympathy while a new and happier life can start after all the troubles and noise of building.”
From the book “Neutra: Complete Works” on amazon
Here’s a rendering of on an office space we’re working on. It’s for a small construction subcontracting firm that does steel structural work. These are the guys who build the steel structure of skyscrapers and bridges.
Vendemmia is under construction and will soon be open in the quiet Seattle neighborhood of Madrona. The restaurant is located in a new building originally designed by Johnston Architects. The design intent for the project has been to support the vision of restaurateur Brian Clevenger who wants a minimal space that allows the guest to be part of the cooking experience. A dining bar adjacent to the cookline will be a place where people can try new items conceived by the owner/chef.
Exciting Followup! My mom got an apartment in this building. She’s on the top floor facing east towards the train yard.
If you’re going to be in LA the Arts District is clearly the coolest place to be. It used to be the only time you’d see any activity was during a movie shoot, but in the last decade it’s transformed into a mix of loft spaces, hip restaurants and art galleries. At the east edge of this district is a new cruise ship-sized building that will add 438 new apartments and an abundant supply of commercial and community spaces to the neighborhood. It was designed by one of LA’s drivers of architectural rethink, Michael Maltzan, website.
This article from the LA Times does a masterful job of describing the project and the controversies that come with a project this size.
From the article: “Typically we reserve the adjective “contextual” to describe buildings that are polite, eager to blend in with the architecture that surrounds them. Maltzan’s building deserves a slightly different label. It’s based not on the immediate context but on how much of the larger city looks. It’s hypercontextual, built from a kind of super-vernacular.”
One of the most interesting restaurant design firms to come along in recent years is AvroKO in New York City. Arcade magazine published an interview here with the partners of AvroKO by the Seattle architecture firm BUILD llc. If you’re interested in restaurant design, take a look at the book The Best Ugly here.
Most information is easily found on the internet, but it was oddly difficult to find out the altitude of the sun in Seattle at it’s most extremes so I made my own graphic. Some people might be surprised at how low the sun is in Seattle in mid-December. It only gets to 18.5 degrees at its highest.
Porkchop & Co. has been reviewed in the restaurant section of the Seattle Weekly. Our friend and restaurant owner Paul Osher opened the restaurant in May. The food is all natural, healthy and very good. This was our first official project after opening of RaderTangen. You can see our project page here.
Building the Creative Office, What are the questions we hear most often?
If you’re starting a new businesses in Seattle your not alone. In 2013 Seattle was the fastest growing city in the nation. We also have some of the largest tech companies in the country. One of them, Amazon, is gobbling up office space faster than they can build new buildings. If you’re a smaller company or a start-up you might be looking for office space. Over the years we’ve had many clients who’ve worked with us to build out their office space for the first time. The process can be quite complex so we decided to put together a list of the most common questions we get from our office space clients.
Do I need a permit?
There are many different types of construction permits that may be required but the most common permit is the building permit. A building permit is mandatory if there is a change in the path of exit or a change to the layout of the space. A building permit will also be required if there is a change is the type of use for the space. For example, if a restaurant wants to use a space where the previous tenant was a retail store. In the case of a remodel of an existing space a permit may be required if the building department determines that the remodel is substantial. In the case of a substantial remodel they will require that all areas conform to code.
What is a “fit plan?”
A floor plan developed by the architect before the tenant signs a lease to see how well the tenant fits into the space. These are done quickly by the architect based on the requirements of the tenant, i.e., how many workstations, offices, conference rooms, etc. The fit plan can be a valuable document. It can be used to get rough pricing, look at furniture options, work out lease negotiations or help obtain a construction loan.
What’s the difference between “space planning” and “design?”
“Space planning” is the development of the floor plan based on the project requirements and will show how a space works but it does not show how the space looks. The “design” is the creative part of the project where the look and feel of the space is fashioned.
Do I use custom furniture or off the shelf office furniture?
Custom furniture can be highly effective where budget will allow, typically in some of the more public spaces. Custom furniture can also be created for unique situations where off-the-shelf items don’t work. For items that are not custom RaderTangen has close relationships with the best office systems and furniture dealers in Seattle.
If we decide to have an open office, how do we deal with privacy and people’s personal space?
There many ways to solve for privacy. Creating a variety of spaces for diverse functions and personality types gives people a way to find a type of space that works for them. For example there could be a series of small, private rooms that could be used for focused work, meetings or private phone calls. Grouping staff that share similar privacy values is another good strategy.
What is the typical square foot per person should we anticipate in our new office?
Square footage allocations vary with company culture, the type of work being done and the available space in your tenant improvement. We’ve design spaces as tight at 60 sf per person and up to over 200 sf per person. There are many variables that determine the allocation of space, but the typical office space allocated about 120 to 180 sf.
What is programming, and does our company need to do programming?
Programming is an important part of any design process. It includes interviewing key staff and personnel about their needs and desires for the office. This helps us as designers to understand, for example, where things should be located, the company culture, who needs private space, who needs to be next to who, and how people like to work, etc.
Do you propose an open office or an office with cubicles and closed offices?
Every company culture is different. One-solution-for-all is never the best solution. The trend has been to pull people out of their offices but there are circumstances where privacy is needed or preferred. We will sit down with you and your key stakeholders for an in-depth conversation about your preferences for how open or closed you would like your office to be.
How long does it take to get a building permit?
This is always an important question. Different jurisdictions have different criteria and review periods but generally it takes 2 to 4 weeks to get a permit once the drawings have been submitted. We always call at the beginning of a project and talk with a permit specialist to get the review times. Some jurisdictions offer an expedited plan review track for an extra fee. In the end, RaderTangen always works to ascertain as soon as possible what to expect with regard to permitting.
We have leased a large space to account for growth. How do you intend to design it so it feels right?
This is a common challenge for startups and companies gaining momentum. Flexibility is often the key to managing growth. Extra space can be used in a variety of ways including team workspaces of difference sizes, social interactive spaces, cafe or dining areas or private places to focus or recharge. To define spaces RaderTangen uses design elements including a variety of seating and furniture layouts, rolling media boards, green-scape walls, curtains, temporary partitions, lighting and graphics to keep larger spaces more intimate. We use armatures and techniques that can grow and shrink as company roles and staffing levels change.
We want to be environmentally conscientious, and reduce our carbon foot print. How can we do this, and does it cost a lot of money to do so?
Being environmentally conscientious is an increasingly important priority but it doesn’t have to be expensive, there are ways to achieve sustainability without added costs or sacrificing quality. RaderTangen incorporates green products and processes in every project. We start by finding cost-effective sustainable strategies that help reduce waste, energy use, and water usage. Then we identify specific products and processes to help us get there. If LEED Certification is desired, we find that working with sustainability experts and vendors is the most efficient and cost effective way to go.
Do you know this guy? His name is Milton and he’s terrified that he’s going to be moved to Storage Room B. If you don’t recognize this guy you haven’t seen the movie Office Space (and you should). Milton lives on the edge of sanity. His boss torments him by stopping by his open office cube threatening to move his cube and take away his Streamline stapler. These cubes, or office workstations, are at the thing people hate most about their work place. The results of a study published by the Journal of Environmental Psychology and written about in FastCompany here says that “You’re Not Alone: Most People Hate Open Offices”. The study presents data showing that the benefits of open-plan cubicle layouts commonly known to facilitate communication and team interaction do not outweigh the disruptions due to lack of visual privacy, increased noise level, and loss of focus due to uninvited co-workers.
Nikil Saval says the cube is evolving. His new book “Cubed, the Secret History of the Workplace” follows the history of the office and the cube. One of the first creative office workstation systems was “Action Office” designed by Herman Miller in 1964. Over the years the idea got dumbed down to become the “cube farm”: a maze of “flimsy, fabric-wrapped symbols of workplace insecurity” wrote Saval.
Today many of the panels have come down in favor of the “Open Plan” office. While not suited for everyone, a well-designed open plan can have a variety of work environments to encourage interaction and teamwork, but at the same time creating places of privacy and focus. The problem is that successful open planning is not easy to achieve. Business owners need to work closely with design professional to find the right balance of spaces needed for them. For more on the office cube, TheAtlantic.com published an interview with the author of Cubed here titled “Our Cubicles, Ourselves: How the Modern Office Shapes American Life”.
The greatest challenge to the open plan is the lack of visual and auditory privacy. This can be especially hard on introverts. Those are the quiet folks who prefer to work alone without distractions. Studies have shown that as much as 40% of this country is made up of introverts. Open office plans are not the best environment for these individuals. Susan Cain writes about this in her seminal book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. She proves that there huge benefits to design for introverted individual. In the years since her book was published business owners and furniture designers are starting to do just that. It’s now become almost fashionable to design for the introvert. One example is the new set of “quiet spaces” by Steelcase shown in the above picture and written about in a Wall Street Journal article For Office Introverts, a Room of One’s Own here.
Wall Street Journal: Warming Up to the Officeless Office here
The New Yorker: The Open-Office Trap here
Wired: The Cubical You Call Hell Was Designed to Set You Free here
Work Design Magazine here
Center for People and Buildings here