Favorite Design and Urbanism Blog Posts for Week of March 17, 2013

A survival guide for working moms (or parents) from Perkins+Will. Placemakers' take on Spiritual Zoning. An Array disaster preparedness plan. HDR on post-Katrina planning. Retail and walkability from Gensler. 130325


Working mom’s survival guide. Chika Sekiguchi, a senior associate with Perkins+Will’s Chicago office, talks about a women’s workshop focused on work/life integration and the trends working women are seeing in their practices.

Sekiguchi took six takeaways from the workshop to manage stress:

  1.  1. Move
  2. 2. Share
  3. 3. Unplug
  4. 4. Breathe
  5. 5. Nourish the soul
  6. 6. Practice gratitude

Via Ideas + Buildings


Spiritual zoning. Ben Brown, a principal and storyteller at Placemakers, discusses how a religious perspective can promote neighborliness and community, regardless of the actual religious tradition.

“People who identify themselves as religious may be more intolerant of others’ beliefs — just as many non-believers suspect — but they’re also more likely than people who aren’t religious to give money to strangers, help people outside their own households, and be more civically engaged.” – Ben Brown

Via PlaceMakers Blog


Disaster preparedness plan. Thomas Hudok, project Architect with Array, explores the importance of disaster preparedness at medical facilities – when a natural disaster occurs, hospitals must remain operational to support patients and staff.

The 1992 hurricane season in South Florida was a major turning point in how building codes adapted to address natural disasters. Hospitals in Florida immediately started to focus on hardening their buildings, adding emergency utilities and reviewing the Florida Building Code, which has since been rewritten to address the specific effects of tropical storms and acknowledges the critical need for medical care facilities to remain open during a storm.

Via Array Blog


Planning amiss post-Katrina. Mark Meaders, sustainable design project manager at HDR Architecture, recalls working on rebuilding homes after Hurricane Katrina and the importance of tenets of proper urban design: dense development with mixed-income units, commercial development with shopping options for the community and walkable neighborhoods.

Meaders says tenets of proper urban design are not being implemented in the Ninth Ward –  the development is similar to before Katrina causing a lack of businesses in the area. Residents have to drive 15 minutes to the grocery store and proper planning would have helped set up the area to truly grow and become a neighborhood again.

Via Blink Perspectives


Retail and walkable urbanism. Kathleen Jordan, a principal in Gensler’s New York office and leader in the firm’s Retail practice, examines today’s retail environment, and how department stores can definitely benefit from transit-oriented developments (light rail to shopping areas) coupled with walkable urbanism.

Transit-oriented developments and walkable urbanism “would signal a return to what made department stores so successful in the first place: the ability to offer convenience. After all, isn't living in an urban environment all about convenience? You walk to work; you have a million great restaurants at your disposal and world class cultural institutions at your fingertips.” – Kathleen Jordan

Via Gensleron Lifestyle




Blog Post Roundup for Week of Feb. 18, 2013

HOK's secret to productivity. Manaugh and the fifth wall. Lake|Flato on the environmental imperative. Deep fried America by HDR. Gensler's maximum connectivity. 130225

Secret to productivity. Daphne Kiplinger, who works in HOK’s Washington, D.C.’s office, explores increased productivity and relaxation in the workplace, citing in recent article in the New York Times.

“No matter how productive we are, we cannot come up with more time.  What we can control, however, is the amount of energy we have to spend on accomplishing these tasks. Energy may not be infinite, but it is renewable, and it is in our power to find ways to renew it.” – Daphne Kiplinger

Via HOK Life

Relax, You’ll Be More Productive Via New York Times

The fifth wall. Geoff Manaugh examines Petro Vlahos, who passed away this week and was "the pioneer of blue- and green-screen systems" in cinema, of highly specific recoloring of certain surfaces in the everyday built environment that allows "filmmakers to superimpose actors and other objects against separately filmed backgrounds" to walls that aren't really there.

While “these sorts of walls and surfaces are not architecture, we might say, but pure spatial effects, a kind of representational sleight of hand through which the boundaries and contents of a location can be infinitely expanded. There is no "building," then, to put this in Matrix-speak; there are only spatial implications. Green screen architecture, here, would simply be a visual space-holder through which to substitute other environments entirely: a kind of permanent, physically real special effect that, in the end, is just a coat of paint.” – Geoff Manaugh

Via BLDG Blog

The environmental imperative. Bob Harris, a partner at Lake|Flato, discusses in a video how people find themselves living in deprived nature conditions, but how designers of the built environment can learn to reconnect people to land, beauty and themselves.

“Certain individual designers possess a particular bio-intuition that manifest itself in what has become known as biophilic elements of design. Could this explain why such works of design universally appeal? It may be that through a better awareness of our own cognitive wiring we might learn to reconnect to a beauty in nature that we have forgotten and build places that speak to the soul.” – Bob Harris

Via The Dogrun

Deep fried America. Steve Goe, Director of Healthcare Strategy at HDR Architecture, writes on how the future need for hospitals will be substantially reduced and restricted to the care of the most acutely ill patients who require intensive care and monitoring, providing challenges for health planners and architects to create spaces that are intended to transform as health delivery evolves.

The County Fair, where deep fried treats are introduced, is one example of people not taking responsibility for their health and contributing to the epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases. Healthcare facilities may become like “retail malls, where the procedural rooms, imaging and intensive care beds are the anchor tenants, and the rest of the facility is constantly changing its ‘stores’ over time through tenant improvements.

Via http://blink.hdrinc.com/deep-fried-america

Maximizing connectivity. Hao Ko, a principal and design director in Gensler’s San Francisco office, discusses the new corporate headquarters of NVIDIA, a Silicon Valley visual-computing pioneer, and how the new facility reflects their core belief that their people are their greatest asset.

Gensler is designing a building that allows staff to work together more efficiently while capturing the culture of their work—a building that is a physical manifestation of the soul of their company. Phase 1 of the new headquarters in Santa Clara will be a two-story building where the experience of moving through the building is one of unimpeded flow for the estimated 2,500 building occupants.

Via GenslerOn Work

Putting It All Out There

I’ve known for many years that writing a book is no easy task. I pitched the publisher, managed the writing, editing, image selection, etc. of EDAW’s first book Designing Public Consensus with author Barbara Faga in 2005. I distinctly remember prying the manuscript from her hands on the day of our final deadline. I now completely understand the difficulty of letting go of something that bears your name. I’ve since apologized to Barbara for not being more empathic. I was fully prepared to put in the long hours, but my family wasn’t. When I worked on Designing Public Consensus, I was married with no children and my husband accommodated my schedule by having dinner ready when I finally arrived home from work and I learned to happily eat tacos 3 nights each week. This time, my husband has a much broader range of recipes, but we also have two young kids. Working late wasn’t really an option, so I started my days at 5am and a couple nights a week I’d plug back in after the kids went to bed. After a while, this started to wear on me. Working a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays and few hours here and there on vacations, this started to wear on my husband.

My co-author Holly Berkley, who has written two books prior to this one, also has her own consultancy, a husband and two young kids—but somehow she manages this smoothly. I’m so glad to have had her throughout this process to lean on, complain to and learn from.

I had mixed feelings about letting go of this manuscript. “Perfect is the enemy of done”—a mantra a former boss used to recite to me. This went through my head daily, but there was always seemed to be one more thing. Finally we finished it. Now it’s out there for the world to judge.

The product of 13 long months, Social Media in Action: Comprehensive Guide for Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firms is now available as an ebook for $9.95 and the print version will be available next week for $29.95. You can even enter to win a copy on from our AEC Idea Exchange Facebook page by posting your favorite design or planning site, tool or event on social media.

However you come across a copy—if you come across a copy—and if you read it, we’d love to know what you think. And if you like it, please tell someone about it.