architecture blog

7 Tips for Starting an Architecture Firm - Tip 07: Plan It Out

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Mar 13, 2012 @ 09:03 AM

This post is part of the How to Start an Architecture Firm series.

In February 2006, Christian, Michael and I went to work on forming our own architecture firm. The following is tip number seven of seven in our start-up strategy.

Side Note: After an almost two year break between Tip 06 and Tip 07, I thought it was about time to wrap up this series. We've had an interesting two years, surviving the recession and emerging as a viable and busy architecture firm. Enjoy!

Tip 07: Plan It Out

Architecture firm start up plans

photo credit

When architects dream of running their own firms, they often flash right to the fun stuff:

What types of buildings will we design?

What will our design philosophy be?

While these are important questions, it's important to design your business with equal thought. When I think back to Modative's founding, I don't think as much about that actual first day of being out on our own as much as the six months leading up to the launch. During this time, we met once a week to hash things out while still working our day jobs for other architecture firms. Because the three of us lived in the three corners of Los Angeles, we would either meet online (thanks ichat) or we would drive to USC at night (where we all had gone to school) and sneak into a classroom at the VKC building.

VKC USC Architecture Start Up Classroom

The VKC @ USC. Photo taken by Bobak Ha'Eri, on May 27, 2007

It was important to determine certain things before we all quit our day jobs. We didn't meet to create some exhaustive business plan that no one would read, but to determine general goals and strategies for the company. If you don't establish a grander vision from the start, two things are likely to happen:

1. You'll get too busy doing actual work (projects) and your firm will operate without a vision. This is like designing a project without clear goals or concepts: it can be done, but it doesn't lead to a great product.

2. You'll have no way to measure at whether you've been successful in achieving your goals.

One of the ways we got organized was to develop a strategic plan. The first step in that process was a SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Here was our original SWOT analysis from 2006:

SWOT Analysis

Internal

External

Strengths

Opportunities

1.creativity

2. team approach

3. design ability

4. “technology”

5. organizational ability

6. diversity

7. presentation

8. leadership

9. network

 

 

 

 

 

1. former employers

2. large/ diverse residential pool

3. location - los angeles

4. network-friends and family

5. real estate agents, contractors

6. development projects

7. building possibly

8. “non-architecture” projects

9. diversity of los angeles

10. money in los angeles

11. music, movie, sports industry

12. “housing buble” burst

13. having lower fees

 

Weakness

Threat

1.not having “own” portfolio

2. no professional license

3. weak “field” const. experience

4. no infrastructure (equipment)

5. other than type “V” construction

6. staff quantity

7. experience/ age

8. inefficient staff-to-principle ratio

9. publicity

10. financial resources

11. credit worthiness

1.other capable firms

2. “housing bubble” burst

3. # of firms in los angeles

4. general misperception of no need for architect

5. major markets outside of los angeles

6. having lower fees

7. lack of credit and cash

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back after six years of being in business, many of these initial SWOT assumptions were correct. Over the years we've been able to take advantage of our strengths and opportunities, while reducing the weaknesses and threats. In the end, developing a strategic plan was easy -the final document was only five pages long.

Choose Your Partners Carefully

If you have business partners, this planning process is even more critical to determine if you and your partners share the same values. We all knew each other since our early days at USC, but just as important, we had overlapping work experience prior to starting Modative, meaning that we had worked together professionally prior to starting our firm. Here's a diagram we posted on our website back in 2006 showing our experience overlap.

modern architecture firm partners experience path

Now that we've shared Modative's founding story, it's time to begin your story.

 

Use the navigation below to get caught up on all of our 7 Tips for Starting an Architecture Firm.

los angeles modern architecture firm

7 Tips for Starting an Architecture Firm

00   architect firm

00 Bootstrapping

Not a tip, but a critical theme in our start-up adventure.

posted 12.03.09

01   architect firm

01 Be Cheap

posted 12.08.09

02   architect firm

02 DIY (Do It Yourself)

posted 12.18.09 

 
03   architect firm

03 Get Advice

posted 12.22.09

04   architect firm

04 Learn from the Bad

posted 01.22.10 

05   architect firm

05 Start and Stay Small

posted 03.03.10 

06   architect firm

06 Stay Flexible

posted 04.05.10

07   architect firm

07 Plan It Out

posted 03.13.12

The bad news is that this is the last of the 7 Tips to Starting an Architecture Firm.  The good news is that we're learning and posting new tips all the time.

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to this blog by adding your email to the subscribe form. Or, if you're a technocrat, you can grab our rss feed.

Tags: Los Angeles, Communication, Architectual Practice, Inspiration, architecture resorces, Starting an architecture firm, los angeles architects

A Los Angeles Architecture Firm's Design Process

Posted by Krystal Navar on Thu, Jun 23, 2011 @ 06:06 AM

Different architecture firms approach the design process in different ways. Here at Modative, we are beyond thorough. Recently, we began working on a new single-family residence in Culver City, CA, a stone's throw from our office. We thought it would be fun to take you through Modative's design process, using this new project, Roberts Avenue, as the example. So, here it goes.  

Before pen ever meets paper, we undergo a thorough site analysis. Many firms skip right on by this, what we feel to be, the crucial first step of the design process. We believe that the site should influence the design. Our site analysis covers topics such as physical site conditions, prevailing winds, street grids, circulation to and from the site, views in and views out, noise, and neighborhood character.

Site Analysis Diagram

3 diagrams showing views, noise, and pedestrian access

Residential Site Views

View north on Roberts Avenue

Residential Site Views

View from what will be the second floor of the new house

Architecture Neighborhood Character

A few interesting modern homes in the neighborhood

We keep the client involved in every step of the process, so once we've hashed through the site analysis, we present the information we've gathered to the client. We figure that if the client is with you through these initial steps, once you get into the schematic design phase, the sketches you show him/her will not seem to have come out of nowhere. Most importantly, the decisions you are making will not seem arbitrary -- they will be rooted in your initial site and precedent studies. Both you and the client will be able to reference back to this gathered information as the design progresses. 

At this point, during our first presentation to the client, we also discuss the project's program, budget, and schedule.  Once we have a better understanding of these three criteria, we launch into the design of the building. On this project, our intern, Jonathan Ackerman, built a series of small massing models at 1/16"=1'0" studying possible configurations based on allowable square footage and the influences of the surroundings. This is where the site considerations previously mentioned come into play. Knowing that this site is located next to a public park and across the street from an elementary school informs how the masses are organized.

los angeles architect models

4 massing models by Jonathan Ackerman 

The next step is to sit down with everyone in the office (all 5 of us at the time) and brainstorm. We give the same presentation to the office that we gave to the client and go through each of the massing models. Then the trace paper is rolled out, everyone gets quiet, and starts feverishly sketching.  This is the fun part. (I like to stop sketching 5 minutes into it, take a peak at everyone else's sketches, and let my thoughts be catapulted in a completely new direction.)  This is the time to not hold back. Every idea is possible. 

Architect Sketch

Sketches of what will become Scheme A 

When everyone has exhausted their supply of trace, each person explains their thoughts to the group. (It's amazing how, after seeing the same site analysis presentation, everyone's schemes have common threads. It shows you that the site really does drive the design.) Once we've thoroughly dissected each person's concepts, we settle on 2-3 schemes that the project designer will further develop to show the client. 

Architect Sketch

Sketches of what will become Scheme B

Before starting to develop these schemes, we research relevant precedents. Inspiration and direction both come from studying what others have done to solve problems similar to those you are facing in your design challenge. 

Architecture Precedents

Architecture Precedents

Precedent images taken from slides from our client presentation

At this point, the project designer takes everyone's sketches and began translating these sketched concepts into actual floor plans and massing models in ArchiCAD. We decided to continue to develop 2 of the schemes that came out of our in-office charrette.

After these floor plans were developed enough to talk about, we had another quick meeting with the office to get input from everyone on any minor adjustments that need to be made. 

Los Angeles Architect

Scheme A draft renderings

Los Angeles Architect

Scheme B draft renderings

Maintaining this idea that the client needs to be brought along beside us every step of the process, before we even show floor plans and renderings, we show some 3D diagrams explaining the reasoning that is informing our design decisions.

Architect Diagram

Los Angeles Architect Diagram

Scheme A diagrams

Los Angeles Residential Architect

Scheme B diagrams

At this point, all of the layouts are in ArchiCAD. However, we choose to sketch over print-outs of the layouts and show these sketches to the client instead of showing them hard-lined floor plans. Hard-lined floor plans, this early in the design process, give the impression that everything is figured out and that it's too developed to make changes. It's important, at this stage, for the client to feel that their input is welcome and that the design is a malleable thing, not a fixed thing. We also show "sketchier" renderings instead of realistic-looking renderings. 

House Floor Plan

Los Angeles Architect

Scheme A sketchy floor plans and renderings

Architect Floor Plan

Los Angeles Architects

Scheme B sketchy floor plans and renderings

At the end of our presentation of these 2 schemes to the client, the client picks 1 scheme to run with. (They picked Scheme 1. They like -- and so do we -- how the living is on the upper floor to take advantage of the views.) Once 1 scheme is chosen, we have finished the Schematic Design phase and move into the Design Development phase where the floor plans are tightened up, the look of the building is massaged, and materiality that supports the concept is explored. The Schematic Design phase, when all of the above steps are taken, serves to lay the framework for all of the decisions made in the Design Development phase. This is critical in the development of a thoughtful, relevant design.


Post by Krystal Návar. Contributors to this post include Christian Návar, Derek Leavitt and Michael Scott .

Tags: Residential, Modern Design, Architectual Practice, Architecture portfolio, Inspiration, los angeles architects, Floor Plans

Rules for an Architect’s Blog - Guest Post on Life of an Architect

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Jun 8, 2010 @ 09:06 AM

A few weeks back, Bob Borson, AIA asked me to do a guest post on his Life of an Architect blog. Bob's blog is a favorite of mine and one of the few architecture blogs I follow regularly. The post, titled Rules for an Architect's Blog, is about the history and philosophy of our Modative blog.

The post even briefly covers the blogging history of some of architecture's greats like Frank Lloyd Wright.

frank lloyd wright blog

I encourage you to check it out and stay for a while. Bob's blog is full of great content for both architects and those trying to learn more about architects.


Tags: Innovation, Marketing, Architectual Practice, Inspiration

5 Things Architects Should Do Instead of Entering Open Competitions

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Jun 2, 2010 @ 08:06 AM

Obviously, not everyone agrees with our last post "Why Architecture Competitions are Bad for Architects". A day after our post, archdaily, posted "Why open architecture competitions are good for Architects, a counter argument". 

The archdaily post, some blog comments, and a few twitter posts claim that our argument against competitions is an attack on creativity and passion within the architecture profession. This couldn't be further from the truth. A few questions to ponder:

Do open competitions have a monopoly on creativity?

Are competitions the only way to progress the architecture profession?

Absolutely not.

Open architecture competitions actually take much of the creativity out of what architects do. They provide everything: the site, program, objectives, and deadlines. Then they judge your work in private, without any back and forth collaboration.

It's comforting for architects to have all of this delivered to them. It's exactly how architecture school works. All the architect has to do is design in a bubble. I can certainly see the appeal.

Many architects will never be convinced that open competitions are bad for them and that's fine. But I would feel bad ripping on open competitions without providing some viable alternates. 

Architects will at some point inevitably find themselves with free time and/or needing a release from the daily grind. Instead of doing what architects have traditionally done (open competitions), consider one of these options instead:

1. Pro Bono Architecture

Pro bono work is more rewarding and has far more upside than an open architecture competition. And there are plenty of non-profit organizations that need an architect's help, but can't afford it. 

The 1% program website is a great starting point to learn about pro bono architecture and connect with with non-profits looking for architects. The 1% program asks that you donate at least 1% of your time to providing free or deeply discounted design work. In exchange, you get a rewarding experience working with people and building connections. Your work is also likely to be constructed and the publicity and experience you'll receive can lead to future paid commissions -often times in project types where you previously had no experience. 

2. A Design Intervention

This is how the 1% program got started. Public Architecture, a firm in San Francisco, decided that instead of entering another pointless competition, they would use that time and energy to improve their neighborhood through actual design interventions. They took an unused portion of the street and made it a temporary public park. The project was built with donated materials and labor. The neighborhood praised their efforts and the Mayor of San Francisco spoke at the project's opening. Now that's a great use of an architect's time.

mayor at architectur event

Mayor Newsome at the opening of Public Architecture's Pavement to Parks Project. Photo from Public Architecture's website.

Your Mayor doesn't give a shit about your open architecture competition entry.

A design intervention is essentially like doing your own competition. If you're going to do free work, you might as well do it for yourself and for something you're passionate about. Find a problem in your neighborhood, your city, and solve it. Get the community involved. Publish the process and the results, even if it never gets constructed.

3. Non-Architecture Projects

If you want a release, try out your design skills on something new. A few ideas:

Furniture - A coffee table for a modern lifestyle (laptops and ipads).

Building Materials - I have yet to see a building facade system that can be easily removed and recycled (like carpet tiles).

Products - Why let Karim Rashid have all the fun?

Karim Rashid Designs Stuff

Karim is laughing at you because you're letting him and Phillipe Stark design all the cool stuff. Photo by Roman Leo, New York

Textiles - There's a serious shortage of great modern rugs. I know, I've looked.

T-Shirts - A flooded market, but an easy one to get into nowadays.

4. Architect as Entrepreneur

Architects should be more entrepreneurial. We have some of the best problem solving skills around, yet we mostly wait for the phone to ring to get projects. We wait for the problem to come to us.

Imagine how much better our cities would look and function if more architects got involved in real estate development. Creating their own projects and developing them. Well, you don't have to imagine. Jonathan Segal, FAIA and Sebastian Mariscal have been doing this for years in San Diego with great success.

5. Go to a Bar

You are more likely to meet a stranger at a bar that will hire you to design them a real building than to win an actual architectural commission from an open competition. And even if you don't, you'll at least leave happy and having spent less money than you would on a competition.

 

If you have any additions to this list that you'd like to share, please add a comment.

Let's keep in touch - subscribe to this blog via email (top of right column) or RSS (for the techies).

Tags: Innovation, Marketing, Architectual Practice, Inspiration, Architecture Competitions

Modative Architecture Joins Homeless Housing Competition Team

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 @ 09:04 AM

We're big believers in incorporating personality and creativity into our professional brand. In our Rethink Your Resume guide, we encouraged integration of personal interests and photos into professional resumes.

But a resume is just one step in a career. There are so many opportunities to use this strategy.

Once such opportunity was our recent team application to participate in the Urban Land Institute's 1,000 Homes Competition for Housing the Chronically Homeless in LA County.

This annual development competition asks young professionals with different backgrounds to form teams of four to eight members and submit a group application. From those applications, the judges  select five teams to participate in the competition.

Our team, called Team HETED (Homeless Empowerment Through Efficient Development), consists of five members with a variety of experience in development, construction, real estate finance, social work, and architecture. While we were confident in our chances of being selected based on our backgrounds (resumes were part of the application), we took no chances and got creative and personal with our statement of interest.

Instead of the typical, bland, corporate sounding group statement, we split our statement of interest into short blurbs about our individual personal interest in entering this competition. Our statements also include our role on the team, education background, and a small picture.

Here's a sampling of our statement of interest page for the competition application, reformated for this post:

1,000 homes homeless housing competition

Team HETED homeless housing competition
The decision to enter this competition is very personal for each member of Team HETED. While our goal is to combine our skills to create an innovative solution for the homelessness issue in Los Angeles, we feel compelled to share our individual motivations for entering this competition.
Jed Tarr Developer
Jed Tarr  Development + Project Feasibility
William Warren Group
Development Associate

Arizona State, B.A. Economics + Real Estate, 2007
I think this competition will be a great exercise and experience working together as a team and with the various city agencies to confront a serious issue that not only affects city budgets but more importantly people’s lives.  I personally expect this program to inspire my career as a developer, to include non-profit and low-income projects. I bring to the team experience in overall development, including project feasibility & management.
 
Connor Humphreys Finance
Connor Humphreys  Finance
Budget Finance Co.
Director of Acquisitions

Emory University, B.A. Sociology, 2006
This competition provides a chance for me to expand on the real estate related community work I have been involved with in Los Angeles. The competition will allow me to use my expertise and experience in order to provide a valuable service to a section of the community that often goes overlooked. Through my work in residential mortgage finance, I have been involved in efforts to provide counseling and housing solutions to Los Angeles communities that have been hardest hit by the recent wave foreclosures stemming from the mortgage crisis. I have done extensive work building financial models and projections related to real estate and mortgage investments. I hope to bring this skill set to my team to strengthen our project through building a solid financing foundation for our development. I am excited at the opportunity to work with other young professionals across different professional disciplines to bring positive change to the problem of homelessness in the Los Angeles area. I think that the wide array of expertise that each member of my team brings to the table will allow us to create a strong, comprehensive plan that will not only provide shelter for the homeless, but will provide empowerment for members of the community who have, in many cases, been forgotten.
 
Laura Leavitt Social Work
Laura Leavitt, MSW  Social Work
Columbia University School of Social Work, Masters of Social Work, 2009
                                                      
Kenyon College, B.A. Psychology, 2005
With over five years of experience as an advocate for disadvantaged communities, I have seen the life changing effects of providing housing and social services to individuals and families in need. For the homeless, housing does not simply imply having a roof over one’s head.  Housing means safety, health, community, job productivity, educational opportunity, and most of all, hope. With the same vigor that I organized a nationally recognized campaign against homelessness for survivors of domestic violence, I will use my skills in program development and community outreach to establish an innovative, comprehensive and sustainable program that will change the lives of the homeless community in Los Angeles.  My complex understanding of homelessness will strengthen our inspired multidisciplinary team and help guide the project towards a model that is both relevant and tangible, as well as effective and efficient.

derek leavitt architecture
Derek Leavitt, AIA  Architecture + Development
Modative, Inc.
Principal + Founder

University of Southern California, B.Arch + Minor Business, 2000
I love being an architect, but often feel that something is missing from my professional life. My industry is primarily geared towards designing buildings for the wealthiest sector of our population. One of the reasons I became an architect was to use design to make a difference in the lives of people whom need my help the most. This competition is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for to use my design and development skills to assist both the people that lack the basic human need of shelter and the communities that seek creative solutions to homeless issues. I am enthusiastic about the diverse skills of Laura (my sister), Jed, and Connor and our ability to create an innovative and appropriate concept for the competition.
 

Our fifth team member, Idalia Santos, was added to our team after this original application was submitted. Her knowledge of development and construction combined with her passion for homeless issues makes her a highly valuable part of our team.

Going creative and personal can be difficult. The easier approach is to play it safe and go with what's been done before. However, for Team HETED, the creative route worked as we were selected as one of the five teams to participate in the competition. Our team is now  partnered up with the City of Glendale and Path Achieve Glendale and over the next six weeks we will develop a proposal for a permanent supportive housing project in Glendale.

 

What are your thoughts on professional applications?

 

 

Tags: Announcements, Innovation, Communication, Affordable Housing, Housing, Inspiration, Architecture Competitions, Homeless Housing

Architects & Creative Professionals : Is It Time To Rethink Your Resume?

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Mon, May 18, 2009 @ 09:05 AM

Over the past few months I've been thinking a lot about resumes. Actually, I haven't just been thinking. I've been writing a guide to attempt to get architects and other creative professionals to rethink the way they make resumes.

The guide is formatted as 22 quick tips to get you to rethink your resume in your own creative way.

Check out Rethink Your Resume

rethink your resume

Tags: Architectual Practice, Inspiration, architecture resorces, architect advice, resume

Idea Sources, Idea Places

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Fri, Apr 24, 2009 @ 11:04 AM

While many of our ideas are generated in the office during design sessions, great ideas often come from unconventional sources and in non-professional settings.

Here are some of my favorite idea sources and places:

While trying to sleep

You're in bed, frustrated, trying to sleep while your mind churns out ideas. Are they all good ideas? No, but some of them may be genius. Genius because you're too tired to see that they will probably fail. When fully conscious you may dismiss these ideas before they reach their potential.

The Shower (or bath)

You've showered many times before. The routine is clear. Your hair practically washes itself. So this frees you up for some quality thinking - no distractions and no other people (unless you're lucky). Think of it as a warm-water-idea-isolation-chamber.

The Inexperienced

My first few years out of architecture school, I knew little of how buildings are really built. This led me to try outlandish things that a more experienced designer would reject because it wasn't the norm. Many firms thrive this way. Young, fresh ideas balanced with older and more experienced professionals to keep things in check.

Although I've since gained experience, I still like to step into that naiveté every once in a while.

People Outside Your Industry

Most of my friends work outside of the architecture world. They keep me in check. When I tell them what I'm up to, they're quick to point out what doesn't make sense to them about my industry. These industry shortcomings so ignored within the profession are so obvious to outsiders.  Are these opportunities?

Children

Up to a certain age, kids don't care what peoplethink of them. They will play in the middle of a department store as if no one is around. Imagine if you could think like that for just aminute, forgetting what people may think of your crazy idea.

Just Walking Around

I live in Los Angeles. It's not known as a walking city, but that doesn't stop me. Walking speed allows me to take things in - not just the buildings, but how people interact with the city. A ten minute walk can yield many ideas for how the city can be improved and, surprisingly, what is already working.

Long Solo Drive

Not the kind in traffic. The open highway, headed to a destination kind. Ideas can flow here just like the shower example, except without the warm water.

 

Do you have any favorite sources or places for ideas?

Tags: Architectual Practice, Inspiration, architecture resources

10 Qualities of Good Design

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Wed, Apr 1, 2009 @ 09:04 AM

Over the weekend I had a chance to dive into one of my favorite design magazines: Metropolis. The beauty of Metropolis is that it crosses boundaries. It's not just an architecture magazine, but covers all aspects of design.

The March 09 issue asks the question, "what is good design now?" From this profound question they list ten qualities that are hard to argue. For architects, this list makes a great checklist as you move through the design process:

1. Sustainable

The problem with sustainable design is that it's easier to talk about than to do properly. Unfortunately, green washing and marketing spin are often substitutes for real change.

Architects can't hide anymore. The word is out. The buildings we design and the energy they require generate more carbon dioxide than cars. Yes, the auto makers that we all complain about have less impact than architects and their clients. It's time to do the right thing.

2. Accessible

What is good design if it's only available to some. Here in the US, detailed codes dictate that our built environment be accessible to those with disabilities. Often times it is important to look beyond these minimum standards.

3. Functional

This should be the simplest attribute of good design, but it is often the hardest to achieve. Apple makes products that look great, but at their core, they are successful by creating easy to use hardware and software that surpasses the competition.

4. Well Made

Architects don't make anything. Our say in how well a building is built is limited to a set of instructions we provide. The end people that actually build it have little to no actual interaction with the architect. This means our instructions better be good, and just as important, easy to understand.

5. Emotionally Resonant

People rarely forget the feeling of walking into the Pantheon in Rome. Now compare that to the bland sameness found in the bulk of our suburban developments.

Not every building can be the Pantheon, but every design should be an attempt to stir the senses.

6. Enduring

Buildings need both structural and aesthetic longevity. It's important to innovate, but you don't want a design that looks outdated before that last coat of paint dries. 

The time frame for enduring is uncertain. No question the Pantheon (126 A.D.) is enduring. Is Gehry's Guggenheim (1997) in Bilbao?

7. Socially Beneficial

Whether you like it or not, all architecture is public architecture. Architects have a responsibility to look both within and beyond the walls of our buildings to see what we can do to help.

8. Beautiful

Beauty is subjective, right?

9. Ergonomic

Buildings must relate to the scale of the people that inhabit them. Often this idea is lost in the the array of 3D computer modeling technologies that architects use these days. Stop and take a step back. Put a person in that model. Even if they're digital.

10. Affordable

This is one of the hardest for architects. The reason is simple. Architects typically get clients by waiting for the phone to ring. Someone with money, land and an idea that wants our services. This client type represents a small portion of society, yet makes up almost all of an architect's clientèle.

Creating affordable architecture is more difficult. It involves entrepreneurship on the part of the architect. An upfront investment to invent an affordable solution that the masses can afford.

 

So now that we've covered good design, what about great design? Great design is harder to quantify. There probably isn't a list.

Tags: Innovation, Architectual Practice, Inspiration

Mid-Century Modern Colors

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Feb 26, 2009 @ 10:02 AM

Over the last few days we've been in the process of selecting colors for the interiors of the Fashion Square Car Wash project. While early interior renderings featured colors that were primarily placeholders, now that construction is underway, the time has come to make a final decision. Something that architects often like to avoid.

A Concept for the Colors

As is typical in our work, instead of just picking something that "looks good", we strive to find a deeper meaning or concept behind the design. Since the project is a remodel, we decided to let the original building and its history be our guide.

Mid Century Modern

Since the original modern steel structure was built sometime (we think) in the 1940's, we started to investigate what colors were common at the time the building was constructed. Off to google we went in search of mid century modern architecture colors. Interestingly enough, we found many great examples of popular mid-century color palettes. Two of our favorites are below, showing some of the possible options we are considering:

mid century modern architect colors

Eames fiberglass colors used in their ever popular furniture.

mid century design popular colorsSears vintage paints and stains. To learn more about these 1950s and 60s paint colors  from Sears’ classic Harmony House collection see this post / image credit: Retro Renovation.

Common Colors

We also actively searched Eichler homes and other mid-century modern examples. Many of the colors pallettes we found from this era contained our preferred colors. Although this is a small exercise in selecting color, we felt it was important enough to search for precedents behind these selections. The goal is not to copy mid-century modern design exactly as it was when constructed, but rather to understand the history and reinterpret these concepts for today's modern world.

We should have a decision on these colors in the next week and will post some renderings not long after.


TweetIt from HubSpot

Tags: Modernism, Modern Design, Inspiration, Colors, Mid-Century Modern

The Case for Modern Architecture

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Fri, Feb 20, 2009 @ 13:02 PM

Last week at a small ULI meeting I gave an informal presentation on our firm. The presentation was simple; our story, philosophy and a review of a few projects. In a brief Q & A afterward, I was asked a common question: "why does your firm only do modern style work?" I love this question because I feel the answer really defines who we are as a firm.

The first part of the answer is that I don't really consider "modern" to be an architectural style, but more of a way of thinking. So in the simplest terms, to us, "modern" means designing and thinking that are of our time and place.

So in this sense, modern is the absence of style because it has no rules other than being relevant. There is no set style we must follow. A building designed for California will look different than one designed for Colorado. A building designed in 2009 should look different than one designed in 1709.

contextual design Example of designing for a place: The Perry Residence - designed for one of the rainiest spots in the USA in Kauai, HI.

So are there stylistic choices we make in our work? Yes, of course, but the primary goals of all of our designs are to relate to their location and to utilize the best available technologies today to make them more efficient and environmentally responsible. Last and definitely not least, our architecture has to relate to the people that will use it in these fast changing modern times.

Tags: Innovation, Modernism, Modern Design, Inspiration