architecture blog

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.

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

Some Modative Web Stats

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 @ 11:02 AM

I find web stats fascinating. They are a quick reminder that the world wide web really is world wide. Although most of our web traffic is from within the USA, 16% of our visiors are from outside our borders. To give you a sense, I thought I'd share this location breakdown of the top 25 countries that have visited in past year to date.

web stats architect firm

Web stats by Google Analytics.

Tags: website update, architect website

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: Modernism, Modern Design, Inspiration, Innovation

Ask an Architect

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Sun, Feb 8, 2009 @ 10:02 AM

Sometimes approaching an architect can be intimidating since few people have experience in dealing with them. Well, now asking an architect is easy. If you have a question for an architect, here are three easy ways to ask:

1. Form

Click here to fill out a confidential form. An architect will reply with an answer to the e-mail address you provide.

2. Phone

Call 310.526.7826. Ask for Derek or dial extension 01.

3. Comment

Ask a question by commenting in the forum below. Comments are monitored and can take 1-2 business days to be posted. Questions are typically answered within 1-5 business days, so check back here for the answer.

Please no questions involving structural engineering, ie. foundation, beam and column sizing. We will not answer these types of questions. If you have a structural question, please contact a structural engineer in your area. 

So, whether you have a question about a project you're considering, or just researching the architecture profession, there are no stupid questions. Ask away.

Tags: architect advice, Architectual Practice, architecture resources

Keeping Building Projects Alive in a Down Market

Posted by Derek Leavitt on Thu, Feb 5, 2009 @ 10:02 AM

We've all heard the story too many times now. Banks tighten up lending, the stock market tanks, housing prices fall, etc. etc. This downturn has no doubt affected just about everyone, but cetainly the building industry has been one of the hardest hit by the economic crisis.

Saving Projects

Although not all building projects have been saved from this downturn, we at Modative have utilized a strategy to keep most of our projects moving forward in this time of uncertainty: SIMPLIFICATION.

Value Engineering

Several of our projects have called for a "simplification" of their designs to lower construction prices and regain feasibility in this new market reality. This "simplification" of a building's design is what we in the industry typicially call "value engineering". Value engineering is esentially reducing the construction cost of a building by changing it's design, quality or both. Although this often has a bad connotation in the architecture world, we have been happy with the results of the few projects in the office that have recently undergone some value engineering.In the coming weeks we'll post updates to the designs of these two projects.

 design changes design changes car wash
Venice Boulevard Urban Dwellings              
 Fashion Square Car Wash

The Timing of Design Changes

The reason the value engineering of these buildings has gone so well has everything to do with timing and our approach to project management. Often times in a traditional architecture process, the contractor is not brought into the project until late in the game, after the project has been almost fully designed and most of the technical drawings complete.

Get a Contractor Involved

We at Modative learned long ago that this traditional architect/contractor relationship is often risky because you don't really know realistic building costs until most of the architecture is done. Architects are good a number of things. Estimating market-rate construction costs, however, is better left to contractors. For this reason, we prefer to bring a contractor on early and often to give feedback on real construction costs throughout each step in the architecture process. This means that if the project is over budget or you have a massive shift in the market (as we have recently witnessed), adjustments in the design can be made much faster, easier, and with minimal cost to the project owner. The alternative of changing a project's design when its far along in the process can be very expensive and unpleasant for everyone involved.

Contractor involvement in architecture processA comparision of our typical approach to contractor involvement versus the traditional design/bid/build approach. Learn more about the architecture phases by downloading our free guide.

Starting a New Project

Now that we are in a down market, we feel that this approach that we have embraced enables us to handle the tighter budgets that many new projects now face. Having a contractor around to give cost feedback throughout the process is critical to keeping things on budget. We work with several contractors that can provide this service to our clients even if the client does not want to commit to using that contractorfor the actual construction.

Design Changes

In the coming weeks we'll be posting a few examples of our projects that have undergone some value engineering design changes to adapt to this new economic climate.

Tags: Organization, Architectual Practice, contractor, value engineering