Never in my career has it been so clear that the design of things, spaces, rooms, and buildings matter. The joy that can be facilitated because of a place is needed more now than ever before. A well designed place can help build memories. The places that shape our lives directly impact health and happiness. The design of air systems protect the indoor environmental quality and spread or lack of spread of a virus in our community. Spaces that enhance access to light, views, other people protects mental health. Adaptability allows a space to change as needs change. Access to warmth, shelter, shade, protection from wind, places to connect, celebrate, see art, hear music all are created through good design. Design matters.
We need things, spaces, rooms, and buildings that are well designed. We need better solutions than have existing in the past. We are facing challenges today because of a lack of focus on quality, healthy, efficient design. Design shapes our cities, businesses, homes, places which impacts our quality of life. Design creates the fabric that allows us to live a happy and healthy life.
Ask for better solutions, celebrate beauty, and demand more quality. Design Matters.
Have you ever been standing in line where a mom is holding a baby in front of you. When the baby smiled at you did it bring you joy? That little action by that little person could be the thing that changed your entire day. Perhaps you then were more likely to pass a smile on to the cashier as your items were processed and he / she then passed on a smile to the person behind you in line. That little smile could create a ripple effect of happiness. What if the action taken was rude or mean? What if someone stepped in front of you in line and that put you in a foul mood? Would you have passed that on as well? Little things matter, a lot!
Little things matter, a lot, when trying to make a difference.
I have been thinking a lot about the little things in life these past months. How can we make our community and world a better place with so much negativity sitting on top everyday? There is so much evil and so many dishonest selfish people around it is sometimes hard to see good. It is a heavy burden to have to deal with these people and even see them lead our national conversation. It can seem overwhelming. I often feel overwhelmed. So what can I do about it? Where can I make a difference?
Little things matter, a lot, design matters, a lot.
I work hard to be the best father I can be first. I try to be a supportive friend to those around me – even those I don’t agree with all the time. I am terrible at remembering to smile, but that is something simple I can do each day. As an architect I try to remember all the little things in our designs. Those little actions that can help reduce resource consumption and energy usage. Those little design things that save our clients money. Those things that will make their lives easier when using the spaces we designed. I focus on bringing beauty to our clients through built forms. Have you ever counted the number of steps you take when cooking? Architects have a formula for what works best. Have you ever felt out-of-breath after walking up a steep flight of stairs – I mean in a building other than our office? There is a formula for a comfortable stair that many homes do not meet. There are standards for room sizes, window heights, door widths, and space between cabinets in kitchens that all impact comfort and costs. As architects and interior designers we have spent years learning how to create spaces that are comfortable, efficient, and healthy. Design is one of the little things that matter, a lot. Design is one place where I can help bring a ripple effect in our community.
Good design is a common theme in my posts. How do you construct a house that is healthy, energy-efficient, and durable for instance? This is achieved through good design. However, design matters in every aspect of life. If you watch carefully you will see design making a difference in everything from the stores you shop in to the roads you drive on. There is careful attention paid in some cases and a lack of attention in others. Good design is sometimes not noticed, which was how it was designed. Think of a building that you have never entered before, you are looking for a particular department, through design the path is intuitive and you find your way. Or think of a kitchen in a home that is designed for the way you cook, it minimizes steps, offers the right amount of storage for cooling your baked goods, while still allowing you to prepare dinner. As a culture we often do not celebrate good design in the built world, but it makes our lives easier. In the automobile world however, we celebrate good design, even to the point of building a building to store good design to show it off to anyone that cares to visit.
On my recent trip to Warroad Minnesota to learn more about the production of Marvin windows, I toured The Shed. I am honored to get the opportunity to tour both the factory building windows, but also the private collection of classic cars owned by the Marvin family. Here are some of my favorite:
N2A – a classic look custom built modern car
1936 Auburn 852 – 1 of 500 ever produced, each car was tested before it left the factory for top speed – this one went 101 miles per hour
1957 Suburban GMC = 1 of 500 made and only 100 made in 1957, automatic transmission, power steering, and Air Ride Seat
1957 Chevy Bel Air in Iconic robins egg blue
1969 GTO The Judge Ram Air III with eight track tape player
1932 Ford Roadster – the only car ever to lay claim to the Triple Crown of Hot Rodding
Recycling is the universal sign of “going green.” It is a process that takes a waste material and converts it to a new product, thus reducing the consumption of raw materials, potentially reducing energy usage, and diverts materials from a landfill. Recycling is not only a great way to save our planet but a spectacular way to save money.
Recycled materials include wood, glass, metal, paper, plastic, electronics, and even fly ash. These materials used in a new product are counted as “Recycled Content.” There are two types of recycled content: “Pre-Consumer” and “Post-Consumer.”
Recycling should not be confused with composting, which is a great way to further reduce the amount of trash going to a landfill. To learn more about composting click HERE.
Pre-Consumer materials are generated by manufacturers and processors, and may consist of scrap, trimmings, and other by-products that were never used in the consumer market.
Post-Consumer material is an end product that has completed its life cycle as a consumer item and would otherwise have been disposed of as a solid waste. Post Consumer materials indicates the product was made with these materials that were recycled by residents and other businesses. Post consumer materials can introduce contaminants into the stream of products which makes recycled material harder to manufacture than pre-consumer or virgin raw materials. Additionally, items like paper and plastic have raw materials that degrade in quality each time it is recycled.
Recycling has become more of a challenge over the last few years with global supply chain changes. While the total amounts of products being recycled continue to grow, it is harder to find a place to send everything, for example, #3-#7 plastic, and manilla envelopes with interior plastic cushions cannot currently be recycled in Harrisonburg. On the other hand, more products are now readily available that are made from recycled content materials, such as plastic lumber for park benches, picnic tables, and lawn furniture. Newspapers are commonly recycled into building insulation, construction paper, and even countertops. So as you are thinking about whether to throw it away or recycle it, think about how that small decision, multiplied over a year’s worth of trash, can impact our future.
I was out shopping with my mom this weekend. She has difficulty walking and uses handicap parking spaces to make it easier to get into stores. We drove to two different stores and parked in a handicap space each time. Both stores had design issues with the placement of the handicap spaces and landscape beds. Good design would have prevented this scenario and made life easier for all those using the parking space. What design issues have you seen that could improve life for everyone?