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Thoughts on CAE 2015 Spring Conference Agenda
Educational design is the cornerstone of Hollis and Miller Architects; as a firm, we strive to be leaders in education through innovation and understanding the way people learn better than anyone else. There is no doubt that the excellent program you have set up for this conference will enhance my knowledge as an individual, which will, in turn, strengthen our firm. As our credo states, “grow the individual . . . grow the firm”.
Like most architects, I am interested in place, specifically how place as an impact on the ability of people to learn. I am very excited to visit the storied Cranbrook Educational Community, and specifically interested in listening to Cesar Pelli on Friday.
Equity in education is of profound interest as an architect in greater Kansas City. By comparing two local districts, the quality of education is clearly tied to inequalities of race, income. Blue Valley Schools is a top-performing district: 77% Caucasian, median household income of $101,824. Contrast that with the district that I live in, Hickman Mills- our district is improving, but is currently provisionally accredited, 78% African American, median household income of $24,000. The correlation is clear, moving forward is somewhat more difficult.

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Peter Eisenman, FAIA, the iconoclastic educator who’s done the most to bring rigorous architectural theory back to the forefront of academia since the early 20th-century Modernist reformation, is the recipient of the 2015 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education. Jointly awarded by the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the Topaz Medallion honors an individual who has been intensely involved in architecture education for a decade or more. 

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Statement of Interest

My passion for designing educational spaces stems from an enthusiasm for learning and teaching. My pride as an architect comes from a desire to be a resource to clients, fellow professionals, and students. Given that educational clients often confront a Gordian Knot: with varying and frequently conflicting needs, it is a privilege to be a resource to help guide them through the process of creating engaging places of learning. Events such as the AIA-CAE conference in Detroit are an opportunity for me to expand my horizons, benefiting every client and colleague I interact with, and personally experience the national dialogue with its varied and unfamiliar perspectives. Young professionals are the future of our profession and I am excited that the CAE has elected to dedicate its resources to engaging individuals like myself. I was fortunate to attend the last CAE conference in Tampa, and I was so inspired by the dedication of the Tampa Preparatory School’s commitment to demanding a flexible facility design I invited local educators to a charrette to explore how their school’s spaces could partner with their own educational vision. I look forward to continuing this dialogue with the Committee, educators and the public at the CAE conference in Detroit next month.

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I truly believe that the Institute and architects community would benefit from Mr.Thomas Vonier 's leadership.I feel very inspired to support people like him, who spend their lifetime promoting the architect's profession!
Let's give him our support, so he can share with us his commitment and leadership.
Thomas Vonier's statement:
My commitment as a candidate for AIA president is to advance public outreach and advocate for architects. As AIA president-elect next year, I will launch “Building a Greater America” — an initiative challenging 2016 US Presidential candidates to place buildings and communities at the top of the national agenda.
Candidate for AIA First Vice President/2017 President
Thomas Vonier works from bases in Washington DC and Paris. He is the founding president of AIA Continental Europe, and of the AIA International Region. Tom was elected vice president of the AIA in 2013. He also chaired of the Honorary Fellows Jury for the American Institute of Architects.​​ ​ ​​
Tom began practice in Washington DC and later expanded to Europe for clients with worldwide projects. He gravitated to global work while in university, encouraged by Nathaniel Owings of SOM and Ron Herron of Archigram. Tom is an avid cyclist and musician. He is married to Françoise Vonier.
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COD members who attend the Norway conference in June will be treated to an in-person overview of current work there but for those who can't wait, or who can't attend, one of the best resources online is Architecture Norway, the NAL's (the Norwegian version of the AIA) website for the English version of their publication Arkitektur N. Ingerid Helsing Almaas, the journal's editor-in-chief, is scheduled to present to the COD conference in the Hedmark Museum, designed by Sverre Fehn. 

The online site reviews projects in and from Norway, including photographs and drawings by architects, landscape architects and interior architects. There are also many interviews of architects.

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We'll be visiting the Rundeskogen housing designed by Helen & Hard on the Stavanger segment of COD's upcoming Norway conference in June. COD Chair Jim Childress says, "It makes you look at everything differently afterwards. They're pushing the boundaries of design by sticking a building up in the air so the residents in the buildings behind them can still see to the fjord beyond. Applause to the developer for the courage to do that."

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As a 30 year veteran of the architecture profession I see no way around the root fact that design with a capital ‘D’ is the primary reason buildings work or do not work.  Behind the scene decisions like how to detail and specify durable air barriers, reliable roofs, trouble free curtain walls or selecting the most durable, sustainable, or healthiest materials are essential but cannot correct for counter intuitive design decisions.  As our profession moves much faster to seek real and sustained building performance in all matters from design excellence to resilience and above all net zero energy and water use, we must pay close attention to the most important mission any architect can aspire to and that is great design.  How buildings perform is not an afterthought to be specified or detailed or built.  Thoughtful, engaged, and responsive designs based on facts confirmed and analysis performed at the outset during vision and concept studies empower the design architect to spring board far higher in to exceptional designs that will not need to be continuously remediated throughout construction drawings and construction to meet sustainability and durability goals.  The days of considering good analysis as an “early” study 

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When family has to put a loved one into an aged care home, they are often scared, confused and overwhelmed with making the right choice. When building an aged care home, you'll want to make sure the family is impressed with the facilities and will feel safe in leaving their elder family member in its care. For this reason, there's a lot to consider before the first brick gets laid. 

First Impression

The neighborhood will be the first thing that the potential resident and his or her family will see. It should be a safe area with plenty of activities. The resident will need access to community involvement whether it's a local church or a community center. A shopping center nearby as well as a local library would be great for seniors who like to be active in the community. There should be a park or other natural place for residents to visit nearby too. The grounds should have space for the residents to take a walk, or a garden for them to sit and enjoy the fresh air. The door leading up to the home should be particularly welcoming with flowers, plants and decorations that will put the family at ease.
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Dear Sir:

Thank you for your kind letter. I omitted much from Chapter 6 and hope you will find that this work should be required reading for architects as well as city planners, geographers, landscape architects, real estate developers and so on. Architects must bridge the gap to public benefit with a common language capable of building credible knowledge. The architectural archives of all architects represent a treasure trove of information that must be translated and evaluated before it can be applied by architectural practitioners. I am 71 years old and was once a member of the AIA, AICP and NCARB. I agree with everything you say from a lifetime of experience and commitment. My work on the architectural algorithms for this book is done. I just have to explain it and this is taking a great deal of time.

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Dear Sir:


You asked two very relevant questions:


  • ”… should we not be convincing the public of our sincerity? Maybe our efforts are misdirected and not focused on repairing the theses of LeCorbusier and Wright.”
  • “…The question in my mind is whether our professionalism has been and will continue to be compromised by out sourcing to others?”  


My answer to both questions is yes, and I don't mean to be impertinent. We are all reluctant to part with money if we don’t believe in benefit from the expense. It doesn’t mean that we’re right. It’s a function of perception. If the public is convinced of value, they may even be willing to mandate the service. This depends on the argument. I think you can tell that I don’t believe the argument is adequate at the present time.

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The Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy represents reason behind a strategy to achieve an owner goal, and the exceptional talent of Brunelleschi added appearance to the reason he employed. The result was shelter to serve an owner goal and solve a structural challenge that became fine art.

It was a project solution, however. Projects combine to form a Shelter Division within the Built Domain, and the new challenge is to shelter growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their quality and source of life - the Natural Domain. The Duomo challenges us to improve our reason and assemble symbiotic shelter one project at a time within a limited Built Domain that does not threaten its source of life. The Duomo teaches us that appearance follows reason and knowledge.

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We are going to create a summer internship for an architecture student in order to expose them to non-traditional practice and hopefully plant a seed and grow the talent pool particularly for women and minorities in our area.  Does anyone have a succinct definition of non-traditional practice that is eye catching enough to convince an architecture student to see how us in the other 5% practice? 
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This April 13-15 in Kansas City NIBS is hosting the fourth conference on building enclosure science and best practices known as BEST 4 (Conference Building Enclosure Science & Technology).  These are amazing events addressing the issues central to the architect’s mission of designing and delivering better buildings that last longer and perform far better than buildings ever have.  BEST is coordinated with the DOE Whole Buildings Conference and the National Building Envelope Council of Canada’s Canadian Conference on Building Science and Technology.  Especially useful is that many of the papers presented at previous BEST conferences (1, 2, and 3) are posted on the BEST site:



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It is a story of health. 

It started on the 9th day of Christmas in the year two thousand fifteen CE/AD. 

Heart, is a Christmas story.

The story-teller was quite under the weather for a few days preceding, with a nagging cold. In a flat overlooking the East River, really no incentive presented itself to leave the room on New Year's day, after having returned to the flat, very early, four seventeen in the morning, precisely, once the companion had left for warmer climes, on an airplane. A bit of sleep and recuperation was in order, for the relapsing cough.

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Here we are again. A new year. Time to press the reset button and set noble and ambitious plans for 2015

What are yours? Lose weight. Get organized. Save money. Quit smoking. All good, but all self-oriented. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The desire to improve one’s self and bring a certain calendrically-enhanced discipline to the pursuit is good. But have you ever made a New Year’s resolution to try to improve something outside yourself? To put a little of your considerable personal effort into serving a greater human good?  

I’d call a goal like that a New Year’s revolution.

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With the state of Pennsylvania recently being the first state to enact tax credits for meeting Passive House standards, we should start to see a greater adoption of this excellent design and construction standard in the US.  The Passive House approach is reportedly ten times more energy efficient than building code requires, cuts energy use by around 90 percent, yet only adds 10-percent to the cost of a new house.  Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) is the US organization behind Passive House.  A good update on how this works in the US, which has dramatically different climate realities than the EU, can be found in this recent PHIUS presentation:
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James Jonassen FAIA
Seattle WA
The profession as a whole and many practices demonstrate no specific purpose that resonates with potential clients.
Those practices that find, profess and live a purpose in which clients sense an intellectual, financial and emotional connection generally get respect and work from those clients.
When the architect's purpose is limited to the minimum of mandated professional responsibility and great design, defined solely in aesthetic terms, the reach of client resonance is pretty limited. Those practices which believe and act on a purpose which includes achieving a high level of intellectual,emotional and financial value for clients generally succeed.
Of course this is not profound...its just true.
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Form Follows Function
“It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human, and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law.”
---Louis H. Sullivan
I was reminded again today, while reviewing a project designed from the outside in, and in which the mechanical, plumbing, and structural systems were all awkwardly configured and misaligned, how unique the Chicago perspective on architectural design is. This project annoyed me because it strayed so far from everything I’ve come to value about good architectural design from my Chicago based background. Chicago architecture, at its best, sees architecture as the interrelationship of aesthetics, structure, mechanical systems, and often the environment. In 1896 Louis Sullivan wrote, “Form ever follows function. This is the law.” This saying, which he derived from Vitruvius by way of Horatio Greenough, has been repeated so often that it is now a design cliché. Sullivan’s apprentice Frank Lloyd Wright refined it, saying “Form and Function are One.” How a building functions is governed as much by its form as its form is governed by function: Both are simultaneous, and have equal emphasis. He also said, anticipating Le Corbusier by more than two decades, “The tall modern office building is the machine pure and simple.” A building has to function efficiently to be effective architecture.
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I think we are wearing this thread out, as it sounds like we are preaching to the choir. At the risk of needlessly prolonging the discussion, I feel a need to respond to Christopher Walsh's post, regarding his analogy to nurses and doctors. As an architect working in the healthcare sector, I can safely say I have never worked with a nurse who confused her or his role with that of a physician. And increasingly, we are seeing a shift in healthcare education and delivery where the physician no longer occupies the center of the universe, so to speak, but is the leader of a multidisciplinary team composed of a broad spectrum of providers (sound familiars?). Nurses play distinct but very important roles, and we are seeing more nurse practitioners, who can prescribe medications without physician oversight (though the extent of this authority varies from state to state).
Regarding licensure, I agree with Christopher about the importance of licensure. Our firm actively encourages interns to pursue their licenses and become registered. Failure to do so puts a limit on how far they can advance in the firm. However, despite this, only the partners (owners) of the firm can stamp drawings. This is due to our professional liability insurance ... we won't maintain our cover if a non-partner stamps documents. We are a 160-person firm ... maybe policies are structured differently for smaller (or larger) practices?
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There was an architect, an engineer, and a musician standing on the street.
The architect turns to the others and says, "Do you think what I do is important? I don't feel like our clients care what we do."
The engineer replied, "Doesn't really matter. The inspector loved the work and blessed it all. It's safe to use, therefore, mission accomplished."
The musician looked up at both of them and said, "I've been playing this song for 10 minutes. It's a song that I've been working on for over 10 years--my personal masterpiece. And the best you guys can toss in my hat is 15 cents?"
Rich Farris
Author of "Principles of Creativity, Architecture's Insight to Invention"
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