Posts tagged with "Perkins + Will":

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Color on a concrete highway

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Situated about 20 miles outside of downtown Toronto, the Albion Library has historically been one of the city’s busiest libraries. In need of repairs, the facility was initially slated to be closed and renovated. After a series of consultations and community meetings, the project—led by Perkins + Will Canada—was rethought as a ground-up project.  The outcome is a new 35,000-square-foot square-shaped building punctuated by courtyard gardens and interior pavilions. The perimeter is defined by a screen of polychrome terra cotta tiles in bright, unexpected colors, helping to contrast the monotone concrete context that surrounds the site.
  • Facade Manufacturer NBK Ceramic (terra cotta); Triumph Aluminum & Sheet Metal Inc. (metal panel)
  • Architects Perkins+Will Canada
  • Facade Installer Triumph Aluminum
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System steel frame with heavy timber Douglas fir purlins and beams; structural cedar decking; structural steel studs with terra cotta rain screen and curtain wall
  • Products Aerloc Industries Inc. (curtain wall); Triumph Aluminum & Sheet Metal Inc. (metal panel); NBK Keramik GmbH & Co. (terra cotta); Geotone GT000s by Geometrik Manufacturing Inc. (acoustic wood panels)
Andrew Frontini, design director of Perkins+Will Canada, said the project team conceptualized the library as an urban oasis. “We wanted to create a colorful perimeter fence that lifts up to let people in. This screen speaks to both the richness of the community and offerings within the library. The idea of using color and very fine texture as something that materializes and dematerializes led us to use terra cotta." The architects said one of the challenges of the project was resolving two distinctly different facade systems to produce a cohesive wall wrapper that clads walls and screens outdoor spaces as it wraps the square volume of the building. “The challenge was to get everything to align, and to achieve a consistency of detailed expressions when in fact we were dealing with two very different systems." The primary wall assembly is a terra cotta rain screen composed of vertically-oriented hollow-cell tongue-and-groove planks around 3/4-inch thick. These planks are finished in an unglazed beige gray coloration, which acts as a background "field" for more colorfully glazed terra cotta baguettes that are mechanically fastened into a rhythmic patterning on the facade. The terra cotta cladding is mounted on stainless steel clips that provide attachment to a Z-girt system. About one inch beyond the terra cotta cladding sits a conventional rain screen assembly composed of rigid insulation, a vapor barrier, and sheathing over structural steel studs. At the courtyards, a second facade assembly picks up the terra cotta. Upper and lower flashing from the rain screen continues to this screen system, providing visual continuity between the two systems. This screen is composed of two-inch terra cotta baguettes set about two inches apart. The terra cotta is attached back to a steel HSS frame, set precisely to maintain a coplanar finish of terra cotta around the perimeter of the building. The framing allowed for terra cotta to be clad on both the exterior and interior side, which allowed for a more finished look to the courtyards for people using the library. Frontini said the project team very purposefully selected colors for the terra cotta. "We were looking at an array of colors that would be evocative of a floral garden. We wanted something that wasn't immediately apparent in the existing landscape—colors that were distinct from the urban setting, and vibrant so that in the winter the colors would help to animate the interior." Within the framed rain screen assembly, a series of punched windows are camouflaged as continuous vertical ribbons of glass by employing spandrel panels above and below the window opening. Below the terra cotta cladding assembly, which forms a sloped datum as it shifts upward to produce corner entries, a curtain wall system is utilized. This creates a nearly continuous band of transparent glazing around the perimeter of the library. Larger expanses of curtain wall are also employed to the interior side of the courtyards, helping to produce a more transparent separation between library and garden. Low-level radiant heating set into a recessed trench system is located at the curtain wall, helping to produce a draft stop and provide heating to patrons situated at furniture along the perimeter. Above, the library roofscape helps to manage stormwater through a green roof system that partially covers the roof, and through sloped areas which direct water into the landscaped courtyards below. "I find that the courtyards are quite magical,” said Frontini. “These pockets of greenery and color bring light deep into the building. Because of these spaces, it's very hard to be far from a window even though you are sitting in a 35,000-square-foot square."
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New details emerge for major plan to urbanize San Francisco’s Treasure Island

Despite being recently rebuffed as the potential site for the forthcoming MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, San Francisco officials are moving ahead with plans to expand the city's sleepy Treasure Island district into a lively residential enclave and tourist destination. The city recently revealed plans to add a bevy of cultural institutions and up to 20,000 residents to the man-made island, which sits in the San Francisco Bay halfway between San Francisco and Oakland. The San Francisco Arts Commission has developed an arts-focused master plan for the island in conjunction with urban and architectural master plans developed by SOM and Perkins + Will The plans, overseen by the Treasure Island Development Authority and the San Francisco Arts Commission, would see the island's public offerings expanded, beginning with a new series of public art installations. Eventually, the island—which is accessible only via its connection to Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge—could add up to 8,500 new residential units and 550,000 square feet of commercial space. The island’s art program will be pursued using a projected $50 million fund generated by contributions made toward the city’s 1% for Art in Private Development fund as a result of the new development. According to a planning document released by the development authority, in the case of Treasure Island, the 1% for Art in Private Development funds will be applied toward the installation of public artworks on public lands. Generally speaking, the Treasure Island master plan, which includes the adjacent Yerba Buena Island in its scope, calls for leaving some 75% of the available land area free of development, with the remainder being plotted out as relatively dense mixed-use neighborhoods. The plan would focus on multi-modal complete streets designs in order to create a “network of parks and streets… [with] sunny, sheltered public space that is enlivened by artwork, buildings of enduring interest and active ground floor uses” while also reducing the island’s dependence on automobile traffic. The plan, according to the documents, would cluster development along the southern and western edges of the roughly rectangular island in a series of perimeter block formations. The project was selected in 2009 as one of 16 founding projects of the Climate Positive Development Program, part of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative grants supporting “climate positive” urban developments. For more information on the project, see the Treasure Island Development Authority website. The full plan is available here.
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Nonprofit developers propose $32 million mixed-income project for Midtown, Detroit

The transformation of Midtown Detroit symbolizes much of the wider change that is happening in Detroit. For good and for bad, areas of Detroit are quickly being developed, and with each new announcement comes questions of responsibility to the very people that have stuck it out in the economically-depressed city. Unlike much of the development, which is being funded by some of the city’s wealthiest, one recently unveiled project is being led by two nonprofits. This mixed-use mixed-income housing development will be located at the corner of Garfield Street and John R. Street, across from the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, in the Sugar Hill district. Working with the City of Detroit to realize the project are Develop Detroit and Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH). Both developers are members of the Housing Partnership Network (HPN). Develop Detroit was founded in 2016 in the wake of the city’s municipal bankruptcy. POAH has been behind a handful of mixed-income complexes across the South Side of Chicago. "We’re partnering with this outstanding team because of the city's strong focus on equitable and inclusive development," said POAH Managing Director Real Estate Development Rodger Brown in a press release. "This transformational project is completely aligned with our core mission and we’re confident that in partnership with Mayor Duggan and Develop Detroit, our team can create a project that will further enhance the Sugar Hill Arts District and contribute to the economic growth of the city of Detroit.” Comprised of 84 units and 7,000 square feet of commercial space, the project will cost $32 million. Notably, 25 percent of the units will be designated as affordable housing for residents making between 50 and 80 percent of the area’s median income. Units will include studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom layouts. The residential units and the commercial space will also be served by 300 parking spaces and green alleyways. Construction is tentatively expected to begin by September 2018, pending full city approval. Phil Freelon, design director at Perkins + Will is leading the design in partnership with Detroit-based McIntosh Poris Associates. "Our work in Detroit continues to be an exciting and energizing experience for me,” said Freelon in a press release. “I look forward to the Sugar Hill project and expanding our partnership with the city as we work to implement innovative strategies that contribute to Detroit’s resurgence.”
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City of Chicago reveal plans to combine public libraries and housing, and the architects behind them

In October 2016 the City of Chicago announced a plan to combine public housing and public libraries in multiple locations across the city. Recently the Chicago Housing Authority and Chicago Public Library announced the first three of these co-located projects and the architects are designing them. The projects will be located in the West Ridge, Near West Side and Irving Park neighborhoods and will be designed by Perkins+Will, Skidmore, Owings & Merill (SOM), and John Ronan Architects, respectively. Each of the Chicago-based firms will bring their own experiences and style to the designs John Ronan architects are behind the award-winning Poetry Foundation while SOM has continued to gather accolades for its Chinatown Branch Library Perkins+Will has completed numerous libraries across the country. Construction is set to begin on three projects by the end of the year with, completion expected by the end of 2018.

Architect: John Ronan Architects Perkins+Will Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

Client: City of Chicago Location: Chicago Completion Date: Winter 2018
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Perkins + Will unveils renderings of mixed-use Miami Beach development

Perkins + Will has revealed renderings of its new mixed-use complex in Miami Beach, which will anchor one of Miami’s liveliest corners, Alton Road and Lincoln Road Mall. The new structure will house a boutique hotel, European-style food market, retail spaces, and a 450-car parking structure.

Lincoln Road is already home to many modern buildings, such as Frank Gehry’s New World Center and Herzog & de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road, which is part of the appeal according to Jose Gelabert-Navia, Managing Principal on the project. “We love doing projects in Miami Beach, because the architecture is already modern, contemporary, and cutting edge,” he said.

1212 Lincoln Road aims to speak to that tradition and engage the area’s walkable nature, providing a grand exterior staircase for access to the market and a second-floor balcony with views of the pedestrian mall.   

1212 Lincoln Road is scheduled to begin construction in 2017. The design team is led by Design Director and Principal Pat Bosch alongisde Alejandro Branger, Damian Ponton, and Carlos Vilato and Kricket Snow is the Project Manager.

Architect: Perkins + Will Client: Crescent Heights Location: Miami, FL Completion Date: 2018

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Take a look at the new Emancipation Park in Houston

[UPDATE 6/13/2017: This article has been updated with images of the finished project.] Emancipation Park in Houston has undergone a major transformation courtesy of Chicago-based Perkins + Will. The revamp to the 10-acre park has been a long time coming. Preliminary work began in 2011, but now the project is finally complete, offering a new "Recreation Center" and spiraling sculpture that reflects the vision of the park's founders. Opened to the public in 1872 by its founders, Reverend John Henry “Jack” Yates, Richard Allen, Richard Brock, and Reverend Elias Dibble, Emancipation Park is firmly rooted in African-American history. At the time of its opening, the park was the first truly public park in Houston. In the years that followed, it became a vibrant space, hosting games of tennis and volleyball as well as numerous other community activities. Boasting a swimming pool from the 1930s, the site was also the only place where African-Americans could swim in the city. Come the 1960s however, times had changed and the cosmopolitan aura had run aground. After construction of U.S. Route 59 and policies of segregation carved up Houston's Third Ward district, the park's state drastically declined as affluent African-Americans left the area. Friends of Emancipation Park, however, started to make changes in 2007, initially by cleaning up the place. By 2011, Philadelphian architect Phil Freelon with his North Carolina–based firm, The Freelon Group, were working on a much bigger plan to give the park a much-needed facelift. Freelon has a well-established pedigree in such typologies. Of late, he has worked on almost all buildings dedicated to black heritage  in the Eastern Seaboard: The International Civil Rights Center and Museum (Greensboro, NC); the Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco); the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture (Charlotte); the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture (Baltimore); the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (Atlanta), and finally the crown jewel to date: the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Now acting as project principal and design director at Perkins + Will (since 2014), Freelon has seen Emancipation Park finally completed. Along with the aforementioned Recreation Center and sculpture, the rejuvenated park now has a new pool and a canopied plaza which provides a welcoming front porch and cover for the park's main entrance. On the north side of the new building—which faces the major event lawn—the canopy functions as the band shell. Down the south side, the roof structure provides shading and filters daylight into the gymnasium that is housed inside the Recreation Center along with a fitness center and a multi-purpose room which can accommodate meetings, banquets, and balls. "The design of the new Emancipation Park Recreation Center is a reflection of the community’s goals and aspirations," said Freelon speaking to The Architect's Newspaper. Freelon added that new sculpture was meant to symbolize hope. "It looks forward, to the future. It's a positive symbol," he added. The exterior of the Recreation Center comprises a series of panels that range in earth tones. "From a deep brown to a rich rust color, the varying shades are reminiscent of the historic painted tin roofs that remain prevalent in the Third Ward today," Freelon continued. "This 'patchwork' texture also symbolizes the coming together of the community in support of the revitalized Emancipation Park, its programs and the celebration of Juneteenth."
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Motown Museum prepares for major $50 million expansion

Hitsville U.S.A., the home of Motown Records and the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan, is on the road to a major expansion. When completed, the Motown Museum will have an additional 50,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, a state-of-the-art performance theater, new recording studios, more retail space, and additional meeting spaces. The design for the addition is being led by Phil Freelon of Perkins+Will, in collaboration with Detroit-based architect of record Hamilton Anderson Associates. The visitor experience and exhibitions are being designed by Maryland-based Gallagher & Associates. Phil Freelon’s work for Perkins+Will often focuses on highlighting the contributions of African Americans to American history and culture. Freelon was part of the team that designed the recently completed National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. “What has been happening in the U.S. for the last 24 months reminds me of the social and political upheaval of the late 1960s,” says Freelon in a press release. “It is critical that we as a nation see past our differences, focus on our commonalities, and unite to advance a single, shared cause: equality for all Americans.” The Motown Museum will take this vision of the past seriously be preserving the original Hitsville house, with a campus of buildings around the iconic location. The city, design team, and the museum see the $50 million project as more than just an investment in the museum. The hope is that the expansion will have a very real impact on the surrounding community and Detroit as a whole, bring jobs, tourists, and pride to the New Center neighborhood. “Our goal is to bring the expanded Motown Museum to the world, to inspire dreams and serve as an educational resource for global and local communities while creating an international mecca of music and entertainment history,” said Romin R. Terry, chairwoman and CEP of the Motown Museum. “This expanded facility will be an exhilarating national and international tourist destination which will allow us to narrate and celebrate on a much larger scale what the Motown legacy is recognized for: Unmatched creative genius that transcends every barrier imaginable by bringing people together from all walks of life to share that unmistakable Motown sound.”
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Dallas AIA chapter announces 2016 Built Design Awards

Out of 46 submissions, the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects has selected four projects to receive its 2016 Built Design Awards. This year’s recipients were selected by a jury composed of internationally renowned architects Matthew Kreilich, AIA, design principal and partner at Snow KreilichArchitects in Minneapolis; David Lewis, AIA, a founding principal at LTL Architects in New York; and Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, founding principal at Johnsen Schmaling Architects in Milwaukee. The final award recipients were selected based on each project’s unique response to its cultural, social, environmental, programmatic, and contextual challenges. “The 46 entries submitted for Design Awards this year were commended for their quality and representation by the jury,” said Michael Friebele, associate AIA, 2016 AIA Design Awards chair and senior associate at FTA Design Studio. “The six awarded projects were recognized as not only the best in design, but also for their unique range of program and context, a direct reflection of the expertise behind our jury this year. We are pleased to honor and celebrate the recipients and their contribution to the elevation of design in our community.” The jury also recognized two additional projects with citation awards.

1. Fire Station No. 27, Perkins+Will (Dallas)

Fire Station 27 was designed to re-establish a proper civic presence and foster a strong connection to the surrounding community that is often lacking in this building type. Responding to a compact site, Fire Station 27 was the City of Dallas’s first multistory station in over one hundred years. It consists of 23,600 square feet with two levels above grade and one level of parking below grade with capacity for 15 personnel per shift.

Jurors commended the project’s success as an urban infill building, as well as its strong organizing concept and celebratory story wall.

2. Prospect House, Max Levy Architect (Dripping Springs)

At this rural wedding and event center, celebrations are accommodated inside, outside, and on a big screened-in breezeway. Above the main hall is a huge wind vane whose mast extends down into the room and supports a 12-foot-diameter ring that turns with the breezes, connecting festivities inside with the world outside.

Jurors celebrated the thoughtful, restrained design, its elemental quality, and the overall modesty and simplicity of the project.

3. Hilti North America Headquarters, Gensler (Plano)

In the new Hilti North America Headquarters, the client’s top priority was celebrating the culmination of Hilti’s people and products. Not only was the entire office built exclusively with Hilti construction tools, over 26,000 modified Hilti products were woven into the architecture of the space—all intended to generate and showcase a pride in the product and the people who design, create, and market it.

Jurors praised the project’s clear concept, clean detailing, and the creation of shared spaces that foster interaction and collaboration.

4. Houndstooth Coffee and Jettison Cocktail Bar, OFFICIAL (Dallas)

The design for Houndstooth Coffee and Jettison Cocktail Bar was driven by the building’s dual function as a bar and a coffee shop and their shared connection. The design centers on an elemental concept of day to night, with Houndstooth filling the larger, sunlit space, and Jettison occupying the intimate back corner. High ceilings create openness in the coffee shop and a “floating” wood-clad volume, referred to as the cloud, serves as the central focal point, drawing the eye up while balancing the space and concealing the mechanical system. Jettison Cocktail Bar takes the inverse of the cloud design with a lowered ceiling and a central void looking into the painted gold trusses that have the character of a chandelier.

Jurors appreciated the elegant yet playful interiors, the creative use of light, and the duality of the distinct spaces.

Projects receiving Juror Citations are:

5. House at Rainbo Lake, Max Levy Architect (Henderson County)

Located in a swampy forest along a lake, this weekend retreat houses an extended family of sportsmen and nature enthusiasts. Each room is a separate building, and a screened in porch connects each building. Color is instrumental to this design, and coloration of exterior materials merges with the site.

6. Twin Gables, FAR + DANG (Dallas)

Set within a transitioning East Dallas neighborhood, this project bridges the traditional forms of the existing surrounding homes with a modern, high-density prototype. These duplex units embrace the length of the property and are designed around visual connections to a series of carefully composed outdoor spaces.

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AN talks to Gabrielle Bullock, director of global diversity at Perkins+Will

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), started in 1971 by a group of African American architects at that year’s American Institute of Architects conference in Detroit, Michigan, is holding its 44th Annual Conference in Los Angeles this week. The conference aims to bring together a diverse group of professionals with the aim of advancing the standing of minority architects throughout the field. It will run from Wednesday, October 12 to Saturday, October 15, 2016. In preparing for the conference, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) interviewed Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, NOMA member, and director of global diversity for Perkins+Will, to discuss diversity issues within the architectural profession. The Architect’s Newspaper: What does the term “diversity” mean to a large, globally-based firm like Perkins+Will? Gabrielle Bullock: I’ll go straight to our Mission Statement, which I think succinctly captures the value we place on diversity: “We believe that inclusion spurs creativity and that innovation is born from an engaged culture of diverse people and ideas. In this global environment, we are committed to building an organization that reflects the diversity of the communities and clients we serve. Diversity: Different thoughts, ideas, and approaches that result from an individual’s cultural background, experience, physical capabilities, skills, ethnicity, education, race, religion, age, gender, lifestyle, and all other characteristics that make each person unique.” You are the Director of Global Diversity at Perkins+Will, can you please describe your position and how it came to be? In 2013, I proposed and designed an approach to creating a more diverse, inclusive, and engaged organization. As one of .2 percent female African-American licensed architects in the US (and usually the “only one in the room”) I was personally committed to championing the advancement of diversity and inclusion in Perkins+Will and the profession. As an architect working with a global firm working all over the world, it became clear that we should mirror the societies and clients we serve. We believe that a more diverse team (in all senses of the word) would provide more innovative, relevant and rich solutions to our work and culture, and ultimately make us more successful. I developed an outline of what my role and the program would focus on along with preliminary expected outcomes and goals. After my appointment as Director of Global Diversity, I took a deep dive into the firm, visiting each office and having honest and at times uncomfortable discussions we call “listening tours.” I asked the staff what they thought about diversity and inclusion, and got unique perspectives. In some offices, the consensus was that we needed to improve racial diversity, in others, concerns surrounded issues of gender and the inter-generational workforce. The yearlong process gave me an idea of the challenges Perkins + Will faces and how to address them uniquely. It was clear that we needed training. I engaged a Diversity and Inclusion (D+I) specialist, Global Diversity Collaborative, to deliver a half-day workshop to the leadership in each office. Through that process, each office determined what their specific challenges were and created their own strategic plan. We made this an accountable program and now continually assess progress according to our stated goals. The initiative is part of our culture and part of our evaluation process: We try to look at everything through a diversity lens. The board, CEO, and office leaders get a progress report from me every year. We now have something called a Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan with qualitative and quantitative metrics focused on all aspects of our organization like office culture, cultural advocacy, talent retention and recruitment, leadership and commitment, and educational outreach. Fascinating. What are some of your specific responsibilities as Director of Global Diversity? As Director of Global Diversity, I am the strategic and organizational champion tasked with conceptualizing and driving the Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan throughout the firm. My primary responsibilities include: leading the Diversity Council; communicating Perkins + Will’s strategy, mission and vision internally and externally; leading the development of diversity education and awareness strategies impacting workplace culture, recruitment, and retention, as well as marketing, pipeline outreach, and leadership; and developing metrics to monitor progress toward the fulfillment of the Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan. For Perkins + Will, engagement is the key action point—the step that makes diversity and inclusion matter, because it points to an individual’s level of influence on a team or a project, not just their presence in the room. My work is not “just an initiative” or lip service from a large firm. For us, this is a call to action, not an exercise. We are loud, driven, and clear: We promote our mission, call for commitment and accountability, and see this work as being about advancing the culture at Perkins + Will, not about simply numbers—we are integrating the plan in all business practices across the firm. Diversity is purposeful and deliberate. What would you say are some of the bigger diversity-related challenges the architectural profession is facing in the long term? The most significant challenge is the lack of racial and ethnic diversity of the profession, specifically with African-American and Hispanic representation. The profession should mirror the communities and society it serves. With an increasingly diverse population in the US and globally, racial demographics are woefully underrepresented in the architecture profession, overall. Another challenge is gender equity and representation in the profession. Issues around work-life integration, pay equity, and career advancement are common issues in the profession at large. Increasing generational differences in the workforce are also a challenge. As architects, we will have to examine, adapt, and advance the way we work intergenerationally if we want to retain emerging professionals and attract future generations to the profession. How can a large, global firm like Perkins+Will become a diversity leader in architecture and beyond? Be bold and be brave! Be loud, clear, and driven! Also, commit to diversity as a core value and not just the right thing to do. With any corporate value or goal, there are strategies and accountability. As an example: The architecture industry embraced sustainability as an imperative to survival. Now sustainability is in the DNA of our profession, and if you aren’t doing it, you are irrelevant. Making diversity a core value should be the same. At Perkins+Will, because our advocacy goes beyond our own firm to the profession as a whole, we are involved with leading and participating in national initiatives that aim to address equity and diversity in the profession. As an appointed member of the the AIA Equity in Architecture Commission and Implementation Team, I am helping to develop a framework for a well-conceived and thoughtful action plan, and making recommendations for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the profession. The intent is to create greater urgency within the profession and the Architecture Engineering and Construction community about the tremendous need to have a better representation of in the architecture field. Leadership starts at the top of the organization: Our CEO, Board of Directors, office leaders are all committed to advancing the firm’s Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement goals. By getting involved, taking a leadership role and actively advocating for change, any large firm can become a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the architecture profession and beyond. I am frequently asked to speak on the issue of the value of diversity for groups and organizations like Greenbuild, IIDA, ASID, National Organization of Minority Architects, and AE Advisors as well as for publications like Metropolis, Architectural Record, and Boutique Design. I also get invited to share insight with local architectural and engineering firms: All of this is part of being a leader. The Directory of African American Architects recently surpassed the 2,000 member mark. African Americans make up about 12 percent of the population in the U.S. but only about two percent of registered architects are African-American, with African American women consisting of .02 percent of the overall total, as well. What do you see as some of the ways to change that underrepresentation? Here are a Few Strategies:
  • Strengthen the talent pipeline by increasing outreach, awareness, and exposure to young African-American children. Often, architecture is not presented as a viable career path to the underrepresented youth. We can do this by mentoring and K-12 outreach.
  • Reshape recruitment teams to represent a cross-section of genders, ages, and races in order to attract the more diverse candidates we want.
  • Partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to proactively recruit and mentor students. We are in the planning stages of creating such a program.
  • Examine community college and university transfer requirements to attract community college students to accredited programs.
  • Engage in the purposeful and deliberate recruitment by firms and colleges for diverse students. If schools and firms don’t demonstrate their interest and value in a diverse community on their website and recruitment collateral, many candidates will not apply because they “don’t see themselves represented.”
  • Publically highlight the merits and importance of a more diverse profession to create more relevant architecture to improve the “image” problem the profession has of being a “rich person's profession."
Can you provide some general diversity statistics for Perkins+Will? How does the firm stack up against other firms and the profession overall? I do not have demographic statistics on other firms. However, below are statistics compared to the AIA. Perkins+Will Demographic Statistics:
  • Gender Diversity 2015: 45 percent Female, 55 percent Male (Female: up 1 percent from 2014)
  • Racial Diversity 2015: 26 percent Non-White, 74 percent White (Non-White: up 3 percent from 2014)
Perkins+Will Leadership Demographics:
  • Principals 2015: 25 percent female
  • Associate Principals 2015: 32 percent female
  • Associates/Senior Associates: 38 percent and 44 percent female respectively
Since implementing our Diversity+Inclusion+Engagement Strategic Plan, we have increased gender and racial diversity, though modestly so. We recognize this is a journey and not a sprint, so it’s the long view that’s important for us. The diversity of our leadership ranks has steadily improved over the last three years as we deliberately focus on gender, racial, and generational makeup of our Leadership Institute and emerging professionals programs. At the individual office level, have changes increases in diversity among the staff broadened the firm's client pool correspondingly? Is there a relationship between the what the office looks like and what sorts of projects get taken on? As we’ve increased [the] diversity of our staff there has not necessarily been a direct correlation to the types of clients we have. However, with a more diverse and engaged talent pool that embodies varied cultural and community connections, there is a cultural awareness and insight brought to the design and team, and in some cases, a stronger cultural connection to the client. This connection between our work, our people, and the communities we serve absolutely makes for a strong and culturally relevant design solution. In addition, I would say the more broad our talent pool, the more broad our client and project opportunities. There have been cases where a more diverse team that reflects the diversity of the client has been a competitive advantage. Conversely, there have been situations in the past where our team was not diverse enough, did not reflect the diversity of the client, and was at a disadvantage. Can you please speak to some of the work you have done with HBCUs in an effort to increase African-American interest in architecture at the grade school and college levels? In its final planning stage, the Perkins+Will/HBCU Partnership Program’s goal is to strengthen the academic pipeline of underrepresented groups. With that in mind, Perkins+Will and the deans of the HBCU architecture schools collaborated to create a program that would provide mentoring, counseling and support to HBCU students in a comprehensive manner. Exposure and Awareness is the first step in broadening access and opportunities for the students by providing hands-on information and insight into what Perkins+Will and other large design firms are looking for in candidates: The three components of the program include:
  • Career Fairs: A local team of Perkins+Will staff participates in an annual regional career fair of the HBCU’s by geographic location, pairing the HBCU and P+W office closest to the school.
  • Annual Office Visit: Perkins+Will will host HBCU students for a half day office visit including office tour, project presentations, and resume/portfolio review.
  • Lecture Series: Working with HBCU leadership, Perkins+Will will develop a lecture series to be curated around relevant architectural practice and design. The lectures will be delivered on each HBCU campus on a rotating basis and virtually across the others. Through a lecture series we can harness the vast wealth of knowledge and expertise within Perkins+Will and other firms.
Our Atlanta office piloted the Career Fair and Office Visit with Tuskegee University this past spring with tremendous success. We have seen the positive impact we have on students’ career development simply by investing our time and knowledge. We were fortunate enough to have hired a Tuskegee graduate as a result of these activities.
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Perkins+Will integrates healthy materials into their new Seattle office

On an early May day, Perkins+Will Seattle gave The Architect's Newspaper a tour of their new offices in downtown Seattle, the first of their global offices designed to incorporate their in-house healthy materials initiative research. The Seattle office moved east in April from their prior space on First Avenue above the Seattle Art Museum, to Minoru Yamasaki’s 1977 Rainier Tower on Fifth Avenue. The relocation gave Perkins+Will the opportunity to live-test their healthy materials initiative—putting their research on toxic building chemicals into action on themselves. In 2009, Perkins+Will developed a precautionary list of harmful building materials, compiling governmental agency information about building chemicals that may harm our environment and ourselves.

“We wanted our workspace to reflect who we really are, and to some extent use ourselves as a little test lab. Can we walk the walk?” said Ed Palushock, associate and senior project designer at Perkins+Will who heads up the firm’s Material Performance Research Lab.

“There were a bunch of people who did some research and started recognizing, hey, these chairs that we’re putting in the space have flame retardants [in them] that have a fallout for people’s health. Or, we’re using copper on exterior roofs, and noticing some research being done about elevated copper levels in runoff water. Some copper is good, but too much copper is not so good,” said Palushock. “The goal was to take ourselves out of the equation.”

The Perkins+Will Vancouver office led the Seattle office design, working with Perkins+Will’s Seattle team. The precautionary list informed how the firm approached their new space on a micro level: 32 of the 34 products and finishes met the firm’s healthy materials standards. The vetting process involved a bit of investigation, as some product manufacturers’ ingredients lists were proprietary or incomplete. (Two products that didn’t meet the architecture firm’s requirements: A chromium alloy plating process used to lend a chrome finish to products, and the solar shades. The firm found out after installation that the shades contained 15 percent PVC.)

There was a slight up-charge for specifying healthier materials. “But once [these materials] become an industry standard, it will level the playing field,” said Oliver Wuttig, an architectural designer at Perkins+Will. “The more we ask manufacturers about these products, the less it becomes a commoditized item.”

The Seattle office spans two floors. The main office is 16,500 square feet while a lower level houses a 1,400-square-foot materials library and model shop. But even with close to 120 employees working in the office, the main level—with most of the surfaces white and soft gray—is bright and spacious due to an open, square-shaped floor plan. Workstations with employees organized by teams, a corner kitchen, and meeting and conference rooms run along the perimeter with direct access to natural light and views of downtown and Puget Sound. The firm also has phone rooms for privacy. “We sit people together who are working together,” said Palushock. “Every month or every other month there is a switching around in the office.”

At the core are elevators and an entryway featuring white perforated branded metal screens backlit by LEDs. Along the outer core walls, the firm can display projects and hold critiques. There’s also a social component to the design. Each corner of the office is reserved for flexible workspaces—a kitchen in one corner can double as a meeting room for the whole office. “The kitchen engages people and gets them from their desk, said Wuttig.

The sustainable building industry has made headwinds in the past decade—the United States now has an abundance of certification opportunities such as LEED, the Living Building Challenge, and Cradle to Cradle—the presence of toxic chemicals in products is a persistent issue. “We have wiring lined in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but it can contain endocrine disruptors like phthalates and Bisphenol A,” Palushock explained. A safer alternative to PVC may be polyvinyltulene (PVT). But it’s not ready for market. “It’s one thing to design a building in terms of the orientation and use healthy materials, but the question is, what are those healthy materials?” he continued.

Perhaps we lag behind Europe on the healthy materials front because of our legal framework and mentality. As Palushock put it, Europe’s approach is to “prove this material is not harmful” while in the U.S., it’s “safe unless deemed otherwise.”

Resources General Contractor: Turner Construction Company Lighting Consultants: Candela Corporation and Stantec Electrical Consultant: Evergreen Electric HVAC, Plumbing Consultant: American Mechanical Corporation
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Perkins+Will breaks ground on Chicago Riverline development

The much anticipated Chicago South Loop Riverline Development has broken ground. The Perkins+Will-designed and master planned 14-acre development sits along the Chicago River’s South Branch, surrounding Bertrand Goldberg’s iconic Rivercity. A joint venture between Chicago-based CMK and the global developers Lendlease, Riverline will create a new community of 3,600 new residences on the currently vacant site. A mix of rentals and condos will fill a series of high-rises and mid-rises. The first phase of the project will focus on three complexes: the Ancora, Current, and Watershed. The Ancora, the tallest, will be one of the first to open and will have 29 stories of rental apartments and townhouses. When complete, the Current be an 18-story condo building while the Watershed consists of nine three-story townhouse buildings. Each of the Watershed buildings will feature between six and eight individual townhouses. Two of the Watershed buildings will be sited directly along the river. One of the most notable aspects of the project will be the space in between the buildings. Along with continuing the ever-growing Chicago Riverwalk, the Riverline will include nearly six acres of green space connecting the city to the river. The Perkins+Will plan calls for removing the degraded seawall, which is currently along the river, and replacing it with a more natural bank featuring native plantings. Water management on the site will be handled through a system of wells, green roofs, and wetland areas. Rainwater will be captured on site, cleaned, and used or discharged into the river. The connection to the river will also be bolstered by an anticipated river taxi stop and kayak launch. “On a typical riverfront development, there’s a seawall that sets you back from the edge of the water,” said Todd Snapp, Perkins+Will design principal, in a statement to the press. “We’re bringing you down to where you can touch the river, engage with it.” The site has been vacant since 1971 and is typical of the often heavily industrial past of the Chicago River. A resurgence of public and private development along the river is quickly changing the nature of the city’s relationship to one of its major resources. Just north of the Riverline site, three new towers have either been recently completed or are near completion. To the south of the site, a 62-acre area is being eyed for major development. The new Ping Tom Park in Chinatown, along the river, and the Ross Barney Architect’s design Riverwalk in the downtown have both become popular destinations. “We have the opportunity to create a dialog among 10 different buildings, which is very rare,” said Ralph Johnson, global design director of Perkins+Will, in a press release. “It will also establish an environmentally friendly and restorative connection with the river.”
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Two-wheeled culture rules in this office for a bike-component company

International bike-part manufacturer SRAM was an early arrival at Chicago’s flashy new Google-anchored tech campus, 1KFulton. In summer 2015, SRAM’s global headquarters and a staff of 150 moved into a full 72,000-square-foot floor, one of the most captivating office interiors in town, designed by Perkins+Will.

Behind the reception desk, an undulating, recycled-wood topographical wall conjures a mountain range in the Tour de France, while an adjacent video wall plays actual race footage; a 1,000-square-foot outdoor wraparound deck rolls off of the kitchen and cafe area, looking south over the city; locker rooms and custom racks for desk-side parking encourage employees to bike to work; and a one-eighth-mile bicycle test track weaves through the office.

Perkins+Will was challenged in the client brief to emphasize brightness, openness, connectivity, interchangeable workspace, and, of course, the bicycle. “SRAM asked for a product that supported a unique blend of office and manufacturing space that would be fun and not too precious,” said Fred Schmidt, global leader of interior design for Perkins+Will. Meeting spaces range from conference rooms to informal breakout spaces, and the private office is virtually abolished.

Rough concrete pillars are fixtures of Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture’s shell and core work for the 1KFulton redevelopment, and Perkins+Will’s design responds with polished concrete floors, exposed ductwork, and industrial lighting. “We went in knowing this had been a cold storage warehouse with hard surfaces,” said Perkins+Will’s Chicago interior design director, Tim Wolfe, “and so looked for ways to accent that durability.”

Beyond simply slapping a logo on the wall, branding was extended through coherent material use—earthy, raw, and homey—and a fixed color scheme of saturated red paired with neutrals. “We didn’t drown the place in red,” Wolfe added, “but there’s always at least a suggestion of it at every turn.”

The eye-popping test track is a carryover from SRAM’s old space nearby, but it is much longer, more design-forward, and better integrated with workspaces. The track is used for verifying bike component concepts, but no one is clocking scorching lap times: It is equally a footpath for employees.

In fact, there’s really no comparing SRAM’s previous headquarters to its current one. It was smaller, darker, split among three floors, and “super low-tech,” according to vice president of marketing, David Zimberoff. “And the furniture was not designed with intent.” To that point, Schmidt knew the furniture needed to be able to “withstand piles of derailleurs as easily as it did stacks of paper.” Among the key end products were stronger desktops, moveable stations, and sit-to-stand workbenches. SRAM’s own staff innovated the desk-side vertical-pole bike racks.

“I’ve never worked with a company where their physical space so completely encompassed their identity,” said Schmidt. SRAM has defied any rulebook for corporate interiors; that much is clear.