Green Building Trends in Interior Office Design

The right interior office design can have a positive impact on employee attitude and productivity.

The right interior office design can have a positive impact on employee attitude and productivity.

Even though office workers spend a large proportion of their time indoors, companies don’t always place a high priority on the design and interior features of their work space. Lobbies and meeting rooms typically get the most attention because they are used to impress clients or customers, while the more functional workspaces may be ignored.

As a result, research has shown that office workers’ productivity can be impacted; some environment’s are so poor, it’s estimated that workers only spend three days out of five actually working. A dull, poorly lit, uncomfortable work space can lead to lack of focus, even depression, that is not conducive to productivity. The right office space design can have positive benefits on health and performance so here are some office design trends to consider for the year, as forecast by Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at Ambius.

  • A splash of color can be an inexpensive way to brighten up an office space and can stimulate creativity and productivity; color experts claim shades of green are “the color” for 2017.
  • Office plants can increase productivity by 15 percent, which may be another benefit of the color green! Air plants and succulents are trending for office use right now as they are robust and long-lasting.
  • Adoption of the WELL Building Standard: a certification to support the health and well-being of employees based on air, light, and comfort is driving workspace design that is more compatible with long hours behind a desk.
  • Flexible design. While not a new concept for enhancing working environments, is gaining in popularity — with modular soft seating, desk pods, meet-point tables and breakout furniture.
  • Since 75% of all emotion is triggered by scent/smell; fragrant environments can not only provide a powerful customer experience but also make staff more productive. Or so they say!

How is your work space looking,feeling  and smelling these days?!?

Minimalist Architecture Celebrated in Stunning Photos

Patryk Kuleta's photograph of  Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum was selected as one of the top photographs of minimalist architecture.

Patryk Kuleta's photograph of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum was selected as one of the top photographs of minimalist architecture.

As we have noted in previous posts, architectural photography is an art.  Taking photographs of buildings is much more than point-and-click. Isolating a sunlit corner of a building, or the particular way a wall curves, or revealing its surprising geometries creates new ways of looking and appreciating the built environment.

EyeEm (a photography resource) and We And The Color (a design blog) sponsored a competition for photos that capture the beauty of minimalism in architecture. A week and 45,000 submissions later, 20 winners were selected, handpicked by German photographer Matthias Heiderich, including a shot of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum in Italy, which won second place.

Spectacular Apple Campus Opening in April

Futuristic Apple campus in Cupertino, CA to open in April.

Futuristic Apple campus in Cupertino, CA to open in April.

Apple has announced that its new “space ship” headquarters in Cupertino, California – Apple Park — will be ready for occupancy in mid-April. Designed by London’s Foster + Partners, the jaw-dropping corporate headquarters will one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world with breakthrough, hi-tech interior design elements.

The campus’ ring-shaped, 2.8 million-square-foot main building is clad in the world’s largest panels of curved glass. It will run entirely on renewable energy, and boasts one of the largest on-site solar energy installations in the world.

The campus, which is set on 175 acres of manicured greenspace, will include a theater named for co-founder Steve Jobs and a visitor center with an Apple Store and cafe that will be open to the public. Envisioned by Steve Jobs as a center for creativity and collaboration, the project has transformed miles of asphalt sprawl into a haven of green space in the heart of the Santa Clara Valley.

Must-See Cities for Architecture Students

View of Chicago from Willis Tower. Photo: Andrew Horne

View of Chicago from Willis Tower. Photo: Andrew Horne

In addition to studio classes, lectures, art shows and actual work placements, every architecture student should take some time to travel. Domestic and foreign cities provide fantastic opportunities to experience architecture in a plethora of historical styles. No photographic image – still or video — can replace the impact, value and inspiration of experiencing great architecture in person. Architizer editors and students from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada compiled the following bucket list of cities that every architecture student should visit:

Chicago — The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 paved the way for the modern skyscraper in the early 20th Century with the introduction of structural steel, elevators, windows and even air conditioning. Chicago became North America’s preeminent city of architecture with the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the City Beautiful Movement, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-style homes, and then Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Illinois Institute of Technology and other municipal structures, Frank Gehry’s Millennium Park, and the city’s famous skyscrapers including the Chicago Tribune Building, Willis Tower and Marina City apartments.

Havana — With Neoclassical and Baroque buildings lining streets filled with classic cars and minimal foreign investment for decades, Cubans maintained their vintage buildings in place rather than simply tearing them down. The result? An eclectic mix of 19th-century mansions and civic buildings, along with Art Deco residences and Corbusian apartment blocks. It’s an urban museum that may soon be lost to progress.

Barcelona – This port city has much to savor, including a wonderful portfolio of medieval buildings in the Barri Gòtic neighborhood as well as modern contemporary structures like the neighborhood of L’Eixample laid out in the late 19th century by planner Ildelfons Cerdà. You’ll also find the largest concentration of Modernista architecture in the world, by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch. And then of course there is the incomparable Antoni Gaudi and his La Sagrada Família.

Toronto — This city of neighborhoods, each with a distinct character and the largest intact streetcar network in North America, is known for its downtown Art Deco masonry structures and the largest concentration of Victorian-era factories outside of England. This so-called Distillery District was recently restored and upgraded and is now a technology, design and shopping hub. In 1967, the Toronto Dominion Centre (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) heralded the debut of Toronto on the global architectural stage. The city attracted numerous internationally-acclaimed architects such as Santiago Calatrava (Brookfield Place Galleria) I.M. Pei (Commerce Court), Fumihiko Maki (Aga Kahn Museum) and Daniel Libeskind.

Buffalo – Really?  You may be surprised to learn that Buffalo is home to many great examples of American architecture that are surprisingly well-preserved. The city plan itself was inspired by Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for Washington with radiating boulevards and an extensive park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, famed for New York City’s peerless Central Park. Once the 15th largest city in the United States, Buffalo was also another favorite building site for Frank Lloyd Wright (Darwin D. Martin House, Fontana Boathouse, Blue Sky Mausoleum and Graycliff country estate).

Brasília — The “newest” city on this list was founded in 1960 and was laid out in the jungle like an airplane by Lúcio Costa. Many of the government and civic buildings were designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Examples of the wider Modernist movement include the Cathedral of Brasília, the National Congress Building, and the Museu Nacional (another Niemeyer). The Monumental Axis connects many of these landmarks through the entire city, representing the fuselage of the airplane in the layout by Costa which acts as a large public park and natural backdrop for the urban landscape

US Green Building Council Reports on High-Impact LEED Projects

The Orlando Magic's Amway Center in Florida is the first NBA arena to earn LEED Gold Certification.

The Orlando Magic's Amway Center in Florida is the first NBA arena to earn LEED Gold Certification.

The U.S. Green Building Council has released its LEED in Motion: Venues report which showcases high impact LEED certification projects such as convention centers, sports venues, performing arts centers, and community centers, and their ability to transform their environmental, social and economic footprint.

By incorporating green practices, venues around the world are positively impacting what the report calls the “triple bottom line” (people, planet, profit) while inspiring and educating others to be proactive in the areas of social responsibility and sustainability.

The economic and environmental statistics in the report are also revealing. The anticipated growth in large convention, stadium, event venues and their impact on the U.S. economy are huge, to say nothing of  the billions of dollars saved on energy, water, and maintenance if they are LEED certified.

Architecture for the People – Public Forums

Centre Pompidou Metz by Shigeru Ban Architects, in Metz, France -- an art museum but also a community center and public forum.

Centre Pompidou Metz by Shigeru Ban Architects, in Metz, France -- an art museum but also a community center and public forum.

The term “forum” originally referred to public space in ancient Roman municipalities — sites designated for meetings and speeches, which invariably grew into important religious, political, economic and educational venues. These spaces not only hosted a variety of social activities, but also featured diverse architectural styles.

Today, the word “forum” is almost synonymous with dialogue or exchange, spaces that promote the discussion of ideas and opinions for educational or social pursuits, and many architects are creating their own interpretations and adaptations of the forum structure creating spaces of community and exchange. Some evoke the educational role of a forum, whereas others stress commercial or religious functions; some combine many programs under one roof.

Architizer has showcased seven outstanding architectural examples of contemporary forums from the University of Exeter Forum in the UK and Faena Forum in Miami, Florida, to the Marimekko Forum in Helsinki.

New Web-based Tool for Energy Efficiency Project Financing

New financing navigator facilitates funding for energy efficient building.

New financing navigator facilitates funding for energy efficient building.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has introduced a new web-based financing navigator to help private and public sector organizations understand and access financing solutions available for energy efficiency building projects.

Since limited financing options are often cited as a major barrier to investing in energy efficient systems, the “Better Buildings Financing Navigator”  now offers building owners, facility and energy managers, and other decision-makers guidance on how to connect with investors and lenders  so that they can pursue energy-saving projects. By bringing smart financing solutions to the market, building construction and management teams can move forward more rapidly with energy efficiency refits and upgrades.

The DOE’s financing navigator helps users identify relevant financing options which are tailored to their needs and also provides technical research and advice. The site encourages collaboration between public and private sector organizations across the country to share and replicate successful strategies with the goal of making commercial, public, industrial and residential buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade. This potentially means saving billions of dollars on energy bills, while accelerating America’s investments in energy infrastructure and creating thousands of jobs.