|Volume 3, No. 3 - March 27, 2009
Expanding Architecture, Design as Activism
by Bryan Bell
Founder and Executive Director of Design Corps
|Architecture has so much unrealized potential.
The benefits of design could do so much more for so many more.
Design can play a role in addressing the most critical social, economic and environmental issues that we face.
Architects have been absorbed in what we can accomplish technically, structurally and aesthetically. We have recently made great progress in what we can accomplish environmentally. Where we have failed, is to show what we can accomplish socially and economically.
The process of creating can allow communities and individuals to define and celebrate their lives. It can also help solve their struggles by reshaping their existence, recovering from disasters as well as meeting day-to-day challenges. This is an exciting time, not just for designers but for everyone who can potentially benefit from our greater role.
The expansion of design is a transformation of our identity, not just our vision of ourselves but a transformation in the collective consciousness of how design can make a positive difference in the world today.
This is not something proposed for the future, a master plan hatched in a few minds. It is already happening with real projects helping real people, face-to-face encounters on the streets and in the fields. Some are large and many are quite small. We have documented these in 30 essays, published in a book titled Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism, capturing a shared spirit and best practices while not limiting the richness of the great diversity of the work.
This expansion is happening in three ways:
The first expansion - serving a larger segment of the public - has gained attention recently: that the current practice of design serves only the few, the elite, the wealthy and the powerful. I have used the statistic that only 2% of new home buyers work directly with architects. Paul Pollack suggested the term the Cooper Hewitt used for its show that 90% of the world's designers focus on only 10% of the world's population. But regardless of the statistic, the point is being made. That design could serve more.
- serving more of the public
- taking on a greater scope of issues
- offering a greater range of services
The second expansion is design taking on a greater range of issues. Perhaps the worst limit we currently have is what is seen as design-related issues. We have limited ourselves by this narrow definition and we must ask the question again: what are design issues?
The third way this expansion is happening is in providing a wider range of services and approaches. As we embrace these new roles, we become activists engaging in action for the public good. And as the definition of activism suggests, we take intentional actions to bring about positive change. We can become activists in so many ways.
This work doesn't have to be in another country, cost a lot or take a major commitment. It can take place as equally through a guerrilla group of artists in Croatia or in a New York neighborhood. It can be a life-time commitment or a quick weekend project using salvaged materials. Lest anything here seem overwhelming, just remember that helping others through design is the goal and can be simple.
The concept of Expanding Architecture, of expanding all the design professions, is to move from our current limited role and realize our greater potential. We need to change our vision of ourselves first, in the goals we set for ourselves. Only then can we hope to change the public perception of what we can contribute. As the projects published in the book show, this is happening. The collective consciousness of designers' role is changing, both for the professions and of the public, giving us not just an opportunity to do some good work, but to make a permanent change in our collective future.
We need to fix this idea into the collective consciousness of the general public. This is not going to happen by supernatural forces. It will only happen by many being activists; being advocates.
What we hope is that this is moving from the margins of practice to the mainstream of practice, where the needed resources and energy are available.
Our potential is waiting to be realized.
The need is undeniable.
The only thing stopping us, is us.
Now is the time to show what we can do.
Bryan Bell is an architect and the Founder and Executive Director of Design Corps, a nonprofit community design program headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mr. Bell received a 2007 National Honor Award for Collaborative Practice from the American Institute of Architects and is currently the 2009 Sure Professor at the University of Virginia.
Design Corps was founded in 1991 to create positive change in communities by providing architecture and planning services for small rural communities composed of low-income families who do not have access to the technical services needed to shape their physical needs. For additional information on Design Corps, please visit their website at www.designcorps.org.
Mr. Bell's new book, Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism, reveals creative design carried out in the service of the greater public and the greater good. With fellow editor, Katie Wakeford, Mr. Bell presents 30 essays by architects, planners, historians, landscape architects, environmental designers and others, illustrating how design can address issues of social justice, allow individuals and communities to plan and improve their own lives and serve a much larger percentage of the population than it has in the past. Copies of the book may be ordered from Amazon here.
As part of our celebration of Architecture Month during April, Mr. Bell will be speaking at our 4th About Architecture Lecture on April 6, 7:00p-8:00p, at the Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street, Alexandria. The lecture will discuss an expansion of the role of designers in the community, with examples from Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism. This lecture is sponsored by AIA Northern Virginia, Virginia Tech's Washington Alexandria Architecture Center and the City of Alexandria Lyceum. The event is free and registration is not required. Architects may earn 1 AIA/CES learning unit for attending the lecture.
AIA Northern Virginia Celebrates Architecture Month Throughout April
Each year we bring back popular events, like our walking tour of Alexandria, and introduce new events, like the screening of Bird's Nest, a film about building the 2008 Olympic Stadium in China. Join in, learn something new, mingle with your colleagues, bring the family, and have fun.
Events scheduled during Architecture Week are for both members and the public. All are free and many provide continuing education credits.
Canstruction® Build-Out Night
March 27, 5:00p-midnight; on display through April 4, at Ballston Common Mall, 4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Our 6th annual competition features teams of architects building fantastic structures entirely of canned food, which ultimately goes to a local food bank. Over the last five years, this event has become the single largest food drive benefiting the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Canstruction® is a national charity of the design and construction industry under the auspices of the Society of Design Administration.
About Architecture - Expanding Architecture, Design as Activism
April 6, 7:00-8:00p, at the Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street, Alexandria.
Presentation by Bryan Bell, Executive Director of Design Corps. The lecture will discuss an expansion of the role of designers in the community, with examples from Bryan's new publication, Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism. For additional information on Design Corps, please visit their website at www.designcorps.org. Sponsored by AIA Northern Virginia, Virginia Tech's Washington Alexandria Architecture Center and the City of Alexandria Lyceum. 1 AIA/CES LU. For additional information, see the article above.
Successfully Entering Design Competitions - The Orchid Skyscraper and 21st Century Student Housing
April 15, 6:30-8:00p, at Virginia Tech's Washington Alexandria Architecture Center, 1001 Prince Street, Alexandria. The evening features an exhibit of our Chapter's 2008 design award-winning projects and a presentation by Carol Rickard-Brideau, AIA and Rugel Chiriboga, AIA, with the award-winning architecture firm Little, focusing on the Orchid Skyscraper, which was recognized with a 2008 AIA Northern Virginia Design Award. 1 AIA/CES LU.
Bird's Nest: Herzog + de Meuron in China (Film)
April 23, noon-1:30p, at PSA-Dewberry, 8403 Arlington Boulevard, Fairfax, Virginia 22031. Building between two cultures, two architectural traditions and two political systems... the documentary by Christoph Schaub and Michael Schindhelm shows two very different building projects in China by Basel-based architects Herzog and de Meuron: the National Stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and an entire district for 300,000 people in the town of Jinhua. One is tailored to China's international appearance; the other caters to the daily needs of the population. The specific architectonic form and the struggle to achieve it give us information about the society, the culture and everyday life in China. For additional information on the film, visit www.herzogdemeuron-film.com. Registration is required by emailing email@example.com.
Architecture In the Schools Exhibit Opening
April 24, 6:30-8:00p, at Ballston Common Mall, 4238 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington.
Volunteer architects work closely with teachers and students, elementary through high school, to integrate architecture into the curriculum and produce captivating projects. Come see an exhibition of their work. The exhibit will remain on display through May 24. This program is organized by the AIA Northern Virginia Chapter Architecture in the Schools Committee and the Washington Architectural Foundation.
Architectural Bike Tour Along the Potomac River
April 25, 10:00a, between Roosevelt Island and Old Town Alexandria. Participants in this self guided tour will be given information about architectural points of interest along the Virginia side of the river. Organized by our Chapter's Young Architects Forum. 2 AIA/CES LUs. If you participate in the tour and wish to receive CE credits, please email the Chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walking Tour of Historic Old Town Alexandria
April 26, 1:00-3:00p, begins at the Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street, Alexandria. Walking tour will cover the history of Old Town Alexandria as reflected through its architecture and urban design. Examples feature a full range of architectural styles from Georgian through Art Deco and the pedestrian scale of the city plan and streets will be discussed. Tour led by members of the AIA Northern Virginia Historic Resources Committee. 2 AIA/CES HSW LUs. This event does require registration by emailing email@example.com.
How To Work With An Architect Workshop
May 2, 10:00a-11:30a, at the Chapter House, 205 South Patrick Street, Alexandria. This workshop helps potential clients realize how architects can help them plan a new home, addition or renovation. Topics include how to find an architect, how to communicate client needs and ideas and what to expect during the design and construction phase. Presented by Randall Mars, AIA, with Randall Mars Architects in McLean. Registration is required by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information on any of these events, please check the calendar on the Chapter website at www.aianova.org or contact the Chapter House at email@example.com or (703) 549-9747.
Young Architects Forum Presents a Tour of Ft. Belvoir Hospital
This Saturday, March 28, 11:00a-noon, organized by the Young Architects Forum in conjunction with the ARE Prep Seminar on Building Design + Construction Systems. Learn about HDR, Inc's design for the new hospital at Fort Belvoir, which is scheduled to inherit patients from Washington DC's Walter Reed Hospital as part of the Defense Department's Base Closure and Realignment commission. For more information, see the Featured Project in the January 30 issue of BLAST.
This event is open to all members. David Duffy of Turner Construction will host the tour of the facility. Please bring hard hat and work boots/hard sole shoes. 1 AIA/CES HSW LU is available. Registration is required by emailing Anna Barbour, chair of the Young Architects Forum.
Don't Let Your Membership Lapse
If, by chance, you haven't renewed your AIA membership yet, please do so before March 31 when unpaid memberships will lapse. You can renew online at www.aia.org/members/index.htm. Scroll down to the menu bar at the bottom and click on "For Members." Sign in (your login is your email address and your default password is your last name, properly capitalized) and scroll to the "Your AIA Membership" section and click "renew." You may also pay by mail following the instructions on your invoice. Please let us know if you plan to renew but haven't yet for some reason so we can help resolve any issues you may have. Contact the Chapter House at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 549-9747.
Professor David Thaddeus Returns
Professor Thaddeus will conduct his renowned Structural Systems Workshop in Alexandria, April 17-19. As part of the Chapter's ARE Series, the Young Architects Forum has arranged this intense three-day workshop. If you know someone planning to take the structures portion of the exam, please share this announcement. Registration is now open; download the registration form here.
Sweets Catalogs Available
If you are interested in a 2007 set of Sweets, please contact the Chapter House at email@example.com or (703) 549-9747.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Air Traffic Control Tower and Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility
Jacobs Engineering Group
Under a nationwide task order contract with the FAA, Jacobs provided design-build services for the new Airport Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) and Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Jacobs executed complete facility and infrastructure design and construction management at risk with a guaranteed maximum price for this newest generation state-of-the-art essential facility. Work included design of demolition, relocations of public utilities, roadway and drainage modifications, system ductbank installation, complete architectural, civil, structural, electrical, mechanical, I+C and life safety drawings, specifications and procurement for the facility. Construction cost was $58 million.
The complexity of the facility and the congestion of the site required extensive coordination between multiple stakeholders and the design/build team. Challenges faced with this tight site included working at 300 vertical feet in close proximity to the public, dealing with limited storage space, utilizing a temporary platform at the 15th level of the tower shaft to build the upper subjunction levels and utilizing GPS to survey upper levels due to space constraints.
Integrated into the same structure as the tower, the new 78,000 SF, 48-radar position TRACON enhances controllers' ability to monitor and control aircraft as they approach or depart the airport area. The TRACON features FAA's new Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS), with two fully redundant backup systems and the ability to track as many as 1,350 airborne aircraft simultaneously.
The tower and TRACON's voice and data transmission lines link with the fiber-optic loop at Sky Harbor. The facilities also have new voice communication systems, airport surface detection equipment and an enhanced traffic management system. The design incorporates emergency generation equipment and UPS systems, with environmental cooling systems with redundancy for 24/7 operation.
A key innovation on this project was the development of the critical power distribution system to achieve the client’s power system source availability of 99.9998% minimum requirements to essential and critical loads. Two incoming high voltage services are run to the site, and each service feed is designed to support the entire facility load in the event of a power outage to one of the incoming service feeds. Internal power distribution within the facility is divided into three separate distribution systems. The computerized network that resulted from this power arrangement is now the standard for all new FAA facilities.
This architecturally complex project is a signature feature of the Airport, Phoenix cityscape and the greater southwest incorporating symbolic materials for both the exterior and interior, including copper, colored concrete and glass. The challenge was to take imagery from the Grand Canyon, Camelback Mountains and Papago Hills and create a concrete and metal abstraction from these natural landscapes that becomes a welcoming beacon for the Valley.
Photography: Joseph Romeo Photography
March 27 - 6th Annual Canstruction® Build-Out Night
5:00p-Midnight, at Ballston Common Mall. Exhibits are on display at the mall through April 4. Part of the Chapter’s celebration of Architecture Month. See the article above for information.
March 28 - Ft. Belvoir Hospital Tour
11:00a-12:00p. Spaces are still available. See the article above for information.
March 31 - Deadline for DesignDC Early Registration
DesignDC takes place July 14-16 at the Walter Washington Convention Center. Be sure to lock in the Super Saver rate by registering by March 31 at www.aiadesigndc.org.
April 1 - Firm Pin-Up Series at WAAC
6:00p, at Virginia Tech's Washington Alexandria Architecture Center, 1001 Prince Street, Alexandria 22314. Sponsored by the AIA Northern Virginia Schools Connections Committee. This is part of a series where firms pin-up projects for discussion with the architecture students at WAAC. For additional information, contact the Chapter House at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 549-9747.
April 3 - Small Firm Roundtable: Legal Aspects of a Bad Economy
Noon-1:00p, at the Chapter House, 205 South Patrick Street, Alexandria 22314. With the economy forcing small firms to seek new opportunities to generate income while simultaneously reducing their expenses, this Roundtable meeting will examine the legal issues that accompany these changes. Conversation is expected to include issues related to cooperative practice and seeking work outside of one's area of expertise. Similarly, it is anticipated that the discussion will examine the legal ramifications associated with delayed payments, negligence claims, staff reduction, office lease negotiations, and liability insurance. The invited guest for this meeting will be Tim Hughes, a Chapter member and an attorney at Bean Kinney + Korman. 1 AIA/CES LU. The cost is $5.00 per person for lunch (pizza + drinks), collected on site. To participate in the April Roundtable, please make a reservation by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Members who have questions or suggestions for the Small Firms Roundtable are invited to contact Matt Guenther by telephone (703-276-2274) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
April 4 - ARE Prep Series: Building Design + Construction
10:00a-2:00p, at AECOM Design, 3101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 900, Arlington 22201. Organized by the Chapter's Young Architects Forum. For additional information, visit the Chapter ARE web page or contact the Chapter at email@example.com or (703) 549-9747.
April 6 - About Architecture: Expanding Architecture, Design as Activism
7:00-8:00p, at the Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street, Alexandria 22314. Part of the Chapter's celebration of Architecture Month. See the article above for information.
April 8 - Resume + Interview Workshop
5:30p. at Virginia Tech's Washington Alexandria Architecture Center (WAAC), 1001 Prince Street, Alexandria 22314. Organized by AIA Northern Virginia and WAAC's ASLA and AIAS Chapters. Learn how to create a professional resume and how to plan for a successful job interview. The workshop will demonstrate suitable resume formats and recommended content, as well as provide tips on how to make lasting impressions during an interview. Attend the workshop to increase your chances of landing the perfect job! Presented by Aerotek A&E. WAAC students will also have the opportunity to participate in a portfolio review. Reception to follow program. 1 AIA/CES LU. Free. Registration required by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 9 - Sustainability Training + Study Sessions
Noon-1:15p, at PSA-Dewberry, 8401 Arlington Boulevard, Fairfax 22031. Session 5 focuses on Indoor Air Quality. Attendance at the session with participation in the directed study sessions, offer 5 AIA/CES HSW SU learning units. The SU refers to the new AIA sustainability requirements. Free for AIA members. Registration is required by emailing email@example.com.
April 9 - AIA Northern Virginia Board Meeting
4:30-6:00p, at Jacobs, 1100 North Glebe Road, Suite 500, Arlington 22201. For additional information, contact the Chapter House at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 9 - Jacobs Firm Tour
6:00p, Jacobs, 1100 North Glebe Road, Suite 500, Arlington 22201. Tour the firm and learn about their business practices and recent projects. Tour follows the AIA Northern Virginia Board Meeting. For additional information on the firm, visit the Jacobs website and see the Featured Project in this issue of BLAST. 1 AIA/CES LU. Tour is free and registration is not necessary. For additional information, contact the Chapter House at email@example.com.
April 14 - Women in Architecture - Breakfast Roundtable
7:00a. This roundtable will focus on Green Architecture + LEED® and will be held in Alexandria. If you would like to receive more information please email WIA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 15 - Successfully Entering Design Competitions: The Orchid Skyscraper and 21st Century Student Housing
6:30-8:00p, at Virginia Tech's Washington Alexandria Architecture Center, 1001 Prince Street, Alexandria. Part of the Chapter's celebration of Architecture Month. See the article above for information.
April 17-19 - ARE Prep Series: Structural Systems Workshop with Professor David J. Thaddeus, AIA
The sessions are at the Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria Campus. The Young Architects Forum is pleased to announce that Professor David J. Thaddeus, AIA, NCARB is returning this year to conduct his Structural Systems Workshop for the ARE. Registration is now open. Click here for the registration form. For additional information, contact the Chapter at email@example.com or (703) 549-9747.
April 23 - Bird's Nest Movie Showing
Noon-1:30p, at PSA-Dewberry, 8403 Arlington Boulevard, Fairfax, Virginia 22031. Part of the Chapter's celebration of Architecture Month. See the article above for information.
April 24 - Architecture In the Schools Exhibit Opening
6:30-8:00p, at Ballston Common Mall. Part of the Chapter's celebration of Architecture Month. See the article above for information.
April 25 - Architectural Bike Tour Along the Potomac River
10:00a, between Roosevelt Island and Old Town Alexandria. Part of the Chapter's celebration of Architecture Month. See the article above for information.
April 26 - Walking Tour of Historic Old Town Alexandria
1:00-3:00p, begins at the Lyceum, 201 South Washington Street. Part of the Chapter's celebration of Architecture Month. See the article above for information.
April 30-May 2 - AIA National Convention in San Francisco
For additional information and registration, click here.
May 2 - How To Work With An Architect Workshop
10:00-11:30a, at the Chapter House, 205 South Patrick Street, Alexandria. Part of the Chapter's celebration of Architecture Month. See the article above for information.
McLean and Middleburg, VA
BOWA Builders Launches Environmental Incentive Program to Encourage Clients to 'Go Green'
New Rebate Program Rewards Clients Who Opt for BOWA-Recommended Environmental Upgrades in Renovation and Custom Home Projects
BOWA Builders, a full-service residential construction firm specializing in upscale additions, renovations and custom homes, has just launched a first-of-its-kind green rebate program, called the BOWA Environmental Incentive Program. This innovative program rewards clients who elect BOWA-recommended, environmentally conscious upgrades for their 2009 construction projects by rebating fees on up to $100,000 in related costs.
By eliminating some of the costs associated with upgrades that go above and beyond BOWA’s already-high building standards, the BOWA Environmental Incentive Program (EIP) encourages clients to achieve their design and construction goals with lower-impact homes. The BOWA EIP builds on the company’s long-standing commitment to its clients, community and environment, and ties in with the environment-related tax credits and rebates already available from local, state and federal governments.
"BOWA Builders is dedicated to producing the highest quality renovations for our clients, which for more than a decade, has meant using what are now regarded as environmentally conscious materials and practices," said Doug Horgan, vice president of best practices and one of the Washington, DC area's foremost green-building specialists. "We’re pleased to be able to draw on this experience, and specifically our expertise in retrofitting existing homes, to help educate homeowners and industry professionals on the benefits of green building and remodeling."
For more information, visit www.bowa.com/environmentalincentive.