RESOURCES

DESIGNING PHYSICAL DISTANCE

DESIGNING PHYSICAL DISTANCE 1112 1197 KDA

How to design for a pademic.

Our lives have been profoundly affected by the 2020 pandemic – in ways big and small.  As we look forward to the future, we need to be thinking about what the new normal will look like.

How does design react to a once in a generation pandemic?  Should it?

How do we reevaluate standards and practices to better accommodate times when social distancing is required?

What types of infrastructure and architectural programs are now more important aspects of both public and private spaces?

These big questions will be wrestled with for the foreseeable future, and k-da is actively developing new models of city and country living that work to address them.

Our friends, colleagues, and former heads of Parson’s School of Constructed Environments at LTL have developed the excellent Manual of Physical Distancing. True to form, LTL does an excellent job of applying design and spatial thinking to the problem, and it is a valuable resource for those interested in learning more about how architecture is responding to the issues of the day.

DREAM TEAM

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ARCHITECTURE IS A TEAM SPORT

TADAA recognizes that nobody can do this alone. Projects only come together when the whole team is working together to realize a shared vision, and you are only as strong as your weakest link. While we have great respect and working relationships with many consultants and firms around the city, we also have our Dream Team. This list is our preferred consultants for all the major players in any construction project.  Please feel free to download this for your use in your upcoming project.

THE 5 PHASES OF DESIGN AND HOW WE CAN HELP

THE 5 PHASES OF DESIGN AND HOW WE CAN HELP 1000 1000 KDA

The 5 Phases Of Design and How We Can Help

Seeing Things From Our Client’s Perspective

It is not unusual for somebody to only need an architect once or twice in their life, and many of our clients are working with an architect for the first time. We feel that communication is THE most critical aspect of our relationship with clients and so we work to make sure the people we work with fully understand the process. We can forget that our jargon and even the way we conceptualize how a project is designed, documented, and built is different from how an inexperienced client lives that same process.

David Kim, AIA, articulated this perfectly when he describes the 5 phases of design from the client’s point of view. Typically when Architects talk about the 5 phases of design, they are talking about:

  1. Programming
  2. Schematic Design (SD)
  3. Design Development (DD)
  4. Construction Documentation (CD)
  5. Construction Administration (CA)

Most often these phases blur into one another. Moreover, these phases are very particular to the duties and responsibilities of the architect and are not all that relevant to the client. Kim describes these five stages from the clients perspective as:

  1. Originate
  2. Focus
  3. Design
  4. Build
  5. Occupy

This is how Kim describes these Phases:

Phase 1: Originate
This first phase includes all of the discussions, thought, and exploration that leads to the moment when you realize you need to build something new. The phase ends with your decision to move forward with a project.

Phase 2: Focus
Here you define the project – its scope, features, purpose, and functionality. This is the time to select an architect and establish an owner-architect agreement. Together with your architect, you develop and refine a “vision” for the project. Your architect leads you through a “programming” exercise to help you explore the needs of those who will live, work or play in the space you create. You will identify the services you need from your architect, and the design team will begin to form a cohesive relationship and a shared concept for the final building.

Phase 3: Design
Once the requirements of the project are determined, the design phase begins. Your architect gives shape to your vision through drawings and written specifications. Your input into this phase is vital, as you get the first glimpses, and then a more defined look at how your building will take shape. It is important to establish a clear decision-making process with your architect during this phase. The design phase ends when you agree to the plans that will guide construction.

Phase 4: Build
The contractor who will construct your building becomes the most active member of the team during this phase. Investments are made in materials, and timetables are extremely important. Good communication within the project team is critical, as the need for changes often arises. This is typically the time of highest stress for the project owner. Your architect will discuss changes and options with you, and ensure that alterations are compatible with your vision for the project.

Phase 5: Occupy
This phase begins the day the project is up and running and never really ends. It’s where your satisfaction with the project is determined. If you are turning over the project to others who will ultimately use it, good communication during that process is important. Your architect can help ensure that the terms of your building contract were met, and can use the experience of this project to inform future work, should your team together again. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to maintain a relationship with your architect.

KDA is a client-centric firm. We are dedicated to making this process as fun, engaging, and transparent as we can. We work hard to see this process from our client’s perspective and can be valuable partners in every one of the five stages. We can help our clients originate the initial concepts of a project, and work with them to focus on their wants, needs, and capacity. We are a full-service design firm that can document the project and manage the construction. And we are also determined to maintain our relationships with our clients after the building is occupied.

To help our new clients understand the design process we developed this infographic that shows the architect’s phases, sub-phases, and duties and how they map onto the phases from the client’s perspective.  Feel free to request your high-resolution copy of this handy project guide.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR BUDGET

UNDERSTANDING YOUR BUDGET 1500 1000 KDA

The Hard Truth About Soft Costs

When shopping for a bottle of wine, usually the first question the clerk will ask is “how much are you looking to spend?” This is not to try and take advantage of you, but rather not waste everybody’s time describing the qualities of the $300 bottle of cabernet when you are only looking to spend $15.

This is the same motivation that drives your Architect to ask for your budget.  The budget is one of the most important aspects of your project, and one of the principal jobs of your Architect is to maximize the value of the money are spending; to get you the most bang for your buck. An important aspect of understanding your budget is understanding the difference between hard costs and soft costs.

Hard costs are all of the costs for the actual building of the project such as the materials and labor. Soft costs are basically everything else. There are many associated fees and hidden costs when doing a project, especially in New York City. On top of your Architect’s fees, there are typically other consultant’s fees (such as mechanical or structural engineers), filing fees, inspection fee’s, and building fees. When all of this is totaled, these typically end up being between 20%-30% of the total cost of the project.  If there is something especially complex, such as a requirement to gain approval from the Landmark Preservation Commission, these can be even higher.

When clients approach us with potential projects, one of the first questions we ask is if their budget number is for construction, or if it includes soft costs as well. So if a client is looking to spend $1,000,000 inclusive of everything, we would need to establish the soft costs in order to understand how much will be left for the actual construction. So in this example, if we estimate the soft costs will be around 25% of construction, then we would have a construction budget of $800,000 ($1,000,000/1.25), and a soft cost budget of $200,000.

A good architect will help you set expectations on what the total project cost will be, including their own fees. At KDA we always send out a list of associated costs with our proposals so that our prospective clients get a full understanding of the total soft cost before starting the project. We feel this allows us to get a better sense of the true budget and gets things started off on the right foot.

If you are interested in speaking with us about your upcoming project, please do not hesitate to reach out.

THE POWER OF LIGHT

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Architecture and Light

The psychological effect that your surroundings have on your mood is absolutely fascinating. Many researchers and psychologists have spent quite a lot of time on researching the effects of different designs, structures, lighting styles and colors on your mind and mood. During many years of research, these professionals found that colors and lighting styles are greatly linked to your mood and can even result in mental conditions such as depression.

Modern architects have also started studying up on the effect of lighting and colors and have started reinventing their designs to enhance your mood. Here is how modern architecture uses lighting styles to put you in a great mood.

Natural light to enhance your mood and promote social interaction
Architect Lyn Grossman greatly focuses his library designs on natural lighting. The natural light creates a more comfortable study environment for those that spend time inside the library and enhances comfort throughout the day. Those that enjoy the library also stay connected to the outside world because they can still see what is going on outside and observe other people. Those on the outside get a good glimpse of what is happening inside and they can see students in their element. This method of using natural light is great for keeping people connected while giving you the comforts of isolation at the very same time.

Natural light promotes healing
An AIA spokesman Scott Frank also demonstrated that architects promote healing. Natural light in hospitals boost the recovery rates of patients and the light is great for boosting the school performance of students that are hospitalized. This is because the natural light is great for promoting melatonin hormone production which improves your body’s natural ability to tell the time easily so you get enough sleep during the night and feel boosted during the day.

The right lighting style promotes productivity
With natural light in a building during the day, you can focus a lot better because the sunlight directly affects your body’s ability to tell the difference between day and night so you can perform much better during the day. The right type of lighting inside a building also enhances your mind’s ability to stay focused when you have to study or work at night time since the light enhances your mood and energy levels and keeps you alert and awake by simulating sunlight or daytime light.

The right use of light colors
While it is important to have the right lighting style inside a building, it is also important to use the right colors on the inside of the building. Darker colors tend to make rooms look a whole lot darker and promote feelings of depression and sadness. If you choose lighter colors for the interior of the building the light is reflected a lot more and the entire room becomes lighter. This in return makes you feel a lot more energized and alert. Different colors can also affect your mood in different ways. Yellow shades, for example, make you feel a lot happier. Blue shades create a more professional and goal oriented mood.

With the right architectural design, your building can be a lot more energy efficient and those that use the building are a lot more productive and their moods are greatly stimulated while social interaction is also promoted. Using a good quality architect is definitely worth your investment so your buildings will suit the occupants needs perfectly.

9 QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR ARCHITECT

9 QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR ARCHITECT 1335 1000 KDA

The 9 questions you should ask at the start of a project.

There are 1000s of things to do when starting a new project. This is why having right professionals on your side is essential. There several questions you are going to need to ask your architect and several more you are going to need to ask yourself before you move forward.

QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR ARCHITECT:

1) Have you worked on projects like this before?
It is good to get a sense of the experience level of who you are hiring. An architect who specializes in big box stores might not be the best suited for high-end historic residential restorations. That said, if the answer is no, that should not be an instant disqualification. Sometimes excellent and creative ideas can come from designers who are thinking about your problem from a unique perspective.

2) What challenges can I expect?
A good architect will love this questions. It can be hard in the early stages of a project for your professionals to outline some of the hardships that your project may represent for fear of coming off pessimistic or a naysayer. Giving the architect permission layout some of their concerns is an excellent way to set expectations.

3) How are your fees structured?
It is good to get an early sense of how the architect likes to structure their contracts. At KDA we work with several different fee structures, but other designers and architects have rigorous standards about how they charge for their services. Whether it be hourly, fixed, or percentage of construction – it is best for everybody to understand early how the compensation is going to be structured. If you want to learn more about architectural fees, click here.

4)What other professionals will I need to retain?
It is likely that the architect is not the only professional that will need to be hired. It would be good to get the architect’s opinion on who else might need to be brought on and how they will be retained (either through direct contact with you, or a pass-through contract with the architect.)

5)Will you be able to recommend some builders/contractors for this project?
It would be good to see if your perspective architect has preferred builders that they have a working relationship with. Depending on the complexity of your project, this relationship can save time and money as errors can be avoided through the fact that workflows have already been established.

6) Can you help me allocate a budget?
This can be a tricky – chicken and egg – issue. The architect is both equipt to design around your budget, as well as guide you in what the budget for your expectations should be. Be specific in what you need help here; there is often confusion that architectural and professional fees (soft-costs) are included in construction (hard) costs. They are not – so if you are confused about what a number included – ask!

QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF:

1)What problem am I trying to solve?
Architects approach projects as design problems, and it would be good to put this question to yourself as it will help in the communication of your goals with your architect.

2) How much am I willing to spend?
If you know you are going to have a hard budget, you should try your best to figure out what that is and communicate it to your architect sooner than later. The faster everybody is on the same page about money – the better your architect will be at delivering the best value for your dollar.

3) Could I survive a road trip with this person?
You should have a good feeling and good relationship with your architect. The truth is there are likely several talented people who would be able to complete your project, but the best outcomes emerge from respectful and collaborative relationships. Building a new home is a little like taking a road trip. It is fun and exciting, but it can also be extended and harrowing. You want whoever is going to be on this journey with you to be somebody that you can talk to honestly, enjoy their company, disagree (fight) with knowing that you will be able to come out the other side with a mutually acceptable understanding.

WHAT IS LEED, AND DO I NEED ONE?

WHAT IS LEED, AND DO I NEED ONE? 1024 661 KDA

What Is LEED?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy Efficient Design and is a rating system and agency that certifies buildings are sustainable according to their rating system. LEED, unlike PassiveHouse, takes many factors beyond energy usage into account when certifying a project. Indoor air quality, material sourcing, recycled content, and construction techniques are among the many different ways a design can get points toward certification.

Deciding to attempt to build a LEED project is a big decision. While the cost of construction is likely to be a bit higher, there are significant increases associated with the administrative costs to properly document the design and construction to received certification.

Tom Klaber is a LEED Accreditated Professional, and KDA would be happy to discuss LEED and other sustainable design strategies for your next project. Here are some quick and useful videos to explain Green Building and the LEED System:

WHAT IS LEED?

WHAT IS GREEN BUILDING?

THE SUSTAINABLE STRATEGIES EVERY PROJECT SHOULD EMPLOY

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Sustainable Design Strategies

Green design is an idea that most people have heard of, but few understand what it means from on a practical level. Most people when they think of a Green Building think of solar panels, but in reality, there is much more to it.

While onsite renewable energy generation like solar panels and internet connected thermostats should be part of sustainable design, there are less sexy and cost-effective sustainable design strategies that every home should employ. A genuinely sustainable design employs many strategies to achieve their goals.

Orientation

The very first thing any good architect should consider is building orientation. Unfortunately, this is not possible for all projects, especially those in New York City, where the orientation is a feature that merely comes with the site. In situations where there is an opportunity to chose the orientation, you can employ the natural changing angles of the sun to heat the building in the winter and keep it cool in the summer. Also, site-specific features microclimates can be employed to take advantage of prevailing breezes, and natural shading.

Natural Daylighting

The sun is one heck of source of light. On top of being free, sunlight is the most pleasant light and elevates moods. Great architecture employs sunlight in creative ways to fill your house with an abundance of controllable natural light.

Ventilation

Developing passive ventilation strategies keeps energy use down by lowering the need for mechanically assisted ventilation. Strategically placed openings bring fresh air through spaces, meaning that pleasant days outside requires less use of the buildings mechanical systems – lowering your power consumption and electric bill.

Insulation

This is by far and away the most cost-effective sustainable design strategy for both new homes and renovations. There are many good options, depending on the situation from cotton batt insulation made from old blue jeans to high-tech expanding spray foam insulations. The better the insulation, the more you keep your heat in during the winter and out during the summer. Proper insulation can cut energy usage and bills by as much as 50%.

Water Usage

It is straightforward, and code mandated in many jurisdictions, to install water efficient fixtures. These fixtures can cut water usage by upwards of 30% compared to unregulated fixtures with almost no perceivable difference. Recent events on the west coast have shown us how this resource is more scarce that we once thought and that taking necessary measures to cut our water usage is a vital part of any sustainable design.

Generation

There are several energy generating strategies a home can use from solar panels to wind turbines, to geothermal systems. Some jurisdictions, such as counties in California, now require that a certain percentage of the roof be dedicated to solar panels. (CHECK OUT THESE SOLAR ROOF PANELS) This is the most expensive, and therefore likely the last, strategy a sustainable project should look to employ.

It is essential to understand that there is no real definition of ‘Green’ – and many companies, designers, and marketers use that term liberally. When starting a new project, it is crucial to set up sustainability goals to test the project design against those goals. If you are serious about creating a sustainable project, we suggest you learn more about LEED and PassiveHouse.

KDA is dedicated to being responsible designers and stewards of the built world and would be excited to work with you on your next GREEN project!

WHAT IS CRI…AND WHY DO I CARE?

WHAT IS CRI…AND WHY DO I CARE? 1498 1000 KDA

CRI (COLOR RENDERING INDEX)

CRI is a measure of how accurately a light source can reveal the intrinsic colors of what it is illuminating.  Color is just the brain’s way of interpreting light wave frequency.  When light hits an object, it absorbs some frequencies and reflects others.  A red apple absorbs all the frequencies, except the red which bounces back to our eyes.  BUT, for these frequencies to bounce BACK, they must be there in the first place.  Some artificial light sources are better or worse at “rendering” true color because they have a wider and more complete spectrum, to begin with.

We all know that we look better in some light than others.  That is true of our spaces as well.  A beautiful space that is poorly lit or lit with inferior light sources can suddenly appear drab and depressing.   It is important when designing and lighting your home to understand CRI and how lighting can affect your perception of space.

LIGHT AND MOOD

LIGHT AND MOOD 1500 1000 KDA

Light and Mood

How Architecture Uses Lighting Styles To Enhance Your Mood

The psychological effect that your surroundings have on your mood is fascinating.  Many researchers and psychologists have spent quite a lot of time on researching the effects of different designs, structures, lighting styles and colors on your mind and mood.  During many years of research, these professionals found that colors and lighting styles are greatly linked to your mood and can even result in mental conditions such as depression.

Modern architects have also started studying up on the effect of lighting and colors and have started reinventing their designs to enhance your mood.  Here is how modern architecture uses lighting styles to put you in a great mood.

Natural light to enhance your mood and promote social interaction

Architect Lyn Grossman greatly focuses his library designs on natural lighting.  The natural light creates a more comfortable study environment for those that spend time inside the library and enhances comfort throughout the day.  Those that enjoy the library also stay connected to the outside world because they can still see what is going on outside and observe other people.  Those on the outside get a good glimpse of what is happening inside and they can see students in their element.  This method of using natural light is great for keeping people connected while giving you the comforts of isolation at the very same time.

Natural light promotes healing

An AIA spokesman Scott Frank also demonstrated that architects promote healing.  Natural light in hospitals boost the recovery rates of patients and the light is great for boosting the school performance of students that are hospitalized.  This is because the natural light is great for promoting melatonin hormone production which improves your body’s natural ability to tell the time easily so you get enough sleep during the night and feel boosted during the day.

The right lighting style promotes productivity

With natural light in a building during the day, you can focus a lot better because the sunlight directly affects your body’s ability to tell the difference between day and night so you can perform much better during the day.  The right type of lighting inside a building also enhances your mind’s ability to stay focused when you have to study or work at night time since the light enhances your mood and energy levels and keeps you alert and awake by simulating sunlight or daytime light.

The right use of light colors

While it is important to have the right lighting style inside a building, it is also important to use the right colors on the inside of the building.  Darker colors tend to make rooms look a whole lot darker and promote feelings of depression and sadness.  If you choose lighter colors for the interior of the building the light is reflected a lot more and the entire room becomes lighter.  This in return makes you feel a lot more energized and alert.  Different colors can also affect your mood in different ways.  Yellow shades, for example, make you feel a lot happier.  Blue shades create a more professional and goal oriented mood.

With the right architectural design, your building can be a lot more energy efficient and those that use the building are a lot more productive and their moods are greatly stimulated while social interaction is also promoted.  Using a good quality architect is definitely worth your investment so your buildings will suit the occupants needs perfectly.