We just learned that TLCD’s Office has achieved certification under the LEED 2009 Commercial Interiors rating system. While this is not our first LEED certification, it’s particularly meaningful since it’s our own office environment.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods that aims to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.
We are proud to have designed a very sustainable office environment, and hope that it will spark interest on the part of our clients and other visitors to our office to do the same.
From the beginning, American AgCredit challenged TLCD Architecture to design their headquarters building with “movement” in mind. Concepts like clear circulation, inside-outside views, places to connect and flex space were part of the design conversation. This allowed us to explore opportunities beyond traditional office zones and look at the spaces “in-between” as a way to enhance work culture. Interior spaces range from furnished skybridges to quiet alcoves, while exterior spaces are as diverse as a large landscaped central courtyard to a ping-pong deck. There are many examples throughout the new American AgCredit Headquarters building – and they demonstrate how carefully crafted detail, finishes and artwork can help create a truly exceptional workplace.
These concepts are not unique to the office environment. We bring many of these considerations to our work for educational and healthcare clients. The opportunity to design these “in-between” spaces for collaboration, communication and well-being at a college or medical campus has far-reaching impact.
TLCD’s Healthcare Studio team recently had the opportunity to design a pharmacy space that incorporates a new technology called GSL Solutions Will-Call Intellicab System. This technology aims to create less confusion and room for error when you pick up your medicine.
Who first thought up those alphabetical bins at the pharmacy stuffed with little white prescription bags? Even when they have 2 “S” bins and the curious “P/Q” bin, it always seems that half the lettered bins are overflowing, the others suspiciously empty. The pharmacist shuffles though the piles only to find your prescription isn’t in the bin at all. They talk it over with their mystified colleagues. “Why don’t you give us ten minutes to figure it out?” they say.
That was the past. The next time you get your prescription filled it may start out on a conveyor belt. In this layout below, a Pharmacist sees your order and picks it out of inventory, just like they used to. From there it is placed in a plastic bin and then onto a conveyor belt. After that it heads to a second station where another Pharmacist confirms the order and requests a slot for the patient in the Intellicab. The Intellicab randomly assigns one of its drawers and a blinking light flashes. The pharmacist heads over, waves their ID and a drawer opens. A blinking slot appears and the Pharmacist inserts the order into the bay. If a pharmacist inserts the item into an adjacent bay the Intellicab will make a record of the event to help train the user.
When the patient shows up to collect a prescription, their personal data is entered, and once confirmed the bin with their order in it is identified. A light appears on the drawer that holds it, then the Pharmacist heads over, waves their ID card to let the Intellicab know which Pharmacist is making the request. The drawer opens and a light appears at the patient’s randomly assigned bin. The pharmacist would then check the name on the bag and complete the transaction.
Even more important than speeding up pharmacy lines at busy hospitals, this technology has the power to save lives. Taking the wrong medication can have deadly side effects and, while rare, the wrong medication is delivered to patients from time to time. No system is fool-proof from human error, but this technologically advanced pharmacy design will provide a faster and safer way to get medication.
If you’d like to read more about TLCD’s Healthcare Studio, check out some of our other projects here.
“As the educational nucleus of a thriving regional economy, it was important to us to engage local professionals on this project. We decided after a lengthy review of top quality firms that TLCD and BNBT have the right combination of skill and experience. Over the coming months, a cutting-edge facility will take shape on campus, designed and built to provide the University community a teaching and learning environment that meets its demands and exceeds expectations as one of California’s leading institutions of higher education,” Dr. William Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics said.
TLCD Architecture has been working with the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State since early 2014 to bring high level design visualizations to the fundraising effort and is thrilled to continue as the architect for this project.
“It’s a real privilege to be involved in such an innovative project. Sonoma State University and the Wine Business Institute have taken a very sustainable approach by revitalizing one of the original campus buildings. We believe the transformation will be truly stunning, and provide a perfect home for this forward-thinking regional and international program,” Brian Wright, Principal at TLCD Architecture said.
Architecture firms are all about field trips… and often they are tours of our projects under construction. This week, TLCD’s staff got out for a tour of the American AgCredit Headquarters project in Santa Rosa. This landmark 120,000 square foot project is nearing completion with portions of the building to be occupied within a few weeks. It was a great opportunity to tour it and see how many of the key features are taking shape. In the photo above, our team is looking at the rammed earth feature wall which was built early in construction. It was encased in a wooden structure for protection, and then the building was constructed around it. The wall is a stunning reference to the soil that makes agriculture possible and supports American AgCredit’s mission of farm lending.
One of many exciting design elements will be perforated zinc exterior cladding, which is only now beginning to be installed. Over the next few months these zinc panels will completely transform the appearance of the building. Not only will they visually define the facade, the panels will also provide sunshading that will significantly reduce the cost of cooling the building.
On the second floor, we walked one of the sky bridges with a feature wall of channel glass. From the outside, the glass provides a distinctive entry element, but from the inside, it creates wonderful, diffused lighting for what will be a casual work area for the employees of American AgCredit. This sky bridge will have soft lighting to one side and clear views to the inner courtyard on the other side.
Throughout the tour we did what most architects do… looked up, looked down, looked all around. These tours are a learning process for the entire staff and also expose us to ideas, materials and solutions we can use on other projects.
Architecture is a complex process that is integrated with massive amounts of information requiring coordination between many parties. We use software specifically developed for this type of information management (BIM), but what’s so interesting is all this information is imbedded in a digital 3D model. We are constantly finding new ways to use and extract this information throughout the design process.
The current hot trend in design visualizations is the integration of virtual reality (VR) rendering into the Revit (BIM) workflow. I’ve had a lot of fun sharing this new type of presentation with clients, staff, friends – even Angel our office dog tried it out using Google Cardboard. After showing my 9-year old son this cool technology, which literally puts the viewer in the space, I realized it’s already out of date when he said, “Dad, all you can do is look around.” It hit me that the future is here. His generation will be expecting software that enables true interactive immersion. What if we, as architects, can design workflows that allow the user to interact with a space while it’s still in development – much the same way we build physical models to critique and explore ideas?
A physical model has always been an easier tool for sharing ideas than technical drawings. A model isn’t static – you can pick it up, rotate it, move around it, and feel what the idea is in a physical solution. Models are the universal language of design and they help us understand the concept of three-dimensional problem solving. In the digital landscape it’s quickly changing how we share ideas with each other and our clients.
TLCD’s culture is very supportive of testing new software. If you follow trends in new techniques of rendering and architectural visualizations, you may have seen some examples of interactive environments taking off recently. There are many resources for starting this workflow and one that we’ve been testing recently is Unreal Engine 4. We took this software for a test drive and modeled our new office space. Rather than strapping on VR goggles, our staff can walk through our new office and experience it from the comfort of their own computer monitor (view video above).
On the more technical side, how does this type of software change our current workflow? For a current static rendering like the one shown in the first part of the video, we can prime a digital model for rendering pretty quickly. Using the power of our render farm, we usually run 80 cores (CPU’s) resulting in one render after a few hours. Not too bad considering we used to wait days for the same output only a few years ago.
Now if you want video, you are looking at a lot of time and resources to develop an in-house animation that is usually under a minute in length. At the end of multiple days of work you have an amazing video to share with clients and others (and everyone loves movies, right?) That thirty-second video loses its sparkle when you realize that you need to change something in the design as a result of meeting comments. Usually you can’t re-render a whole walkthrough because of tight schedules – but what if you could? What if it was just a part of the standard workflow and you could render the space and were allowed to change views or make a movie within minutes?
Why not turn the scripted walkthrough into a “game” and let someone else walk around and experience it in real time! This is the direction we are headed at TLCD… and virtual reality is just fuel to the fire. Integrating the visual experience with a physical/digital experience is so exciting to us as architects because we are integrating it into our early designs as a linkable workflow. Immersing yourself deeper into an environment is an architectural experience beyond the average visual.
Learning to craft a visualization to create an interactive experience is the new art of rendering. Video game developers have been doing this for years and the most current digital environments are so immersive it almost feels real. This way of sharing a design brings in thoughts of simple actions infused with realism – like adding sounds of the city when you open a door. We see so many possibilities for this in the near future. Imagine an environment that allows end users to experience the space and use it as a learning tool with interactive virtual diagrams.
Our goal is to integrate this software into our designs to create new modes of integrated thinking for clients who are looking for innovation and value for their project. At the moment, we are only designing buildings, but soon we might be creating worlds! This is too much fun to be had all alone, come join us!
No animals… or architects were harmed in the making of this blog post. Most days Angel can be found at our office brightening people’s days while stopping by their desk for a treat or pat on the head. Nick can be found any number of places…job sites, his work station, client meetings, or low crawling to sneak up on his unsuspecting coworkers!
This week TLCD Architecture’s staff toured our American AgCredit project, a 120,000 square foot, 3-story headquarters building just north of Santa Rosa. The project is scheduled for occupancy in early November and is currently at an exciting stage of construction, with many facets of the design taking shape.
Perhaps 2 of the greatest points of interest were the grand stairway, and a rammed earth wall. The grand stairway connects each of the 3 floors in a dramatic atrium that opens onto the building courtyard. The stair soars through the space at varying angles, and is clad with steel plate railings that were individually lifted into place by crane. These will be “blackened” by an artist in order to provide a deep, black patina. When the building is complete, a 3-story high cowhide mural by Kyle Bunting of Austin Texas will be a prominent feature of the atrium.
The rammed earth wall was built early in construction. It was incased in a wooden structure for protection, and then the building was constructed around it. The protective wood structure was removed just early this week, and so we were some of the first to see this amazing wall, which will form the backdrop to the main reception desk. The wall is a tangible reference to the soil that makes agriculture possible, a powerful reference to American AgCredit mission of farm lending.
The floors are raised pedestal construction, which allows the reconfiguration of under floor electrical, data, and other systems. In this project we are also using the space below the floor for the supply of conditioned air, an very energy-efficient, quiet and healthy system known as displacement ventilation. We were able to observe the below-floor infrastructure in areas where the floor tiles have yet to be installed. Among other things, we saw “air highways” that are being constructed to efficiently deliver air to the far reaches of the building.
The exterior of the building, aside from dramatic, sweeping curves and multiple “sky bridges”, has an appearance not unlike many other modern structures. However, beginning in late August an exterior “skin” of perforated zinc panels will be installed. These zinc panels will transform the appearance of the building, and will visually articulate the façade while providing sunshading that will significantly reduce the cost of cooling the building.
By Kevin Teel, Project Architect
TLCD Architecture has had the opportunity to work on several diverse historic projects over the last decade – from the 1912 stone Vintage Hall at St. Helena High School – to the 124 year-old DeTurk Round Barn in Santa Rosa. We are set to begin work on another storied historical structure in Healdsburg – a 1920’s warehouse called the Cerri Building. Historic projects are of particular interest to me because we each have our own way of “seeing” the character of a building, leading to unique interpretations and end results.
My personal journey began in Colorado and Arizona – places where I honed my own process for interpreting the history of buildings. Though most buildings I refer to are not historic landmarks, the process of revealing their inner character is the same.
I began to roam old mining towns and backcountry while attending college in the Southwest. There is a romance for the bucolic nature of dilapidated barns and mining structures in this area, but for me the real excitement is in imagining these places in their heyday. What was happening on any typical day? I pull each of my senses into the story and build around the experience. While none of these mental images may have happened, they help set basic parameters for how I would investigate design decisions in future projects. This same philosophy governed my thesis work in Arizona, when exploring adaptive reuse ideas of mining ruins near Prescott, Arizona.
Adaptive Reuse in my mind, is a process of inspiration and evaluation that allows the original building to shine, while simultaneously providing for current needs, regulations and community desires. It attempts to fuse, not separate, these elements into a lasting whole that, when done well “just seems right.” This approach doesn’t lessen the importance of the original building – it simply highlights it. It doesn’t suggest superiority of contemporary materials and methods; it attempts to show commonality of past and present construction means. This is why initial observations are so important to maintain, even in the presence of often complex and competing concerns.
My first visit to DeTurk Round Barn in Santa Rosa was not unlike entering the old mining structures in the Southwest. The barn was boarded up and in quite a state of disrepair, but I felt an immediate connection. After I got over wanting it for myself (yes, adaptive reuse can be a residence), I was immediately struck by what a calming space it was. This is when I began to consider the original function – the barn was built for horses, but they were trotters, not barrel racers. I imagined a well-lit space with beautiful horses steadily moving around the inner ring, clean horse stalls around the edges and hay carefully stacked overhead. This spirit of calmness would be fundamental to the success of this project, no matter the amount of chaos in getting to the finish line!
Next, I was amazed at the light quality of the barn considering every ground floor window was boarded up and covered with plastic. The only light was from the original, dusty skylights above. Clearly this space could be light and bright again. Sometimes seemingly mundane ideas, such as seismic mitigation, take over my thoughts, but this is almost without exception an opportunity to enhance our interpretations. For example, wooden posts carrying the weight of the loft would not be adequate to meet modern codes and would need retrofitting. These materials could simply be construction waste, or we could find a way to “carry history forward.” Spectacular old growth redwood (a huge piece of our local history) was resawn and used as interior finish in the barn, exposing its beauty for future visitors to enjoy.
With this inspiration in mind, and as a foundation, the question becomes “What is the vision for this building now and in the foreseeable future?” This is where public input and design team coordination comes into play. Although the community’s feedback reduced the project scope considerably, it didn’t reduce the challenges TLCD Architecture would face. The firm still needed to rehabilitate an extremely unique and dilapidated 8,300 square-foot round barn while maintaining its historic integrity. We were also tasked with seamlessly incorporating a kitchen, restrooms, mechanical/electrical and storage rooms, as well as integrating 21st century technology to ensure DeTurk Round Barn would become a popular event space for the City of Santa Rosa.
TLCD now has another wonderful opportunity to play a role interpreting the history of the Cerri Building in Healdsburg. This is another building with a long, storied history and most certainly a quite different future. It will not be possible without community input, technical expertise and a fundamental understanding of the nature of the space and surrounding environment.
DeTurk Round Barn has been one of TLCD’s most published and recognized projects… I hope you will find the following links of interest:
View video below for more background on the DeTurk Round Barn
Nick Diggins, Associate AIA
Recently, Carl, Phil and I watched a webinar about cloud rendering in Revit. I had seen this process emerge some months back and Carl and I briefly took a look at it. However, we quickly discovered a major drawback of not being able to use custom textures in the cloud. Out of the box texture mapping usually results in less than adequate representation of your design. Well guess what… you now can incorporate as many custom textures and material assets as you’d like!
Revit has been one of the slowest rendering engines out there, but I’ve always been impressed with its capabilities when it came to doing interior rendering for a native program. Time is a major factor in our business, and slow is a “no go”. A 12-20 hour rendering is not an uncommon thing with geometry heavy models, even with a render farm. Now with cloud rendering, we can send multiple views and let the magic and speed of the cloud to do its thing, while we keep working. An important thing to note is that renderings are vital for developing and sharing designs. Architects want to get their clients “into” the design, and a rendering can be great at starting to describe the space. Here’s the cool part, with Autodesk’s Cloud Rendering we are able to literally put the viewer in the space. It’s called stereo panorama (more about it here) and it’s transforming the way we use Revit with new levels of workflow for developing and sharing designs on the fly, not only with clients, but with each other.
I decided to give it a go and developed several views of 3d panoramas of a current office interior design. I had less than 6 hours for developing the scene materials, lighting and final render time, and little room for production time. I was able to fire off multiple draft renders during the process and keep working the scene similar to our backburner setup for 3dsmax. This was during normal work hours though so backburner was unavailable. Normally this type of work would have been rendered over a weekend but that was not the goal of the exercise. Once I had the developed views uploaded in the cloud, I had Autodesk sprinkle some magic over the top of them. Here’s where we take it up a few more notches, by pairing Cloud Rendering with a couple of iphones and pieces of cardboard, suddenly we were immersing the whole office into the design. You can stand and look all the way around you, with total freedom – and with your body rather than a computer mouse. Amazing!
“Holy %&$#” was the phrase we heard from most of the office as first time viewers stood up to put on the goggles. It’s an amazing experience to witness the effect of going from sharing a 2D floor plan to actually putting people in the space. We are very excited for this new design horizon and you can bet TLCD Architecture is going to keep pushing it’s abilities and usability. We look forward to what Autodesk might throw our way in the near future…3D walkthroughs maybe? Who knows, but TLCD is ready and excited for what might be brewing.