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Sweet Music

Like a conductor achieving harmony in an orchestra, an architect directs many players toward a common goal

By Laura Tomczak

Photo by James West
The Thomas and Kay Crowder home in Raleigh won an Honor Award for the the ARCHITEKTUR PA firm. T.W. Smith Construction was the general contractor.
"A college professor once told me that architecture is like frozen music,” says Alan McGuinn, AIA, of Callaway Johnson Moore & West of Asheville and the incoming president of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “If you extend that analogy further,” he continues, “you could also compare an architect to a conductor.” Learn more:
Architects ponder offices of the future
Four firms receive design award honors
Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee named top firm
Burns Honored with Deitrick Medal

Just as a conductor leads an orchestra, it is the architect who leads the design process. “Architects direct and balance all the divergent elements of form, function, environment, budget, codes and schedule into plans that compose a harmonious score. The value an architect can provide is the project composition, which often achieves results greater than the sum of the individual parts,” says McGuinn.

In simplest terms, architects design buildings the same way conductors design ear-pleasing musical performances. But upon closer inspection, there is so much more to it. What starts out as an idea is translated to a plan, but only after carefully considering the needs of the client. “Most often the inspiration for a design comes from the intentions, dreams and desires of your client,” says McGuinn. “That is why it is important that you select an architect by their qualifications and ‘fit’ with the personalities involved in the project.”

Architects need to be closely in tune with the needs of their clients. They are careful observers, taking regard of their clients’ needs and incorporating these findings into their design. “Design should start with carefully listening to your client and observing the environment in which they live or work,” says McGuinn. “From there an architect looks at the given constraints, such as limits imposed by the budget, codes, site or schedule — or the design opportunities presented by the context, physical features, a theme or unique use.”

Once all the research is complete, a design begins to take shape. But the process still isn’t over for the architect. The architect stays with their project from start to finish, waiting, just as the conductor would, for the final applause of completion.

During the building phase, they are often advocates for their clients, careful watchdogs who supervise the construction of their plans. “Architects have the ability to help plan and construct facilities from concept to completion,” explains McGuinn.

Diverse Audience

So often architects are thought of only in cases of constructing new businesses, but in truth the services of an architect can be used for much, much more. Architects offer services for both business owners and homeowners. Additionally, many are skilled in specialties like historic preservation, strategic planning, interior design and construction management. Thinking about an addition or renovation? Architects can help with those tasks as well. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a project from the ground up. Today’s architects are able to look at existing structures and transform them into a whole new space.

“Architects are problem solvers,” says McGuinn. For business construction, McGuinn states that architects “can provide a variety of pre-construction services such as real estate acquisition, site evaluation, master planning, programming (determining space requirements and user needs), computer simulation, budget estimates and scheduling. These all become valuable steps in developing a well-conceived design.”

These services also apply to homeowners constructing new residences, just on a bit of a smaller scale. “Again, it is a matter of balanced composition. Architects work to unite livability with codes, site orientation, topography and natural features,” McGuinn says. “This process can create efficient, cost effective solutions that become a source of satisfaction and pride.”

Whole New Tune

The profession of architecture continues to change, right along with the world we live in, McGuinn notes, but not necessarily in ways that we might think.

Though it would seem the events of Sept. 11, 2001, might have a profound effect on the way architects practice, it really hasn’t changed all that much. “The profession has not changed drastically since 9/11,” says McGuinn, “but client concerns for safety are definitely influencing designs following this tragedy.”

McGuinn acknowledges a “heightened awareness” but says that awareness is about safety on a larger scale. “Today, many clients are looking at the potential threat of natural disasters, crime and accidents in a different light. The profession is responding by increasing continuing education and by helping officials develop building codes to address these concerns.”

 Other issues, such as environmentally friendly buildings and responding to smart growth, have also come to light in recent years. As a result, architects of today continue to educate themselves on these important topics. In fact, all licensed architects in the state of North Carolina are required by the North Carolina Board of Education to complete a number of continuing education credits each year. Architects who are members of the AIA are also required to complete education courses each year. It goes without saying, McGuinn notes, that this not only benefits the architects but the building public as well.

The Art of Architecture

All things considered, it is important to recognize that just like music, architecture is a complex form of art. “Architecture is truly a balancing act,” McGuinn contends. “Good design seems to take equal parts of inspiration, concentration, determination and cooperation along the path from concept to reality.”

The North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects was founded in 1913 and is the largest statewide AIA Chapter in the Country with more than 2,000 members. The AIA is the voice of the architectural profession, dedicated to serving its members, advancing the value of architects to society and improving the quality of the built environment.

Architects Ponder Offices of the Future
AIA North Carolina, in partnership with AIA Charlotte and UNC Charlotte’s College of Architecture and Belk College of Business Administration, presented “Future Office,” a three-day forum on Aug. 26-28 in the Queen City.

More than 500 professionals in design, interior environments, business, finance and development enterprises, and planners who debated the next generation of office buildings and their roles in the economic and urban future of American cities came together at “Future Office.” The conference stimulated ideas and generated a discussion between those responsible for commissioning, managing, designing and developing office buildings and constructing the communities that embrace the new workplace.

The conference also presented state-of-the-art information that is new to this region and around the world, said David Crawford, AIANC’s executive director. “With ‘Future Office,’ we met our goal of not only speaking to designers, but also engaging the entire community that will be responsible for housing the nation’s workforce in the next few decades,” Crawford said.

The genesis of the discussion of “Future Office” began with a growing awareness of the limit of natural resources and the increasing amount of waste that is produced as a result of the construction and operation of large office buildings. International experts in office design and development examined urban and architectural opportunities for companies and cities to develop innovative workplace environments. Among the noted speakers were:

Christoph Ingenhoven, an architect and engineer who since 1993 has been in partnership with Jurgen Overdiek in Dusseldorf, Germany. Ingenhoven’s design for the high-rise building for the RWE AG in Essen, which is regarded as the world’s first ecological high-rise building, was completed toward the end of 1996.

While the development of conventional high-rise buildings is usually informed by issues of style, the RWE tower, which was developed from wind tunnel studies, provides architects with a prototype for a high-rise building that, thanks to its energetic and synergetic efficiency, no longer attempts to block natural conditions such as wind and sun but rather endorses them by way of architecturally and technically optimising their qualities.

A 120-meter high double skin allows natural ventilation and the inclusion of a roof terrace at the top of the building are features that mark a departure from conventional high-rise concepts which rely on the strict separation of inside and outside worlds by means of artificial climate control. The users’ individual requirements for daylight, natural ventilation, individual office climate control, high quality workplaces and recreational areas are met by the building’s simple and logical concept and a score of intelligent solutions.

  Dr. Francis Duffy, CBE, founder of the firm DEGW PLC and a world-renowned lecturer and practitioner, shared with the attendees DEGW’s methodologies on measuring effectively and efficiently how buildings are being used. Drawing from a career that has been spent helping business organizations use space more efficiently over time, Duffy demonstrated to the group the connection between the workplace environment and business performance.

  A. Eugene Kohn, FAIA, RIBA, JIA is respected worldwide, not only for his 40-year career as an architect, but also for his inspirational leadership qualities. As founder and principal of Kohn Pedersen Fox, he has developed a global strategy and has shaped the firm into one of the world’s leaders in all aspects of the profession of architecture. KPF is known for buildings that are sensitive to their context, while establishing a unique and memorable image on the exterior and creating interior environments that reinforce the clients’ overall mission and function. Kohn presented KPF’s acclaimed new office building, the Shanghai World Financial Center.

  Dr. Kenneth Yeang AA Dip., PhD. (Cantab), APAM, FSIA, RIBA, ARAIA, honorary FAIA, honorary FRIAS, FRSA, is an architect specializing in the design and the planning of “green” ecologically responsive large buildings, and master plans. His firm, Hamzuh & Yeang, has offices in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Bristol, United Kingdom, and Beijing, China, and has pioneered a new genre of tall buildings, referred to as the “bioclimatic skyscraper.” Yeang led the group in a discussion of the design and planning of ecologically sustainable large buildings and master plans using his firm’s particular expertise is in designing high-quality large buildings that are ecologically sustainable.

Crawford labeled the forum an immense success. “Without a doubt, ‘Future Office’ succeeded in demonstrating how all design, construction, and constituent client groups can work together to create more productive, environmentally sustainable and efficient workplaces,” he said.

Four Firms Receive Design Award Honors
AIA North Carolina announced nine winning projects at its annual Design Awards Banquet held on Aug. 28 at the Westin Charlotte in the Queen City. The winners were selected from a field of 83 entries submitted by AIA members across the state.

Although vastly differing in form and function, each project was deemed by a jury of four professionals to have met or exceeded benchmarks of good architecture. Awards are broken into two categories: Honor and Merit, with Honor being the top award.

Four firms were presented with Honor Awards. They were: Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee of Raleigh for the design of the Health Sciences Building at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh; Gomes + Staub of Raleigh for the Webb Dotti House, a private residence in Chapel Hill; ARCHITEKTUR of Raleigh for 1409 Ashburton Road, a private residence in Raleigh; and Harris Architects of Brevard for the restoration project of Fort Hill, the Home of John C. Calhoun at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C.

Five Merit Awards also were presented. The winning firms were: Phillip Szostak Associates of Chapel Hill for Tyndall Gallery, a fine arts gallery located in Chapel Hill; BBH Design, the former office of NBBJ, NC of RTP for the Buffaloe Road Athletic Park in Raleigh; The Freelon Group Inc. of Durham for a new administration building and updated truck-washing facilities at the Durham Solid Waste Operations Facility in Durham; and Kling of Raleigh for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Life Sciences Laboratory in White Oak, Md. Kenneth E. Hobgood architects of Raleigh also received a unbuilt merit award for the Phillips House, a weekend house to be built in the mountains of North Wilkesboro.

The 2004 Awards Jury reviewed all entries and made its selections in a June meeting in Minneapolis, Minn. Jury members were: Julie Snow, FAIA, Julie Snow Architects Inc.; Chuck Knight, AIA, Perkins & Will; Ralph Rapson, FAIA, Ralph Rapson & Associates Inc.; and David Salmela, FAIA, Salmela Architecture and Design. All jurors are principal partners with firms in Minnesota.

Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee Named Top Firm
Raleigh architecture firm Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee, is the recipient of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects Firm Award. This honor, the highest presented to an architectural business by the state chapter, is given annually to a firm that has consistently produced quality architecture with a verifiable level of client satisfaction for a period of at least 10 years as an established presence in the state.

Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee was founded in 1945 when Albert L. Haskins, FAIA, and opened a sole proprietorship in Raleigh. Two years later, he and Thomas W. Cooper, AIA, combined to form the firm of Cooper & Haskins, Architects. In 1953, they were joined by Richard L. Rice, FAIA, and the practice became Haskins and Rice, Architects the following year. Focusing on school and church projects, the practice continued as a partnership until 1979 when it became a professional corporation.

When Irvin A. Pearce, AIA, Tobin W. Savage, AIA, and Kathleen H. Thompson, SDA, became principals in 1985, the firm name was changed to Haskins, Rice, Savage & Pearce, PA. During the 1980s, Douglas M. Brinkley, AIA, H. Clymer Cease Jr., AIA, Jeffrey S. Lee, AIA, Donna W. Francis, AIA, and H.M. Nance, CSI, joined the firm. These individuals became principals in 1990 and the firm began a transition that paralleled its growth in the range, scope and number of projects it was undertaking.

In 1993, Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee became the firm’s name and it has continued to grow under the same leadership in the 11 years since. This has included the opening of an office in Asheville in 1999, which has allowed the firm to operate effectively in the western part of the state. The firm offers a vast array of complementary services, including strategic planning, space planning, and programming; urban, architectural and interior design; project management and construction administration.

Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee has been the recipient of numerous design awards. Some of the more recent award winning projects include the RDU Airport Authority Administration Building, RDU Entry Signage,

Burns Honored with Deitrick Medal
Triangle architect Robert Paschal Burns, FAIA, has been awarded the William Henley Deitrick Medal for Service from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The award is presented to a North Carolina architect who performs extraordinary service to the chapter, profession or to their community.

Burns graduated from N.C. State University in 1957 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. In 1962, he received his Master of Architecture degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After working with Eduardo Catalano in Cambridge, Mass., he joined the architecture faculty at N.C. State in 1965. Burns has continuously been a member of the architecture faculty and has taught at all levels in the department in both the graduate and undergraduate programs. He has also developed several new courses.

Burns has also served two tenures spanning 15 years as head of the university’s architecture department. From 1984 to 1990, he also served as associate dean of the School of Design. His terms as department head were marked by significant achievements, including the creation of the Master of Architecture degree, which was the first graduate program in the School of Design, and the creation of a fundraising arm, the Golden Section.

Burns was elected by educators throughout the country to three terms on the board of directors of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), whose membership consists of the faculty of 110 schools of architecture in the United States and Canada. On at least a dozen occasions, Burns served as a member of a National Architectural Accrediting Board visiting team.

Burns has a long history in research and publications. One of his better known projects was the North Carolina Courthouse Study, which resulted in a 900-page report titled “100 Courthouses: A Report on North Carolina Judicial Facilities.” Burns authored several sections and edited the report. The investigation served as a model for similar studies in other states, and received an award by the Historic Preservation Society of North Carolina and a Certificate of Appreciation from the North Carolina Bar.

One of the greatest accomplishments in his long career is the respect and admiration that Burns has earned from both his colleagues and his students. “In my many years of involvement with the profession of architecture — as a student, a professional and a professor of architecture — no single person has believed in my ability and potential as Bob Burns has,” says Kim Tanzer, a former student. “He has, at key moments in my career, provided me with confidence, with challenging opportunities, and with the support necessary to achieve and exceed goals I have set for myself.”

Another former student, architect Curtis Fentress, FAIA, adds this: “Professor Burns’ influence has had a profound effect on my life, and I’m sure, the lives of numerous students after me. I feel that what he has embodied in me through architectural education has had a significant impact on my practice of architecture and thus the community at large.”

Burns and his wife, Norma DeCamp Burns, FAIA, operate Burnstudio Architects, PA in Raleigh, a firm that not surprisingly has been recognized for design excellence.

“Had he wished, Bob could have been dean of almost any architectural school,” says Charles C. Hight, FAIA, former dean at the College of Architecture at UNC Charlotte. “But he devoted his efforts to helping his school and state through his excellent teachings, designs and service.”

The Deitrick Medal is named for William Henley Deitrick, a past president of AIA North Carolina. Deitrick donated his offices at the historic Raleigh Water Tower to be used as the state chapter’s headquarters upon his retirement in 1963.

the Health Sciences Building at Wake Technical Community College and the Carolina Business Interiors Showroom. Its 2003 unbuilt submission of the Brickyard Chiller Plant also won the firm an AIA North Carolina design award. The project is featured on the 2004 AIA North Carolina Membership Directory.

One of the firm’s most acclaimed projects is the BTI Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The firm was retained by the City of Raleigh in 1996 to study the possible addition of two performance spaces to Memorial Auditorium — a 600-seat theater and a 1,700-seat concert hall. The results have been Meymandi Hall and the Fletcher Opera Theater, both stunning facilities, and an expansion project that earned the firm numerous awards, among them the 2001 Sir Walter Raleigh Award, 2002 AIA North Carolina Honor Design Award, 2002 Architecture Merit Award-USITT and a 2003 AIA South Atlantic Region Merit Award.

Scott Cutler of Clancy & Theys Construction Company, who worked with the firm on the BTI Center project, says, “Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee succeeded in designing the most architecturally important and successful public building in Raleigh — a signature building for our downtown. Their design is popular in the community and is one of the most vibrant design outcomes in our city. Throughout the process, they remained true to their own best design judgment and the highest standards of the profession.”

Cutler isn’t alone in his praise. “Truly, I am unaware of a concert hall space anywhere on the Eastern seaboard south of New York City that has the acoustics that rival Meymandi Concert Hall’s,” says David Chambless Worters, president and CEO of the North Carolina Symphony. “The extraordinary quality of the resulting concert hall is a testament to the spirit, creativity and perseverance of the firm’s leaders. We are extremely grateful to PBC+L for its commitment to our North Carolina community.”

All factors combined — the staff, its design philosophy and the designs themselves — helped earned Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee the 2004 AIA North Carolina Firm of the Year Award. “Not only is this choice a well-deserved recognition, but it is also an enhancement of the meaning of the Award to the profession in North Carolina,” says Marvin Malecha, FAIA, dean of the N.C. State University College of Design.

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Last Modified: October 29, 2004
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