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Core Values Series: Design Thoughtfully

Nacht & Lewis always strives to embody our core values: design thoughtfully, empower the team, deliver excellence, guided by integrity and cultivate optimism. There are many interpretations to these expressions, so we asked our staff what our first value, design thoughtfully, means to them. Here are some of their responses:

– Designing thoughtfully requires empathy to develop an element, detail or composition that is reflective of the intended experience. Design can delight. It can demonstrate reverence or serenity. Thoughtful design takes into account pragmatism and perception.

– Every design must be done with intention. The biggest and most important decisions we make involve the lines we draw. Put a line here? You’ve got a wall. Place one over there, now you have a window. We should be questioning every line we draw and prodding at every model we make. Nacht & Lewis has taken this concept to heart; our lines are intentional and well thought out so we are able to create beautiful, functional buildings that maximize space and provoke thought.

– Designing thoughtfully is more than just designing for the immediate programming. The best solution comes from thinking about the effects on the end user, the neighborhood and the environment as well as the effect that people, time, weather and change will have on the design once it is built.

– Creating structures and spaces that are considerate of our clients’ needs is paramount to our firm. It’s why we’re here; it’s something we’re passionate about. The proof of this history is in the fact that so many of our structures are still being used, even if repurposed from their original design function. Our designs are thoughtful, which gives them a timeless quality and are to be considered well designed by any standard in any time.

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupry

– Designing thoughtfully starts with listening. Some architects come up with a design based upon the half-heard needs of a client without listening to the full story. We need to hear, process and spell it all back to the owner in order to weed out their “that not really what I meant” comments.

– Designing thoughtfully is problem solving. Designing thoughtfully is paying attention to details. Designing thoughtfully is a constant reminder to be open-minded.

– Designing thoughtfully compares to speaking thoughtfully, and architecture is a language with physical form. Thoughtful design carries a social and ethical dimension; if professional design takes responsibility for the functional and technical complexities of a building, then thoughtful design goes a step further and uses physical form to artfully express and elevate the broader range of intersecting social and cultural meanings.

– Designing thoughtfully is figuring out what the end result means to the client and community; it is a product for our clients & our firm to be enthusiastic about.

“Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.” – Louis Kahn

– Design in the institutional environment cannot be arbitrary; it is not about ego and certainly not driven by shallow preferences. Ultimately there is a reason for every wall, window and design element or we haven’t done our job.

– In justice architecture, design is a balance of operations, security and code requirements. As good stewards of public funds, constructability and cost are also important considerations. We are passionate in finding ways to fuse these critical requirements into efficient, pleasant environments that are aesthetically pleasing. It is a puzzle. It is patience and willingness to explore new alternatives or start over. It is what our clients deserve.

– Designing thoughtfully means that our designs must be inclusive in their approach and embrace the world around them. In our approach to the California Highway Patrol Facility in Grass Valley, the criteria documents suggested creating a level site surrounded by high retaining walls. This would have added months to the construction schedule and required imposing vehicle invasion barriers in front of a building which needs to be friendly and support the public. Designing thoughtfully meant placing the building above visitor parking and below staff parking, allowing us to use a greater landscape buffer. Working with the site slopes achieved security, softened the building appearance and reduced cost and schedule impacts.

– End with less not more
Solving problems with few steps
Understand intent

“We must design as if our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be living with the results, because they will.” – Michael Smith

At Nacht & Lewis we value our employees as our greatest resource. We wish to thank each and every one of them for their contributions to this blogging effort.

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