- Try to find original drawings or photographs that best depict the original design
- Fads come and go. Consider timeless style for finishes and colors, pick options that are appropriate and blend with surrounding materials.
- Understand performance classifications for windows published by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and National American Fenestration Standards (NAFS) and how they relate to your building.
- Cold drafts are uncomfortable and energy loss is costly. Select windows that incorporate thermal barriers, double-pane, insulated glass and have been tested and certified by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA).
- Outdoor noise from wind, traffic, barking dogs, etc. can be very distracting. Select windows with good acoustical (sound-reduction) properties.
The lobby is the first impression of the building, it’s perceived to reflect the personality of its owners and residents. Renovating a residential building lobby can entail a steep learning curve for first-timers or seasoned managers, depending upon the complexity of the project. We present the following checklist of items to consider before embarking on a lobby renovation project.
A. Building Codes.
- Critical pre-design efforts would be to determine local code requirements and perform a full code analysis.
- It’s essential to define the nature of the renovation in order to identify applicable code requirements. Building codes generally differentiate between additions to existing structures and upgrades to existing spaces, which are defined as alterations.
- Determine ADA accessibility for items such as doors and hardware, railings, ramps, and height of reception desk.
B. Aesthetics of Finishes, Lighting, and Sound.
- The lobby is a first step into the building and a light color palette is generally preferable for walls. Dark colors tend to evoke more somber feelings.
- Lobbies experience heavy foot traffic and the introduction of whatever the outdoors has to offer (mud, water, debris, etc.). Floor coverings should be slip-resistant, durable, and easy to maintain. Unyielding flooring materials (ceramic tile, stone, etc.) should incorporate proper control joints to help prevent cracking. Walk-off (entrance) mats should be used to help remove water and solid contaminants from shoes. If selected as an afterthought, an entrance mat can be an eyesore; therefore, they should be incorporated into the design and coordinated with lobby finishes and furnishings.
- Double-height lobby spaces are attractive and spacious, but can exhibit undesirable sound characteristics. An excess of hard finishes can reflect too much sound and create reverberation. Area rugs and wall hangings will absorb sound and help reduce echoing.
- Decorative wall and ceiling panels are easy ways to finish a lobby space, but they must be appropriately fire-rated and the substrate must be able to support them.
- Lighting is essential to lobby design. Incorporating day lighting is a great way to freshen and improve the quality of lobby space; however, windows are thermally inefficient. Energy loss can be substantially reduced if windows incorporate thermal breaks (for metal windows), multi-pane glazing, inert-gas-charged interpane cavities, and low-emissivity (heat reflecting) coatings. Accent lighting on artwork and furnishings should be designed to enhance their visual appeal and optimal lighting can vary from piece to piece. What works well for an oil painting may not be desirable for a sculpture. Lighting must be ample in areas of foot traffic, but muted lighting can be more desirable in seating areas, depending upon the intended use of the space.
- Thermal comfort, fresh-air circulation, and humidity control are critical to any renovation project. Major changes to a space can alter thermal properties and air circulation. Heat transfer (load/loss) calculations should be performed to determine heating, ventilation, and air conditioning requirements and HVAC systems should be modified, augmented or replaced as needed.
- Where present, security/reception desks are key elements of lobbies, which require careful planning and design. It should be welcoming and accessible, particularly with respect to ADA requirements. The countertop should be durable and easy to maintain and clean/disinfect.
- Furniture and accent pieces should usually reflect the building at-large. Modern glass and chrome furnishings might be jarring in a Victorian-era structure. “Trendy” comes with some risk. What’s in vogue now can be considered dated or tacky in just a few years.
- Art is entirely subjective and selecting pieces for public display can be tricky. It should be “tasteful” and devoid of subject matter that can offend (nudity, violence, religious themes, etc.).
- Amenities such as WIFI or charging stations can be nice additions, but your lobby could become a lounge if you make it too entertaining and comfortable.
If you are planning major renovations on your property, you would probably like to see an image of the project before the work begins. With 3D rendering (or 3D modeling), a realistic image of the property can be developed so you know what the project will look like when completed.
With 3D modeling, a design professional can provide numerous rendering options to meet a client’s particular tastes and needs. For example, a client may want to see what a project façade will look like with either brick, stone, or vinyl siding and how they match with an asphalt shingle or standing-seam metal roof covering. These renderings are also effective when presenting ideas of renovations to Community Associations and City Planning Officials, often resulting in faster and more efficient approvals.
3D rendering is a rapidly growing technology and simple renderings can be made with home computers. However, complex renderings with material textures, lighting, and realistic environments require extensive training and special computers with sophisticated graphic capabilities.
Below is a step-by-step example of an “Arts and Crafts” style house rendered in 3D Max and Photoshop.
Step 1. Using 3D Max, basic geometry is modeled, perspective view is set up, and test materials for roof and siding are mapped on the model.
Step 2. Using 3D Max, natural lighting and shadows are tested on the mapped materials, with a blue sky background.
Step 3. Using Photoshop, color balance and image contrast is adjusted. Sketched landscaping features are added.
When you buy a condominium you’re also buying into the building that encloses it, as well as every other building in the association and everything else intended for common (and limited common) use. You’ll be paying to operate, maintain, repair, and (when the time comes) replace them.
With that in mind, it would behoove you to inspect those elements. Detailed inspections are not practicable and space doesn’t allow for comprehensive discussions of every possible element or condition, but certain basic principles apply. In essence, if something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.
A simple walk through the property can be revealing. If the grounds are littered with construction materials (shingle remnants, siding, sheet metal, brick pieces, etc.) there’s reason for concern. If buildings exhibit bulges, missing cladding materials, excessive cracks, or other conditions that seem out of the ordinary, there are questions that need to be answered.
Parking garages with excessive and/or displaced cracks, exposed steel reinforcement or broken tendons (usually characterized by “cable” loops at the undersides of slabs) will probably require some degree of rehabilitation in the near future. Gutters in garages are almost always installed to collect water from leaks through defective waterproofing systems.
One thing buyers frequently fail to consider is noise. If you inspect the unit at a time when nobody is home in neighboring units, it could be misleadingly quiet. It might annoy your realtor, but try to arrange multiple (at least two) visits during hours when the neighbors are likely to be home and active.
While detailed inspections by prospective buyers are not usually possible, detailed professional inspections have likely been performed and reports would have been generated. In Part 2, to follow, we discuss documents you should review to help inform your decision.
The Baltimore-Washington area is rich with historic structures. These buildings are usually beautiful (or at least visually interesting) but, more importantly they’re reminiscent of our nation’s heritage and essential to understanding America’s culture. Realizing this, owners and managers of historic buildings, or any older structure really, must carefully consider all treatment options before deciding to restore, rehabilitate, or reconstruct.
Restoration stresses the building’s historic character. Whenever possible, materials from the most significant time in the building’s history are conserved, while removal of materials from other periods is generally permissible.
Rehabilitation typically entails retention of as much of the historic elements of a structure as possible; however, it’s accepted that more materials have deteriorated beyond salvation and there is more latitude for replacements.
Reconstruction is the last resort and involves the demolition and replacement of non-surviving or non-functioning building components or even entire structures. This option offers limited opportunities to save the authenticity of the building, but may be necessary if it’s no longer structurally sound.
Myriad factors would dictate the most appropriate strategy, including the physical condition of building components, historical importance, planned usage of space, and building codes. Historically significant structures in this region will usually fall under the purview of historical preservation organizations and their mandates could trump other considerations.
Of course, the best strategy is preservation. Conscientious maintenance and timely, proper repairs can extend the useful lives of building elements hundreds of years, obviating, or at least minimizing, the need for more drastic measures
It’s hard to find a building today without concrete surfaces stained by rust. Rust stains can adversely transform the aesthetics of a beautiful building. How can rust stains be removed? Let’s find out!
Once rust staining has occurred, it is important to remove the stains without altering the color or finish texture of the concrete. Two techniques which can be implemented are dry methods (i.e. sandblasting, wire brushing, grinding, etc.) and wet methods (i.e. waterblasting, chemicals, etc.). If surface texture is not a priority, the dry methods can be a quick and cost-effective way to remove stains. If the final finish is important, as is commonly the case with architectural concrete, chemical treatments are recommended.
Mild stains usually can be removed with an oxalic acid or phosphoric acid solution, applied to a saturated concrete surface. Deeper stains typically require a poultice, which absorbs the chemical solutions and then forms a paste over the stain. Older buildings require more attention with stain removal because the chemical treatments may remove other contaminants in the concrete, creating a lighter color than the adjacent concrete.
The rule of thumb when putting a cleaning solution on your stained carpet or clothes applies with concrete. Be sure to test different chemicals on small, inconspicuous areas to evaluate the treatment. Also, the longer you let a stain sit, the more difficult it is to remove, so seek help quickly when rust stains appear!
For example, the use of warm colors like red, yellow, and orange can bring about feelings of excitement, motion, and imagination. This is particularly beneficial in spaces for children, entertainment, and retail sales.
Warm neutral colors like beige and brown evoke feelings of comfort and security. This is useful in commercial office or residential settings.
Cool colors like green and blue are calming, soothing, and inspirational. They promote feelings of freshness and growth and are suitable in medical and religious facilities, classrooms, etc.
Cool neutral colors like grey, charcoal, or stone are sophisticated and subdued. These colors lend themselves to commercial and industrial spaces.
Color is just as important as form in architecture, as it sets the mood.
If redesigning a space in your building, it is important to consider the new occupant load and how it can affect other items in the building. The use (or function) and the size of the space will determine the occupant load allowed by code. Different functions require different numbers of square feet per occupant. For example the code for standard business areas requires 100 square feet per person. So a 3,000 s.f. suite of offices would have an occupant load of 30 people. For an assembly area with tables and chairs, the code requires 15 square feet per person. So the same 3,000 s.f. suite could have an occupant load of up to 200 people! Almost certainly the building’s existing elements would not support this, as most buildings are designed with a “base” occupant load. Several items that occupant load affect are: restroom fixture counts; number of exits; width of corridors, stairways, and doorways; parking space counts; etc. Therefore any proposed changes should be analyzed by an architect to help determine allowable uses or necessary renovations to support any desired increase in occupant load.
Most jurisdictions require a percentage of construction cost be allocated to upgrading the accessible route to the altered space. Many times this involves modifying the existing restroom facilities. Some ways to do this are:
1. Adding grab bars to toilets stalls (vertical grabs are now required);
2. Increasing stall size by reducing fixture count. Be careful to maintain an adequate fixture count to support occupant load; and
3. In extreme cases it may be necessary to enlarge the restroom by moving the end wall and will affect adjacent areas.
Many times this requirement is overlooked and can lead to delays in building permit issuance and increase design costs. Let us know if you need any help planning for future projects. Architect on staff!