Category Archives: Architecture in NJ

My Favorite Place – The Hidden Garden

AIA-NJThe following article was featured as a Letter to the Editor in the Time of Trenton and can be found online at NJ.com

Written as part of the My Favorite Places Series:

 

National Architecture Week is being celebrated April 10 – 16. The week is designed to increase the public’s attention of architecture’s role as a force for positive change in our communities. This article, one of a series of “My Favorite Places” pieces, shares an architect’s unique perspective on a local place, focusing on both the location’s design and the broader impact that the design has on the lives of those it touches.

I call it the hidden garden.

Nestled in the center of the Princeton University campus, there is a garden behind one of the university’s oldest buildings, Prospect House. Currently, this building functions as a private dining club for the university’s faculty and staff, but it previously housed past university presidents. When Woodrow Wilson presided over the school, his wife fenced in the garden and laid out the flower garden we see today, which is actually shaped like the university’s seal. A combination of tulip trees, an American beech and annual plants and flowers make up the design.

The garden is ‘hidden’ in the sense that the Prospect House obscures its view from the rest of the campus. The garden is set at grade with the basement level of Prospect House while the building is set on a bunker. A later renovation of the basement provides a full glass front stepping out to the garden. Sitting in the casual dining room at basement level gives off the feeling of an outdoor experience while sitting inside.

To the other side, the garden is surrounded by tall, manicured evergreens planted in a half circle to create a visual barrier from the rest of the campus to the east. During Wilson’s time at Prospect House, “students began to take shortcuts across the lawns and garden,” which made this measure necessary.

Now that it’s a place that can be enjoyed by the public, I visit the garden rather frequently, especially in the summer. With its history and seclusion, I find it to be an ideal retreat, as the space provides fragrant flowers, the soft sounds of the central fountain, leisurely walking paths and calming views within the garden and the house.

Both the house and gardens are excellent pieces of landscape design, architecture and planning, which can, once again, be enjoyed by all.

Megan Pritts, Assoc AIA

Princeton

Presidents Message – The AIA World Gets Smaller Everyday…

JAM_headshotOne of my goals this year is to meet with several firms across the state to discuss with them their involvement with AIA, the value of AIA to their firms, and to hear the good, the bad and the ugly.  This month I met with Stephen Schoch AIA, Managing Principal of Kitchen & Associates Services, Inc. in Collingswood.  Kitchen & Associates currently has 80 architects, engineers, planners and interior designers, and was founded in 1971 by Benjamin Kitchen AIA.  Stephen and I had not met one another before and we had no problem with diving into many issues.  As we discussed things, Stephen mentioned that he grew up in Hackensack and I said so did my wife.  Well Stephen and my wife grew up three houses from one another and it was one of those, “what are the chances of that” moments!  That just made the conversation even easier.

With my involvement at AIANJ, I know several K&A employees who are involved in local AIANJ Sections and the AIANJ Board of Directors, and have been for years.  This involvement comes with the all to important employer support and I wanted to take the time to applaud Stephen for his dedication to AIANJ and the profession.  We all need to take a page from the K&A playbook when it comes to this dedication, as K&A just supported 14 of its employees joining AIA by paying for their membership so that they could take advantage of going to the AIA Convention in Philadelphia for free with the new membership offer from AIA!  This effort goes hand in hand with the recent challenge from Russell Davidson FAIA, AIA President, where he announced that his firm is closing down the office for two days so that their employees can attend the Convention and take advantage of all that it has to offer.  These are great examples for all employers to consider.

Another topic that we discussed is the AIA Large Firm Roundtable.  The LFRT is comprised of chief executives from more than 60 large firms, the mission is to further the special and unique interests, both national and international, of large firms by working with and through the AIA.  Don’t worry small firms, there is also an AIA Small Firm Roundtable, which has recently been renamed to the Small Firm Exchange (SFX) and has a similar mission for small firms.  AIANJ is represented on the SFX but is not represented on the LFRT.  It is important that AIANJ is represented at both levels, as our membership is represented by both small and large firms.  In order for AIANJ to be a leader at the LFRT, it is paramount that we first start here on our home turf by resurrecting the AIANJ LFRT. If you are an executive of a NJ large firm and are interested in joining this committee, please contact me.  I will be reaching out too many of you to join this committee and will host a meeting to get the ball rolling.

Sometime over the next month, take the time to meet with one of your peers, enjoy a meal to discuss the profession and how to get connected with AIA, and you never know, your worlds may be closer than you think.  Hope to see you in Philadelphia!

Sincerely,

Justin_sig

 

 

Justin A. Mihalik, AIA

Presidents Message – 2016 First Quarter

AIAeagle_2016It has been a very busy first quarter as your President and I wanted to share with you some of the events and projects that AIA-NJ has been busy working on…

February kicked off the year with a pair of building code seminars for the 2015 IBC and IRC at the Palace in Somerset.  There were well over 250 attendees to learn about the changes to both codes, which had not been updated since 2009.  As of March 21st we are officially beyond the grace period and into the new codes.  Hopefully, you were able to attend the code seminars, but if you did not, Robert Longo AIA, AIANJ Codes & Standards Chair wrote a brief article on the code changes you can find on our blog.

Also in February, more than 12 AIA-NJ leaders attended the AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference in Detroit, MI.  I have been attending Grassroots since about 2005 and I find that each time I attend I come back to NJ inspired and excited to implement ideas and programs for the new year.  aianj_grassroots2016This year was the first year since I began attending the conference that it focused on Leadership programming and did not have part of the event focused on Advocacy.  I have to applaud AIA on this change.  This July will be the second half of Grassroots, dubbed as “SpeakUp”, will happen in Washington D.C.  The event will focus on training AIA members to become leaders in Advocacy.  If you are interested in learning about the federal legislative process and how to become an active advocate for AIA and the built environment contact AIA-NJ.

 

Our Public Awareness Committee has been very active highlighting several of our members on diverse subjects.   On February 23rd Stephen Schoch AIA of Kitchen & Associates was interviewed by Construction Dive regarding FHA and ADA accessibility in multi-family housing.  William J. Martin AIA, Co-Chair of the AIANJ Public Awareness Committee and a member of the Bergen County Historical Preservation Commission was quoted in two articles regarding church fires in March due to their historic significance.  Kimberly Bunn AIA, AIA-NJ Immediate Past President, was featured in an article for Women’s History Month on none other than Eleanore Pettersen FAIA.  Most recently Stephen Schwartz AIA was featured in NJBIZ regarding architects who have taken the plunge into development.  To top things off our Public Awareness Committee had fun during National Architecture Week with #archselfienj for #archweek16.  Thanks to all those members that participated!

I have been fortunate to have maintained a close relationship with the College of Architecture & Design (CoAD) at NJIT and have been working with the Director of the School of Architecture, Richard Garber AIA, on a multi-week BIM program that will be held this summer at the school and offered to AIA-NJ members.  Not only will participants learn the basics on BIM, but will also learn how BIM can be integrated into your practice.

I am proud to announce that AIA-NJ’s Taskforce on Lightweight Construction, which was formed after the AvalonBay Edgewater, NJ fire in January 2015, has completed a whitepaper on “Building Design with Lightweight-Framed Construction and the Health, Safety, and Welfare of the Public”.  This document will be issued in order to better educate the public and our legislators about the findings of the Taskforce.  I want to thank the Taskforce for its work and look forward to the discussions that will occur as a result of the whitepaper.  Members who are interested in joining the Codes & Standards Committee to continue the work of this Taskforce are welcome to contact AIA-NJ.

In closing, I want to congratulate our new Fellows, Dean Marchetto FAIA and Michael Schnoering FAIA who will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the 2016 National AIA Convention in Philadelphia May 19th-21st.  AIA-NJ will be honoring our newest Fellows at the AIA-NJ Fellows Reception on Thursday, May 19th at the Hotel Palomar, formerly the AIA Building in Philadelphia.  If you plan on attending please contact Laura Slomka at AIA-NJ to RSVP.  The AIA Fellowship Committee will be hosting a presentation on  “Demystifying Fellowship”on Tuesday April 26th at 5 pm at the NJIT AIA room and on Wednesday, April 27th at 5 pm at the office of KSS Architects in Princeton.  If you are considering applying for Fellowship then you need to attend.

See you at the Convention in Philly!JAM_headshot

Sincerely,

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Justin A. Mihalik, AIA

AIA New Jersey Presiden

Celebrate Architecture Week ’16

ArchWeek16Architecture Week and Social Media for AIA New Jersey

Hey! Every architect knows architecture week is April 10 through the 16th.

Learn more on Architecture Week at AIA.

By now you’re probably thinking, how can I participate in Architecture Week and get the word out to New Jersey about the value of architects.

You can help by participating in social media and using the Hashtags #ArchselfieNJ , #ArchWeek16 , #ILookup , and #Archselfie

Hashtags are a great way for social media users to tag their posts with keywords, which make them easier for social networks to organize information and users to search.

Remember last year?  AIA national launched the I Look Up  advertising campaign with the hashtag #ilookUp.  It is a great success!

Now it’s our turn! As architects in New Jersey,  Let’s use all these hashtags to help educate everyone in New Jersey about the value of architects in a fun and artsy way.

So go outside , or walk out into the lobby, and take that picture of yourself with the building of your choice in the background.  Every building has an architect so every architect should help.  Any beautiful building will do, no matter inside or outside or where it is.

Then be bold and post that Selfie to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Foursquare, Pinterest, Houzz,  email it to all your friends,  let everyone know! AND don’t forget to use  #ArchselfieNJ

Have a great Architecture Week !AIAeagle_2016

—William J. Martin, AIA
AIA New Jersey Public Awareness Committee Co-Chair

WORKING WITH THE MEDIA – Personal Engagement

AIA-NJOur previous installments of “Working with the Media” have discussed ways in which you, in a personal or professional context, can begin to build a bridge with the editorial staff of your local publications. This included some strategies as to how to introduce yourself (and your expertise) to the outlet, along with a brief guide for writing an effective letter to the editor and a primer on packaging newsworthy projects into a formal press release to send to journalists.

In all of these installments, we were mainly addressing “proactive” media outreach, which is to say, outreach initiated by an architect specifically designed to garner publicity.

However, in certain cases, you may be spurred to engage with a journalist because of comments or omissions that he has previously made. While we touched on “letters to the editor” – letters written to be published in the paper – in a previous piece, we’d also like to discuss a somewhat different concept: Engaging specifically with the journalist by writing a personal note directly to him or her (as opposed to “letters to the editor,” which are targeted at the broader public).

It’s a scenario that you’ve likely encountered many times: The local paper runs a feature article about a building and includes comments from the developer – but there is no reference to the fact that there was an architect on the project that conceptualized the design and drew the blueprints. While this frustrating scenario is all too common, if approached properly, it can be an opportunity to educate the reporter so that the same mistake isn’t repeated in the future.

Before we discuss how to approach the journalist, it’s important to recognize several likely facts about the omission:

Reporter specialty – In many cases, the reporter is not particularly familiar with architecture – or even real estate development. The editorial staffs are shrinking at most newspapers, and reporters are frequently tasked with covering several beats. In some cases, the offending article may be the only one the reporter writes relating to architecture or real estate over a period of several weeks or months.
Communicated information – Many real estate developers provide reporters with press releases, which include much of the basic information about their projects. Frequently, reporters write stories based nearly entirely upon the press release – including mention of the architect if she is mentioned in the press release, but omitting it otherwise.

What both of these facts mean is that the reporter was probably not omitting the architect’s identity deliberately; chances are that he or she simply doesn’t understand the architect’s importance. With this in mind, the best practices for this sort of letter are clear:

Choose judiciously – While every building has an architect, that doesn’t mean that every article written about a structure without reference to its architect should turn into a letter. Instead of flooding the inbox of a reporter after every offending article, only send a note when the omission is flagrant, e.g. if the building’s architecture is particularly noteworthy, or if the article focused significantly on the building’s design.
Keep it educational – The article is already published, so the goal is to explain to the reporter why the architect is an integral part of the building process, so architects are included in future articles. Because most journalists have limited knowledge of architecture, be as detailed as possible, including not just the legal requirement of having an architect but the specific value and creativity that the architect brought to that particular building, what is architecturally unique and/or how it promotes safety.
Offer to have a follow-up call – In addition to the obvious benefits of having a broader discussion on local architecture if the reporter accepts the offer, the offer itself drills home the point that you’re not looking to criticize the reporter because of an error they made; rather, you’re looking to provide them with your expertise to enable them to write more knowledgeably in the future.

Note that there are also several ways you can proactively go about making sure that you are given credit when your projects are covered in the media:

Create a requirement in your contract: Including a requirement that all project publicity will mention your firm is one way to guarantee that your participation is acknowledged in the developer’s press materials.
Provide a description of the project to your client: Giving your client an architectural perspective on the project will not only help them in their media outreach, but it will also ensure a proper description of the architectural elements of a project. In doing so, it is natural to include a mention of your firm in the description.
Draft your own press release: Now that you know how to compose your own press release from a previous installment of “working with the media”, you may be able to “take the lead” on announcing the project, which means that you can control what specific details are being shared with the reporters. If the developer is looking to do media outreach, they may be open to collaborating with you on the press release, which would also mean that you will have at least some control of what details are being sent to journalists.

For more suggestions, refer to AIA Best Practices – Getting Good Press on the web at http://www.aia.org. Please note this is a password protected, member only website. Therefore, we cannot provide a direct link to the site for you. But you can find it under Practicing Architecture; Best Practices; Part 2 – Firm Management; Chapter 6: Marketing and Business Development. You might also find a lot of other beneficial material in this area of the website. You can also find samples of other quick responses here.

If you would like to read the previous articles in this series, please see the following links:

Delivering Your Message In An Interview

Building Relationships

Writing a Letter to the Editor

Composing a Press Release

Press Release Boilerplates

Shlomo Morgulis
Account Executive
Beckerman PR Real Estate Team

Bruce D. Turner, AIA
Co-Chair, AIA New Jersey Public Awareness Committee

AIA South Jersey Meeting

AIA SJ April 19 2016 invitation

2016 AIANJ Disaster Relief Training

AIAeagle_2016Post Disaster Safety Assessment Program Training and Certification Seminar

April 2, 2016 8:30 am – 4:00 pm

at NJIT Weston Lecture Hall

Click Here to Register

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The Legacy of Malcolm Wells, FAIA: The Father of Gentle Architecture

MalcolmWellsHeadShotAs part of The Wetlands Institute’s 2016 Winter Lecture Series, the Wetlands Institute will present a retrospect on the legacy of the award winning architect, Malcolm Wells, FAIA. The program will be held at The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, NJ on March 18th, 2016 at 6:00PM. The presentation will be given by professor and planner, Reverend Wayne Conrad, as he reflects on how Malcolm’s work was inspired by the beauty of nature, and a need for a more sustainable world. This program will also be presented in cooperation with the members of The South Jersey Section of the American Institute of Architects and the group Between the Times.

After an initial presentation focusing on the architectural innovation and ecological sensitivity which characterized Well’s work, there will be responses provided by an architect, and ecologist, and a theologian, each familiar with Well’s work. The responders will be considering the renewed relevance of Malcolm’s early work.

Malcolm Wells was the designer of the iconic Wetlands Institute building. The Wetlands Institute, a nonprofit environmental organization, is located along the causeway into Stone Harbor, NJ. In fact, the Institute was a testing ground for many of the “gentle ideas” that were incorporated into subsequent projects. This was only after he had designed the 1964 RCA World’s Fair Pavilion.

Other notable structures of his design include his now famous underground office nestled at the edge of the Cooper River Parkway in Cherry Hill, the Law School Building at Rutgers Camden, the much admired (but also problematic) former Cherry Hill Library, three stunningly beautiful church sanctuaries, and his home office and art gallery on Cape Cod.Wells Building Drawing 1

At the time of his death, in 2009, the New York Times referred to Wells as the father of “gentle architecture”. In its obituary, the Philadelphia Inquirer related Wells reaction to the closing of the 1964 World’s Fair. “It was at this point that he abruptly changed course. With the realization that the pavilion would be torn down and that all his other buildings, along with their parking lots and concrete footprints had destroyed whatever had lived there before, he began to develop his theories of gentle architecture”. It was at this point that he resigned from RCA and set up his own shop.

The innovative features incorporated into Malcolm’s 1960’s and 70’s work included parking lots paved with oyster shells, the utilization of percolation troughs to return roof water runoff to the underground aquifer, interior gardens to create oxygen-rich air for breathing, the development of landscaped water retention lakes, the maximum utilization of south-facing windows to increase solar gain for heating and the incorporation of super insulated skylights for interior daylighting.

However, his best known, but most controversial, design feature was the practice of “earth sheltering” in which he waterproofed his gently sloping roofs by covering them with three to four feet of rich soil, and then planting them with native grasses and shrubs.

Wells Building 1William McDonough, FAIA, recipient of the first Presidential Award for Sustainable Development and one of the world’s most copied architect/planners in reflecting on Malcolm’s work suggested, “as a thinker, he was a hidden jewel. In the world of what has become known as green building, Malcolm Wells was seminal, actually inspirational, for some people including me. For a draftsman who started his career designing portable radios for RCA, Malcolm came a long way and now just beginning to recognize the importance of his journey”.

To make reservations for the presentation, please contact The Wetlands Institute at 609-368-1211. Cost of admission is $7 for Wetlands Institute members, $12 for nonmembers, and in the spirit of covered dish dinners, please bring an appetizer, entrée, salad or dessert to share with at least eight people. At time of RSVP, please notify the Wetland’s Institute front desk staff as to what dish you’ll be brining to the dinner. If you have any questions, please feel free to email the Wetlands Institute at [email protected], or call them at 609-368-1211.

AIA South Jersey is a registered provider with the AIA Continuing Education System AIA/CES. This program is approved for (1) Learning Unit, which will be reported directly to the AIA/CES for AIA members.

2015 NJ Code Update

AIAeagle_2016On September 21, 2015, NJ formally adopted the 2015 ICC series of codes including the International Building Code (IBC), the International Residential Code (IRC), the International Mechanical Code (IMC), the International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) along with the National Electric Code NFPA 70-2014.

As with all NJ subcode revisions there is a 6 month grace period in which the design professional can chose to use either the current or previous version of the code. The grace period is about to expire, and all applications submitted for plan review after March 21, 2016 will be required to use the 2015 codes.

The National Standard Plumbing Code 2015,  was not adopted until January 4 2016, so the option to use the previous version of the plumbing subcode only, is still available until July 6, 2016.

This is the first code update since 2009 and it comes with literally hundreds of changes.

Below is a small sample of some of the significant changes to the code.

  • Wind born debris regions that trigger the requirement for impact resistant glazing have been modified. This will affect many buildings along the NJ Shore.
  • Institutional uses, including medical offices & assisted living facilities will be affected by the addition of “Occupancy Conditions.”
  • Most of the Barrier Free Subcode requirements have been moved to Chapter 11 of IBC.
  • Egress requirements from mezzanines have been changed.
  • New sprinkler requirements for buildings with assembly occupancies on roofs.
  • New requirements for low level “Exit” signs in some occupancies.

Visit the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA) home page for a complete list of code adoptions with links to full versions of the codes online. http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/codes/codreg/

Robert Longo, AIA
AIANJ Codes & Standards Chair

Maplewood Library RFQ

On February 19, 2016 Maplewood Memorial Library issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ): Architectural Services for Conceptual Design.   The RFQ and related information can be found on the Maplewood Library website at  Maplewood Library: Building for the Future.   

Find out the latest on our plans to renovate and improve the Maplewood Memorial Library.

Request for Qualifications (RFQ): Architectural Services for Conceptual Design

Time and Place for Submission of Responses:
Respondents must submit one (1) original and nine (9) copies, including copies of all forms and attachments, to Sarah Lester, Director, Maplewood Memorial Library, 51 Baker Street, Maplewood, NJ  07040, on or before 4:00 p.m. on April 4, 2016.

Pre-Submittal Information Conference:  11am on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at the Maplewood Memorial Library, 51 Baker Street, Maplewood, NJ 07040.

In response to requests by potential RFQ respondents, there will be walk throughs of the library at 2 pm on  March 2nd,  3 pm on March 3rd and11 am on Thursday, March 10th.  If any other potential RFQ respondent would like to do a walk through the building on one of these dates or another date, please make a request to Sarah Lester, Library Director [email protected].

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