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Design Strategies

Designing a home or a building is a difficult task. Being a homeowner who has built two new construction homes over the past 12 years, I know a fraction of the decisions that go into designing and building the home of your dreams. Since we moved into new communities, we didn’t get the opportunity to work directly with an architect when building our homes, but I know that by going through the experience you learn what you want to do differently the next time around.

In working with builders on our homes, there were many items that were predetermined and not really left up to us. While not having to make some decisions is a blessing, it also limits what can be done during the process. Today’s homes are fairly energy-efficient, especially compared to older homes, but do they really push the boundaries of passive design strategies?

Working directly with an architect when building a home, or a new office, school or hospital, allows the final design to take into consideration all of the wants and needs of the owner, as well as truly optimize passive design strategies, such as building orientation, daylighting and the amount of insulation.

All of this without having to rely solely on the use of mechanical heating and cooling systems. In this month’s Special Feature, “Passive Design Strategies,” we talked to a number of architects to understand how to best optimize some of these strategies in building designs.

So much thought goes into the different aspects of a building, we often don’t think about many of the individual elements. For the Travis County Medical Examiner’s new office in Austin, Texas, the designers from SmithGroupJJR, Phoenix, were tasked with creating a modern facility that brings positive public awareness to forensic science. The new office also needed to be a recruitment tool amidst the competitive field of forensic pathology. See how they achieved these goals in “Functional Forensic Facility.”

Creating a pattern with an exterior element can also be the key to a successful project. In this month’s Creative Metal, "Reciprocal Repetition," see how the designers of the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel used aluminum extrusions to create a cohesive and holistic design.

One interior design element that may not get as much consideration as others is ceilings. In this month’s Bonus Feature, “Metal Ceiling Designs Look Up,” we take a closer look at how metal ceilings have evolved, and how architects are creating dramatic designs with unique customizations. Be sure to explore the different types of metal ceilings available and what designs are currently trending.


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