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Ohio University
Interior Architecture Program
HCIA 351, Materials and Construction II
Spring 2010
Matthew Ziff, Associate Professor
Commercial Interiors Projects
In design practice there is a substantial distinction between residential design
and commercial design.
Commercial design typically involves complicated physical, financial, and legal
The base building (architectural shell) is today often quite separate from the
interior infill. Partition systems, office work stations that are demountable,
open work space all make interior environments independent from the
enclosing building envelope
Interior Design Practice
The following information is taken from the Whole Building Design Guide web page
Interior design concerns itself with more than just the visual or ambient enhancement
of an interior space; it seeks to optimize and harmonize the uses to which the built
environment will be put.
Thus, in the words of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is "practical, aesthetic,
and conducive to intended purposes, such as raising productivity, selling
merchandise, or improving life style." Interior design is a practice that responds to
changes in the economy, organization, technology, demographics, and business
goals of an organization.
• As a human activity, interior design is centuries old.
• As a coherent profession identified by the label "interior designer," it
is relatively recent.
• Many experts trace its beginnings to the early 20th century and the
rise of interior decoration as a career separate from architecture. In
the early decades, this practice focused largely on the residential
• By the 1940s, the terms "interior design" and "interior designer"
were used primarily by those individuals providing services to a
small but growing number of business clients.
Elsie de Wolfe, 1865 – 1950
She was without question the first woman to create an occupation as designer where
none had existed before.
• After World War II, nonresidential design—offices, hotels, retail
establishments, and schools—grew in importance as the country
rebounded economically. Interior design is generally divided into two
categories, residential and contract or commercial.
• Today, interior design is becoming increasingly specialized as
buildings and materials get more complex technologically and
regulations and standards more demanding.
Office interior from 1930’s
The following images are taken from
Office interior 2010
• The first national professional organization for interior designers,
The American Institute of Interior Decorators (later, the American
Institute of Interior Designers), was founded in 1931, and a second,
the National Society of Interior Designers, in 1957.
• But it was not until the 1960s and 70s that independent
organizations were established to assess qualifications for
designers and design programs, thereby putting in place the
cornerstones of the profession; standards for education, experience,
and examination.
• These are the Interior Design Educators Council, the Council for
Interior Design Accreditation, and the National Council for Interior
Design Qualification. In 1975, AID and NSID merged to form the
American Society of Interior Designers. The International Interior
Design Association was founded in 1994
• Efforts to bring about statutory licensing of interior designers,
variously through title or practice acts, also began in the 1960s.
• In 1982, Alabama became the first state to enact legislation for the
regulation of interior design.
• Today, 25 states and jurisdictions have adopted some form of
regulation for interior design.
• Interior design as a profession includes a scope of services
performed by a professional design practitioner, qualified by means
of education, experience and examination, to protect and enhance
the life, health, safety, and welfare of the public.
William LeBaron Jenney
Home Insurance Building 18831885
Chicago, Illinois
The development of high rise
construction, and especially the
steel frame, really made
commercial interior space
possible. William LeBaron
Jenney's Home Insurance
Building of 1883 was an early
example of the potential of
large scale open commercial
The Rookery, Chicago,
IL (1886), John Wellborn Root
The Rookery, Chicago, IL (1886), John Wellborn Root
Frank Lloyd Wright: Johnson Wax
building, Racine, Wisconsin, 1947:
“The Great Work Room”
Parking garage and front entrance of
Johnson Wax Building, Racine, Wisconsin
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1936 for the SC Johnson Wax Administration Building (Racine, WI)
Since the early 1940’s there have been three large, and well known
companies that support designers and their work
Herman Miller: Zeeland, Michigan
Knoll: New York City
Steelcase: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Herman Miller was founded by D. J. De Pree, who bought the Michigan Star
Furniture Company in 1923 with his father-in-law, Herman Miller, and a small
group of local businessmen. The company was located in Zeeland, Michigan.
• Herman Miller, Inc., is one of the leading manufacturers of office
furniture and furniture systems, second only to Steelcase in sales.
• Ranked since 1986 among the top ten in Fortune magazine's annual
list of the 500 most admired companies, Herman Miller is esteemed
as an innovator in furniture design, as well as for its unique
commitment to employee relations and the environment.
• The company maintains operations in 35 countries.
• Knoll Group Inc. is a leading U.S. manufacturer of office furniture.
• Its products include chairs, wood case goods, files and storage
mechanisms, and full office systems. Knoll also produces textiles on
contract and markets computer support accessories.
• The company sells its products through showrooms, sales offices,
and dealerships in about 500 U.S. locations. It also sells through
independent dealers in Europe, the Pacific Rim, and Latin America.
Steelcase,Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan
• Steelcase was incorporated as the Metal Office Furniture Company
on March 16, 1912, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
• Although the new company had a novel idea--fabricating furniture
from sheet metal--it received little notice in "The Furniture City,"
which already had nearly 60 furniture manufacturers.
In 1914 Metal Office hit on an idea that solved the problem of carelessly
flicked cigar and cigarette ashes: The Victor, a fireproof steel wastebasket.
Touted for its strength and durability, the wastebasket could also be color
coordinated with other furniture.
Victor became an official trademark in 1918 and eventually became an
expanded line of products.
Charles and Ray (his wife) Eames.
Great American designers.
Molded plywood chairs designed
by Charles and Ray Eames,
manufactured by Herman Miller
Molded plywood screen designed
by Charles and Ray Eames,
manufactured by Herman Miller
Cast aluminum and leather chairs, designed by Charles
and Ray Eames, manufactured by Herman Miller.
The Eames lounge chair, manufactured by Herman Miller
Model 670 was the first design for the luxury end of the market by Charles and Ray
Eames. Designed in 1956 it retailed for $634 in 1957. The Lounge chair is
unashamedly masculine, exuding a sense of executive power and comfort through
its generous proportions and use of high-quality materials. At first glance, the chair
looks much more complex than other pieces by Eames, but it is actually built
according to the same principle as their simple plywood chairs. Three moulded
plywood elements joined together by metal components and, with a lower frame,
form the basic structure.
The Merchandise Mart, completed in 1931, catered exclusively to the wholesale
The largest building in the world at the time of its completion, the Mart continues to
host the NEOCON trade show annually.
NeoCon® World’s Trade Fair, North America’s largest conference and exhibition for interior design at The
Merchandise Mart Chicago, features the latest trends, products and concepts in office, residential, hospitality,
health care, institutional and government environments, all under one roof at Chicago’s famous Merchandise
Open plan office furniture, or systems furniture as it is called
today, defines and separates work spaces without the use of constructed
Today it is estimated that more than 30% of U.S. businesses use systems
The practice of commercial interior design today is a specialty, requiring
knowledge, skill, and an ability to bring large and small scale architectural
components together into a smoothly functioning environment.
Open Office Plan
Open plan offices have existed for a long time. However, prior to the 1950s,
these mostly consisted of large regular rows of desks or benches where
clerks, typisst, or technicians performed repetitive tasks.
Such designs were rooted in the work of industrial engineers or efficiency
experts such as Frederick Winslow Winslow Taylor, and Henry Ford.
In the 1950s, a German team named Quickborner developed office
landscape office which used conventional furniture, curved screens, large
potted plants, and organic geometry to create work groups on large, open
Office landscape was quickly supplanted by office furniture companies
which developed cubicles based on panel-hung or systems furniture.
Many different terms (mostly derisive) have been used over time for offices
using the old-style, large arrays of open cubicles including ‘ sea of cubicles’
and ‘cube farm’.
Open Plan Office Furniture
Base Building and Tenant Improvements
The commercial office building shell and core, which include essential services,
such as the HVAC system, elevators, and toilet rooms, is commonly referred
to as the 'base building'.
Tenant improvements are those materials and constructions that form the infill,
responding to the tenant's needs, which are not part of the base building.
The base building standard, or building standard, is a package of typical tenant
improvements provided by, and sometimes required of, the landlord.
By standardizing building components like suite entry doors, suite
signage, lighting fixtures, and window treatments, the landlord can maintain
coherence in design, and consistency in maintenance routines throughout
the building.
Usually there is a tenant improvement allowance to cover standard items that
will be installed at no cost to the tenant. The quantity of tenant improvements
is usually described per square foot of rentable space.
For example, 1 telephone jack every 125 square feet of leased space, 1 door
every 300 square feet of leased space, et cetera.
Sometimes the allowance is stated as a certain amount of money to be
allocated per square foot of leased space.
A lease is an agreement between the property owner and the tenant.
There are standard improvements that landlords provide to tenants as
part of the rental rate.
The document that describes these improvements
to the rented space is the work letter which is attached to, and
becomes part of the lease.
Measuring Commercial Space
There are about a dozen different methods of measuring commercial
office space in current use.
All methods make similar distinctions between gross area, usable area,
and rentable area, but they differ in how these areas are calculated.
The building gross area: defined as the "construction area" by the Building
Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), is the floor area within the exterior face of the
building including the thickness of the exterior wall.
It is the total constructed space. This measurement is used in evaluating building efficiency,
and in comparing construction costs between projects.
The rentable area: is usually defined as the interior floor area
excluding vertical penetrations (stairs, duct chases, elevator shafts,
et cetera).
This measurement is often used to determine the income producing
capability of a building.
The usable area: is the floor area that is inhabitable by the tenant.
This measurement is used in planning and designing the space.