Monday, December 15, 2008

Isn’t it curious how our paths cross different people’s path unexpectedly?

This happened to me earlier this year when Ms. Sydney Biddle Barrows contacted me and ask that I be a contributing editor of her new book, “Uncensored Sales Strategies.”

Sydney is a business expert who consults companies all around the nation about how they can choreograph their business to create an experience for their clients. She has developed a lot of expertise at choreographing other people’s “experiences” in her previous life.

She became one of the most famous and talked about madams that ever graced the front pages of the New York tabloids under the nickname, “Mayflower Madam.”

Later, she has been a guest on various talk shows including Larry King and has written a bestselling book that Fortune magazine named as one of the Top Ten Best Business Books of the Year. Her books have also been on the required reading list for courses at Harvard.

So, go to Barnes and Noble, Borders, or any other major book seller and get your copy of this new book, “Uncensored Sales Strategies.” On pages 99-100, you will find out how experiences are created in architecture by yours truly.

Click on the "ReTweet" button below and follow me on twitter. I am LaneArch there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Seven Steps to an Extraordinary Home

Getting to that extraordinary place has often required homeowners to endure an endless number of challenges. We all have heard or have lived through horror stories during a construction of a new home.

As you begin our new
"Experience Architecture" program from our Quality of Place Series Residential Edition, you are taking the first steps towards transforming the level of quality you experience within one of your most important investments - Your Home.

Difficulties obtaining permits.

The contractor disappears in the middle of tearing out everything.

Neighbors complain about dust and noise coming from your apartment.

Cost over-runs.

Construction Delays.

Difficult Building Managers...

All of these issues (and many more) stack upon each other until you feel that there is no painless way out. This journal is designed to help you navigate through the design and construction processes by using a simple seven step method.

If your realtor does not have an extra copy for you, then call us at 212-594-2007 so we can send one out to you before you purchase your next home.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Creating a virtural walk-through of your home

Sometimes, it is not easy to visualize how your home will look before it is constructed. I have had clients who preferred to change their minds about the design during the construction period. But, this is always more expensive than having our office build it virtually. Here is an example of how a project can be veiwed virtually before any wall is taken down and any construction fees are spent.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Your Customers, Clients, and Employees Need to Take "Ownership" of Your Workplace

Imagine how you would feel if you were in my shoes when the doors opened for the first time at Niketown, NY. During the period of time that I was the project architect who worked directly with the directors of Nike Image, a lot of other things happened in my life.

For one, my wife saw so little of me because I was at the office or flying to Beaverton, OR to work out design and construction details so she got us a Black Labrador to keep her company. We named the dog Jackson (the painter, Jackson Pollock’s studio was near the dog rescue shelter in the Hampton town where we adopted our dog).

A year later, my first son, David was born. David helped me refocus my priorities, but I was still committed to getting the Niketown, NY project finished. I really feel that part of David is still left within the walls of that building because he became so much a part of my life-even at work where I was able to enjoy my passion of architecture.

There was a lot of fanfare and drama at the grand opening. Celebrities came out of the woodwork and from all parts of the world. When Phil Knight, one of the founders of NIKE came, it was as if a rock star arrived. NIKE employees came out from their hidding places and exploded into a chant, “NIKE,” that echoed throughout the massive atrium space that was filled with curved walls and oval shaped fixtures to emphasize their image of “movement.” It was almost cult-like.

So, when the doors opened during that first day, it was as if I was leaving a big part of me there and to be watched over by strangers.

Have you had that feeling? When you have passion for something or someone, time just stands still. Everything seems to just fall into place and you take “ownership” of all that you do.

Our buildings can cause your clients, customers, or colleagues to feel a sense of belonging – I know because I was able to help NIKE provide that to their customers and employees. The secret of our success is that we design with a focus on the “experience” that you want others to feel while in your space.

Check out the earlier blog dated September 18, 2008 to learn more about how we helped choreograph an “experience” through architecture for NIKE and how we can do that for you.

Also, don’t miss out on downloading the archived radio shows (you can even listen to it as a podcast). You will find out various strategies that you can use in order to get the edge over any of your competitors while having the best fit of a building for your company.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A time to Celebrate

When I went to Texas Tech University, there were more games that seemed to be more about how well the marching band performed than the football team. In fact, being in the marching band, I remember that we would always dominate the half time, even when we marched in the Longhorn's football stadium in Austin, TX or in Aggie Land. So, my pride of Texas Tech was stemmed from my experiences in architecture school, Kappa Alpha Order, and the marching band.

The football team seemed to do well when they were not playing on national TV. When the limelight was on them, they would often lose. That is not the case this year. This year must be the year of "change." It is amazing that our team is now ranked 2nd in the nation at the time of this post.

It is not too often that I have the opportunity to gloat about how my alma mater's football team is doing. Oh, sure, they have won some upsets but they always seemed to be the spoiler instead of the team on top that everyone else is anxious to topple.

Hope you are enjoying your fall season. I know that watching the Red Raiders soar towards an udefeated season makes it a lot easier to deal with the crummy year that the Dallas Cowboys are having. The Dallas Cowboys.... that is a different story.

Monday, October 27, 2008

One of the few TV shows that I try to watch is “The Big Idea” with Donny Deutsch. He always seems to interview entrepreneurs who often have “rags to riches” stories to tell. Donny always has had inspiring and encouraging things to say about the economy and about how the American dream is still alive. Since it is filmed in NJ, I even sat in as part of the studio audience during one of his shows.

Not so now. Since the crash in Wall Street and the demise of several banks and brokerage firms earlier this month,

Everyone is in a panic. Recently, Donny interviewed another CNBC show host, Jim Cramer, to get his take on the current changes in the economy. Jim Cramer has a television show where his call-in audience greets him with a hearty “Boo-Yah from …..”

Donny called this time, “The Great Freeze.” Jim called it a “Dawn of a new age,..fortune,…trust.” Jim admitted that the fear is all consuming. “We are fearful because there are reasons to fear.”

In this “New America,” we are to stop living and consuming in excess with the foods, trips, and frivolous shopping. Instead, our standard of living will be much more like our parents. Stay home and watch the play-offs instead of flying to the stadium to see it in person, eat home cooked foods, and play board games with the family members instead of going on expensive vacations. These are drastic times that will cut to the bone of our spending habits. And it is to last for several years.

In the business arena, corporations will be laying off people. They will be restructuring their office facilities. Perhaps out-source more to contract laborers instead of taking on the higher overhead and (semi)permanent staffing.

Nothing is as dangerous in architecture as dealing with separated problems. If we split life into separated problems we split the possibilities to make good building art.
Alvar Aalto - architect

It is very difficult for corporations to make intelligent staffing changes without keeping good accounts of where the staff people’s desks, conference tables, files, chairs, bookcases,… exist. Also, they need to know what condition the equipment and furniture is in. Can some departments be relocated and reuse some of the furniture from a different department? What can be done with the existing furniture and equipment that the corporation no longer needs?

As the famous architect, Alvar Aaalto, discussed in the quote above, it is dangerous to deal with separated problems.

Our office creates an “asset management tool” that helps our clients by creating a “snap shot” of your staff members’ locations and your furniture and equipment locations. This brings the separated problems into a well organized package that will help your company stay out of danger’s way. Our clients end up having a floor plan with the furniture locations shown and with a printout of all the employees’ names, office names, furniture, equipment, and the condition of the assets. With this tool, our clients have an easier time at restructuring and reshaping their office facilities to meet these “fearful” times.

Don’t try to restructure your office without this “asset management tool.” You cannot afford to overlook this step. KATZ Communication has used Larry Lane’s services so they can keep track with all of there various company’s that are located throughout the country. He has also helped many other corporations such as Giro Centrale Vienna Bank, and Provincebanken in New York City. Call us at 212-594-2007 to have us begin this for your company today.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Experience in Architecture

It does not matter whether you want to renovate a home, office building, retail store, or even revitalize a has-been downtown, the one design ingredient that is imperative to use in order to make a lasting impression and cause the user to sense the significance of the “place” is Experience. Everyone has had their own experiences in life. Emotional triggers differ from one person to another. While one may perceive a space as being cozy and safe, another might view it as cramped and lonely. But, there are some social norms and proven architectural design tools that can be used to make a positive impact.

I was the project architect for Niketown, NY. The store is located on East 57th Street in Manhattan. It is next door to Tiffany’s and Trump’s famous Tower.

The first step that Nike Image Design made was deciding what they wanted their customers to experience while visiting this major flagship store. Some of the descriptive words and phrases that they came up with were: movement, nostalgia, uplifting aspirations, teamwork, connection with the community, progressive, technologically advanced thinking, and being decisive (“Just Do It”).

Nike also choreographed the experience that they wanted their customers to have. The customer was to experience the anticipation that one would have while entering a old monumental school gymnasium that was built in the 1930’s. An old gym was found in middle-America that had a large arch with windows and large vertical pilasters on either side of the arch. This became the architectural model to follow. As the customer approached the bronze revolving front doors, they would pass large antique lanterns and display boxes that looked a lot like ticket sales booths. After entering into the “Nike Museum” at the front of the store, they would pass through turnstiles in order to be in the ever-expanding 5 story atrium. The old scuffed up gym floor could be seen below a more modern elevated floor. Walls and ceilings were made to move on cue in order to have a “show” every 15 minutes. During the “show”, projected images of balls would appear to bounce off of walls, floors, ceilings and was synchronized with sounds of impact coming from speakers hidden in columns and resonating low tones under the floor. Customers would watch a brilliantly produced video during the “show” that continued to give the customer the experiences that Nike Image deliberately planned long before building this memorable place.

This building was to be like no other building in the world. Yet, it borrowed a lot of classical architectural elements to help tell its story. Curves were used in the public areas, including the shape of the elevator cabs, because they give one the feeling of accelerated movement. The façade had vertical flutes that led one’s eyes upward to the soaring flags that were on top of the building. Next time you visit the store, notice that the name of the building is PS 6453. If one was to dial that, they would spell NIKE on their phone.

Having a building that is so deeply based on creating an experience affected even those who were building it. Although the steel arching beams at the top of the atrium were welded, the steel fabricator dusted off their obsolete rivets manual and located black painted plastic caps exactly where they would be if the same steel beam was connected only with rivets – in order to maintain the 1930’s era experience.

When I talked with Donald Trump, the Duchess of York, and Spike Lee during the grand opening, it was evident that they were positively affected by the designed experience.

Experience is contagious. It affects all of us. Focus on how you want your customers and clients to feel and react while doing business with you and your company. Otherwise, you are just another forgettable commodity.

Monday, August 11, 2008

How do architects serve their clients?

Ever wanted to have a bigger office space, smaller office space, a new conference room and didn't know when to hire an architect or a contractor? Also, you might be curious as to what can an architect actually do for you besides draw up plans. Our radio show this week covers some of the basic services that you should expect from an architect. Check it out at

Friday, August 8, 2008

Systems to overcome uncertainty

Dan and Janice are school teachers at a public school in central New Jersey. Dan is a math teacher. Janice teaches reading. They fell hopelessly in love four years ago and decided that today would be their wedding date. When the Star Ledger asked them why they selected 8-8-08 as the date of their eternal bonding, they both said the same reasons but I bet that the hidden truths are much different between them. Here is how the paper reported how the question was answered. Janice said “We were always obsessed with triple numbers. One, it will be easy to remember. Two, its unique. And three, its fun.”

If Don was asked to answer this same question, in private quarters, here is probably what he would say if he was to be really truthful, “I was always obsessed with triple numbers. Janice started to go along with it just because she wanted more of our relationship. Besides, one, it will be easy to remember. Two, it will be easy to remember. And three, it will be easy to remember.”

While Don is crunching numbers that are much more complicated than remembering just the number eight, he probably doesn’t want to be jarred by the testing question from Janice ten years from now, “Honey, do you remember our anniversary date?” and not be able to easily switch mental gears from the Boolean theory to basic marriage survival data. He probably looks at it as a system. Simple and easy to manage changes.

Changes in anyone’s lives can be tough. With change, comes a lot of uncertainty and stress.

Larry has written a book to help relieve the stress from uncertainty for anyone who is planning to move/expand/shrink into a new office space. He brings out the main characters who are involved in making your office relocation a success, interviews each one, and points out important systems that cannot be overlook by the team and by you. This is a must read for everyone about to move into a new office. Contact to reserve your copy now!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tips at selecting the carpet for your office

Today, we discussed several important tips about commercial carpets. Listen to our radio show to find more about it while Larry interviews Lane Brettschneider in their Manhattan carpet showroom. Here is the link:
You can contact Lane's Floor Coverings & Interiors, Inc. at 212-532-5200 or 888-532-4343. Tell them you heard Lane on the radio when you call them.

Larry Lane

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tune in to learn where Commercial Real Estate investing is HOT!

Today, during our radio show, I interviewed a very successful commercial real estate investor, Mr. Ronald Duguid. Ronald is with Equity Capital Funding and is located at 245 Park Avenue, NY, NY.

Since I moved to NYC in 1986 from Dallas, Texas, it was interesting for me to hear about Ronald's current project that is in Dallas. Back in 1986, Dallas and much of the other parts of Texas, was suffering from oil prices dropping (doesn't sound that bad today though - does it?) and the savings and loans were going belly up. Nowadays, the market in Dallas seems to be hot for commercial real estate investing. Ronald also shared his thoughts of other "hot pockets" in other parts of the nation that also might be a good place to invest.

Ronald's story about his experience with an architect has a great lesson at the end of it. Find out more by linking to our radio show at.....

Monday, July 21, 2008

TV personality shares secrets to a great office space design

I was fortunate to interview MarkCharles Misilli during the writing of the book that will soon be published. The book will share important up-to-date information that everyone should know before they move into their next office space. You could loose a lot of time, have a miserable working environment, and expect delays in moving into your next office space if you don't get your hands on this book!
As you probably already know, MarkCharles is a TV celebrity interior designer who travels throughout the nation within his industry and designs high end commercial interiors using the secrets that he reveals in our latest radio show. Check it out at:

Don't miss our next radio show! It will be airing live at 5:30 pm, Monday, July 28th. We will be discussing more great topics of architecture that you can use in your own lives.

The photo above is Christie's executive office suite in Rockefeller Center, Manhattan. Designed by Lane Architecture + Design, PC.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Find out clues to choosing the right Commercial Real Estate Broker and Office

Our recent radio show shares important points that everyone should know BEFORE they move into their next office space.
Learn more about:
$ When should you start looking for an office space?
$ What tools are available to determine how much space you need and can afford?
$ What are the keys skills of a good broker?
$ What does an "offer" mean?
$ What does "leased out" mean?
$ What does "loss factor" mean?
And a lot more great stuff given to you in plain English by an expert, Ms. Olivia Wu.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Our talk radio show needs YOU!

Today, we had our third broadcast of our own radio show and discussed the mess that is at the New York City Department of Buildings. Check out our archived show at

Also, pencil into your calendar to call in on our live radio talk show at 616-595-2228. Let us know what your biggest nightmare with an architect was. We want to hear your stories.

Tune in next Monday, 5:30 pm EST at the to listen and to join in our next show.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mayhem in the NYC DOB

Today, I received an email from an expediter that files many of our projects at the New York City Department of Buildings. Since the change over from the old to the new building code and forms, the NYC DOB has been falling all over themselves trying to catch up.

This will undoubtly affect your future filings for permits in NYC!

Her letter to me reads:

"DOB is extremely busy these days and all of the lines are triple digits. All of the applications are changed. Especially TR_I forms.
It takes a lot longer to get anything done these days. Simple sign off takes a few weeks and we end up spending a lot of time locating the submitted folder.
Therefore my price is higher now. You should expect longer time for plan examination too.

The fire department checked on DOB building and issued violations. Now we can not even get to the main room on 3rd floor. Only 74 people could go in. We have to wait till some people leave and then the guard would let us in. Their TCO is expired too. People are making lines on the street from 5:30 am. They stop giving out tickets around noon. It never takes less than an hour or two just to get to the window for Q-matic tickets. "

I hope your week has gone better than hers.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend,


Monday, June 30, 2008

Up-to-the-Minute News

Our second radio program went on the air today. It covered some real up-to-date issues such as:

* Today is the last day to use the old forms when filing at the New York City Department of Buildings. If you waited until tomorrow to sign the old forms, you will have to get the new form drawn up starting tomorrow because the NYC DOB will not accept the old ones.
* The show also discussed when the new NYC building codes will be mandatory and not optional.
* We also discussed tips on replacing your old office furniture.

So, visit our archive of radio shows and listen in to learn more about these important issues at:

Monday, June 23, 2008

We Have Our Own Radio Show!

Our first program was aired today at 5:30 pm EST. On that 15 minute program, we disussed some tips about lighting your office space with an architectural lighting expert, Ms. C. Brooke Silber IES, LC, LEEDAP. Brooke is among the design team at Domingo Gonzalez Associates in New York, NY.

On that program you will learn answers to various questions such as:

  • Are clients who work in office spaces that are LEED certified able to work more efficiently?

  • What type of lighting is best for office spaces?

  • With the LED type of lighting all the rage now days, are they good for general lighting of office spaces?

  • And more...

Just go to the following web site to hear our program dated 6-23-08 for yourself.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

How To Get Rid of Used Office Furniture

I recently interviewed a furniture dealer in Manhattan named Adam Bacall. Adam shares some great information about how to get rid of used furniture.
Larry: Let me ask you another question. Let’s say that the tenant has some existing furniture. Maybe he doesn’t need to use all the existing furniture. Maybe he’s replacing it or relocating it somewhere else. What’s the best way to dispose of a tenant’s existing furniture?

Adam: Well, I always ask the question if my tenants have existing furniture. The reason I ask it is because my first question is always do you plan to reuse it? I didn’t mention it to you before but Office Furniture Heaven sells both refurbished office furniture and very well priced new office furniture. We typically marry that up for our clients which effectuates a savings of about 30% when they compare us to—I’ll say minimally 20, let’s start there and upwards of that. So we’re looking really to get them to save money. So my first question is do you have existing? If the answer is yes, that’s a reason for me to meet with them in their offices and it’s a reason to look at what they’ve got – let me look at the manufacturers, let me look at some old bills, let me look at what they’ve got because I may have something refurbished that might work or on a new basis that could work, that could relate well to their existing furniture, that they could take with them to a new office.

So the first thing is always to think about what you want to take with you and inevitably things like filing cabinets, you should certainly take with you. If they’re unsightly, you can put them in the back office or storage area. Things like metal pedestals that go under the desks, drawers, sets of drawers, those can be reused in workstations very often. So those are item that I wouldn’t just be so quick to throw away.

The best way to get rid of your tenant’s existing furniture as it’s built into every lease in Manhattan that all tenants need to deliver their space broom swept, what they have to do is they have to, number one, one option and the easiest option is do they know of a tenant in the building who might be moving in that could use their furniture? The way you ask that question is I would always speak to the superintendent of the building or the property management office, avail them of the fact that you have some furniture you want to sell—

Larry: Is that something that you do?

Adam: I actually recommend first because—I actually recommend first to see if the property manager of the building may know some tenants who are moving in that I’m not aware of. If that person knows some tenants, then there are some photographs that exist or an inventory that exists of the furniture, which, by the way, a tenant should automatically do no matter what because regardless of who they sell it to or if they decide to throw it out, they need an inventory. So it’s really important to hold on to your old invoices of the furniture you buy because it’s going to really help you specify and tell people what you have.

So the first and the easiest way is to give it to a tenant that’s moving in the building. It doesn’t happen that often but it happens on occasion.

In the absence of that, they can call somebody like me. We are very particular about the furniture we buy but if they have a couple of photographs and they have a picture of the typical recurring theme, I can let them know very quickly if it would warrant an onsite inspection or not.

If it doesn’t warrant an onsite inspection and it’s not for me, which may be the case, then they have the opportunity to donate the furniture. There are several companies that will take the donations if they have the room. While every company will charge you to remove it including the people you donate it to you, you get a tax credit for the donation. So that’s sort of like in the worst of circumstances, at least you can donate the furniture, someone else can use it and you know, you’re not just throwing it out and it’s a big expense.

Something to keep in mind is that, you know, liquidating your furniture and throwing it out doesn’t really confer a benefit to you. It just gets rid of your problem, you know, whereas donating it does or selling the furniture. There are always options like eBay and there are always options like Craigslist. The problem with that is someone has to manage that. If you have someone in your office who can manage that process and take the inquiries, that’s great. If not, I think your best bet, if you’re going liquidate or you’re going to throw it out, is to speak to your existing building management and have them do it. Once you hire an outside party to come into a building and it’s a union building or whatever it is, there are huge amounts of costs for carting and for lots of other things.

Larry: That’s a good point.

Adam: So a tenant should really look within, you know, look within. I think Jackwell said it, you know, look within first and see what your options are and then move to the outside from there.

Larry: I’m sure, Adam, that you could be a good resource for them to find where to liquidate it or to who to donate the furniture as well. Is that right?

Adam: Yeah, definitely. I have sources that—you know, people come to me and I would say, to be fair, nine times or eight and a half times out of 10, we don’t take the furniture that people are looking to sell. We’re looking for something very particular and people should keep this in mind when they buy the furniture because there are other folks like me.

When you’re buying furniture, it has to work if you’re going to reuse it for other projects, you know. So very often, it’s such a shame that you see lawyers throw out custom-built desks and custom-built conference tables that only are good in as-is-where-is condition. If they’re not if the space isn’t being released in the exact same—and it hardly ever is—in the exact same configuration, it makes no sense to have those kinds of things. What makes sense to have is modular furniture and I’m not just talking about workstations. I’m talking about desks that are handed or you have, you know, an extension coming off the desk that you could switch to the left or to the right hand side so that it can be reused.

Think about—when I’m looking to buy furniture for project purposes, I’m looking to resell it to another company like the company out there. So we want to get things that are consistent for the most part. If every office is different, it’s difficult.

Larry: Well, Adam, you mentioned that your clients or potential people that you work with can contact you for some resources. How can they get—how can they reach you?

Adam: Best way would be by email at We have a website and they would be able to email me there. I answer all my emails. I get back to everybody even if you’re selling me something. So I’m happy to talk to anybody.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rebuilding Lives

Jason Carr lived in a house next door to his parent’s house in Gulfport, Mississippi. He married his high school sweetheart, Katie, and together they were starting a family. On August 29, 2005, Katie drove Jason’s parents and their 4 year old daughter Sherrie (pin curls and all) to a neighboring town north of them to visit some relatives. That was the day the Hurricane Katrina hit the mainlands of America.

The hurricane chose Jason’s small town of Gulfport, Mississippi to first hit land and seemingly brought the Gulf of Mexico with it.

When I visited Jason and his family, Jason shared what exactly happened to his house when the storm came. Water began to flood his neighborhood, and then started to fill his house. He was trapped inside his house and found only one open window that he could climb out of just before being overtaken by the water inside his home. Jason must have swum and floated for over an hour before he could find land that was not covered by the flood. Thank goodness his family came out of this alive. Their house was another story.

I joined forces with a church group and was able to help Jason and his parents rebuild their homes. During that trip, I found that there was so much more to do in that area and that it will easily take a decade to rebuild the areas affected by that hurricane.

One of the best memories that I have from that trip is seeing the tears of joy in Katie’s eyes when she saw the archway that she asked me to build. Katie said, “My baby will finally be able to enjoy Christmas morning in our own home, I don’t know how to begin to thank you.” Everyone in our group took part in building the arch and it became an iconic symbol of service back to the community.

An archway of service that spans the gap that we all need to help fill is available to you too. Help families like Jason and Katie’s – without costing you a dime.

Lane Architecture + Design, P.C. is offering our clients an opportunity to give a tax deductible donation to help the families who lost their homes during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. We know that it has been almost 3 years since this monster wave came crashing into Gulfport, Mississippi and then wiped out much around New Orleans. But, the area is still in need of our help today.

We will donate up to $300 in our client’s name for every client that begins a new project with us before August 29, 2008 (exactly 3 years after the devastating day of Hurricane Katrina). Call us at 212-594-2007 to learn more about this opportunity and to begin rebuilding another family’s home who needs desperately needs their home back while having your architectural needs fulfilled at the same time. We all gain when we give.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pick you team wisely

This a story to illustrate how you can save money and time.

Our office got a call a few months ago from a general contractor (GC). He was referred to us from another subcontractor that we worked with on another project. He was a friend of our client-to-be and needed our office to draw up the plans of a small renovation that the client asked him to build. Although it is not uncommon that we get referrals this way, it is still the wrong way to find an architect. It is not different than getting the cart before the horse. There are several reasons that this is not the best way to pick your team. One reason is because the GC will never be able to get permits for the renovation work before receiving the approved application for the building permit that cannot be obtained without a set of drawings signed and sealed by an architect (or an engineer). Another reason is because the client is locked into using a GC at their possibly inflated cost because they did not have 3 or 4 GC’s bid the job.

During our first meeting with the GC and the client, we learned that the GC was unfamiliar with the process that he should already know in order to obtain permits in NYC. One major item that was missing was the GC’s tracking number. (Call us to explain a tracking number at 212-594-2007 if you need to know. Hint – it is a number that the New York City Department of Buildings “DOB” issues when they are removed from almost all liabilities).

Throughout the design process, our office “coached” the GC along the way to get his tracking number. We also referred him to other people that could obtain it for him. It would be good for this GC to do the work because they already have the client's trust and because it would be difficult to convince any GC in our roladex to bid this project since it is so small in scope.

After the application for the construction permit has been approved and it is now time for the GC to use his tracking number to “pull” the permits and get starting with the construction, our office got a call from the client saying that they have “contractor problems” because the GC still does not have a tracking number. Now they are asking us to offer names of other GC’s (with tracking numbers) so the construction does not need to be delayed any longer. The process of finding a GC to build this small project, walking them through the site, waiting for their bids to be returned, analyze the bids, make recommendations to the client, and choosing the GC will take at least 3 more weeks. This would not have happened if the client did not start choosing their GC and then the rest of their team at the beginning.

Moral of this story, find your architect first, let the architect help you find 3 or 4 GC’s earlier in the process to bid the job while the architect’s drawings are being reviewed for a building permit – not afterwards. You will save a lot of time and money.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Secrets to a Succesful Green Office Buildng Exposed by Termites

Since our focus today is on the earth and we are officially celebrating "Earth Day," I wanted to share how others are using nature to learn how to be more eco-friendly....

There is an office building in Harare, Zimbabwe named the Eastgate Centre that uses less than 10% of the energy of a conventional office builidng. This helps the management of the building save $3.5 million a year. It does this because it was designed and built to function like Termite mounds.

Evidently, termites survive only if the inside of their homes maintains a constant 87 degrees F. For many professionals, it would be quite a challenge to design a sustainable building to maintain this constant temperature while the outside temperature fluxuates from a frigid 35 degrees F at night to a blistering 104 degrees during the day. But, the termites have it all figured out by using openings at the bottom of their mounds that can be opened or closed to maintain the flow of air that is directed through their living areas and expelled up through the top of the mount.

In order to acheive this in the office building (but with cooler indoor temperatures), the architect and engineer designed the building with fans at the first floor that continuously draws air inside the building. The air is directed up through ducts that supply the fresh air into the spaces of each floor. Then, the air is exhausted through ports in the ceilings of each floor.

So, next time you see a bug that seems like a unwanted pest, consider how we might learn from them and they might actually become a desired guest. (Unless they are eating your picnic lunch).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ground Zero Not in Additional Danger

The New York Post had a cover story titled, "Free-Dumb Tower" on Friday, April 18, 2008. In the article, they discussed how two sets of blueprints (actually, blueprints have been broadly replaced with plots and Digital prints for at least a decade now - but I guess we should not expect the Post to get that right either) for the planned Freedom Tower were discovered in a SoHo trash bin by some homeless guy. On that same day, there were numerous reports on the TV and radio where the reporter or DJ would sensationalize the dangers of how terrorists would just "drool" over such a stupid miss-hap.

Our newsletter, titled "LAD Sketch Pad" had an article about how the architect mistakenly posted security sensitive architectural drawings of the proposed embassy to built in Bagdad. This mistake, I can see would be a dumb act to follow. But having the drawings of the Freedom Tower found in a trash can does not press my buttons the same way.

After 9-11, the security of NYC has tightened but the access of drawings at the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) still remains available to anyone with the proper identification. It is not clear if the DOB protects the sight of drawings such as this building of such publicity, but for most buildings in the city, all one needs to do is visit the NYC DOB's website to view all sorts of important data of any building in the city.

Some of these tid bits of information include: the certificate of occupancy that tells how many stories the building is, what uses are allowed on each floor, how many people can occupy each floor, what the maximum structural live load that is allowed on each floor, and the block/lot address location of the building. You can also find out what architect and/or engineer signed and sealed the drawings and forms that were filed at the DOB for each trade (plumbing, mechanical, general construction) of each building. Unfortunately, it is also very easy for a low paid draftsman at any of these architectural or engineering offices to back up computer drawings of the proposed building onto a portable thumb drive and then distribute it anyway that they see fit. So, finding the drawings in a trash can is the least of our troubles.

This latest story will profit the media and possibly the homeless man that found the drawings long before any terrorist attempts to have access to those misplaced papers.

Oh, by the way, if you are still going to be uneasy about terrorist having access to drawings of your home or office building. Then rest easy, many drawings of the existing buildings in NYC have somehow vanished in the past two or three decades. They are not anywhere to be found. The paper documents and the micorfilm copies of the drawings and forms are often of renovation projects within existing buildings. Since they are renovations and not proposed new buildings, the existing superstructure and other supporting trades are not shown in any accurate and dependable detail.

So, if someone with ill-will intensions tried to use these possibly inaccurate drawings, they might find themselves punching through your neighbor's walls with plumbing risers instead of through your apartment or office space.