Miami Green Homes


Architects versus developers (an architects perspective):

Ideas versus money. That is about the simplest way to distinguish the two and also the easiest way to understand why these two groups need each other. While overlap is of course possible, it is not likely. Developers frequently look at a potential project and create a general concept based on location and possible use of the land. Architects then provide a design concept to realize that opportunity and eventually the detailed plans to actually build the initial vision of the developer. Most projects, residential, commercial or otherwise, were created by the synergy of these two groups.

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An Architect as developer has solved the financial puzzle and can move forward not just with the idea and concept, but the execution of the project as well; a developer as architect first must obtain required licenses and typically look beyond function of the project to integration of concept into a larger scope and environment.

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Planners versus architects (an architects perspective):

When looking closer into the world of design, one will find a distinction between planners and architects. While Architects may act and function as planners, the reverse is generally not true. Urban planners are trained to focus on a larger picture and incorporate varying functions of a place. These functions may include buildings and other structures, but also consider infrastructure and landscape concepts and the use of structures. In short, it is urban planners who try to figure out what happens where. Residential living mixed with industrial production? Large trucks and trains mixed with pedestrians and bicyclists? Maybe not a good mix and match…

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https://www.planetizen.com/node/68464

There are many schools of thought about proper planning and most of us are living in the result of a certain theory in time that won over another idea. Compact live/work areas typically do not blend with strip malls and suburban single family home planning. High density downtowns will not blend with agricultural production – even though urban farming is a strong and functioning concept!

Once the general ideas have been laid out, the architect typically takes over to designing the actual buildings and structures. To learn more about planning: Jane Jacobs, smart cities and CNU may are good starting points.

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The Role(s) of the Architects – what we really do

 

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Let’s keep the role and influence of the individual architect a little reasonable and in perspective here. There are so many varying aspects of architecture employment. Few actually design, especially design all the time. Most are executing some sort construction documents or other legal text relevant to the building at hand, research materials or local building and zoning code. When design actually happens, it is a very rewarding for most. So design, as conceived as the main role of the architect by the public, is in fact a rather small aspect of the overall practice.

In general the role of the licensed architect, is to orchestrate a number of parts required for the project into a coherent fashion to the success of said project. Like the CEO of a company, the architect is the leader of the project. This holds true during the planning and design phases, and shifts during the actual construction phase. Here the architect takes an observatory role, rather than a leading role within the project team.

What are the typical parts of a design team? Every project is a little different, but most include the owner, the client, a group of engineers and the staff of the architect itself.

Beyond leading the above noted project, there are many roles within an architectural practice. Like any business, staff relating to the legal operation, such as accounting, marketing, etc. are required but may be considered elsewhere. As for the actual architectural breakdown, here are key positions within an architectural firm. The big three are:

Draftsperson and production staff are generally operating software to literally produce the drawings that communicate the design intent and any details required for construction. This used to be hand drafting, but those days are long gone.  Largest portion of the architectural practice, consumes the most time.

Designer – coveted spot. Actually design the project. Most creative and theoretic aspect of architecture.

Project manager – little design, lots of production, lots of research and written texts. Overall understanding of project, contracts, coordination with others. Most engaging portion of the practice.



Best Miami Residential Architects list, March 2018 – ELA Studio/SEA @ #5

Excellent reference list by Miami Architects for their best residential architects list.

Thank you for the recognition. This is a great list with many esteemed colleagues. I am blessed and proud to be among them. Our quality and team approach really make every project great!

http://www.miamiarchitect.org/the-best-residential-architects-in-miami/

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Ready to start your own project journey with ELA Studio?



Historic Coral Gables residence renovation by S.E.A.

Nicely completed historic renovation in Coral Gables, Florida. Design by Sebastian Eilert and Dan Lewis of Sebastian Eilert Architecture, build by Split Level Construction.

Find a slideshow and more information on the frims comany site:



Design highlights. The Bathroom:

Bathrooms. European design trends tell us that this space is more important than the kitchen when allocating space. The spa-life within one’s own four walls has an increased importance in home remodeling as well as new construction.

Basic function remains a budget favorite. Starting on the small or standard end of the spectrum, my personal preference is a 6×8 bathroom over a standard 5×8, which is also fine. This dimension results from a standard low tub of 60” x 30”. These tubs present the most cost efficient way to do a bathroom, with the tub starting at $250. These tubs are great for families with small children or to bathe small to mid size pets…but pretty much useless otherwise.

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On to the question then of tub versus shower. In lieu of the above mentioned builder special tub, most projects will opt for a nice size shower. Indeed a 30” by 60” shower is very generous, though a little deep. I like to go a little wider to at least 42” with a minimum depth of 48”. Access to the shower is another item to be considered. Building code requires that water from the shower remains within the shower boundary. To achieve this, most projects require a basic lip at the edge of the shower, typically 4” tall to step over. This lip will then also serve as the base for a glass enclosure, if chosen. The sleeker alternative to the lip edge is a recessed edge or sloped approach. The latter is a favorite for age in place solutions, as it allows easy access for a wheelchair, if necessary. Either of these 2 options must be considered during planning stages and do depend on the possibility of lowering the floor in the shower area.

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Back to the tub. In our practice the tub is a vanishing commodity, both in new construction and certainly in renovations. If a tub is requested and enough space can be allocated, free standing soaking tubs, over jetted or drop-in Jacuzzi tubs are preferred. These tubs can create a wonderful feature for any project and provide a sanctuary within the home. One last word on tubs: it remains a good idea to have at least one tub in the home for the above noted uses.

After selection of tub versus shower, the next item to consider is the toilet. In the standard size space, I prefer to locate it next to the tub or shower for the added feel of space. If space allows, a separate toilet room is a great feature for obvious sound and smell separation. The code required spacing for a toilet is 15” on center to each side and under ADA (Americans with Disability Act – while not required for residential projects, a good guideline for accessible living) requires 48” clear space in front. I prefer a 18” by 60” layout, which is a lot more comfortable.

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Finally, the sink and counter must be considered. The following items should be addressed: counter material (traditional marble or granite, quartz, composite, etc.), sink type (drop in, under mount, vessel or integrated), faucet location (on counter or out of wall), vanity design (floating, standard full height or counter only) and of course number of sinks. In a standard bathroom a single sink with a wall mount faucet on a standard cabinet is my preference; it optimizes use of the counter and storage under the sink. When space allows, 2 sinks facing each other create a great “his and hers” layout and the incorporated toilet room noted above likely gives more space to one side, creating a good amount of space to use as a make-up station or simple extra counter space.

I do like integrated sink designs for ease of maintenance, but any of the above selections will do – be mindful when selecting a vessel sink to lower the counter to accommodate proper height of the sink edge. Also be considerate of faucet selection; nothing worse than a faucet that is too short or too low to get your hands under.

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Two items are frequently missed when designing a bathroom. 1. A medicine cabinet for additional storage – preferred off to the side as not to become the main mirror, and 2. Lighting. While overhead lighting is great to illuminate the space, a light source from the front is preferred for make-up, shaving and other uses involving your face; a combination of both is my favorite.



Design highlights. The Dining Room:

The dining room is becoming an increasingly extinct animal, the formal dining room, that is. In recent years very few projects in our practice, new homes or renovations, included this once mandatory space. While the dining table is certainly a key feature of any home, the formal space to host it, is not.

The first question to answer when thinking about the dining room, is to identify the need and want of the user. Large families, extended families and those seeking to maintain traditional schedules may want to consider keeping this designated space. Most however, see the formal dining room as a space used 2-3 times a year, usually for Thanksgiving and during the holidays with the rest of the year serving as glorified storage.

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For the latter, the dining room has evolved into an open concept space planning that is hosting the table, much more integrated into the other living areas. It is not an isolated space, but rather part of the overall daily use of space. Here the dining table serves many functions over the actual room. Homework, breakfast, dinner, family meetings… all gather around this space before moving over to the couch next to it.

As a further evolution, we have done projects that incorporated a table height seating area into a kitchen island. This is a great alternative for areas with limited space. See our post on kitchens, for more.

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If you decide to keep the formal dining room space, there are a few considerations to address. First, what is the size of the table for maximum use. Typically a table is in daily use for a small number of people, but when gatherings occur, this number can easily double or triple: Plan for the maximum “extended” table to ensure that everyone can move around the chairs comfortably. A chair position should be around 18” to the back with at least another 24” when someone is sitting in it and another wants to pass behind. A 10 person dining table should be 3’- 4’ wide and about 10’ long. Plus seating at each end, makes the preferred minimum size for a dining room 18’ long. The more people are anticipated, this can easily grow to 24’. A ratio of 2 to 3, length to width provides a good balance.

Next consider the butler or other form of commode to be located at either the head end or the side, depending on layout. Will this be used for fine china storage? Serving for events? Other storage? Enough space must be allocated for furniture and access accordingly.

Finally, consider lighting. A great dining room wants a great chandelier. In addition to the center piece, I also like to include recessed lighting at the perimeter, roughly over the chairs. This should be on a separate, dimmable switch to provide additional or ambient lighting for the space.