Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tex-Mex III

This has been a work in progress for a while, if you can imagin it, it has happend on this one.

Dining Area "D"

Dining Area "C"

Dining Area "A"

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Sorry for the delays in posting new material, afraid that I've been busy studying for the LEED NC exam the past couple of weeks. Hear that it will be entertaining to take. Will be taking the exam at 9:00am Thursday October 16.

Have several posting started just need to check them one last time and post. Will be back up to speed on postings week of October 27.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Letter to fellow Interior Designers in Mississippi;

Over the past few days there are a couple of issues which have come to light which affect your ability to practice as an Interior Designer, as well as management of your practice. Over the past couple of months the Governors Tax Study Commission has issued a draft report of their findings. Note that before these items can take effect, they must be passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by the Governor.


- Motor Vehicle Towing
- Mini-Warehouse
- Interior Design Services
- Graphic Design Services
- Pet Grooming
- Nail Services and Tanning Services
- And so on, this item is included for your reference

Under Mississippi Code Chapter 07 Design, Engineering and other Professional Services, these services are exempt from tax when not related to sales of tangible property Section 27-65-17, services Section 27-65-23 or activities taxable by Section 27-65-21. All of these items are included for your reference. Upon review of the various sections mentioned above, it would follow logic that professional services would be exempt. But at the state level we are not legislated or recognized as such.

Interior Designers generally practice one of two methods; the first of which only professional services are provided as the instrument of service delivery. A second method is a combination of professional services along with retail sales.

Where tangible personal property has changed hands, the appropriate taxes have been collected and remitted to the state. Under the proposed changes, you would now have to pay taxes on professional fees collected from your clients. It appears that this would also be the case for architectural firms on their portion of fees collected for interior design services. Unless such services are not promoted or billed as such services. In general this would provide an additional level of burden on the firm’s, owners and business managers with regards to record keeping and filing on these taxes.

While this material is only from a draft report of the Governors Tax Study Commission, it should reemphasize to us the importance of active involvement in the political process. These findings have a long road ahead before they can be signed into law, but they demand our attention now.

As design professionals, you’re aware of how important the protection of the public’s health, safety and welfare is. On a daily bases you are entrusted to make decisions based on your education, training and interpretation of codes which affect our state’s major assets-its citizens. From youngest to oldest, we are entrusted to safeguard their well being, by providing spaces which ensure that their lives are enhanced.

For those of you whose practice includes tenant build-out projects, your ability to perform such services has been greatly reduced. On May 23, 2008, the Mississippi State Board of Architecture issued an opinion to Mississippi Building Officials outlining those who can and cannot provide such services.

If a tenant space is within a building and less than 5,000 sq. ft. in scope, and the building itself is larger than 5,000 sq. ft., it must be designed by an architect licensed by the State of Mississippi. For those of you who have not heard about this, a copy of the board’s letter and brochure are attached for your review. So unless it’s 5,000 sq. ft. or less for both, and unless you work for an architectural firm, you’re out of business.

As a group, it’s time for us to take control of our profession and our destiny. Are we going to let the select few dictate what we can and cannot do? True, we have to work with them to reach our end goal, the protection of the public’s health safety and welfare, but when one or both sides of this equation is saying one thing and doing another something has to give.

Over the past few years we have reached out to the design community in our state, AIA and The Mississippi State Board of Architecture. We have informed them of our thoughts and shared with them our legislation. We have met with them, received their verbal comments but to date we have yet to receive any written comments. (These are the colleagues in the design profession which we work with on a daily bases to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of the public is protect.)

At this point, it appears that we were strung along to slow down these legislative efforts in hope that we would lose interest and go away. For those who don’t know, AIA national position holds that those who are qualified, through education and training to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public, are architects and engineers.

As a unified group, we are going to have to inform and educate the public and elected officials with regards to this legislation. Or let a select few continue to dictate the direction of those who are the “chosen ones”.

This past legislative session, there was legislation introduced by a House member. This was done on their own initiative seeing the need for such legislation. Though we got credit for it, and not doing what we said we would do and hold off of legislative efforts in 2008.

Remember the old saying “timing is everything”? That is true now. We can say that with the approach of the 2009 legislative session, we will be there, have sponsors to introduce legislation in both chambers and will move this cause forward.

It will also be our position that if the state during these tough financial times needs the additional tax funds on a short term, we will gladly support the Governor’s Tax Study Commissions report but only if it’s equal taxation among all design professionals.

Take a moment, take a stand for what you feel is right and join us in this effort to protect health, safety and welfare of those close to us and those who will follow us in the future.

Is it possibly to take something controversial, and make it a leader within the community?

Some building type provide great concern and opposition within communities such as detention facilities. Over the pas several years, I've worked on a County Adult Detention Center (ADC). This facility will replace one which was built in the early 1970's, and has sense outlived its usefulness. There has been some opposition to the project and its proposed site.

A concerned citizens group has come out in opposition to the proposed project site. The local municipality has approved the site which has lead to court action by the citizens group. After an extended process and change of venue for the hearing, the court system has finally ruled in favor of the county's proposed site.

Site is located just outside the central business district west of the existing ADC on what was once an elementary school site. Site is one block off a main east west corridor and adjacent to a major north south corridor. An one point the site was just south of a private elementary school which was destroyed during hurricane Katrina, with no current plans of rebuilding.

One of the difficulties with any site selection for this type of facility, state law requires county detention facilities to be located within the county seat. Couple of years ago there was local private legislation introduced to relocated the ADC into the county, but a local legislator blocked the measure thinking that the county was wanting to put the facility in town, which they are now forced to do.

County seat is basically land locked by water on two sides and other communities surrounding its other sides. Within city limits selection is very limited due to several factors of which flooding is the major one. Being a coastal community a major consideration to take into account is elevation above sea level and storm surge.

As with most things in life, we must look for the good which can come from something which is even controversial. The location and type of structure could allow the facility to become a leader within the community by thinking outside the box with this type of facility.

From what I understand it’s not necessarily the ADC but the community work center (CWC) which has caused the most objections. One of the things which I’ve always heard was passers-by do not like traveling down Telephone Road and seeing them outside weight training and playing basketball. To screen the ADC from the street, the inmate exercise yards are surrounded by a twelve foot high masonry wall at the perimeter, and then within this defined space, inmate exercise yards are separated by twelve foot security fence.

One thing which we can do is create a landscape buffer between north south corridor and the ADC. This buffer zone would also include an area in front of the CWC. This “Park” is seen as a natural setting, not necessarily a public spot, although it could be utilized by those families visiting or waiting at the ADC. Vegetation and trees would be species indigenous to the area. This would create a setting at a smaller to the natural river system which exists just a little ways from the site. The water feature would serve two functions. It would act as storm water retention, but would also allow some water to slowly filter through the ground and assist with the recharging of the local aquifer.

An issue/opportunity we have will be the two+/- acre roof scape. This provides an opportunity to address a couple of issues which would benefit the County and Citizens long range. As we are well aware, energy costs are now taking more of a toll on everyone’s budgets and there seems to be no end in sight. The structure is in place to support it and we should consider making the roof a vegetative roof. Life expectancy of this type of system is about thirty years.

This would benefit the County by reducing the equipment required to heat and cool the ADC by some where in the range of 20% to 30%. This would reduce the energy demand of the facility. Reduce heat island effect of facility on its surroundings. The technology behind the system (from deck up) is well developed and proven.

Another issue which will have to be addressed will be storm water run-off. This system also acts as a retention basin and would reduce the time of run-off entering the system. A portion of the water would be retained by the roof for irrigation of the vegetation on the roof.

With this option, and the incorporation of the landscape buffer, we could create an “avian sanctuary” within the city limits.

Some early thoughts on a work in progress.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

First Class:

This is the syllabus and class schedule for the first class I assisted with. An yes the students treated us the same way that I have done before class. This was a nice learning process got to help develop the course material and see how the other side (educational) works. Class had twenty-four junior level design students.

If it were to work-out again, I believe that it would be a nice challenge to teach another class. A small way of giving back to the profession, and the future professionals.

"Have we forgotten the lessons we learned in kindergarten?"

In 1986 Robert Fulghum published a book “All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten” in which he pointed out those things which he learned in kindergarten:

  • Share everything.
  • Play Fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and mike are good for your.Live a blanced life-learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  • Wonder. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we re all like that.
    - Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup-they all die. So do we.
  • And remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned -- the biggest word of all -- Look.
  • Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule, and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and quality and sane living.
  • Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
  • And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

I've been looking for a format to coninue my practice study, so I think that it should follow loosely this format, in story form, until I get sidetracked.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Edifice to the Double Wide Trailer

We have this edifice which represents sound management practices; it’s a concrete sidewalk which leads to nothing. It leads to nothing now but at one time it leads to a double wide job trailer which was going to house a component of the firm.

This was not a grand double wide, but one like most which had seen better days. With it’s broken windows and duct tap on the walls. Like most things there was a grand vision behind the idea, but was it wise management decision?

Much like war, business decisions are based on sound decisions, based on analysis of market data, demand, planning, long range business plan and execution. Not like firing a scud missile and then trying to aim it once it’s in flight.

As you may now guess, the double wide trailer was not clearly thought out or a success. Once you have the trailer in place with its walk, there are still many things which need to be put in place to support it. Utilities have to be installed to support life functions of those who will inhabit it. They will also need access to the tools which they to use to perform their task to keep things moving forward. And, as you may now also guess, that was more expensive than thought.

We all make decisions on a whim, not to say that some are not good ones, but more likely than not they fall short of the mark. Now technology is viewed in the same light as the double wide trailer.

To be on the technology edge and not still using stone tablets and chiseled is a tough decision for anyone to make. This shooting from the hip should not be the same management process for making decisions about this.

For a period of time (around eight years) the most production was put out on the oldest and slowest computer in house. Pressed into service in the summer of 1999, this machine served loyally and faithfully until fall of 2007. At which time it was replaced with a newer old machine.

With the rage of the latest bim software, (a little behind the time for some) and all that it will do, informed decisions still need to be made on how to implement this into the work place. Resources have been used to acquire, train and implement its use. But, they have fallen short of the goal even with the younger generations.

Between the generations there seems to e some misunderstanding about what it will do. Boomer’s think that it will turn the tide of battle and will boost the momentum forward. It will do more with less, and anyone can run it. Gen X & Y understand it and all it will do. They will be able to work much the way they have grown up-in a digital, three-dimensional world.

There is one factor that escapes all the generation’s, you can have the fastest machine with latest software, and when operator sits down in front of it, it is only as good as the knowledge of it’s operator. Integration needs to be a uniform process where a knowledge base comes along also.

Least we forget the lessons learned, knowledge and continued training are what shape our future. Unless we continue to invest in those resources and assets which day-in and day-out has gotten us through the battle and on to the next one? We are doomed to repeat lessons from the past.

Let us not forget our sidewalk which leads to no where.