On Saturday, January 12th from 10am-2pm the YAF Philly partnered with local architecture firm Haley Donovan and business Benjamin's Desk to host a design charrette. But this wasn't your typical pie in the sky design competition. Benjamin's Desk had a real world abstract to offer up and was willing to let designers into their space to help them solve it. The prompt: Expand their co-working space to the 8th floor of their current address - 1701 Walnut St. Since they are a start-up, non-niche space, there were a number of wants & needs, but a very limited budget. In other words: pragmatic constraints.
In total, 12 architects and designers answered the call and were treated to a day very different from their typical office routine. After an obligatory breakfast session to wake everyone up, Mike Maher (co-founder of BD) ran through the previously stated wants, needs and concerns for future growth. He then led a tour of the pre-demo space, which many of the participants had never experienced before. It wasn't in bad shape by any means, but any space that has been empty for several years is very different from the clean slate that most designers are presented with.
Once everyone had the chance to grasp the concept, they were split into inter-disciplinary teams and given 2 hours to design. YAF Philly and Haley Donovan served as mentors to the less experienced designers, as they asked questions about how to approach the process or what we thought of proposed solutions. At the end of the charrette session, each team (there were 3 total) was given the chance to present their ideas to a real client.
Every team brought something different to the space, used different materials and designed unique layouts that catered to a co-working model. Since this was an exercise that was meant to be fun, BD was generous enough to award all participants with free day passes, as well as giving some superlatives.
The award for Best Overall presentation went to Team #1 which consisted of members: Ian Leibovici, co-owner of Paperweight Design Studios in Philadelphia, Steve Seminelli, intern architect at JDavis Architects and Shila Griffith, Designer at Peter Zimmerman Architects. See their concept HERE.
Visiting Critic is a continuing series of thought provoking observations from architectural insider Jeffrey Pastva - Editor in Chief at YAF Connection, Communications Director for the AIA National Young Architects Forum and a Project Architect at JDavis in Philadelphia. His critical eye will cover everything from the state of architectural education to the future fate of the profession. Expect ideas in your inbox bi-weekly.