Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Break Design Inspirations

I spent some time outdoors over Spring Break going for walks at my favorite park, and working in my yard.  The beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me during this time of year when trees and flowers start to awaken from their long winter's sleep into the most brilliant colors.  Along the walking trail, I would pass a row of bright "yellow bell" bushes and lots of pretty buttercups and tulips.  The Dogwood trees,  the Bradford Pear trees, and the Cherry trees bloomed beautiful fluffy whites and lacy pinks, while other trees were just beginning to sprout their tender, green leaves.  The grass looked greener, and the sky was even bluer.  Singing birds were making their Spring debut in coats of reds, yellows, oranges, and blues.  All of the beautiful sights and sounds of Spring are inspiring to me.  Everything looks so fresh and new. It is a beautiful reminder in a world where we have seen our share of the ugliness of war, and the horror of natural disasters, that Jesus is alive and well!  I am thankful to have opportunities to slow down and enjoy the beauty and the sound of His wonderful creation.   

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Visit to the "Greenest" Hotel in America

Today, our Principles and Elements of Design class traveled to Greensboro to tour the “greenest” hotel in America.  Our tour of the Proximity Hotel was not only a fun diversion from our regular classroom setting, but we were able to see firsthand the sustainable design principles that we’ve studied this year as they were put into practice.  The trip also served as an introduction for our upcoming commercial design project.  We began the afternoon with a delicious meal at the Print Works Bistro followed by a personal tour of the hotel and restaurant.  It is hard to imagine that such a beautiful facility  could also be so good for the environment.  The one important fact that I carried away from our trip today is that conservation doesn’t have to mean deprivation!

The Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro are named for two Greensboro cotton mills, the Proximity Cotton Mill and the Proximity Print Works.  These cut and sew factories were part of Cone Mills, with more than a century of history in the textile industry.  Cone Mills was known as the world’s largest manufacturer of denim fabric and the United States’ largest printer of home-furnishing fabrics.  The design of the hotel was modeled after these cut and sew factories that were a central part of Greensboro's economy until the early 1970s.  I really appreciated the industrial architectural detailing such as the exposed ceilings and concrete walls, which were softened with lots of luxurious textiles in the form of draperies, carpet, and upholstery fabrics.  I especially liked the sleek, contemporary furnishings and artwork seen throughout the hotel.  The furniture was manufactured by a local furniture company, and local artist, Chip Holton, was commissioned to compose all of the artwork.

At first glance, the hotel may appear to be like any other luxurious, four-diamond hotel that you may have seen, but as you tour the facility you quickly learn that there was a great amount of thought that went into every detail of constructing this exceptional hotel.  The president of the hotel, Dennis Quaintance, says that we should filter every design decision by asking ourselves two questions, “How might this decision affect the physical world?” and “How might this decision affect the social world?”  His team applied those filters to every detail of this building.  Using the guidelines of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, the Proximity was awarded the LEED Platinum award which is the highest rating given by the environmental group.

The following are just a few of the over 70 sustainable practices that we were able to observe at the Proximity Hotel:

.  The building uses 41% less energy than a conventional hotel/restaurant by using ultra efficient materials and the latest construction technology.
.  The sun’s energy heats hot water with 100 solar panels covering the 4,000 square feet of rooftop (enough hot water for a hundred homes).  This heats around 60% of the water for both the hotel and restaurant.
.  Abundant natural lighting, including large energy-efficient “operable” windows, connects guests to the outdoors by achieving a direct line of sight to the outdoor environment for more than 97% of all regularly occupied spaces.
.  Water usage has been reduced by 33% by installing high-efficiency Kohler plumbing fixtures, saving two million gallons of water the first year.
.  Low-emitting volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, adhesives, carpets, etc reduces indoor air contamination.
.  Bicycles are available for guests to ride on the nearby five-mile greenway.

The ultimate goal of the hotel is that none of the sustainable practices will cause any sacrifice in comfort for the guests.  According to the hotel’s brochure, the Proximity aims to “Make the world a better place to live by providing our guests with the highest quality food, drink, and accommodations at a good value”.   After touring the hotel today, it appears that they are having no problem meeting that goal.  In fact, I wouldn't mind if my next visit to the Proximity finds me among those lucky guests! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Drawing a Chest of Drawers in AutoCAD

Below,  is an example of a chest of drawers I recently drew in AutoCAD class.  I began the drawing by making a line that was 40 inches long.  The next several steps involved offsetting the lines to draw the bottom of the dresser.  I used the rectangle command to make the drawers.  To draw the hardware, I had to use the copy command and made sure the base point was in the upper right-hand corner of the drawer.  To make the rounded edges at the top and the bottom of the chest, I used the fill-it command. I also had to use the arc command to make the two arcs at the top and bottom of the chest.  We actually made the foot for this chest on another day, and copied it onto the completed drawing.

When I was in school many years ago, there were no computers, so this is all very new and very high-tech for me!  I am always relieved and very happy everytime I complete a drawing and it actually looks like the original handout that we were given in class!