May 13, 2015

The Year of the Advocate: Pro Bono and the Genius Loci

Pro bono, civic, and community projects have always been deeply embedded in the culture of our firm. We wholeheartedly believe that as architects, we have a distinct responsibility to serve and strengthen our community. But the value of pro bono work runs deeper than the neighborhoods it touches, it has transformed and elevated our very profession. Pro bono projects are a powerful medium for architectural firms to grow and empower leadership and heighten awareness of local expertise that can often be overshadowed. Too often we hear bemoaning around awarding projects to outside architects.

LeBron said it best, “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.” In Cleveland, “being of this place” means rolling up your sleeves, and chasing what you want. For Cleveland architects specifically, it means fueling ourselves (and each other) to rise up, advocate for architecture, and serve our city.

Consider the following article I wrote for AIA Cleveland as a call to our local design community - to challenge the notion of pro bono work being categorized as simply “other”, “charity” or “unpaid” projects, but rather as an ingrained part of architectural practice.


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Pro Bono and the Genius Loci

Jack Bialosky, Jr., AIA Cleveland President-Elect

For AIA, this year is intended to be "the year of the advocate". The recent national "I Look Up" ad campaign has engendered comments, both positive and negative, about architecture and advocacy (for more information on the campaign, read AIA Cleveland President Aaron Hill's recent article Why "Looking Up" Is Important). It is good that there are strong feelings about this, especially if you ascribe to the theory that any press is good press. But more importantly, the campaign has empowered dispersed dialogues to surface as one national conversation.

Personally, I believe that every year should be the year of the advocate for architects and architecture. As President-Elect, and a fairly new comer (or late returner) to active duty in AIA Cleveland, I have been educating myself on the issues that our local members prioritize as the most relevant and important to our community. In response to our recent member survey, most of the respondents felt that one of AIA Cleveland's most important roles was to advocate for local architects. Many architects feel they have lost power, voice and position as leaders of the built environment. Furthermore, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio have suffered for years from a low self-image which has fueled a desire for outside experts. Compounded by an economic downturn spanning half a decade, this triple-whammy has left some architects in our community feeling under-appreciated and unable to compete for important commissions in their own market.

There have been past efforts at advocacy for local architects. The Design Forum of Cleveland was founded in 2006 as a multi-disciplinary organization with the goals of improving awareness of area design professional services, increasing the consumption of area design professional services, and enhancing and sustaining the professional careers within the local design community. The forum sought to educate area leaders on the quality of available services and the economic impact of the commissions going out of town. Unfortunately, the efforts foundered when confronted by the Cleveland malaise described above; Corporate cultures that inherently value the corporation over the community at large have failed to see the connection and synergy that strengthens them both, while political authorities focused on feathering their own nests or occupied with surviving the times.

Fast forward to 2015, Cleveland has been rightfully labeled as a "Comeback City", as a new sense of optimism pervades our town. The City of Cleveland has new momentum and the economic cycle appears to be stable and in our favor. Downtown Cleveland, no longer a ghost town at night, is experiencing a resurgence of pride from its residents. Clevelanders are feeling better about the future of their city and architects in Northeast Ohio similarly seem to be doing a bit better than years past. AIA Cleveland has new energy and engaged members in all stages of their careers. We have schools of architecture nearby who are engaged in the community and turning out great students, many of whom are choosing to stay in Northeast Ohio. Now seems like a good time to start the conversation again about local advocacy, and to develop our own virtuous cycle.

To propel the local architectural and design community to the  position of leadership and respect to which it aspires requires a concerted effort by the whole A&D community to work together in a collegial and non-self-serving manner; to strengthen and elevate the design culture of our internal community. If you want to be the best, play with the best; taking pride and ownership in our place calls for addressing challenges facing our community as thought-leaders of the issues we feel passionately about.

We become thought leaders by educating and pushing ourselves, by looking outside our own immediate surroundings, by learning from each other, and reaching out to the community at-large. I believe that local advocacy should not be the focus of our efforts, but rather the byproduct of how we lead our lives, demonstrate our creativity, navigate complex systems, solve problems, give back to and strengthen our own community.

If I look around, I see that this is happening even now in many encouraging ways, although we have never been good at bringing attention to ourselves. Just as it has taken many years for Cleveland to begin to understand its place as a world-class, second tier city, it may take a long time to establish Cleveland architects in the appropriate place in the hearts and minds of our fellow Clevelanders. That's no reason to stop trying.

I recently learned about a Not For Profit group in San Francisco called Public Architecture http://www.publicarchitecture.org/, who propose that firms donate 1% of their firm hours towards pro bono work and track these efforts* . I started thinking about this and wondered what percent of effort Northeast Ohio architectural firms are already donating pro bono to charity, faith-based, community development, or public policy agencies. My guess is it exceeds 1% of firm hours- Let's find out and demonstrate that we are the geniuses loci.

* Bialosky + Partners Architects exceeds this benchmark set by "The 1% Project", donating 2% of their firm hours annually towards pro bono work.

March 31, 2015

Designer Insights with Mandisa Gosa

Last week, Terry's Fabrics interviewed Bialosky+ Parnters Interior Designer, Mandisa Gosa - asking her 5 big questions about inspiration, the creative process, and advice for up-and-coming designers.

Designer Insights with Mandisa Gosa

Courtesy of: Terry's Fabrics UK

- Transcript -

1) In your own words describe your unique style and creative aesthetic?

Modern with Global Funk. I gravitate towards environments that are overall quiet and modern but have layered elements of vivid color and playful moments. A style of self-expression.

2) When starting a new project, what is your creative process?

I like to establish a working relationship with a client that is built on trust. From that point it’s a matter of narrowing in on their aesthetic, likes and dislikes; bouncing ideas off fellow designers and looking for inspiration for design development.

3) Out of the creative people you have worked with, who is it that you respect and admire the most?

I work with many extremely talented people each with their own unique design aesthetic. I respect and admire all who are able to express themselves through a positive outlet.

4) When looking for inspiration is there a particular thing you do to get inspired?

Inspiration comes from everywhere: books, magazines, art, and nature. A lot of inspiration comes from my children, nieces and nephews. They have the natural ability to be fearless and unbound when it comes to creative expression.

5) What has brought you to this point in your career? And what is your advice for people looking to follow in your footsteps?

I am at this point in my career due to determination, self-confidence with an approachable leadership style, and grace. My piece of advice would be to follow the path that brings you the most joy; but be open to the guidance and knowledge that others have to share.

September 10, 2014

IIDA Talk of the Town: Urban Cool Meets Farm Fresh

We are excited to share that Bialosky + Partners has been featured in the IIDA Cleveland Akron City Center Newsletter and website’s “Talk of the Town” column.  The article profiles Cuyahoga Community College (CCC)’s Hospitality Management Center (HMC) and the adjacent private restaurant Pura Vida.

Read the article here: http://www.iidaohky.org/articles/cleveland-akron/urban-cool-meets-farm-fresh-ccc-hospitality-management-center-pura-vida

The project goal was to create a new image for the college via contemporary, forward-looking architecture paired with clean striking interiors that creates an inviting community nexus to celebrate the art of cooking.  Glass walls admit views into the restaurant kitchen allowing the culinary students and visitors to see the instruction process in action.  This visual connection enhances the idea of Culinary Theater and demystifies the art of cooking.

Pura Vida + CCC HMC won a NAIOP Northern Ohio 2013 Award of Excellence for best Mixed-Use Interior Design project and a 2012 Award of Merit from IES (Illuminating Engineering Society).

Additionally, mark your calendars for the upcoming IIDA OH KY Chapter Annual Conference that will be held in Cleveland on October 17!  It’s held here once every 5 years and speakers this year include Cheryl Durst, IIDA CEO and Michael Murphy, Co-Founder and CEO of MASS Design Group.

http://www.iidaohky.org/events/cleveland-akron/iida-oh-ky-chapter-annual-conference-cleveland

July 30, 2014

Jack Bialosky Jr.’s “Beyond the Menorah” featured in Faith & Form

We are excited to share that Senior Principal at Bialosky + Partners Architects, Jack Bialosky Jr., AIA, LEED AP, has an article featured in Volume 47, Issue 2 of Faith & Form: The Interfaith Journal on Religion, Art, and Architecture, titled Beyond the Menorah - The Ner Tamid as the Second Source of Light in Jewish Sacred Space. While the imagery surrounding Chanukah, the Jewish feast of re-dedication and the festival of lights, is well-known – the miraculous story of a single day’s worth of oil burning for 8 days and nights in the Temple.  But beyond this story lies the lesser-known origins of the lamp itself, the Ner Tamid. Read the article here: http://faithandform.com/feature/beyond-menorah/

Jack A. Bialosky, Jr. featured article in Faith and Form, Beyond the Menorah

Cover of Faith & Form - The Interfaith Journal on Religion, Art, and Architecture Volume 47 Issue 2 / Image of "Cario, September 30, 2012" from the "Be Still" series by Kristen Bedford

Inspired by a pine cone, the Ner Tamid at Suburban Temple Kol Ami hangs a copper-crocheted tapestry. Both the Ner Tamid and Suburban Temple were originally designed by Jack A. Bialosky Sr. in the 1950s.

This issue of Faith & Form includes Alexander Gorlin, FAIA on his recent addition and renovation to Louis Kahn's Temple Beth-el in Chappaqua, New York; Bert Daelemans, S.J.sharing his thoughts on the use of Christian imagery in Tadao Ando's religious projects, among other features! Read the full issue here: http://faithandform.com/feature/

May 22, 2014

Meet Chelsey Finnimore

Bialosky + Partners Architects welcomes our newest team member, graphic designer and Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) graduate (Communication Design BFA ’13) Chelsey Finnimore. Growing up Chelsey wanted to be a fashion designer, a writer or a detective. Combining her creativity, a passion for communicating, and a strong desire for problem solving, graphic design seemed like an obvious choice. Chelsey’s skill set will come in handy if the office decides well designed private detective work is a lucrative market. At CIA, Chelsey’s Communication Design program included an emphasis in Fiber and Material Studies. This interest in the digital and tactile resulted in developing skills in silk-screening. One such project included a series of “fake products”, like the Apocalypse Survivor Backpack. Backpack contents included tools like bug spray to protect one from giant locusts, and a rope with carabineer set in case of accidental accession. The project was a commentary on the role of technology becoming a hindrance to our survival in times of crisis.

Be Prepared For Anything... With Chelsey Finnimore's Apocalypse Backpack!

Be Prepared For Anything... With Chelsey Finnimore's Apocalypse Backpack!

Chelsey’s favorite professor at CIA was Graphic Design professor, Gene Pawlowski. Chelsey learned from Professor Pawlowski’s “old school” style of teaching typography. He was detailed orientated, pushing his students to be specific and precise in their designs. Chelsey’s favorite class with him was a Hand Made Bookmaking Class. The class included learning and using tons of ancient gadgets for bookmaking. Chelsey is continuously striving to find a legitimate use for the font Adobe Giddy Up in her work. She loves storytelling and believes that great design can be used to tell great stories. Her dream project would be to design a coffee table book of objects organized neatly in rainbow order.

Adobe Giddy Up aka the New Comic Sans.

Prior to joining the team at Bialosky + Partners, Chelsey worked at Agnes Studio where she had interned since 2011. In addition to her work at Agnes, she has worked on freelance projects for Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga Community College, and Reclaimed Cleveland. Chelsey was attracted to the Bialosky team, as many of her favorite projects bridge the gap between the digital realm and the real world as tactile objects. This could be through environmental design or other means, with a particular interest in the ongoing life of projects and materials once the designer’s “scope of services” is complete. She brings value to our team with a multi-disciplinary skill set to engage with print and environmental design in unique ways. A native of Sharon, PA and former elevator operator at The World’s Largest Off-Priced Ladies’ Fashion store. Chelsey spent much of her childhood making “bad” fan websites for her favorite bands. Chelsey currently resides in Lakewood with her two feline roommates, Steve and Trevor. In her free time she enjoys riding bikes, drawing terrible horses, and telling bad jokes. One day she will own a kayak or a hammock to aid in her favorite hobby: marathon weekend napping.

The Winner - A Sharon, PA legend.

We recently sat down with Chelsey to learn a little more:  Favorite designed object / project in the last year (could be a building, piece of graphic design, product design, etc.): I am a huge fan of pretty much anything Vallee Duhamel has produced in the last year—super playful graphic and motion design. I love to see designers bringing in tactile/handmade elements into their work.

Cover art and album design for the album Bellevue, from Montreal electro-jazz band Misteur Valaire.

Hidden talent: Not so much a hidden talent as much as a deep dark secret—I played bass in a sludge metal band called “Lightning Bug Collection” in high school. And I can solve a rubik's cube in a minute and a half. Alternate  Reality Career: A florist or a CIA agent. If You Could Have Dinner With One Architect or Designer, who would it be and where or what would dinner be? Spaghetti with Massimo and Leila Vignelli off of their Heller dinnerware followed by an intense game of Risk and fashion parade of Leila’s jewelry.

Chelsey's table setting for dinner with Massimo and Leila Vignelli would look something like this.

We’re ignorant architects. What is the different between a typeface and a font? The best analogy I’ve ever heard for explaining the difference is that typeface is to song as MP3 is to font. Typeface refers to the design of the letter forms where as font refers to the physical (or digital) means for reproducing a letter. Bonus sub-question: Legendary designer Massimo Vignelli once said a designer should only use 5 typefaces (bodoni, helvetica, times roman, century and futura) in their career. Is he right or crazy? I obviously love Vignelli and think he’s pretty on point with this—while I love playing with new typefaces, I find that most that really stay with me are offshoots of those “classic” five.