November 14, 2013

Meet Brad Valtman

brad valtman Last week we welcomed a new addition to our Cleveland office, Brad Valtman. While educated at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis (c/o ’12 – B.A. Architecture with Env. Studies & U.D. minors), Brad knows the gravity of Northeast Ohio winters as a Cleveland native- no need to warn him! Brad interned with the Cleveland City Planning Commission (summer 2011) while completing his degree at Wash U, where he spent many days walking the streets of Cleveland on a photo-scavenger-hunt, taking images and creating drawings to illustrate city streetscape guidelines in a clear way.  Since graduation, he has been back working in Cleveland for a little less than a year, helping to edit publications and graphics at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) and interning at AKW Inc., before joining us.  He is coincidentally attributed as an editor of Urban Infill Volume 6: COLDSCAPES: Design Ideas for Winter Cities, which will feature Bialosky + Partners’ honorable mention submission, GLOW, this Friday. First of many fun facts: Brad actually has only one degree of separation to our last hire, Hannah. He was a student of Hannah’s Aunt Andrea Freidman at Wash U. Brad even recalls Professor Andrea Freidman discussing her niece studying abroad in Copenhagen, when discovering Brad was set to study there the following semester. We’re not sure who has retained more of the language though; Brad admits that he felt victorious the one time he successfully ordered a pastry in Danish towards the end of the semester. He would love to go back, and explore the emerging area of Ørestad, which has been receiving worldwide attention as a model of urban development.

Brad at the recently completed 8 House by BIG - in the growing neighborhood of Orestad in Coppenhagen.

Brad at the recently completed 8 House by BIG - in the growing neighborhood of Orestad in Coppenhagen.

From what we understand (and confirmed by co-worker Matt MacRaild, Wash U ’03 B.S., ’07 MBA, ’09 March & MUD ), there is a fantastically curious course selection at Wash U that includes topics on dinosaurs, the Beatles, and … the History of Magic. Brad enrolled in the History of Magic to fill his degree requirements (it was strangely the only “history course” that fit into his schedule). We suspect he has studied a handful of very useful spells, and predict his first project will have inconceivable cantilevers that mysteriously work and are in budget.

Brad is is quite learned in the history of magic, so be warned if you enter a card game with him. Image Source: The Library of Congress American Memory

This may not even be the most enchanting part of his undergraduate experience at Washington University. Brad sung for years in Wash U’s The Aristocats – an all Disney A Cappella. If you’re unfamiliar, Disney A Cappella groups have been an exploding scene in the past decade, and consistently booming with viral videos and new young stars. I’m particularly a fan of Brad’s spot-on rendition of the song “Gaston” from Beauty and the Beast. (The group’s Youtube channel is thearistocatswashu). We asked Brad a few more questions to get to know him a bit better. punctuality is the key to success essay purple viagra pills go to link see carters typewriter ribbon and carbon paper cabinet box antique thesis work processes propranolol is the same as anlage kap 2013 beispiel essay go to site color light plants essay source ai weiwei sunflower seeds essay rfid research papers free essay on sunday is funday source essay about 12 angry men get link believe dream inspire essay ideas for imagination bachelor thesis literature review how does a trebuchet work essay essays in the sociology of knowledge conclusion in research english essay 350 words Favorite Professor / Studio at Washington U: My favorite studio wasn't quite a studio, not quite a class.  It was called Building Community, Community Building, taught by Bob Hansman, that focused on St. Louis’s history, specifically how architecture and urban design/policy shaped the socio-cultural landscape that existed today and how that socio-cultural landscape in turn influenced the morphology of the city.  It was an eye-opening class that really showed the influence the built environment has on people’s lives.  For my favorite professor, that would definitely be Patty Heyda, who teaches a good portion of the urban design classes and studios.  She really solidified my passion for urban design as a discipline, and has helped me develop my understanding of what urban design actually is.  Biggest Difference Between St. Louis and Cleveland: Surprisingly, there isn't much difference between the two; they suffer from a lot of the same issues, have a lot of similar neighborhood characteristics.  To me, the biggest difference was really about the natural resources; having grown up on Lake Erie, it was a big shock to be in St. Louis and only have the Mississippi River nearby.  Not the first place I would go for a swim, let me tell you. Where You Are Found Off the Clock: When not in my car singing melodiously along to the radio and/or Pandora, I can usually be found cooking, looking up fun things to cook, and finding obscure videos on Youtube.  I also spend an inordinate amount of time taking care of my  beasts, a pair of golden retrievers. Your Alternate Reality Career: If the alternate reality was only slightly alternate, then a structural engineer or urban planner.  If it’s a little more alternative, then definitely a celebrity chef with a sideline of cupcake shops.

Brad would dine with Alvar here, with grilled reindeer steaks. (Image: Wikipedia).

Your Ideal Dinner With One Architect or Designer: Hands down, it would be Alvar Aalto, in the Villa Mairea with some grilled reindeer steaks.  After having spent a semester studying the Villa  as a case study, I quickly fell in love with how it moderated Modernism with local materials and conditions.  As for the topic of conversation, I'd love to know more about his thoughts on how mass industrialization, globalization, and urbanization are influencing architecture and design.

November 8, 2013

Complicity and Conviction

I hope to discuss, in a series of posts, books that have had a significant influence on how I think about and practice architecture. Paraphrasing Thomas Edison, I see architectural design as one part inspiration and ninety-nine parts decision making.  The three books I plan to discuss

  • Complicity and Conviction: Steps toward an Architecture of Convention by William Hubbard, 1980
  • Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, 1999
  • Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture by Christian Norberg-Schulz, 1979.

address the ninety-nine percent part of the equation.  On what basis do we make all of the decisions that ultimately determine what a building looks like, how it is used, and how well it functions? William Hubbard, one of my undergraduate studio professors, described what he called concatenation in design.  It occurs when the decision made to solve one problem solves many others and especially when that decision starts a cascade of decisions that simplify what was originally a complex set of problems in design.

Plan for University of Virginia “lawn” designed by Thomas Jefferson

I did not pick up the first book I want to discuss, Complicity and Conviction, until I was in graduate school. In fact I didn’t know it existed until I saw it at the architecture school library used book sale and saw Bill’s name.   My understanding of the book is no doubt influenced by what Bill taught me in Studio. The book is in part a response to Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, 1966.  Venturi was criticizing modern architecture and advocating for post modernism, Hubbard was criticizing post-modern architecture and advocating architecture that gives “. . . testimony to human values. . .” Conventional architecture “. . . persuades us to want it to be the way it is.” The book explores several potential models for an architecture of convention:

  • The Scenographic Style
  • Games
  • Typography
  • and the Law

The Scenographic Style encompasses much of American architecture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the work of H.H. Richardson; the Shingle Style of McKim, Mead & White and John Russell Pope; and the Collegiate Gothic Style of Goodhue and others.  He helps us to understand a little more about the design and drawing (sketching) technique that was used at the time.  While these buildings make good pictures, he finds that they lack meaningful depth, ultimately leaving us unsatisfied. Games are a set of rules that all of the participants agree to abide by.  They are a scrim that allows us to be judged not as a whole person but only by the way we play the game. We accept the rules not because they have to be the way they are, but because they provide a concrete framework in which we can enjoy play.  We are complicit, agreeing not to question why the rules are what they are. Typography like architecture can provide a Chinese box of levels of understanding.  You do not need to be a typographer to look at a page of text and have a feeling about whether you like the way it looks or how readable it is, but practitioners make very conscious decisions about the shape of the page, the size of the margins, the space between the lines of text, etc.  Those decisions are usually made consciously, intending to have an effect on how we feel about the look of the page.  The reader has the ability to find reasons for wanting it to be the way it is at many different levels.  More understanding brings more reasons to want it the way it is. This depth is one of the aspects that an architecture of convention should have. The Law is perhaps the most interesting model that is discussed. His discussion of the law is limited to the way in which judges construct rulings about which we can feel conviction.  The best judgments interpret previous decisions in ways that are consistent with what is currently deemed to be right and fair (this changes over time) and allow enough room for further interpretation in future cases.  The judge “forged a new link in the chain” of the law, when he does this.   Finally the author analyzes two projects that he believes achieve an architecture of convention in different ways.  The first example is the University of Virginia “lawn” designed by Thomas Jefferson in the early nineteenth century and the second is Kresge College at the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California designed by Moore Lyndon Trumbull Whittaker in the early 1970s. The author discusses how each of these projects achieves his six attributes of an architecture of convention:

  1. Slippage – is the link between the form and its possible uses somewhat ambiguous?
  2. Contingency – does it have features that make sense only because they feel right?
  3. Are there multiple possible interpretations of the intention?
  4. Does it call other buildings to mind?
  5. Are the analogies relevant?
  6. Does it make us want it to be as it is and not otherwise?

Plan of Kresge College at the Santa Cruz campus of the University of California designed by Moore Lyndon Trumbull Whittaker

When I first read this book it resonated with some of the discussions we had in the Studio (i.e.  The modern world has given us many more options for the materials we use and the way in which we put them together, and air conditioning allows us to ignore many of the implications of how the form, orientation, and construction affect the comfort of the occupants.)  The modern world has given the architect more “freedom”.  We are allowed to ignore many of the “rules” that used to govern the way we designed.  The architectural “rule” books by Vitruvius, Alberti, and Palladio no longer apply. This has left us searching for buildings that improve upon the architecture of the past.

University of Virginia “lawn” designed by Thomas Jefferson

Bill leaves us with a charge: “But to realize that this situation has been brought about by our own actions is to realize that it is within our power to rectify it.  It is possible, even now, to produce architecture that gives testimony of human values. . . . We must find ways – in all areas of life – to engender in ourselves conviction about human values.  We must find ways to convince ourselves anew of human possibility.”

November 4, 2013

COLDSCAPES Exhibit Opening & Book Release

The Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative has formally announced the opening for the upcoming COLDSCAPES Exhibit Opening & Book Release. Bialosky + Partners Architects are honored that our project, GLOW, will be featured in both the exhibition and in the accompanying book release. We invite you to join us on November 15th, to celebrate the exhibition opening and the ongoing development of CUDC's Center for Outdoor Living Design (COLD)! Additionally, check out this great article from Cleveland Magazine about COLDSCAPES: Cold Comforts - Cleveland Magazine

"One such Cleveland plan envisioned Lake Erie as a wintertime frozen playground with glowing, elevated observation pods over the lake that residents could ice skate or snowshoe to and take in the view."

Info from the CUDC's blog:

Join the CUDC on November 15th, from 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm,  for the public opening of the Snowball Pavilion and release party for our new book, Urban Infill Volume 6: COLDSCAPES. The Snowball Pavilion is a weather-responsive wood structure installed on PlayhouseSquare’s Star Plaza for one month, which will display boards of winning submissions and honorable mentions from the 2013 COLDSCAPES Competition. The COLDSCAPES Exhibit and new book are part of the CUDC’s recently launched Center for Outdoor Living Design (COLD), which aims to inspire, develop, and promote innovative approaches to enhance livability in cold climate cities. The public reception with drinks and light appetizers will be held in Star Plaza at 1302 Euclid Avenue. RSVPs are appreciated via Facebook event page or email at info @ The COLD programming is made possible with the generous support of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and The Cleveland Foundation. More info on COLD available at 

July 30, 2013

Bialosky + Partners Receives Honorable Mention in the 2013 COLDSCAPES Competition!

"COLDSCAPES: New Visions for Cold Weather Cities" is a multi-disciplinary design competition that encourages artists, architects, landscape architects, and urban designers to explore the exciting and untapped potential of cold climate cities. The competition is organized by Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC). Over 80 registrants participated in the 2013 COLDSCAPES Competition in its inaugural year, with submissions received from 15 U.S. cities and 13 countries spanning a wide range of cold (and warm) weather climates.

Bialosky + Partners Architects' submission for the 2013 Coldscapes Competition, titled GLOW, proposes iconic inhabitable relics to be built on Lake Erie.

PROJECT NARRATIVE GLOW ignites new poetic relationships between lake, city, and the rhythm of the seasons. A seasonal relic, GLOW engages the Lake Erie break wall, mediating the domestic (city side) and wild (north of the break-wall) sides of the lake, creating an infrastructure for cultures to develop that leverage the latency of water as public space – in both solid and liquid states. GLOW activates this linear infrastructure creating new experiences of the lake all year. Ramps bring users to an elevated deck that allows one to view and be viewed. The structures skin is inspired by the break-wall’s texture that becomes coated each winter by the crashing waves of Lake Erie. Inhabitable house-like (GLOW)bes hover still higher, creating an otherworldly, ethereal experience. The break-wall is a segmented lily-pad network by summer. In winter, when the lake freezes, the system becomes whole. This encourages engagement with the lake through skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, hiking, etc., to transverse the path and create their own way to engage with GLOW. An open canvas, GLOW is activated by each season uniquely, encouraging new cultures and economies in a non-prescriptive manner, providing the elements to awaken latent uses of one of our most important resources– water.

Inside a SNOW(GLOW)BE on Lake Erie.

Bialosky + Partners Architects' submission GLOW, which proposed building captivating structures on Lake Erie, received one of ten Honorable Mentions. The three winning entries and ten honorable mentions were selected by a jury comprised of leaders in a range of design fields, including architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and public art. These entries will be on exhibit in Cleveland in November 2013, and published in Volume 6 of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative’s Urban Infill journal series, focused on advancing the design of urban environments for winter weather. Leaders of the GLOW submission included David Craun, Hallie DelVillan, Theodore Ferringer, and Michael Abrahamson (University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture; pre-PhD program, History/Theory of Architecture), and would not be possible without the hard work of Nathanael Dunn, Dave Berlekamp, Nick Dilisio, Andrew Vichosky, and Zach Anderson (Kent State University CAED).

The engagement of GLOW with the lake's break-wall to create an iconic network that connects City and Lake.


June 20, 2013

On The Boards: Ursuline College Center For Creative and Healing Arts

Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, OH, is launching phase one of an exciting new campus master plan, The Center for Creative and Healing Arts (CCHA). The state of the art 30,000 SF CCHA houses Art Therapy and Nursing programs and is targeted to open in Fall 2014. The project, acting as a front door to Ursuline, blends the college’s spare modern campus aesthetic with a welcoming warmth and contemporary playfulness. Purity of form and simply crafted details has been our project team’s design mantra.

Ursuline College Campus Context Map

The design process was driven through program adjacencies creating synergy between academic programs with new spatial relationships. The entrance atrium is envisioned as a connector:  its triple height stair will create new physical relationships with the adjacent science building, Dauby Hall and nearby Besse Library while also acting as a social connector providing needed lounge, study and meeting place for students. Additional phases plan for a farther expanded grand atrium, serving to act as Ursuline’s central social hub, which will be the campus’ largest gathering space. Additionally, new chemistry, biology, nursing, art labs and offices will encourage a culture of collaboration between previously disparate programs.

Conceptual Diagrams for the Center for Creative and Healing Arts

Conceptual Diagrams for the Center for Creative and Healing Arts

The new Center for Creative and Healing Arts is designed to raise standards for healthy, comfortable environments. The building’s layout and solar orientation of the fenestration influenced the design, aiming to maximize views and daylighting while minimizing summer solar heat gain.

Interior Rendering of the Urusline College Center for Creative and Healing Arts

Precise detailing allows minimal thermal bridging, which lends to a high performing building enclosure that minimizes energy usage throughout the year. The CCHA’s building enclosure systems are designed to outperform ASHRAE 90.1 energy code metrics by 50%.  The Variable Refrigerant Flow HVAC system is designed to outperform ASHRAE 90.1 by 55%, and a LED lighting package with daylight harvesting bests the code by 20%.

Urusline College Center for Creative and Healing Arts Window Sketches

The Center for Creative and Healing Arts, the first implemented phase of the Ursuline College master plan, projects a future of forward looking, contextual, well-crafted, and environmentally responsible architecture that gives physical shape to Ursuline College’s core mantra of Values, Voice and Vision.

Conceptual Interior Rendering of the Ursuline College Center for Creative and Healing Arts