BB: There are many currents influencing architecture today. First of all, technology has absolutely changed the way we practice architecture. The ability to introduce the client to their design, both inside and out, via computer modeling has taken a lot of the mystery out of the design process.
Sustainable or green design is making a lot of headlines; however, it is not a new concept. In fact, the wise use of materials and energy, often called “good stewardship,” is a foundational concept that will always be a part of great architecture.
However, there is a common perception that green architecture is always contemporary, which is not the case. A great example of this is the recently completed Zarrow Hall on the University of Oklahoma’s campus that will be LEED-certified, but the design is traditional.
Finally, great architecture endures, whether it is traditional or contemporary in its expression. In any market, there always will be a mix between traditional and contemporary influences that impact the design of the products we use, the cars we drive, the clothes we wear and the buildings we inhabit.
Quality design will endure the test of time.
You mentioned the importance of lasting architecture. What value can quality architecture create for owners, developers and clients?
BB: I believe quality architecture pays for itself. An example of this is the Spring Creek retail center in Edmond. The developer, Terryl Zerby, was willing to risk creating a retail center that was better than any other in Edmond. He has been rewarded with a tenant mix and lease rates that are the best in Edmond.
Quality architecture should not only consider outstanding aesthetics, but also operating and life-cycle costs. Shortsighted decisions to cut the initial construction budget can result in increased operating and maintenance expenses over the life of the building, and are often much higher than the initial savings in the cost of construction.
Additionally, lasting architecture demands that when we design a building, we consider how it will be perceived in 50 years. Vitruvius called it “firmness, commodity and delight” about 2,000 years ago, and it still applies today.
What role does lighting play in creating great architecture?
BB: Good lighting is not merely functional; it also enhances the way a building is experienced.
For example, lighting can create drama in a retail space by placing the products in their best possible light, such as the lighting design we created for Steven Giles on Classen Curve.
Lighting can also create ambience in a restaurant that sets the intended mood. Take, for example, our lighting design in Pearl’s on Classen, which allows lighting at a higher level during the lunch hour, but at night dims down to create a more intimate ambience.
Of course, lighting is something we take seriously at Bockus Payne. In fact, we have received national recognition on several lighting designs.
What counsel would you give a young person considering a career in architecture?
BB: I tell young people that they are considering the best profession in the world. However, I would counsel any young person considering architecture to not only develop their creative skills, but also their interpersonal skills, since much of what we do requires excellent oral and written communication, as well as the ability to work effectively on a team.
Furthermore, hands-on construction experience is helpful. When we interview recent graduates, we look for people who have had some experience in the construction trades, because you will be a better architect if you have been on a construction site and experienced firsthand how difficult it is to actually put a building together.
I tell all of our recent graduates that they cannot master everything great architecture requires, that’s why we work best in teams. As architects, we rely on each person in our firm to be a part of the solution. Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses can help ensure we each focus our efforts in the area of our strengths to create quality design.
What should an individual or business look for when considering an architectural firm?
BB: Potential clients should begin by reviewing the firm’s scope of work and abilities. Additionally, since a building is a lasting investment, you will want to ensure that the firm produces quality architecture that stays within your budget.
One thing that is often overlooked by potential clients, but I believe is vital, is looking at the client-architect relationship. The architectural process can be lengthy, and you want to ensure that the firm you choose is not just professional, but also listens to your ideas.
Architecture is much more than defining the nuts and bolts of each project’s program and budget; it also includes uncovering each client’s dream and bringing it to life. So with that in mind, we approach our jobs with enough humility to listen, and then engage our clients in a process to discover their needs, budget, vision and dreams.