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Site Visit: Gray Construction's Southeast Headquarters

Birmingham's chapter of the American Institute of Architects is one of the most engaged in the country, providing numerous services to local architects. One of those services is regularly scheduled site visits for the chapter's Emerging Professionals, a group of Birmingham's brightest young architects and interns. These site visits not only help us better understand the tangible, real-world side of what we do, but also help us fulfill the on-site requirements of our professional licensure process. This week one of our interns took advantage of the most recent of these opportunities and visited the site of the future Southeast headquarters of Gray Construction.

Gray is currently renovating the former Booker T. Washington building at the corner of 3rd Ave. N and 18th St. in downtown Birmingham. The office building is situated at the very heart of one of downtown's brightest stars, the Theater District. We appreciate the investment Gray has made in the continued revitalization of our great city, and look forward to them occupying their new home.

Photo credit: Charlie Abram, Graduate Architect at BPA

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B'ham Rising: Pratt City

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B'ham Rising: Pratt City

This week on the BPA blog, we wanted to highlight the importance of design collaboration and its role in the development of community within our own city. Pratt City was one of several areas within central Alabama that was destroyed by the April 2011 tornados. The American Institute of Architects released a short film about the rebuilding efforts taking place in Pratt City. Check out our full blog for a link to the video and more info.

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National Architecture Week 2016

In honor of it being National Architecture Week, over the past 5 days we have featured a variety of posts on our social media accounts that represent not only our work and our firm but also the architecture profession as a whole. As the American Institute of Architects put it, 

National Architecture Week is a public awareness campaign dedicated to increasing attention to the role architects play as a force for positive change in our communities and to elevate the public’s appreciation of design.

So this week, we wanted to illuminate architecture and what  it means for us - from engagement of our communities to the designers and ideas that are shaping the built environment locally and globally. 

Here is a re-cap of our week:

Monday

One of our Associate Principals inspecting the cornice work on one of our exterior renovation projects - for the #ilookup campaign.  The I Look Up campaign by The American Institute of Architects (AIA) encourages everyone to "Look Up” and see what we can create together. 

Tuesday

Wednesday

For #transformationtuesday, we featured before and after photos of a community outreach project we did with @kuumbaensley for their new studio space in downtown Ensley! Our office spent a weekend with Kuumba volunteers to paint, scrub, lay ceiling tile, install bathroom fixtures, and put down carpet. Check out their website for more images of their talented design students hard at work in the newly-improved space! 

https://kuumbaensley.wordpress.com/

 

Our  #WCW was the late Zaha Hadid. She was an award-winning architect, fashion designer, and artist. Her work on the Contemporary Arts Center  [pictured here] earned Hadid the distinction of being the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize. 📷: www.zaha-hadid.com

thursday

friday

‪We used #‎TBT‬ to bring attention to one of our completed projects. Birchfield Penuel & Associates completed exterior and interior renovation work to Alabama Pediatric Dentistry in 2014. The existing brick-clad two-story structure now houses the dental clinic on the ground floor and tenant space above. In the waiting area, we capitalized on an opportunity to open the space to the second level, with applied textural panel and airy, colorful pendant fixtures.

Lastly, today we went down to the Alabama Center for Architecture here in Birmingham where the dreamArchitecture jury is taking place today. DreamArchitecture is an outreach program the local AIA hosts for local children, grades K-5, to introduce them to architecture and encourage creativity. This year's theme--Draw your dream Skyscraper! We have some amazing submissions. To learn more visit aiabham.org.

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Walk MS Birmingham

This past weekend, BPA joined the St. Vincent’s Marching Saints team for Walk MS Birmingham, at Regions Field and Railroad Park.  The weather was beautiful and the energy of the event was amazing!  It was St. Vincent’s 4th year participating in the Walk and the team ranked in the top 10 overall in fundraising, which is an incredible accomplishment.  The Team and the Walk are both very close to their fundraising goals.  Please visit the Walk’s website for more information on how you can help create a world free of MS: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Walk/ALCWalkEvents?pg=entry&fr_id=27185

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Carpet Mill Tour

"And then I realized, adventure was the best way to learn." - Author Unknown

Last week, Kari Davis with J+J Invision was kind enough to take the BPA interior designers on a tour of their carpet manufacturing facilities in Dalton, Georgia.

The trip began in Chattanooga with a glass blowing class at iGNiS Glass Studio, some spare time for a self-guided walking tour, and a fabulous dinner at Easy Bistro & Bar downtown. We stayed at The Bluff View Inn which was conveniently located to the Hunter Museum of American Art (seen behind us), the glass bridge shown above, and the pedestrian foot bridge that crosses the Tennessee River. In just an hour we were able to explore all of these things and soak up some sunshine along the way!

The next morning we made the short drive to Dalton where we spent the day learning the ins-and-outs of carpet production from the design team's studio (we even got a sneak peek of future designs!) to the packaging and distribution of the modular tiles. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures on-site but promise we looked really good in our neon vests and headsets. 

The mill tours are beneficial to both suppliers and specifiers because they provide a chance for interaction and discussion on future trends and needs in the industry. We were grateful for the good company, cuisine and experiences this trip had to offer!

"Then I realized.. Adventures are the best way to learn." - Author Unknown

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Get Your Creative On

As Architects and Designers, we often look to outside sources and activities for design inspiration.  From looking at the latest magazine article in Architectural Digest to taking a local art class, we are always trying to feed our creative side.  

This past weekend, one of our own architects, and several other architects and artists from around the state, attended a 2-day watercolor workshop that focused on composition, drawing and painting buildings/landscapes, and studied light and how it enhances the environment, and in turn, an artistic sketch or rendering.

The workshop was hosted by Birmingham's own Forstall Art Center.  The feature artist and workshop teacher was Iain Stewart.  Stewart is an architect and painter, and he teaches watercolor and design drawing to architecture students at Auburn University.  He also travels around the world sharing his knowledge of watercolor, architectural illustration, and how to use it to capture a "scene" or just the atmosphere of a place or time.   

 Day 1: Iain Stewart demonstrates watercolor wash tips and techniques

Day 1: Iain Stewart demonstrates watercolor wash tips and techniques

 Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstrates composition and value shading

Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstrates composition and value shading

 Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstration and paint palette

Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstration and paint palette

 Day 1: Alicia's practice following the class demonstration on washes and composition

Day 1: Alicia's practice following the class demonstration on washes and composition

 Day 2: Alicia practice of the initial wash following Iain Stewart's demonstration

Day 2: Alicia practice of the initial wash following Iain Stewart's demonstration

 Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstrates wash values and "saved lights" in paintings

Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstrates wash values and "saved lights" in paintings

 Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstrates initial layout of a drawing using horizon lines and correct scaling

Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstrates initial layout of a drawing using horizon lines and correct scaling

 Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstration on darker washes

Day 2: Iain Stewart demonstration on darker washes

 Day 2: Alicia's final rendering

Day 2: Alicia's final rendering

We highly recommend attending one of his workshops if you have a chance. You will most certainly come away feeling more knowledgeable and inspired.  

If watercolor isn't your cup of tea, Birmingham has a number of other classes available around town.  Check out these websites for a list of workshops and classes near you.  Get your creative mind going with painting, pottery, cooking, music, woodworking, or even screen printing.  The possibilities and inspiration are endless. 

Photo Credits: Alicia Pughsley, Architect and Associate at BPA

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B'ham Rising: Spring has Sprung

You’ve probably noticed a change in your surroundings over the last couple of weeks. The cold tones of winter have melted away to be replaced with a panoply of the brightest greens and purest blues you’ve ever seen. Spring has sprung in Birmingham and there’s no better time to be outside in our city! Birmingham has a wealth of public outdoor space and its calling your name.

Situated at the very center of downtown, Railroad Park is the heart of the outdoor energy of our city. The park occupies 4 full city blocks and has been the catalyst for much of the growth our urban core has seen since its opening in 2010. Lovingly known as the city’s “front yard,” the lives of its residents are on full display. Grab the hand of someone you love and wander the landscape as trains glide by like kinetic sculpture. Find the workout of your life and some unexpected friendships at one of the park’s free exercise classes. Whatever you do, come and experience for yourself the range of activities Railroad Park has to offer.

If you’re looking for more of a walk on the wild side, you need look no further than the edge of the city center. Two former mining camps have been repurposed as nature preserves that offer more rugged experiences for the bold among us. Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve has a network of wooded trails that will make you forget you’re in the middle of one of the city’s resurgent neighborhoods. Red Mountain Park is one of Birmingham’s newest outdoor spaces. Thrill seekers will enjoy the park’s many adventures, including the Red Ore zip-line tour.

The Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System is the name given to a vision for connecting the many cherished outdoor spaces Birmingham has to offer. Far from a pipe dream, the first of the systems many trails has been constructed and is open to the public. The crown jewel of the trail is Rotary Trail Park, where the trail runs four blocks through a former rail line that is sunken many feet below street level. Set to open next week, Rotary Trail Park is unlike anything you have encountered in Birmingham or beyond.

Your outdoor opportunities are not limited to those listed here. Walk along the historic, tree-lined Highland Avenue. Take in the urban theatre all around you as you dine street-side at a downtown café. It doesn’t really matter what you do so long as it’s outside. A brand new Birmingham is waiting for you.

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Congratulations to our Winners!

Thank you to everyone who participated in our giveaway!  We're excited to announce our two winners!

Jessica Gemeinhart has won the YellowHammer Creative Sloss Poster

Susan Roberts McWilliams has won the YellowHammer Creative "It's Nice to Have You in Birmingham" shirt

Make sure to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep a lookout for our next giveaway!

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GIVEAWAY ENDS TONIGHT!

GIVEAWAY ENDS TONIGHT!!

This is your last chance to enter to win some awesome Birmingham paraphernalia designed by Yellowhammer Creative. We'll be ending the giveaway tonight at MIDNIGHT (CT). Tomorrow we'll draw two names and announce the lucky recipients! Don't miss out on this chance!

How do you enter to win you ask?

01. GO to our Facebook page ! (click on the little facebook logo below!)

02. LIKE our original Giveaway post & SHARE our page to be entered to win! 

03. FOLLOW us on Instagram for an additional entry.

 

 

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BPA Paint Party

 A subtle, yet effective, update to our color palette was the first order of business.

A subtle, yet effective, update to our color palette was the first order of business.

The spirit of change is permeating through the freshly painted walls here at BPA! We kicked off the process of office improvements with a paint party on Saturday. The transformation to our workspace is exciting, and this is just the beginning! We can’t wait to share the progress with you in the upcoming weeks.

Giveaway Update! There is still time to enter our giveaway where you can be entered to win a t-shirt and print from Yellowhammer Creative. We’ll announce the winner this Friday, March 18th!

For a chance to win:

LIKE our Facebook post and SHARE our Facebook page.

FOLLOW us on Instagram and Twitter for an additional entry.

 Before the work began.

Before the work began.

 Hard at work.

Hard at work.

 Rendering of what we're working towards -- a sleek and modern, yet warm and inviting entrance to BPA.

Rendering of what we're working towards -- a sleek and modern, yet warm and inviting entrance to BPA.

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Auburn Internship Fair Recap

We had a great time at the Auburn University AIAS Internship Fair! The Auburn students brought their best, and we were definitely impressed! Those of you that interviewed with us had the opportunity to see some of our work through a virtual reality headset, and you were also entered in a drawing to win a virtual reality headset of your own. Congratulations to the giveaway winner, 4th year student Carley Chastain!

It was a pleasure to meet all of you. We wish you the best of luck on your studio projects and your futures!

Also, don't forget that we have another giveaway coming up on March 18th! More information can be found here: http://www.bpa.net/blog/2016/2/29/its-giveaway-time and our social media accounts.

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NCIDQ Practice Practicum

Over the weekend, interior designers at BPA took part in the NCIDQ Spring Practice Practicum on both the testing and the grading sides. What is a practice Practicum, you ask? It’s a mock exam for the hand-drafting portion of the NCIDQ Exams set up by the IIDA Alabama chapter to help designers prepare for the actual exam on April 2nd.

Never heard of NCIDQ? No one explains it better than NCIDQ themselves:

"The Council for Interior Design Qualification, or CIDQ, is the global leader in establishing standards of competence for interior design/interior architecture professionals. 
CIDQ protects public health, safety and welfare by identifying interior designers who have the knowledge and experience to create interior spaces that are not just aesthetically pleasing but also functional and safe.
Interior designers who meet the eligibility requirements for education and experience and pass the rigorous NCIDQ Exam are assigned a unique NCIDQ Certification number that attests to their qualifications for employers, state regulators and the general public."

There are three parts to the NCIDQ Exams: two multiple-choice, computer based exams (IDFX & IDPX) and a hand-drafting portion called the Practicum that includes 7 timed exercises to demonstrate knowledge of space planning, lighting design, life safety, egress, accessibility compliance, building systems integration and millwork design. 

BPA currently has four NCIDQ Certified Interior Designers who are Registered in the State of Alabama, including one who sat as Chairman of the Board from 2005-2013.

Check out www.NCIDQexam.org to learn more about the examination process and what it means to be a certified interior designer.

 

Quote from: www.NCIDQexam.org

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It's Giveaway Time!

We're excited to be giving away the following from one of our favorite Birmingham design companies Yellowhammer Creative!
--Yellowhammer Creative 12"x18" print. This is the fourth design in the ongoing "Neighborhood Drawing" series of Birmingham. Hand Printed, 4 color, on French cover stock. #58/75
--Yellowhammer Creative "It's nice to have you in Birmingham" shirt!

For a chance to win:

LIKE our Facebook post and SHARE our Facebook page to be entered to win!

FOLLOW us on Instagram and Twitter for an additional entry

We'll announce the winner on March 18th.

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Opportunity and Growth at BPA

Growth and change are in the air around here. The transformation of our city we're documenting in our B'ham Rising blog series is mirrored in the growth of our firm. While continuing to faithfully serve the clients we've worked with for years, new opportunities continue to knock on our door. It seems like we're daily welcoming new clients to the BPA family and new project types to our capabilities. This growth has given us an even more active role in the shaping of our city.

This kind of growth brings new faces and fresh ideas. One of the ways we plan to pursue these is through our participation in the Internship Fair put on by the Auburn University School of Architecture. Students submit résumés and work samples for our review, and we'll spend two days in March getting to know the best and brightest Auburn has to offer. We can't wait for this opportunity. Get ready Auburn students, we're coming to you.

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B'ham Rising : An Introduction

The city of Birmingham is being transformed right before our eyes. The Magic City benefits from a unique combination of resources that led to the city's early development and continued growth. However, Birmingham's population peaked in the 1950s and has since suffered from the effects of suburban sprawl. The steady migration of people out of the city has been reversed thanks to a concentrated effort to bring people, activity, culture and life back to the city's urban core. Recent reinvestment in the city's downtown neighborhoods has increased momentum behind the rapid growth. This revitalization of the city is not only attracting locals back into the downtown areas, but is also garnering attention across the nation. Just check out this link from Lonely Planet: 

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/the-south/birmingham/travel-tips-and-articles/birmingham-alabama-the-souths-newest-rising-star

Birmingham is more than just a resilient, Southern city rising from the ashes; Birmingham is BPA's home. It is exciting to witness the change as spectators, but more so, it is an honor to use our design talents to contribute to the revitalization of our city. Visit our blog in the future to read more about some of the things that we love about the city we call home.

 

 


Photo Credit: Charlie Abram, Graduate Architect at BPA

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Launching our firm's new website!

We're growing. We're transforming. You may have noticed that our look is changing too. From business cards to publications, our brand is catching up to the firm we have become today.

One of the biggest renovations we've made is to our website. We're working hard to ensure that we maximize this tool to keep you informed and inspired. Many of our clients have worked with us so long, they know us as well as we know ourselves. For relationships old and new, we've built a platform you'll want to visit again and again.

At BPA, we say that everything is a design challenge. We're having a blast leveraging this one to create an updated look for us and a better experience for you. Be sure to check back in regularly for updates.

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