In all seriousness, we've got a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
To all of our clients, consultants, families, and staff, we're most thankful for you.
You've made 2016 one of the best years yet.
In all seriousness, we've got a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
To all of our clients, consultants, families, and staff, we're most thankful for you.
You've made 2016 one of the best years yet.
Last Friday we had a double dose of Halloween fun. We participated in Dekalb Office’s annual pumpkin decorating contest that benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama. Although there was some serious competition, the Birchfield Penuel team placed second with our Mario Kart themed pumpkins! As always, we enjoyed seeing the designs all of the other architects and designers came up with. We’re very grateful to join Dekalb Office in supporting an organization such as RMHC Alabama.
Dekalb Office has more pictures from the event on their Facebook page.
Back at our office, we ended the afternoon with a costume party! We had a wide variety of movie characters, goblins, mythical creatures, musicians, and internet sensations in attendance. All of the costumes were great, but some stood out from the crowd.
Most Original Costume
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Best Overall Costume
Cruella de Vil
This month we thought it would be great to feature one of our talented Interior Designers, Melissa Porter. Most would describe Melissa as kindhearted, witty, stylish, dependable, and very detail-oriented. With one of the most enviable design experiences working in Healthcare and Commercial projects, she quickly made her mark here at our firm. In addition to successfully supervising and knocking out projects, she also manages to be a rockstar mom to two wonderful girls. She’s an example of “having it all” and doing it beautifully. We’re excited that Melissa took a moment out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. We were surprised to learn a few new things about her as well.
Have you ever had any other career in mind? "Although I was considering interior design in high school, I started out college somewhat undecided, but loosely with a major in elementary education and a minor in music. After my first (somewhat humiliating) music class I realized that was a mistake and immediately did the drop/add thing. By my sophomore year I was settled on interior design and confident it was the right path for me.”
Favorite TV show? "TV?? Having 2 kids I rarely get to watch what I want to watch anymore! I don’t really have one in particular since I’m still trying to catch up on binge watching several series. After their bedtime if I’m still awake, my slightly twisted side likes to watch creepy shows like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead; my more serious side enjoys The Voice and MasterChef; but I still always get a big laugh every time I watch Modern Family!”
What was your first job? What did you learn from it? "When I was 17 I worked in retail at The Limited at Brookwood Mall. Although I realized that sales is not my strength, it did help me to step out of my shell a bit and overcome some of my shyness. I also learned the proper way to fold a shirt neatly!”
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday? “At home doing laundry – it never ends! But more frequently now we’ll be at an AHJA horse show with my 13-year-old daughter, Sydney.”
What do you think is Birmingham’s best-kept secret? "All the fabulous places to eat!”
What is your favorite vacation spot? "The beach! Growing up my family traveled all over the U.S. and visited many awesome places, but to me nothing beats the beach! Disney World is a close second!!”
What scares you? “Heights! They terrify me and make me queasy. I recently had a chance to go in the “Ledge” on the Willis Tower Skydeck in Chicago so I could face my fears…but I wimped out.”
What things do you not like to do? “Fold laundry, talk on the phone, and argue with my daughters!”
Who is your role model and why? “I would say my husband’s grandmother, Louise “Grammy” Warren. Although I only met her in my early 20’s she really touched my life and was always someone I felt like I could talk to about anything. She was a great listener, never judged, and gave great hugs. She was also very influential in both my girls’ (Sydney and Sophie) lives. I miss her!”
Make sure to subscribe to our blog to see our next "Meet the Team" post!
You may have seen the headlines, “Millennials Overtake Baby Boomers!” And no, it wasn’t a coup. Instead, this past year Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation in our country’s workforce. Whether this excites you or terrifies you, the truth is that we all work in multi-generational workplaces. In fact, most offices boast employees from at least three generations. In today’s office we find that we have Baby Boomers working alongside Gen X-ers alongside Millennials. Working elbow-to-elbow (to elbow) with co-workers of other generations can provide both challenges and opportunities. By understanding the unique strengths and weaknesses of each generation, we can recognize not only possible areas of tension or dissonance but also opportunities for the success and betterment of all.
The Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964) is identified as people born in the actual post-world war “boom” of births. Having grown up in over-filled classrooms and schools, these Boomers are characterized as being a group of team-workers. The Gen X generation (1965-1980) according to the Multicultural Advantage* “is known primarily as the first generation to enter the workforce after the first wave of corporate downsizing. This affected Generation X-ers’ approach to workplace loyalty and contributed to their entrepreneurial spirit. Where their parents lived to work, Generation X works to live, and work/life balance is also a hallmark of this generation.” Millennials (1981-1995) are the first global-oriented generation, having grown up in the age of internet. The most recent additions of today’s workforce, this generation is now made up of 21-35 year olds who are quickly growing in responsibility and contribution.
Not only do these generations bring distinct skills and attributes to the workplace, but they also expect different things out of it.
In an effort to accommodate the changing workforce, the physical office is evolving too. For years, a traditionalist-dominated workforce shaped a task-focused environment of perimeter offices and seas of cubicles. As younger generations inherited these spaces, they struggled to marry their needs with the constraints of their physical environment.
Today, some research shows that the legacy of the cramped cubicle office farms can lead to poor environments, a higher sick rate, higher employee turnover, and lower employee satisfaction. Conversely, a contemporary office plan with less partitions and boundaries appears to not only ideally foster a community culture and creativity but also potentially saves money on square footage. These more open offices have statistically lead to higher employee satisfaction, more productivity, and less sick days. Employees and employers alike seem to appreciate the contemporary office because of the innate desire we all share to have a defined company culture, and to experience a sense of team/family.
Glass walls at conference rooms and offices provide the acoustic privacy that Boomers require while encouraging the transparency and engagement that Millennials expect. Versatile workstations accommodate a variety of tasks and a multiplicity of requirements that those respective tasks have for noise control, privacy, and levels of collaboration. As technology evolves, workers of all ages have the capability and flexibility to work from desks, collaborative areas, conference rooms, cafeterias, office lawns, or home.
As a firm, we have been involved in projects that research and re-imagine corporate spaces like these and what we have found to be true is that, interestingly enough, not all Baby Boomers favor closed environments, and not all Millennials prefer the open concept. For that reason, we should design spaces based on activity of groups rather than sweeping generalizations about age-based preferences. Additionally, designing different spaces for different activities allows users to choose their environment based on preference as well as activity.
Having studied this inter-generational dynamic over the past several months, we were curious to see how our own office compared. We devised a survey for all the members of the BPA family that aimed to capture the different preferences and values of our generations. We found that for some categories, our office fit in tidily with the trending data and typical generational definitions. However, we found some unexpected discoveries as well. At the end of this article we’ve included some graphics that will help give you a succinct picture of our data.
One of the more interesting discoveries we made about the value of the physical environment was that Boomers ranked technology as a higher priority than both Gen X and Millennials. We theorized that younger generations take technology for granted, or consider it an expected staple and this assumption could have subconsciously placed technology underneath other values for the Gen X-ers and Millennials.
When it comes to what we appreciate in an employer, Millennials value “work-life balance” almost two times as much as Boomers, and GenX-ers actually valued the balance well over twice as much as Boomers. This coincides with the characteristic of the GenXers to be the most family-oriented of the generations. A value that showed a slight increase with age was “work variation.” Boomers appreciated having variation in their work more than twice as much as Millennials and Gen X-ers. Some values decreased with age such as “employee influence on direction of firm.” Boomers ranked that value lower than Generation X or Millennials did. Perhaps because with age, that opportunity is proportionately more attainable. Overall, collaboration was the highest ranked priority among both Generation X and the Millennials and still ranked relatively high by Boomers. Pair that with the fact that “flexibility to work remotely” was prioritized pretty low by all generations in the office and it turns out that, at BPA, we seem to like who we work with!
There are ways employers can be intentional about integrating multiple generations in an office and bridging the gap of skills and preferences. As one of our Principals, Chuck Penuel points out, “Without any doubt, the evolution of computers and the capacity of digital technology has had significant impact on all professional design services and the process of constructing the built environment.” Instead of running from the chasm that is this generational gap, we’ve striven to create a culture that avoids blanket considerations and instead leverages each employee’s unique skills and assets. Chuck continues to share that
“Our approach at BPA has been one of leading, listening and learning from each other and building teams of complimentary, rather than identical, skills and capabilities. Critical in this equation is creating ownership among each member of the BPA team in the future direction of the Firm, from our social media profile to project design input.”
Overall, we see that a multi-generational workplace is a rich palate of distinct skills, preferences, talents, values, and strengths. Older co-workers bring priceless experience - often having been working professionals for more than the lifetime of their younger coworkers - strong, lasting relationships, industry expertise and institutional knowledge. While our younger co-workers bring fresh ideas, stimulating energy, technological proficiency, adaptability and an earnest enthusiasm. The most effective way for us to work side-by-side is to not just simply cohabitate but to coalesce our strengths, skills and assets into a symbiotic mix that leads to the growth and betterment of all. This synthesis of our skill sets, along with a mutual respect for one another and understanding that all employees bring value to the table will produce a healthy, vibrant and successful work environment. Ultimately, we recognize that when we look to the next desk over, we see someone who is equipped with a set of assets and experiences that is altogether different from us, but who unquestionably makes a necessary and unique contribution to our firm, regardless of age.
*Notter, Jamie. The Multicultural Advantage. Convergence Media, Inc, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.<http://www.multiculturaladvantage.com/recruit/group/mature/Generational-Diversity-in-Workplace.asp>.
BPA is so excited about the upcoming IIDA ArtRageous event! Come celebrate 10 years of art and design with the IIDA Alabama Chapter, benefitting Studio By the Tracks (studiobythetracks.org), the IIDA Foundation and the IIDA Alabama Chapter.
Entry is $15 online at www.iida-al.org, or $20 at the door.
Art from Alabama’s designers, craftsmen, and artists will be at silent auction, as well as art from Studio By the Tracks artists.
The evening includes musical entertainment at the Patio Bar, heavy hors douvres, and Egyptian photo ops, and features valuable raffle prizes from local vendors and venues.
Click HERE to RSVP!
When else are you going to have an excuse to wear Egyptian attire?
The BPA family has grown quite a bit over the past couple of years and we’re thankful for it and the powerhouse of talent that we have working here. Because we have broadened our base, both in staff and project types, we feel it is important to reintroduce everyone to our family in a series we’re calling “Meet the Team”.
First up, we caught up with one of our fearless leaders, Charles E. Penuel, better known as “Chuck.” For those who haven’t caught on, he’s the “Penuel” in Birchfield Penuel. Most would describe him as smart, kind, and designer extraordinaire. He’s usually found seated at his drafting table working on the next great detail, fielding client phone calls, or he’s patiently listening to one of our staff and providing them counsel on a project issue that has arisen. If you’ve ever attended a meeting with Chuck, you understand why he’s one of the guys running this place. He may be quiet, but not to worry, he’s thinking while everyone else is talking. So, when he finally does decide to speak, he’s formulated the perfect thought or solution that usually leaves everyone nodding their head in agreement. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Heck, we even learned a few things about the guy we all love! Enjoy:
What are you most proud of in your career? "My greatest source of professional pride is less about a specific building or design and more about in seeing the 30 year growth of BPA to include a staff of really talented design professionals collaborating on design solutions and the long term relationships we have enjoyed with so many quality clients."
What sort of music do you listen to? "Most of my music enjoyment occurs while relaxing at the lake or beach where my musical preferences include artists such as Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffet, Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland), Darius Rucker and more recently the Dirty Guv’nahs and Drive by Truckers."
Favorite TV show? "My most recent 'appointment TV' interest has been the Netflix series Bloodlines which features the unraveling of an old admired Florida Keys family who turn out not to be who and what they seem."
What was your first job? What did you learn from it? "My first “show up and work all day” job was the summer I turned 16. I labored for a brick and block mason which included mostly lifting, carrying or throwing heavy things all day long. I did learn on my first day that there is a top and a bottom to a concrete block after stacking 100 units upside down and then re-stacking each one. That summer I learned that I could make a living with either my muscle or my mind."
If you could walk in someone’s shoes for a day, whose would they be and what would you do? "For me, I think viewing the green and blue of earth from space as the astronauts have would be a rare sight to see."
What is a book that shaped your career or life and what was your big take-away from it? "I read the Agony and the Ecstasy, the biography of Michelangelo, as a 3rd year architecture student traveling in Italy. The combination and timing of those three things shaped my attitude about art, architecture and design."
What scares you? "One of life’s scariest challenges is on the job training as a parent and hoping you get it right."
Who is your role model and why? "So much of what I learned that was meaningful about life and how to face the challenges it presented I witnessed in how my Mother lived it. So I would have to pick her."
Make sure to subscribe to our blog to see our next "Meet the Team" post!
As Saint Vincent's describes in its foundation newsletter (see below), residents of Chilton county have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new hospital. St. Vincent's Chilton is set to open it's doors this coming fall and our team here at BPA has been hard at work over the past couple of years to bring the project to fruition for the Chilton community. As construction starts to wrap up, take a peek at some progress photos of Chilton over the last several months.
BPA Project Team for St. Vincent's Chilton:
Russ Realmuto, Kim Edwards, & Maria Glaser
Photo Credit: Kim Edwards
For over 150 years, the historic Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL was used by the state’s Department of Mental Health. Over time, the monumental facility was being under-utilized and was in need of extensive repair. By 2014, the patients at the historic Bryce Hospital were moved into a new facility nearby. Subsequently, The University of Alabama acquired the historic Bryce Hospital with plans to adaptively reuse the facility as a welcome center for the university and classroom space for the theater and dance department.
The original Bryce Hospital comprised of a four-story main building and six wings. We were selected as the architect to help the University of Alabama in their pursuit to preserve as much as the original building as possible. During the selective demolition and abatement process, it was determined that much of the historic structure could not be preserved; and, as a result, the two outermost wings were demolished. The remainder of building’s masonry structure will be preserved with a variety of techniques. In some areas, the interior load-bearing walls will be removed and replaced with a steel structure. The exterior masonry walls will be preserved on remaining portions of the historic structure.
The photos below reflect some of the progress made during the selective demolition and abatement process.
AL.com has posted an article with more information about the Bryce Hospital’s former use. http://s.al.com/y1sD3nk
All photos taken by Birchfield Penuel & Associates, unless otherwise noted.
Last night, several from the BPA family attended the Birmingham AIA Design Awards, held at Christopher House Antiques. BPA submitted three total projects this year in the Detail, Adaptive Reuse, and Commercial categories. Although we didn’t win an award this year, we felt very inspired seeing the design work coming out of all the Birmingham design firms right now. Birmingham definitely has an enviable talent base.
Congratulations to all of the winners this year! Check them out HERE.
On May 14th, BPA teamed up with high school students from Central Park Christian School to move 30 bunk beds donated by Central Park Baptist Church to Stoney Creek Camp in Vinemont, AL. These bunk beds will be used in the new dorm facility that has just been completed. After a day of moving and transporting bunk beds everyone had the opportunity to enjoy the camp’s extensive zip-line trails.
Stoney Creek Camp provides summer camp experiences at no cost to inner-city and underprivileged children. Below is a link to the camp’s website to find out more about the camp and their mission.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our giveaway! We're excited to announce our winner!
Rachel McCoy has won:
Make sure to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep a lookout for our next giveaway!
Summer is upon us, and once again we are excited to welcome a talented group of young faces to the BPA family. We've learned that pursuing young talent keeps our ideas fresh and our technological abilities sharp. You may recall that in March, we sent representatives of BPA to career fairs at Auburn University for both architecture and interior design students. Both fairs were extremely fruitful, and these new team members are a result of those encounters.
We're pleased to announce the addition of two new full-time employees, Micah Martin and Marlee Caldwell.
Marlee Caldwell, Designer
Bachelor of Science in Interior Design Auburn University
Fun facts about Marlee:
Micah Martin, Graduate Architect
Bachelor of Architecture Auburn University
Fun facts about Micah:
Micah and Marlee are joined by a host of other students that have joined us for the summer. Asa Porter and Preston Rains are rising 5th and 3rd year Architecture students, respectively, from Auburn. Kelsie Perry has joined us to complete her senior internship through Auburn's Interior Design department before graduating in August. These summer interns meet a great need in this busy season in the firm's life and hopefully learn a thing or two along the way. They may only be with us for a season, but they will always be a part of the BPA family.
Last weekend was the 2016 American Institute of Architects’ Annual Conference, held this year in Philadelphia. It was an invigorating weekend with energizing speakers, hundreds of interesting seminars, city sketching tours, playful installations, the unveiling of new technology and gadgets, and even a historic moment. Here are some of the highlights below.
Neri Oxman, an architect and a professor at the MIT Media Lab, was the Keynote speaker for Day 2. She captivated the crowd with a presentation on the intersection of technology and biophilic design, and the possible applications for that work in the future of design and architecture.
In a historic, and emotional moment, Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi were awarded the 2016 AIA Gold Medal. As the AIA states,
“The Gold Medal is the highest honor the AIA can confer on an architect or architects. It acknowledges a significant body of work that has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. “
This recognition is so noteworthy because not only was it the highest award an architect could receive, but never in the award’s 109 year history has it ever before been awarded to a duo. In fact, the AIA changed their bylaws so that they could award the medal to both Venturi and his wife, and life-long collaborator, Scott Brown. Mrs. Scott Brown was escorted to the stage and greeted by a powerful standing ovation.
This years’ #ILookup Film Challenge was launched during the conference. “The I Look Up Challenge calls upon filmmakers to share their vision with a 2-3 minute video exploring the power of architecture to create solutions and uplift communities.” – AIA. To kick off the challenge, the AIA released a short film documentary featuring Rural Studio, a community design-build program through Auburn’s Architecture school that several of our BPA architects and designers have had the privilege of participating in over the years. Here are both links to the Rural Studio Film and the ILookUp Film Challenge.
Summer has arrived, and so has our next giveaway! To celebrate warmer weather, longer days, and aquatic activities, we’re giving away the following items:
For a chance to win:
We’ll announce the winner on June 10th.
Earlier this week, the Auburn University Urban Studio hosted its end of year Open House to display the final projects of the 5th year Architecture students who've been a part of the Birmingham based program. This year's project had the students focus their efforts on developing a master plan for the Innovation District here in Birmingham, and within that, their individual final projects. Their hard work and talent was evident in the work displayed. A special shout-out to our co-op intern, Krystal Duchene--we're proud to have worked with you while you were at Urban Studio. We know you're going to be successful wherever the road takes you.
Photo Credits: Auburn University Urban Studio
Today would have been Jane Jacob's 100th birthday. In celebration of this urban theorist's life and legacy, we share with you a small tribute:
Happy Birthday to the woman who forever changed urban planning, architecture of the built environment and our lovely city streets!
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
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.
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:
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!
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.