by Jen Luoni
The adage, “you get what you pay for” is relatable to every marketplace sector. Normative in our culture is connotating lower cost with inferior design or performance. While this can be true, it is not always pertinent. Higher priced goods tend to be a better quality product but that is not always unfailing.
Within architecture, the best way toward navigating value is to understand its relevancy and prioritization within the elements of design. Architecture’s facets of cost, budgets and constructability can seemingly outweigh in importance versus design creativity. The best way to advance creative design and affordability is via feature elements.
Owner/tenant combo projects are a common battleground to test the creative versus cost dynamism. A recent project for a commercial development owner and a new tenant presented the issue of balancing funding with the client’s design aspirations. With lease terms and cost per square foot set, the project focus became navigating to meet both parties’ expectations.
The outset began with identifying areas of importance. The main lobby and conference rooms were selected. Desired goals spanned design sophistication, contemporary lifestyle, brand colors, and materials that minimized environmental impact. To achieve these, monies were concentrated on statement pieces for lighting and acoustic panels.
Within the conference spaces, LightArt Acoustic Echo light fixtures crafted from felt acted as sculptural forms of radiating stars while simultaneously absorbing sound. Creating visual ambience, they were composed of 50% post-consumer recycled product, exercising a sensitivity toward conscious consumption. Doubling the lighting investment in the conference area versus a private office enhanced the firm’s brand perception to visitors and employees alike.
The reception area received a similar treatment using Armstrong SoundScapes blades. Purchased in logo colors, they lent a visual punch, reduced noise, added movement to a large space and reinforced brand identity. Box count determined the amount of more expensive colors purchased.
Results and Relevance
In identifying value, prioritizing design elements by areas of visibility contains cost without compromising creativity. Multifunctional attributes are an asset in cost reduction without forsaking design. Replacing the “you get what you pay for” mentality with a strategy of “highlight the peaks, minimize the valleys” can bridge the disparity between goals and budgets, resulting in an optimal solution for all parties.
Jen Luoni is director of operations – architecture at Dacon Corporation of Natick, Mass.