While thinking of the design being something that continues on I could not help but flash on the classic ‘60’s hit, its syncopated driving bass line and closing lyric “and the beat goes on.” The 1967 pop hit is none other than “The Beat Goes On” written by Sonny Bono and sung by Sonny & Cher. Perhaps I’m giving up my generational age but the driving force of a project is the design and all the reasons it is what it is become the lyrics and legacy of the building as it lives on.
We’re into the final design phase of the Visitor Center. We have had preliminary design review meetings with the client and we have also had time to reflect on how well the design is achieving the project goals, LEED objectives and that the aesthetic character is right. The goals and objectives are more a matter of checking things off the list, but aesthetics are very subjective and we rely on an artistic maturity and the feeling that we created something special for the client. We get a thumbs-up from the Chickasaw Nation; that feels good.
Some changes have occurred to the space program and floor plan. One of the LEED points is for Sustainable Sites/Alternative Transportation and requires bicycle storage and changing room. We had not incorporated the changing/shower room into the plan and incorporated it into the administrative space as the focus is for building occupants. The mechanical, electrical and communications rooms were snug so we stretched them. We studied the transition of high ceilings and volumes between the Gallery/Lobby and adjacent gift shop, offices, break room and conference room; and more.
A mechanical crawl space has been created below the Gallery/Lobby by extending the lower floor slab of the administrative wing into this area. The difference in elevation between the lower and upper levels is 7 feet. We will use this space to house the air to air variable refrigerant volume (VRV) heat pump system which provides the greatest option for energy efficiency and optimization. The drawback is that these fan coil units cannot push air great distances and must be located immediately adjacent to the space they serve for best results. The mechanical crawl space will allow us to achieve the needed adjacency with the Gallery space and provide access for maintenance. Fresh air will be provided to the VRV fan coils via a dedicated outside air heat pump unit that will pass outside air through a total energy heat recovery wheel.
The exposed structural members are proportioned to emulate wood glulam beams. The members will be fabricated from tubular steel as the Nation’s experience with the use of glulam beams in the exterior Oklahoma elements has resulted in a high maintenance condition. The structural beams traverse through the Gallery space and transition from outside to inside and back to the outside elements. The problem we have to solve is that of temperature transmission through the steel from outside to inside. The problematic condition occurs in the winter when the temperature of steel members outside can be freezing making the temperature of the inside steel members close to the outside wall cold enough to have moisture in the air condensate on them and drip onto vulnerable interior finishes. We need to find the right solution for this potentially problematic condition; we’re working on it.
We’ve been working on finalizing the interior finish selections and finding actual products that will create the warm and inviting feeling that is desired by the Nation. The finish material selections must also accomplish three additional goals: provide a cohesive design palette extending exterior finishes into the interior spaces; provide durable materials for a long life; provide green materials to facilitate LEED goals. FSB has also been charged with selecting furnishings for all the spaces so we have been looking at a wide variety of furniture and accessories that will compliment the design; more on that later.
While evolving the interior spaces further we needed to create concepts for the gift shop. It is not a large space and therefore needs to be extremely efficient in presenting retail items for sale. We used 3D modeling to present our design solution to the Nation; another hit, we’re on a roll.
The design process is filled with energy, creativity, high expectations, anxiety, stress and extreme satisfaction and relief when it hits the mark with the client as well as our own goals. I believe that while there are many external pressures in the design process, we as designers whether it’s architectural or engineering place the greatest and highest expectations on our selves.
Remakes of the legacy pop hit “The Beat Goes On” surfaced into the late 80’s. The song was sung at Sonny’s funeral after he was tragically killed in a skiing accident and the words “The Beat Goes On” serves as the epitaph on his tombstone.