Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Thoughts from our Summer Intern 2016

Sitting here through my last week of work and thinking back on the summer I have had at Quorum, I know I could not have asked for a better first-internship experience. The work that I have been able to accomplish as well as the people I have worked with exceeded my expectations. The atmosphere at Quorum feels like a family, and I was immediately welcomed into the office and made to feel at home. Everyone in the office showed a genuine interest in my work, school experience, and hopes for the future.

The first half of the summer gave me the chance to work with a fellow intern and friend on a hypothetical project. Designing our Boarding & Grooming facility was very similar to designing projects at school, but with the environment and resources of an actual office. This project allowed each of us to showcase our strengths and improve our presentation skills while adding more practicality and real-world aspects to our design by referencing similar projects done by Quorum. I was also exposed to aspects of the design process that I would not be able to experience in a classroom. By attending meetings with real clients, visiting current sites, and revising and editing specifications I was able to grasp a broader understanding of what goes into obtaining a project, beginning the steps of design, and communicating with the client about wants and needs.

The second half of the summer has brought new challenges. Without a partner to rely on, I have had to figure out many new things on my own, which has definitely improved my skillset and design approach. I worked with a variety of programs and have been able to improve my knowledge of programs I have used before, such as AutoCad and SketchUp, and better my confidence in programs I previously had little to no experience with, such as Photoshop and Podium. As well as a variety of programs, I was given the opportunity to be a part of many types of projects. From restaurant design to animal shelter renovation, I got to see a wide range of budgets, locations, needs, and programs. I think this variety of experience at Quorum Architects this summer will benefit me returning to school for my senior year. I am looking forward to applying what I have learned to my projects and conversations with my professors. I feel much more confident in what my presentations will look like and how I will communicate my ideas.

A huge thank you to Quorum for giving me the opportunity to be here this summer and for all the guidance and support I received from everyone. I have loved my time here and learned so much. Hopefully next summer can live up to the high standards this one has set!

Madison Bennett
Texas A&M University ‘17
Summer Intern

Friday, July 15, 2016

Summer Intern Project - Pet Boarding and Grooming Facility

Over the past 6 weeks we (The Maddies) were given the opportunity to design a hypothetical pet boarding and grooming facility. We were given the freedom to choose our own site and develop our own program.

The site we chose for “Clearfork Boarding and Grooming”, as we’ve decided to call our facility, is off of Edwards Ranch Road and Clearfork Main Street in Fort Worth, Texas. The new development called “Clearfork” is along the Trinity River and offers open land, existing trees, and of course a great view of the river. It is an up and coming area with a lot of new development and could potentially bring in clientele from nearby residences, farmer’s market patrons, and users of the Trinity Trail.

The site is directly across from a new building housing Press Cafe and Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop. The building is very industrial and contemporary in design and provides an area for bikers, runners, and any users of the trail to stop and rest. Dogs are welcome on the porch areas and give the entire area a very ‘dog friendly’ vibe. The new Kelton Apartments are also nearby with a sleek, modern design.

Having never designed a facility for animals, we decided to start out with some research. We visited several local businesses specializing in either boarding, grooming, or a combination of the two and documented things like the number of animals that could be groomed in a day, the number of kennels they had, what kind of spaces they provided, and what aspects of their buildings we thought worked well. Our favorite facility that we decided to use as a precedent was a ranch style building in South Texas with a large site of open land, simple clean lines, and plenty of natural daylight. Our site suited this precedent well as it gave us land and the opportunity to utilize shade and natural daylight as well.

We positioned the front of the facility facing northwest and running parallel to Clearfork Main Street to offer the best view of and access to the building from the road. The back of the building runs along the same line to be best displayed to people along the trail. In order to connect the site from the road to the river, we designed a dog park that can be accessed from both sides. A public parking lot in the front can be used for the dog park and the trails and a covered area with restrooms, seating, water fountains, and doggie bags invites people and pets in from the trail. Open land between the building and the river is used for large and small dog playing areas, training areas, and individual runs for dogs needing their own separate playtime. A small pool in an area of artificial turf under the shade of existing trees keeps dogs cool on hot Texas days.

 We decided to split the building up into four main areas. The front entrance leads directly into the public area with the lobby, providing secluded areas on each side of the door for phone calls or last minute goodbyes between owners and pets. A balcony and a back wall of floor to ceiling windows offer guests views of the greenery, river, and all the dogs having fun in the play areas and dog park. We consider this balcony to be our standout feature and further connects the river to the building and invites guests to utilize every area of the site.

To the left of the lobby is the administration area. With a separate parking and entrance for the employees, this area provides private and open offices, a print room, meeting space, and an indoor/outdoor employee break room. The bathroom in this area can be used by employees and guests alike, with a door that keeps the administration area secluded from the public.

To the right of the lobby the building is dedicated to boarding and grooming. The cat room and grooming area are situated toward the front of the facility to provide easy access for patrons to pick up their pets from the grooming area and to keep the cat room as quiet as possible. Further down the hall there are two long areas of dog kennels. One is an open air room with two rows of basic kennels and a privacy wall of greenery between them. The other is a hallway with the more closed off ‘luxury kennel’ rooms. Both kennel areas have clerestory windows to provide each and every dog with natural daylight, and the hallways are arranged for easy access between kennels, the outdoor play areas, and the indoor play area in the back. An outdoor deck creates and an area to wash and dry off the dogs after playing before being brought back inside. A utility room located in the center of the boarding area provides dry and refrigerated food storage, washer and dryer for blankets and beds, and a dishwasher for plastic toys and bowls. Our main design priorities were the safety and comfort of the animals and the ease and convenience of the employees.

For the design style of the building we chose a “Modern Farmhouse” feel. We wanted the building to be welcoming and have a feeling of home while remaining up to date and interesting. This design theme keeps the building cozy and gives it a ‘Texas’ feel while allowing clean lines and hip, modern details. The materials we chose are white shiplap for the walls and light metal for the roofs. The windows are all large and open and rimmed with black metal mullions. Exposed beams on the roofs coordinate with the natural wood decking and interior flooring. We chose stained concrete for the boarding and grooming areas for cleaning purposes. Multiple styles of dormers on the entire building bring the farmhouse feel together.

In the end we were happy with the outcome of our design. Working on it together with the resources at Quorum helped us learn more about programs such as Autocad and SketchUp and improve our methods of presentation. Moving into the next phase of Summer 2016, everyone at Quorum is sad to say goodbye to Maddie Meekins after her third summer here. Everyone wishes her luck as she finishes off her summer in College Station!

Madeline Meekins and Madison Bennett
“The Maddies”, Summer Interns 2016