Behind the Scenes at Superbowl XLVIII   Leave a comment

 

Behind the Scenes at Superbowl XLVIII

 
 

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All sign kiosks at the MetLIfe Stadium (over one hundred) recently displayed the DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS logo.

 
 

DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS is proud to have provided a full scholarship for a young man to go to the NFL training camp.  He is a line-backer hopeful and quite an accomplished student at the same time having just received his Masters degree in Criminal Justice.   DKA routinely helps young students navigate their way with a mix of strategies from providing paid internships to career counseling.  But this is not the only connection DKA has to football.  DKA designed a new football stadium for the College of New Jersey (see below) and recently sponsored an event at MetLife Stadium; home of Superbowl XLVIII.

 
 
 
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Facility Mangers from around the tri-state area convened in the famous Giants-Jets Coaches Club under a virtual digital banner of DKA logos and photos of the office’s work.  DKA was an official sponsor of the night and the large television monitors displayed their name.

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The secret and locked slow motion replay studio feeds the referees the plays under review.  It is connected by miles of cable trays and adjacent to an on-site State Police station.  The DKA logo even showed on one of the official re-play monitors.

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The famous tunnel connects the playing field with the Locker Rooms under the stadium.  The artificial turf has underfield drainage and can be quickly pulled up in sections;  all logos and team names are easily switched between the Jets and the Giants.  Poor compaction during construction required some of the deeply buried drainage piping to be re-excavated  and reset.  All of the turf was replaced for Superbowl XLVIII.

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The MetLIfe Stadium has full emergency services including x-ray and emergency power.  DKA in association with AJP designed the new football stadium for The College of New Jersey including the impressive floating pier Press/VIP Suites and Team Concession Stands.

DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS researched the design for the College of New Jersey Football stadium by visiting stadiums in New Jersey and Philadelphia.  Sport fans can become animated.   Special designs for the public restrooms included prevention measures similar to prison design that could prevent angry fans from destroying property.     The stands were reinforced to prevent dynamic sway and the Press Box floats on concrete piers to limit unauthorized access.

 
 

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Visitors to the MetLIfe Stadium are greeted by multiple sign kiosks displaying the DKA logo. 

DKA designs visually pleasing yet functional sport complexes

 
 

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Posted January 31, 2014 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Higher Education, Interns

I was the one who closed all the traffic lanes   1 comment

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I was the one who closed all the traffic lanes!

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DKA provided an actual traffic study for the State of New Jersey in which the act of studying traffic, backed up the traffic!

 

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All will remember when the NJ Governor’s chief of staff got in hot water for closing the George Washington Bridge lanes for a “traffic study”.   Well, I was the one who wrote the original traffic study that made everyone upset.  It was several years ago, when new emission testing regulations threatened the capacity of the existing New Jersey Motor Vehicle Inspection Stations.  As an Architect, I was hired by the Governor’s Office to study all of  the existing NJDMV Inspection Stations in 21 counties to determine how many new lanes needed to be built.  It was a $100,000 study  that looked at the vehicle inspection process from tip-over problems with  SUV’s to more stringent emission laws.   It also examined statistics and average inspections per worker.   By the way, the best time to get your car inspected is the middle of the morning, in the middle of the week in the middle of the month…..no lines at the most locations.

In order to test some theories, I commandeered a popular motor vehicle inspection station and crew and we tested our “dual lane vehicle theory”.   In essence, we discovered that adding lanes alongside an existing station was expensive and sometimes impractical due to land restrictions, but increasing the thru-put of existing lanes increased capacity without any construction.   The concept was that the  length of the existing lanes were underutilized; actually two cars could go through the test locations in the same time frame as one vehicle if sent in as a pair.  So we added equipment and inspectors to an existing lane and put up cones to build up enough traffic to put the dual-lane vehicle theory to the test.  It took a while for everyone to get the hang of it, but it worked.  With virtually no major construction, we doubled the capacity of the existing inspection stations by taking two cars through the process with duplicate inspections at the same time.   But then it happened….

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Angry motorist’s didn’t like being part of a study and demanded we stop the testing even though the theory actually began to work quite well.  It seems lane closures are never popular!

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In setting up the test facility and cones, we created some long lines outside the facility.   Unhappy customers waiting in line got quite vocal.   They saw the clip boards, stop watches and  commotion and demanded we stop the study.      So what happened to the theory?   Like the Indiana Jones movie, the study is buried in some warehouse somewhere and the State decided to build more lanes!  Your tax dollars at work!

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inseState auto inspection station, New Jersey, USA

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Some ideas are just ahead of their time and so the State built  more lanes rather than improve the capacity of what they had.  Using existing resources to better purpose and efficiency is a hallmark of sustainable design and Dennis Kowal Architects.

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS  studies the problems and recommends the most efficient solutions.

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Posted January 10, 2014 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Master Planning

Lessons from Nicaragua   Leave a comment

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Lessons from Nicaragua

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS designed this new health care facility in the village of Masaya, Nicaragua outside of the capital city of Managua using strategies for resilient design.  This approach allows the facility to function without electricity while relying on natural building systems.

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Designing a new healthcare facility in Nicaragua is much different than in the United States.  But the US can learn lessons from a third world country where electric is spotty, contamination is likely, and water is untreated.   When a disaster like Superstorm Sandy strands eleven States without power, many US healthcare facilities like the NYU Medical Center were crippled and couldn’t function.    However, Dennis Kowal Architects (DKA) applied the principals of “resilient” architecture to their healthcare facility design in Managua, Nicaragua.  Since power failures are common, DKA designed the facility to use natural ventilation and natural lighting.  To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, another very common occurrence, DKA created outdoor waiting rooms open to the air but covered from the sun thus reducing the chance of contact and airborne contamination.  The interior walls have an application of plaster that naturally contains calcium hydroxide, a mineral that resists the growth of bacteria while providing a durable and easy to clean surface.   Kowal explained: “in essence, the facility takes care of itself, especially during a natural disaster”.

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High  window openings in the exam rooms ensure privacy yet allow light and air to naturally circulate.  A large covered, but open,  atrium at the center of the complex creates a natural ventilation stack for all of the surrounding rooms.  The atrium brings light and air into the rooms that ring the courtyard and simultaneously creates an outdoor waiting room.  A landscaped courtyard surrounds the facility to allow the families a place to play while a family member is receiving treatment; at night the same wall provides security.

 

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Some of the children that have been treated by the doctors of Caring Partners International using temporary facilities,  pose for the camera.  Others may walk all night (as did this woman assisted by her grand-daughter) to get to a care center.  Existing conditions can be dirty, dusty and contaminated by animal waste and garbage dumps.  Ubiquitous volcanic ash often covers the village in dust (see photo of girl in dress).  The new medical facility provides a clean, healthy, and resilient environment as well as a model of sanitation for the villagers to follow.

 

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Planning the healthcare facility on-site in Nicaragua is only the first step in a master plan for a new village.  Dennis Kowal Architects met with local doctors to select the site, visited with the mayor to solidify support and caucused with nurses and staff to design the facility.  Local Architectural student, Maria, helped with translation of the complex medical and architectural terms.   Since the site is near an active volcano, resistance to earthquake forces factors into all of the reinforced concrete construction in the area.

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DKA worked with local architects to assess the building materials, climate, and standards of construction.  A low impact design was desired that could operate during a disaster.    Above, Maria (a student of architecture) was also a translator for Dennis Kowal Architects as they interviewed the doctors and patients to design a facility that would meet their needs but also provide a resilient design. 

 

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While many developed countries are still reeling from the many natural disasters that have occurred, lessons can be learned from our third world neighbors who daily face a world without power, public transportation, or central air conditioning.  Beyond sustainable design which minimizes the impact on the environment, DKA understands the simple principals of natural systems that can adapt and survive during periods of stress, loss and disaster.

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“Dennis Kowal Architects designs buildings that are resilient and can take care of themselves in a disaster.”

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Posted November 26, 2013 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Health Care, Sustainability

Hospital or Hotel?   Leave a comment

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Hospital or Hotel?

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Checking into the New Transitional Care Unit at Bayonne Medical Center is not unlike registering at a nice hotel complete with pendant lighting and a generous counters.

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“Can you make it feel like we are in a spa and less a hospital?” was the request of staff in the renovations of the Transitional Care Unit.  Pivotal to the elevator arrival and central to the floor plan, the nurses’ station would set the tone for the entire floor.   A “peaceful” solution included a transition from a lot of little elements to larger and less elements.   For example,  walls which had been covered in numerous decorations and notices, were quieted with large pieces of art which harmonized with the new color scheme.   The heavy crash rails at the front of the nurses’ desk were replaced with scratch resistant panels imbedded with real leaves and calming colors.  The existing soffit was highlighted with tangerine coloring and new art glass lights to create a focal point away from the harsher “hospital lighting” and the old telephone booths were converted to a media center and brochure rack to remove the barriers of displays and hand-outs that once lined the desk.

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The small BEFORE photos show the wear and tear this nurses station received.  The completed project provides durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.

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The color scheme and new brown linoleum flooring resulted from matching the wood tones in the patient room floors which were required to remain.  To encourage patients to walk as part of their therapy,  a brochure was devised that describes the new wall art.  Patients are asked to match a list of artwork titles to the piece it best describes.  The entire floor needed to be renovated in 90 days, and the key to the renovation was not changing a lot of the structure including the pre-wired nurses’ desk walls.  New quartz counter tops, furniture and finishes made a quick transition easy, reduced waste, minimized dust and eliminated noise and shuffling additional parts through the hospital.

To further calm the space, every other 2’ x 2’ corridor light was replaced with a pendant fixture wrapped in an art metal design of branches to relate to the trees in the wall art.  These fixtures were put on a second circuit to allow staff to reduce the ambient lighting when possible.    When the newly renovated floor was opened three months later, the staff could not believe the transition and how “serene and relaxed” it now felt.

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS is changing the face of Health Care.

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Posted August 14, 2013 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Health Care

Dennis Kowal Architects offices win Preservation Award   1 comment

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Dennis Kowal Architects offices win Preservation Award

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Converting a 1890 county post office into an office for the 21st century was no small task.  Fortunately, the three story Main Street masonry building had much of the original fabric from double-rolled German glass to the pressed metal ceilings.  The hundred years of neglect were a blessing in disguise because no one had renovated  (spelled “destroyed”) the building through the years with modernization.  Missing doors, trim, and wainscot in the main user areas were borrowed from hidden areas to restore the major interiors.   Yet, new data, power, HVAC and fiber optic lines needed to be inserted in a building that had brick interior walls and no space above the tin ceilings to run ductwork and power.

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One clever solution involved adding a high and low voltage baseboard wiremold that distributed the CAT6 and new power circuits.  Capped with the original baseboard wood trim, the wiremold blended into the interior and provided connectivity throughout the building.   All previous ceiling-hung lighting was removed and the holes repaired; new concealed up-lighting uses the entire decorative ceiling as a reflected light source.

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The renovated facility was filled with antique furniture and new cherry furniture that concealed power and data and the computer screens using a below-the-desk monitors.  Lateral files were concealed behind cherry chest of drawers giving the completed facility more a New York townhouse look than a modern office building.  The completed building won the County Cultural & Heritage Commission award for Historic Preservation and Adaptive Use.

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Dennis Kowal Architects believe recycling buildings saves energy and the environment

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Posted July 24, 2013 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Uncategorized

Ben Franklin bares all!   1 comment

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Ben Franklin bares all!

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The houses and print shop owned by Ben Franklin still exist on Market Street in Philadelphia.

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Originally owned by Benjamin Franklin, the former tenant house at 318 Market Street is a unique museum that reveals more than Benjamin Franklin’s history. Unlike most house museums, 318 Market does not represent a specific moment in history or one family’s experience within the house and the City. Walls of the Franklin house have been “stripped bare”  to reveal the changes made from the time it was built in 1787 to the present. The history of the house is documented by scars on the walls that show where the partitions once stood and where architectural elements, like fireplaces, were once located.   Physical details that are still visible represent the entire history of the house and all of its owners from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.  Dennis Kowal AIA worked with the National Park Service to explain this history and develop a Museum about Ben Franklin’s involvement in the construction of the his houses.

Franklin loved to watch construction and called it “an old man’s amusement” (the name of the Museum as well).

The tools used to build houses like these and the methods employed are the features of the museum.  This original display window still contains the “bulls eye” glass that was hand blown for this purpose.   A “bulls eye” is a round thickened bulge in the glass where the glass blower removed his pontil  (blow pipe).   During the 18th and early 19th century, molten glass was blown into a “crown” (globe shape) and then spun and flattened into a large glass disk using centrifugal force.  The best window  glass was the thin and clear glass away from the center, while the thicker inner circle glass was cut for less important windows.  Machine rolled glass wasn’t developed in America until 1888 and “wire glass” (security glazing) came along in 1898.

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Dennis Kowal originally designed and field tested a projection system of how the interiors could be recreated from the wall fragments.  The photos below show how the black soot reveals where the chimney flue rose against the wall (red line) and locates the fireplace between two built-in china closets with small shelves and a central cupboard (beige line).   All that remains of the closets are plaster backs which denote where the wood shelves and construction once stood.

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Ben Franklin’s wall have been “stripped bare” of furring and layers of finishes to reveal the original bearing wall which provides a fascinating look into the original finishes, millwork and structural modifications.  From these fragments and knowledge about the period, the entire interior can be mentally recreated as it once was.

 

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS designs historic Museum in Independence Park

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Awarding Winning Book features Dennis Kowal Architects   1 comment

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Awarding Winning Book features Dennis Kowal Architects

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A book about the Handley Regional Library of Winchester Virginia, including the recent historic renovation by Dennis Kowal Architects,  won in the Best-Non Fiction category of the Independent Publishers Award (also known as the “IPPYS”).  The book details the history of the Library and how the most significant Beaux Arts Style building in the State of Virginia ended up in beautiful, but rural, Winchester.

At the time when Dennis Kowal Architects (DKA) was hired, a previous study had concluded that the nearly 100 year old structure was beyond repair and should be demolished.  DKA saved the building by determining a feasible approach and cost to the historic renovation and proved the facility could be sensitively altered to be barrier free, technologically proficient, and large enough to meet the needs of the community as a public library.  The building is now celebrating it’s centennial and functions beautifully as a state-of-the-art library within the historic structure.  Library Director, Trish Ridgeway, reports that book circulation and attendance have both doubled as a result of the renovation and because “Dennis Kowal Architects listened to what we wanted”.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and required a strict adherence to preservation guidelines.  Technically a “rehabilitation” because while most building elements were restored to their original construction, some parts of the library were creatively altered to adapt to the current needs of an operating library. For example, the five tiered, glass floored, iron stack assembly was repaired, cleaned and restored but now as three tiers to better align with the other floors of the building.

Restoration involved almost every trade and material from the stained glass dome to the “bottle glass” cast-iron floor gratings.  When discarded components were found in the attic, they were re-purposed in the renovation such as using the old wood-shuttered toilet stall doors for the restored telephone booth.

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The book highlights the involvement of Dennis Kowal Architects in the massive renovation.

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The completed facility features frosted glass floors that were once painted, restored tiger oak millwork, furniture duplicated to match the original library desks and chairs, replacement limestone tooled to match the original, restored terrazzo, refurbished lighting fixtures,  restored and duplicated ornamental copperwork, and the original circulation desk now converted into a bench and sculpture.   The 100 year old glass floors were creatively back-lit to give the new Young Adult Room a modern flare.

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Many of the original materials of the structure were badly decomposed or missing.  DKA painstakingly reproduced copper scrolls, original light fixtures, and restored as much of the original fabric as possible including the massive tiger oak entry doors and the entire limestone exterior.

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The Library suffered from maintenance neglect, settling foundation walls, bird and air pollution staining, and some structural failures.   Thanks to the caring renovation and the completion of details on the original drawings but never executed, the  Library now looks better than the day it was first built.

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Dennis Kowal Architects saves energy, resources, and history by recycling the past.

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