Archive for August 2012

University Students bring teacher an Apple!   Leave a comment

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University Students bring teacher an Apple!

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 How do you design a University Conference Center that also accepts fork lifts!  This was the unique challenge solved by Dennis Kowal Architects at Rutgers Fruit Research and Extension Center.  The Cream Ridge Agricultural Center is composed of labs, barns, fruit orchards, cold storage and teachers and students who basically study apples for shelf life, taste, insect resistance and productivity.

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Dennis Kowal Architects converted a leaky equipment storage barn into a state-of-the-art conference center but the same facility had a few more requirements.  For example, a couple times a year, the Agricultural conference center hosts a farming event where farm equipment and some of the orchard harvests are on display and Rutgers wanted the Conference Room walls to open to the out of doors for a “flow through” experience.   Also, the Conference Center contained labs and cold storage for the fruit specimens picked from the orchards by the crate-load and the floors needed to handle fork lift traffic while still meeting   the sophisticated sound requirements for lectures and meetings.

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A symposium room for up to fifty people exists in the same space as the labs and cold storage.   The flexible space must serve as Lecture Hall, Exhibit Space, and Museum. The Conference Center also is an Agricultural Museum, often displaying farm equipment which is brought in through the overhead doors.  Dennis Kowal Architects used a floating wood grid ceiling to allow the overhead doors to disappear above the grid, creating the open-air feeling on fair days while maintaining the decorum of a museum on other days.

The same area before the major renovations consisted of exposed, un- insulated construction, farming supplies and otherwise wasted space.

The Research Center studies small fruits, including apples, peaches, apricots, nectarines, brambles, strawberries, and ornamental nursery crops. The center increases production efficiency and protects fruit crops against environmental and biological hazards, while decreasing production costs and pesticide use. As a result of their research and development, some fruit storage can last all winter.

The amount of lay-in ceiling was minimized to reduce exposure to humidity when the barn doors are opened and the conference center becomes a fairgrounds!

Reclaimed barn beams and wood were used for the door lintels and door frames to link the new facility to its heritage.

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Dennis Kowal Architects designs for higher education and supports students through internships.

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DKA Planetarium “stars” in TV show   Leave a comment

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DKA Planetarium “stars” in TV show

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The dramatic entry to the Space Museum was conceived by DKA to transition visitors from daylight and earth to the outer space and the nighttime sky.

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DKA designed the Planetarium and Space Museum at Raritan Valley Community College to evoke space travel.  When it was time to celebrate the 400th year anniversary of Galileo looking into space with a telescope,  the TV show the “Cake Boss” brought a solar system cake through the dramatic space tunnel  entrance to the Planetarium.    Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro said “when I brought the cake to the planetarium, going down that hallway, it felt like I was bringing the cake into outer space, it was so cool!”.

The design elicits reactions from almost everyone who enters the lobby doors and the space travel “experience” begins long before showtime through the use of lighting, materials and creative design.     It is not unusual for children to drop the hand of their parents and head straight for the tunnel entrance before buying a ticket!  “In fact”, says principal architect, Dennis Kowal, “I’ve seen a few adults do this as well!”   Architecture that conjures emotional response is a real treat.

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The Planetarium seating is surrounded by a seamless welded wire fabric that seems to dissolve away to reveal the technology behind when the lights are lowered.  The wire fabric wall appears solid upon entering the Planetarium and then the magic begins!  Space and enclosure melt away as the room darkens and what appeared solid now reveals an even larger space beyond, simulating the effect of the vastness of looking into the night sky.
   

Buddy and the staff of Cake Boss are seen  passing through the 40’ space tunnel  to deliver the cake to an expectant crowd.    The cake boss said the Planetarium gave them “one of the warmest receptions we ever got”.

The college course catalogue which featured the planetarium and design on its cover shows the projector in use.  Much research of other Planetariums went into the design and selection of equipment.

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The floor plan is designed in a series of orbits circulating visitors through the lobby, tunnel, museum, and planetarium.

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DKA is known for integrating architecture and technology.

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Design for the Multi-impaired; not your father’s hospital!   1 comment

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Design for the Multi-impaired; not your father’s hospital!

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Many subtleties were used to make this maintenance-free dormitory and school for the multiply impaired look like a residence and not a hospital; notice that the window side-lites look like shutters, notice the gabled roofs and copper gutters, and see how the use of porches, railings, and chimneys changes the scale and approachability of the building.

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When asked to design a prototype for a facility for multiply impaired children, Dennis Kowal Architects created a two-level house-like facility and even added a two car garage that acts as a covered ambulance transport during emergencies and as a weather-enclosed recreation room the remainder of the time.  The St. Joseph’s Sisters of Peace operate Concordia House as a school and dormitory for children with both blindness and other disabilities.  Their desire was a non-institutional building that provided warmth and comfort to the children and their visiting families.

A number of ground-breaking ideas were incorporated into the design including a two-tone wood trim way-finding which was stained to signal which floor you are on, touch and color panels to identify rooms when a child is unable to learn braille, and specially designed bathrooms that facilitate self-care.  A commercial kitchen serves the dining hall but the kitchen was conceived as a training kitchen as well, with low-height baking stations and a dine-in area for the students to enjoy.

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Ease of access and safety were high priorities in the design which has four grade exits, an elevator, and extra wide corridors. 

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The lattice theme and playful green tiles add a little fun to this facility for blind and disabled children.

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A welcoming interior is used by both family and students.  Some of the senses are stimulated by various themes such as the fireplace, exterior rain chains, an herb garden and a “greenhouse lobby”.

  05 new.These hospital-width corridors appear friendly due to the carpet patterns, wall sconces, and comforting wood trim.
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.For those with partial vision, dark stained doors identify the lower level and light doors with dark trim identify the upper level.  

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Inserts next to each bedroom door have uniquely different colors and textures so that the most severely impaired students can still identify their room.

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Natural light, plants, and a variety of locations to train for cooking, cleaning, and independent living are combined in this 17 bed facility.

 

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Dennis Kowal Architects is an advocate for the developmentally disabled and designs for their needs.

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