Sunday, February 5, 2012

IARC Out of the Studio and on the Road: Freelon Group and South Regional Library Visit, Durham, NC

On the first of February my CAD class took a trip to Durham to get better acquainted with the South Regional Library, whose drawings we are working with in Revit.  Freelon group, a local design and architecture firm, making their office our first stop on the trip, designed the Library. While we were there we were taken on a guided tour around the office, meeting with various members of the firm who talked with us about different aspects of how the firm works. They also showed us a few examples of current and past work, including the South Regional Library. The thing that most impressed me was the fact that most everything is done in house. Ranging from computer rendered perspectives to intricate hand crafted scale models, Freelon Group does it all. Freelon Group does a lot of commercial projects, consisting of libraries, museums, etc.  Another quality of Freelon group I appreciate is their emphasis on community-based projects, and how they take a lot of care in remembering the people they are designing for. This was a key element that I felt was missing from Paula Carr’s, of TVS Design, presentation from class a few weeks ago.
While Freelon Group is a smaller, local design firm, TVS Design is a larger firm whose work has international influence and can be found all across the global community. But that’s just what was missing from the presentation, the community.  There was very little talk of how successful the projects were from the client’s perspective. Much discussion was held on concept and form, but it was disconcerting to me how little she talked about the users perspective of the project.  This would seem to me to be very important when doing cross-cultural work. TVS Design is also involved in commercial design, with projects ranging from retail design to air port terminals. Unlike Freelon Group, who takes a more architectural approach to interior design, TVS Deign has a more conceptual approach, using fantastical forms and unique concept work as the basis for their designs. The subject of LEED certification as a design goal was also apparently absent from the conversation.  It also surprised me to hear that TVS also will ship out their renderings to be completed over seas for international projects. Being in design school and completing my own computer renderings, this had never occurred to me as an option within the design process.
I feel I identify more closely with Freelon Group in terms of design values. In terms of style, I hate to set up preconceived notions about what type of design style I have, but if I had to say, it would be a mixture of that of both TVS Design and Freelon Group. My style consists of a bit of whimsy and nuance combined with clean simple lines. My design style also has an emphasis on sustainable design that keeps the project users and community in mind. A design language that is not so obsessed with form as it is with the people it serves. In the end, we as designers are providing a service to both client and community. It is up to us to be sure that we properly account for both groups in all of our work.

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