Written by design associate Tom Sterling
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On a recent trip to Seoul, South Korea I couldn’t help but frame my experience in the fast-moving metropolis through the lens of someone accustomed to life in a comparatively calm Midwestern city. With more than 13x the population of Northeast Ohio, Seoul suffers from near-constant gridlock but benefits from a vibrance and, with it, the commensurate resources Cleveland hasn’t seen for nearly 100 years.
Like Cleveland, Seoul experienced rapid industrialization, urbanization, and subsequent suburbanization. As the city sprawled after the Korean War, so too did its infrastructure. Over a mere decade, urban and industrial infrastructure was choking the last vestiges of nature out of the core of the city- particularly in the dense and flat CBD.
Hoping to spur economic growth by providing new recreation options to residents and solve the city’s chronic runoff problems, officials decided to do something bold. They made the controversial decision to remove a massive arterial highway and replace it with a long, meandering park and stormwater mitigation system.
After 3 and a half years of work, Cheonggyecheon, has become one of the most popular green spaces in the city. One would be hard-pressed to identify the location of the idyllic watershed in photographs from just 15 years ago when the stream was culverted by a double-decker 8 lane expressway. What was once chocked from sunlight by layers of concrete infrastructure is now a healthy watershed replete with dragonflies, pelicans, and innumerable native plant species (marking an increase in overall biodiversity of 639%) and teeming with schools of fish.
While the park is only 7 miles long and 50’ wide, the economic, social, and ecological impact on the city has been astronomical. Summer temperatures around the perimeter of the park dropped 11 degrees and particulate air pollution by 35%. With more than 64,000 daily visitors- thousands of which are out of town or foreign- the surrounding owner-occupied buildings along the banks of the stream have found newfound success and increased economic stability thanks to the throngs of visitors.
Like Cleveland’s own public square, Cheonggyecheon is a perfect example of how re-evaluating public spaces and civic infrastructure can be fundamental to remaking a city. Similarly ambitious projects are in the works along Lake Erie, but I couldn’t help but think of the hundreds of culverted watersheds and highway-bisected neighborhoods that dot Northeast Ohio. What transformative potential could projects like this-big and small- hold for Cleveland? What would happen if we continued to re-evaluate our public infrastructure? And what kind of agency do we have as citizen-designers to push Cleveland towards a more sustainable, healthy future?
Engaging, appropriate, modifiable lighting is a critical component in creating successful spaces. The fascinating thing is that so few people are aware of the power of lighting.
Lighting temperature is measured in degrees of Kelvin. In this case the word temperature is describing the color emitted by a light source. Imagine a candle flame and the range of colors from the wick to the tip of the flame. The color varies based on the differing temperatures across the flame. Incandescent bulbs radiate light energy and our current LED technology attempts to recreate that appearance. The important thing is matching the chosen light temperature to the activity and mood of the space being designed. This is true for every type of space.
When discussing light temperatures, we most often discuss options between 2700K and 6000K. If you’re anywhere near a designer, you’re going to hear some very strongly held opinions on which number is the best. You’ve found your way to our blog and therefore our opinions:
2700k is warm and cozy, approaching the color of candle light in feeling - this is where Danish hygge happens. 2700 and even the next step higher is the best for occupants’ skin tones and improves the mood of almost any space.
3500k is a bit cooler while still feeling in the ‘warm’ range, there’s still a tinge of yellow to the light. It’s acceptable, we’ll leave it at that.
4100K is starting to be crisper, a bit bluer even a little green. This can be described as more neutral but you’re reading the writing of people who think it’s fair to call it cold.
5000K is, in theory, simulating a bright sunny day. Let’s not even start.
6000K is called full sunlight. No. Just, no, not ever.
Lighting for movies and lighting in architecture have a lot in common. In movies, lighting can help the viewer understand how to feel emotionally. It can signify a specific mood and draw the viewer into the world of the story being created. How is lighting used in movies to make magic? Actually, to tell you the truth (and at Christmas you always tell the truth) it is all about lighting at the lower temperature. We have included a few images to illustrate our point. Ladies and gentleman, Love Actually:
A yearly tradition for us at TECHNE has been a Friendsgiving potluck lunch including an office roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes + gravy, green bean casserole, Brussels sprouts, and of course a can of cranberry sauce—complete with its signature imprinted ridges (no shaming, there is already enough ridicule to go around). It is an important opportunity for us to appreciate the hard work, effort and support each of us provides every day.
It is also important for us to recognize and thank you. We are very grateful for the opportunities we have had the fortune to be involved in over the past year; but are most thankful for the amazing people with whom we collaborate. These personal relationships are what allow us to pursue our work with the dedication and craft that is TECHNE, and we couldn’t do it without your support.
As we pause this week, departing our hectic daily pressures and sit with family and friends to celebrate thanksgiving; let us allow the importance of these bonds and traditions to be foremost in our thoughts and actions. I think Lincoln said it best in his first inaugural address:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” - Abraham Lincoln 4 March 1861.
Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.
Unlike our fictionalized counterparts, the average architect does not earn an exorbitant salary. We do, however, appreciate [and covet] beautiful objects and good design. Cost is always a problem; we’ve invested some time and here’s our work around.
Buy it in black. Paint it in black. Chose the black one. High gloss, matte black, sometimes something in between. Bottom line: Black.
Architects, really designers in general, know that there are many ways to manipulate the eye. Color, pattern, and proportion can make you think something is larger, smaller, and better than it really is. In an effort to evaluate the true form of the object, the authentic nature of the thing, the thingness of the thing if you’ll pardon some Heidegger, take away the trappings and look at it in black. Your favorite architect will own black t-shirts, black cars, black notebooks, black dishes, certainly black framed eyeglasses, black bags, and infinite black pens.
Now don’t go too far. Actually, do - because it’s mega cool: consider Vantablack. This chemical substance made of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays prevents you from determining contours, edges, and form. We digress… and as per usual, into very expensive territory.
Bringing the conversation back to what is attainable for mere mortals, there is an even better reason to choose to live in a monochromatic world: things look more expensive in black. Black smooths out the disparity between expensive and inexpensive. In a world where you can’t afford everything you’d like to own, spend your money wisely. Choose black.
Our studio is a place where we have the ability to be ourselves. We have established a culture that allows us to speak up, share our honest opinions and feel like we’re all working towards bettering ourselves and the firm. Our culture directly influences the work we love and enthusiastic relationships we have with our clients.
But first, coffee. No, seriously coffee. While a bit cliché (ok, a lot cliché), every day begins with coffee. Cold and hot brew both are made each day from sustainably sourced beans. How integral is coffee to the beginning of our day? The office handbook has an entire chapter providing instructions on how to brew the perfect, ridicule-free pot of coffee. If you happen to be the first to arrive and “forget” to brew a pot while sipping your coffee house latte, it’s guaranteed that you will never forget again.
After coffee, a quick consult of the National Day Calendar usually starts the music playlist. What is the perfect National Donut Day or World Emoji Day playlist? We can tell you. Speakers located throughout the office keep the mood light and provide the white noise necessary for the intense focus required for our work. Choose the wrong National Chop Suey Day playlist (and we all know its System of the Down) – a side-hand comment and the not so subtle shift to headphones clearly indicates it’s time to hang the shame curtains.
After a busy morning collaborating, problem solving, and dreaming of working at one large mega desk (think Dwight Schrute), lunch orders are debated and negotiated, or for those that made trips to the grocery store furious chopping and prep await them in the kitchen. Lunch is a time to refresh, catch up and trash talk our way through a few hands of cards. Hearts is our game of choice, typically a four-person game, we adjusted the rules to fit the number of people which often requires two decks when 8 or more players are involved. There is no worse feeling than hearing “second queen” as the second queen of spades is played and realizing the 5 of clubs on the table is the high card and it’s yours.
TECHNE works hard to support the culture we’ve created, and we continue to look for ways to strengthen our work and personal relationships. Whether it’s a weekly standing happy hour, Friday lunch, weekend TECHNE trips, cookouts in our courtyard or simply providing space for everyone’s voice, we are forever grateful for this crazy, lovable family that is TECHNE.
If you’re in the neighborhood and it’s lunch time, brush up on your dealing (YouTube is a good place to start) and join us for a round of hearts – we’d be happy to teach you the TECHNE way to play.