Last month, our office organized the first Alcove Crawl – an informal setting to share our current work to our firm. Several project teams displayed the work in one of our many alcove spaces throughout the office, and we walked around enjoying beers and learning about each project. Not only was this an opportunity to share our projects, but also gave a voice to our emerging staff who led the presentations for each of our projects. Here we’ve shared three perspectives of the event.
Wenz G. Tuttle, Payette Intern
Master of Architecture + Health Candidate | 2018
The Alcove crawl is an inventive concept that allows Payette’s employees to see projects by their colleagues on a relaxing Friday afternoon. As a summer intern working predominantly on healthcare projects, the opportunity to participate and see works from the academic side of the practice and the work of our Building Science Group is both enriching and enlightening.
This exercise also promotes transparency between project teams and allows the sharing of information to occur. In the architecture and design field, everyone can benefit from understanding best practices and the unique challenges that each project has. This event cultivates an environment that allows participants to ask a wide array questions.
I arrived at Payette for my internship a week and a half before my first alcove crawl and the setup of the event made me feel completely comfortable to ask the senior staff questions. They were happy to share their expertise and helped me understand the reason behind design their decisions.
One project I had the opportunity to learn more about was the VA Hospital Chelsea Soldier’s Home. The elegant curvatures of the H-shaped Chelsea Soldier’s Home design along with the well-crafted site model drew my attention to their alcove. In our discussion with the designer and senior associate, we learned how the site constraints of the project helped inform the final form of the new facility. It is also especially challenging since the older facility will still be in operation until the new facility is completed. I also learned about the configuration of the patient rooms in relation to the public living area that enables the unit to feel like a “home.” The design team also incorporated green spaces and memory gardens to give their demographic a green healing environment.
Tyler Loewen, Assoc. AIA
Allowing the entire office to allocate time to review current projects and progress informally where open dialogue can occur is instrumental to the overall productivity of the office. Learning what others are working on and coordinating between project teams helps to better comprehend and collaborate on similar issues teams are facing. This allows for greater efficiency and taps into the broader knowledge base of the combined experience around the office.
The Alcove Crawl was a great opportunity to showcase what the firm is currently working on. More specifically, I found it interesting how each team’s design process varies from project to project. Understanding the scale of different projects will warrant a different design scheme, but visually and audibly seeing the process side-by-side was very informative for a new employee like me. This was also a great opening to meet new people and have a stronger understanding of what people are working on and how. Allowing the staff to present their work allowed for great discussions surrounding the projects both conceptually and physically. I am still impressed with the design efforts behind each team. The models and drawings we produce are something to be proud about, the professionalism and quality of product continues to grow with each project and lessons learned.
Lastly, the Alcove Crawl showcased many projects I didn’t know much about. With my work predominantly in healthcare, the event gave me the opportunity to explore the other work focused in the office shows the entire hand of Payette including undergraduate science. I am looking forward to attending future events to continue open discussions and presentations as new people join the firm. I think it’s important to have a clear precedent of what we show in our alcoves and how we talk about that material. It provides new staff with a benchmark when they are tasked with pinning up their work.