"Architecture is a tough business. Like old age, it's not for the weak. But the rewards are many, like happy clients, and witnessing young colleagues grow into effective teachers and successful leaders."
New architect, Slavko Vukic received notice from the State late October.
A genius with BIM, and with substantial experience in school design, Slavko has increased his knowledge the past two years in the field, as construction administrator for Norwalk Transit, Our Community School, The Hope Center for Teens, and now a new Adult Medicine Clinic at County USC Medical Center. He believes architects in many ways are public servants, helping people realize their dreams. Slavko said “my best work is my next work”.
Multi-Specialty Hub, Outpatient Department
LA County USC Medical Center
LCDG prepared plans for the recently completed County USC Multi-Specialty Hub in the 50-year old Outpatient Department building. The County is updating and maintaining their existing facilities to meet and exceed today’s standards for patient care, family involvement, multidisciplinary care teams, and new teaching methods. The clinic enhances the patient’s experience through a number of design features: improved wayfinding; attractive greeter’s counters; new clinical furniture and equipment; soft tan, green, blues and gray color palettes; and improved lighting and air conditioning. Dedicated rooms for group visits, conferences, and consultations provide ample space for medical discussions.
To improve patient care, technology has been improved and made more accessible, with convenient, fold-down computers at exam rooms, adjacent corridors, and hoteling-inspired work stations centered on interaction and flexibility. The centrally located team work room facilitates physician-intern patient evaluations for this academic medical center.
In addition to LCDG, credit for this cost effective, successful future-thinking design is due to the Department of Health Services medical staff and Capital Projects Division John Shubin, and Julio Ribeiro.
The Hope Center for Teens will serve high-risk youth, bringing together all of the services needed to keep them safe and help them successfully transition into adulthood. Renovation of the 90-year old structure has reached 50%. A single new tower has been erected outside the existing structure to provide a second exit, elevator for accessibility, and an HVAC system. The striking form serves as a beacon for new arrivals.
As though he doesn’t have enough to do at LCDG, in his spare time Slavko Vukic designed and crafted a glowing, decorative living room lamp. At the core of the 55” high free-form tower is a conventional 48” fluorescent lamp. 3D forms were modeled with Rhino software, contoured in 2” increments. Next came plywood ribs supported on slender wood dowels, then translucent white polycarbonate sheets were lofted between. Slavko’s looking for a developer to scale this up to 55 stories!
This summer, LCDG principal Lance Bird confirmed what Jane Jacobs preached -- there’s something about the scale of neighborhoods that encourages community. In Lance’s first trip to Cartagena’s Old Town, he savored the friendly scale of 2- and 3-story buildings fronting on narrow streets. Overhead, colorful flower-bedecked balconies are everywhere. Just a mile-or-so square, the walled Old Town abuts new, large-scale development with more than 40 high-rises. It’s this severe contrast that reminds us the Spanish got it right 500 years ago. In June, with dripping humidity, temperatures soar above 100 degrees. But searing Colombian sunlight rarely reaches pedestrians. Old Town is a joyous blend of race, youth and elderly, workers and tourists, residents, and shoppers. Garden-like squares and plazas attract impromptu high-energy vendors, musicians, artists, and people-watchers. Lance will be back with sketch book in hand.
By Lance Bird, FAIA
I had a mentor. I had many, but one stands out. I went to work for him 18 months out of school. He was director of design in a large A-E firm, leading a group of 6-8 designers.
I learned there are many good solutions to a design problem. I learned to first understand what the “dumb” solution was. The dumb solution solved the essential challenges of the problem. Good design went beyond the obvious.
In our design department we were inspired to do our best. We worked long days and nights. He did not. He was our critic. Through questions and suggestions, he guided us to creative solutions. I learned solutions to problems are often found in unexpected places. By having rested eyes and distance from the office, my mentor often discovered solutions we hadn’t thought of.
I learned that gaining a client’s trust requires exceptional communication. While English was his second language, he often explained his intentions with metaphors. He spoke in plain talk, not above our clients. With simple examples, he communicated.
He didn’t gossip or reveal confidences, so we learned to trust him with our own personal problems. As he earned our trust, he gained commitment and loyalty from each of us.
He let us grow in our own way. As we grew, our responsibilities also grew. Gradually, each of us became mentors as well.
My mentor loved his family, his wife and two sons. He spent evenings and weekends with them. And he cared about each of our families. I learned the importance of family.
My mentor was Cesar Pelli. My mentor, in turn, also had a mentor, Eero Saarinen.
To “mentees” in our profession: Finding the right mentor for you depends on a thoughtful search and some luck. Early in my career I interviewed with many architects. While I was looking for a ‘star’ firm, I also looked for leaders in sync with my own aspirations. It’s unlikely your mentor will be a highly published star. By that time, most likely they have built a team of lieutenants that intercede on his/her behalf. Ideally your mentor will have time for you, to teach and inspire you along the path uniquely suited for you.
Epilogue: NCARB’s Intern Development Program (IDP) depends on mentors and supervisors to grow interns. If you are a licensed architect, volunteer to be an intern’s mentor or supervisor. See NCARB’s website for more information.
IDP supervisors and mentors play crucial roles throughout the internship process. Their knowledge, guidance, and support are invaluable to the development of an intern and add to the long-term quality of the profession. www.ncarb.org
For the VIP, LCDG has submitted the North Hall renovation project for plan check. The Violence Intervention program (VIP) offers around-the-clock medical, forensic, mental health, support and advocacy services to children in foster care and other victims of child abuse and neglect, domestic, violence, sexual assault, elder abuse and dependent adult abuse.
This 13,340 SF three-story building focuses on the youth segment of service. Built in the 1920’s, the building has been gutted and will be brought up to code, with replacement of all building systems. A compact addition accommodates the central mechanical system, stairs and elevator. A new outdoor deck is planned adjacent to the “grand room “where youth initially arrive.
Since 2012, LCDG has worked closely with the Our Community School, a remarkable community-based charter school in Chatsworth, California. The 440 student K-8 school leased a vacant LAUSD space and modernized the campus, and LCDG partnered with the board, administrators, teachers, children and parents to create a nurturing environment for the students. A comprehensive plan was prepared addressing critical repairs, code issues, and improved teaching spaces. Needs and costs were organized into three priority levels enabling the team to make informed choices for improvements. Following design and DSA approvals, the selected contractor proceeded in two phases, coordinating with the 9-month school year.
Phase 1 was completed Spring 2016 and consists of accessible pathways, and improved parking, landscaping, play equipment, Multi-Purpose Room, restrooms and classrooms.
Phase 2 will be completed in September 2016. Further restroom improvements are planned, a new changing room and fire alarm system added, and the remaining classrooms enhanced.
At the annual Pasadena Community Gardens and the American Institute of Architects Pasadena & Foothill Chapter joint fall picnic and raffle, LCDG designer Andrew Sidler received an award for his “Ply-Sphere”. The amazing form was modeled in 3D, deconstructed to 2D, laser cut and cleverly interlocked to form a rigid, outdoor never-seen-before birdhouse.