This month’s RTP180 topic made me think of angled buildings where people work in sleek offices with beautiful lighting. When I left the session, I was pleasantly surprised with my new understanding that architecture is, ironically, more than meets the eye. Architecture professionals work toward creating spaces where history, human connection, safety and innovation can thrive to improve our society.
During this installment, we heard from four professionals who work in different sectors within architecture, and gave us a glimpse into their life’s work.
George Elvin | NCSU
“The worst thing you can do is put the building perpendicular to the wind.”
Our first speaker George Elvin is an Associate Professor of Architecture at North Carolina State University. George researches and teaches about building for extreme conditions (think the middle of the desert, or communities exposed to hurricanes). His understanding and teaching style for this field comes from hands-on exposure to these environments. To George, being an architect is much more than making a plan for a building. He looks at the surrounding landscapes and the flow of the air around a potential building, and then creates designs that let nature move around the structure in a nonresistant way.
Bentley Ruggles | Dewberry Engineers
“We wanted to find a way to references to the important cultural history of the site.”
Bentley Ruggles is a practicing landscape architect with Dewberry in Raleigh, North Carolina. He works on a mixture of projects focused on landscape design for mixed-used, private estates, campuses, and more. Bentley was raised in the South and made it known that he uses his career to pay homage to the history of North Carolina. In a project to improve the landscaping around Parmer RTP, he explored old maps of the area which is now Research Triangle Park. Based on those maps, which dated to the 1800s, Bentley incorporated the crinum lily into his design as a nod to the Park’s history. He determined this flower was brought over during the slave trade and planted around this land. He used this historical data to tie it back into the history of the people that came before us and are here now.
Elizabeth Van Orden | US EPA
“The mindset has changed in the design world and what is considered efficient.”
Elizabeth Van Orden works for the US Environmental Protection Agency in RTP. She has a unique career in fitness architecture, finding ways to design a building with its inhabitants’ health in mind. Elizabeth shared that the structures we live and work in often correlate with infectious disease. In the 1800s, unhealthy buildings contributed to 57% of deaths in the US. Officials soon recognized that airflow and circulation created healthier living.
Elizabeth’s job is to take it a step further and extend these methods into our work environments. While it may have seemed like a great idea for offices to have cubicles, studies have found that there is a link between creating an ergonomically sound office environment and the overall success of the business. Now with COVID-19, Elizabeth stressed that our surroundings are going to continue to be more integrated into open concept plans.
Edwin Harris | EVOKE Studio Architecture
”If a space gives people an opportunity, then the space has done its job.”
From a young age, Edwin Harris of EVOKE Studio was encouraged to follow his passion for architecture. He was also mentored by the late Phil Freelon, who declared him “a supremely talented architect on the rise.” Edwin built a legacy in designing spaces with a belief that powerful architecture can enhance the lives of those who occupy it. One of his projects was a TV studio for NCCU Television, where many students are the first generation in their family to attend college.
Designing projects that create opportunities gives Edwin a sense of pride. He says in the Triangle, there is a need for hybrid spaces for offices, community locations, performance halls, and more.
We hope you like what you saw! Join us next month for *Virtual* RTP180: Taboo, where we will be getting comfortable with the uncomfortable! Reserve your ticket.