Red Diamond Achiever Award Winner: Q&A with Greg Fisher of Greg D. Fisher, Architect
By Berit Griffin
September 25, 2013
Yesterday, we took a look at the Brendle Group project–a beautiful Colorado commercial renovation designed by Greg Fisher of Greg D. Fisher, Architect. Greg has graciously agreed to share his thoughts on his project and the architectural/building industry. In his own words, here’s Greg:
1. Tell us why you decided to use Integrity in your project. What drove your decision? Was it the attributes of Ultrex, the 10-day delivery, the quality and heritage of the company, have you used it before, etc.?
It’s a cliché, but we were looking for “the moon at a down to earth price” for all aspects of the project. We sought sustainable, energy efficient and good-looking products and decisions that were obtainable on a limited budget. Integrity windows met these criteria. We felt windows made from Ultrex, as compared to vinyl, would be much more durable due to the expansion and contraction properties being similar to glass. We also found that the thermal properties of the window performed well in our energy models.
2. What was your favorite part about this project (besides the windows!)?
I really loved this client and the team we had assembled to assist them. Brendle Group is a sustainability consulting firm that wished to use this project to lead by example, creating a realistic roadmap for a sustainable retrofit of an existing office building for their new offices and at the same time provide a quality architectural expression. While we achieved a LEED Gold certification for the project and just missed Platinum, we did not “chase points”. We made what we felt were the most sustainable choices that were obtainable with a limited budget and let the points fall where they may. The entire team was dedicated to making this happen and went above and beyond what might be normal services for a project of smaller scale.
3. Can you give us your thoughts about the building industry today? Do you see improvement? If so, how? If not, why?
I am continually amazed at all of the positive changes being made in our industry primarily in the last 10 to 15 years. I have been practicing since 1984. Between 84 and the mid 90’s it seemed that the biggest changes in our industry were due to the influence of the computer and computer aided drafting (CAD). Since then, while computer technology continues to improve, it seems that the green movement has had the biggest impact on positive change. Products, approaches, awareness, education and codification seem to be making a steady march towards better and smarter solutions. There are also many movements such as the Living Building Challenge, LENSES (Living Environments in Natural, Social and Economic Systems) framework and the 2030 Challenge that continue to pull the mainstream green building movements upwards towards building in ways that are regenerative rather than simply being “less bad”. I find this very exciting.
4. You obviously have a lot of experience building beautiful buildings! Can you talk a little bit more about how you balance managing your customers’ expectations and producing the best product possible?
This is always a tricky balance, creating an exciting design and maintaining the budget. I believe, the first and most important step is to have honest communication from the owner as to what their expectations are and what their real budget is. I sometimes find clients do not want to divulge their budget as they think they might save money by withholding this. In fact, a proper target is critical for the design team to make proper suggestions and to get to the best result and best value efficiently. It is also essential to have quality contractor input early to provide cost information on alternative approaches and overall budget tracking. Approach items in a general fashion first, then move to specifics; make the right big picture decisions before getting down into the weeds.
5. The building industry can be very rewarding. Are you concerned with the future of it, as it pertains to attracting young talent? What more could the industry do to ensure it remains a choice career option?
I believe the industry will be able to attract young talent for many years to come. I continually come across young folks that seem to be sincerely interested in a career in architecture and they often request time to discuss the field or wish to job shadow. Through these experiences I see their enthusiasm. However, I have often found they have been given information leading them to believe that now is not a good time to enter the field. While I have read several articles about a predicted shortage of architects in the near future due to many young professionals leaving the field during the downtown, I don’t think our industry is doing enough to get the word out that there is a place for these future architects.
6. Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
It is very exciting to be selected as a Red Diamond Award winner and to receive acknowledgement for the efforts the owners and the design team put forth in the project. It was a true labor of love and we hope that others will be inspired to produce similar or hopefully even better solutions. Thank you, Integrity!
And thank you, Greg! If you like Greg’s project, don’t forget to vote for it in the People’s Choice award–one lucky Red Diamond Achiever winning project will get this honor and you get to help make that decision!