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After the storm

It seems after a natural disaster that hindsight is 20/20 – the pundits mull over the ins and outs of what happened, what went right or wrong and how to prevent it from occurring again. The people whose lives are immediately impacted tend to the necessities; damage control, cleanup and rejuvenation. Hurricane Irene which started in the Caribbean in late August of 2011 and rode warm waters up the entire eastern seaboard into Canada, leaving destruction in its wake is just such a disaster. Early predictions of the hurricane’s route held true and savvy local governments were able to minimize damage to property and loss of life. New York City prepared for the largest head-on-hit from a hurricane in recent history, and one that occurred at high tide; fortunately the storm had less energy than forecast and damage was minimal.

What happens when the city is not so lucky? How can we adjust our urban design thinking to accommodate a warming world, where weather patterns are irregular and extreme? In the past year alone, New York City has had record snowfall, rainfall, and heat waves – according to predictions from climate change models, these “record” events will continue to occur with increasing regularity. The weather as we know it; and its influence on where and how we live, is changing dramatically. A futuristic vision of the climate-changed New York is presented in the project Sponge City, where the city is organized around its section, not plan, and the grid is less relevant than the 1/4 mile radius walking distance to a community center. Sponge City engages decentralized infrastructures to improve redundancy and decrease catastrophic power, water, and transportation outages. It envisions Boroughs Brooklyn and Queens with transitory watery edges and wetlands that improve water quality, communities that take advantage of tidal energy and mobilize ahead of a storm, neighborhoods that convert their waste into energy to desalinate their water, recycling and reuse of materials from construction, new typologies for urban lighting that senses and visualizes local environmental quality, and vertical zoning creating an interconnected web of uses within a densified city. We cannot predict the future any more than a climatologist can predict the path of a hurricane; but if we begin now, we can lay the urban design frameworks in place that will ensure New York’s resilience in the face of major change.

Morning Dream

Master BathThe July issue of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles is featuring their best baths – and Splice Principal Dawn Bennett shares credit for a Morning Dream. Showcasing a minimalist approach, Dawn and designer Karen Ferguson worked with the clients to create a sculptural space that is serene and deceptively simple. See more views of this project; completed while Dawn worked with Harrison Design Associates.

We are also thrilled that our friends at Stainback Hess were honored with their Enchanting Chamber.  Its wonderful to have such talented friends!

Enjoy the July issue of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles while you can.  Summer is moving fast!



Green is Good, If it’s True

Green Thoughts
In a place where it’s all about one bright idea after another, it is not easy grading green.  How can you tell if products or behaviors are light, medium or dark green; or just greenwashing?  Just what are the right solutions to rev up your eco-nature?
Start small
You are master and commander of the universe!  This, of course, is measured as the space immediately surrounding you or extending to your respective property line (be it your apartment/condo walls or the edge of your home’s yard).  Make small changes that require little extra effort, but improve indoor air quality, decrease energy consumption and help protect valuable resources.
  1. Painting and maintaining your home?  Use low or no VOC paints and consider green cleaning materials.
  2. According to the USGBC, buildings account for 36% of our total energy use and 65% of electricity consumption in the U.S.  Replace appliances and incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient fixtures.
  3. Water is energy-intensive.  Switch to low flow fixtures – choose EPA WaterSense fixtures for your home.
  4. Need new products for the home, consider switching items with ones containing a high recycled content or that use rapidly renewable resources.  There are many to choose from, we love Robin Wilson’s eco-friendly products for the home.
  5. What’s your recycling IQ? Do you know how to make sure your recycling is actually being recycled? The Daily Green reminds us to make sure there is no cross contamination [find out how at http://earth911.com], buy products that make better trash [and grow the demand for recycled goods], and find out how to support recycling in your community.
When considering going green, it is not about what shade, but how we can accomplish change.  Starting small demonstrates the feasibility of incorporating holistic, integrated design solutions that provide a lasting and healthy investment in our home, family and workspace.
These basic solutions help shape your universe into an eco-system.  Stay tuned as we find inspiration in other project scales that will help us toward a more sustainable future.

Ta-da! 2011

With awards and community involvement, Splice is off to an exciting start for 2011. What’s happening in Atlanta and New York?

Congratulations to principal Dawn Bennett for two recent accolades — Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine has named Dawn to their “10 under 40, Atlanta’s New Tastemakers” Image by Erica George Dines.

Dawn was also recently recognized as a winner in the 2008-09 Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest.    Watch Dawn’s interview in a film by Sub-Zero.

Tonja Adair was re-elected as vice president for NYCOBA, the New York chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects.  The organization fosters greater diversity and inclusion in the design profession.

Splice is looking forward to a great year of more design and interaction with our peers & clients.

Happy New Year!

Not-so-Baby Nursery

Not-so-Baby Nursery

Which comes first, the baby, the furnishings or the…art? The only thing that can send a self-respecting architect/designer mom-to-be into a tizzy more than the prospect of having a child, itself, is wondering what the room will look like! Believe me, I know… I’ve been there. And since we recently moved, I’ve already had a chance to re-think and re-invent my daughter’s room. A few things I’ve learned (or already knew):

Experiment with color. Who says all girls want pink, ponies and princesses, and all boys want blue, puppy dogs and fire trucks? You will spend as much time (or more!) in the nursery as your child will. Choose a design that accommodates & appeals to you as much as you hope it will appeal to them.

Flexibility is key! Kids will grow and change; their rooms should, too. Nobody wants to have to completely redesign/refurnish the room every time change comes calling….

Pick a point of inspiration
My husband and I chose not to find out the sex of our bundle-of-joy to be, so gender-based design wasn’t an option for us [and the thought of pale green or yellow (typical gender-neutral colors) left me, well.... flat]. Inspired by a coffee-table book of artist Rex Ray, I started with a mural of riotous colors executed by my close friend, Lichen Frank. “Frolic”, “Turquish”, “Mandarin”, “Toasty”, “Cheerful” and “Verve Violet” – even the names of the paint colors put a smile on my face. From this jumping-off point, I added a fun, graphic rug and a mix of high-design and mass-produced furnishings to create a room that appeals to everyone in our design-oriented family and fit our budget.

  • The floor is a kid-friendly version of a cowhide rug. Carpet tiles are extremely stain-resistant and durable. They also offer the flexibility of replacing only a small portion of a rug should something catastrophic happen! Available through FLOR showroom, Atlanta.
  • A storage system/changing table/shelving unit is from Ikea’s “Stolmen” system. Besides being cost-effective, we like that it is versatile and has enough components to endlessly morph to meet our changing needs. The storage baskets on the floor below hold small toys for now…
  • More Ikea shelving holds additional books in a corner anchored by a Vladimir-Kagan-inspired table. A bright orange, plastic Kartell “La Marie” chair adds a splash of color. Hey, even toddlers appreciate cool pieces! The orange lamp is a vintage thrift store find. It’s mate sits on the adjacent Stolmen storage system.
  • A hanging mesh cylinder from Ikea neatly stores stuffed animals and small toys off the floor. Adding to the work-in-progress idea of the room, a hand-me-down glider will (hopefully!) soon be replaced by a cool, designer chair under the window. There are TONS of cool, modern cribs; but since most were out of our price range, we went with this reasonably-priced, clean, simple Amy Coe design available through Babies R Us. It will convert to a toddler bed, adding to its lifespan.

A recent move provided the opportunity test the flexibility of our design a little over a year after its first inception. Toys in the baskets may have changed [and our daughter now helps herself to everything], but all the furnishings made the cut, though now configured differently. Our only real change is the design of the custom mural. Lichen departed from the surf-inspired theme of our original nursery to create the mural you see now that recalls circus tents and botanical shapes. Our daughter LOVES it!

As the old adage goes, there’s nothing constant in life except change, so why not model your space with the flexibility to rearrange? Re-IMAGINE elements that may seem adult; it’s a fun way to use age appropriate pieces that are kid friendly yet inviting to parents and will work through the years. Stay tuned for future developments and the evolution of our “Not-So-Baby” nursery…..

To read more about our nursery, click here for our press release.