Monthly Archives: July 2015

Industry Leadership

This month I attended a Hollis + Miller quarterly Design U presentation. Through my time at Hollis + Miller I have learned how strongly the firm feels about their values. Each quarter Hollis + Miller has presentations called Design U. These presentations are meant to help you learn more about yourself so that you can help the firm through your own personal passions. Design U is a continuing education program while you are employed.

This quarters program was on Industry Leadership. During the program we spent the afternoon at the new JE Dunn headquarters in downtown Kansas City. The building is less then a year old, and it is beautiful! The guest speaker was the president of JE Dunn, Mr. Bill Dunn. He was the son of the founder of JE Dunn. He spoke about the core principles within his own company and specific rules they have stuck by to get the success they have. He had a few simple suggestions for Hollis + Miller. He said the best way to become a well known, successful company is to give back to your community. The more than you give back to your community the more people will hear about your name and the good work that you do. Also the best kind of leadership comes within. Starting from the partners down to the interns. Each person has their own passion that will help the company in some way.

This presentation really helped me to want to find my true passion within design and the work field. I am excited to see how this could help with my studies this next year and the development of my work and designs.


Can Classroom Furniture Improve Student Engagement?

The title of this article grabbed my attention because it deals with the education market. I have been emerged in the education market working at Hollis + Miller. I used this article as more of a comparison of how we design our schools as to what studies have shown work well with students and learning.

The first word that stood out to me when dealing with furniture in the classroom and classroom engagement was collaboration. The article stated the the number one factor in student-engagement was collaboration. Most classroom furniture is set up in a style to be movable and manipulated for each different activity. The most common learning surface is a table that can be designed to have movable writing surfaces as well as different dividers to be used for privacy. The table is easily morphed from lecture mode to team work mode. Hollis + Miller uses these sorts of tables often, especially in K-12 when collaboration is key. Hollis + Miller also creates areas called “a collaboration stair” which is similar to the concept of Pierce Commons. This area can be used for presentations or for individual or group projects.

Another common piece of classroom furniture is the individual desk. This is what I sat in all through high school. These desks are made for right handed writers and have a small storage space below the seat. This product has been updated to work well again with student-engagement factors such as physical movement and stimulation. A table system has been created by Steelecase that is designed for individual and collaborative interactions. This maintains personal work space, but the rollers on the chair allow for movement if the learning style needs to be moved.

I believe that current classrooms are focused on change and adaptability. Many different studies, including this article, have shown how engagement while learning increases participation. Teachers are able to consistently change their learning styles to adapt to their students current needs.


Bergsagel, Victoria. “Can Classroom Furniture Improve Student Engagement?” Getting Smart. Getting Smart, 29 Jan. 2015. Web. 30 July 2015.

Week 8

This week felt like production week in the office between deadlines and meetings. The first half of the week I spent detailing construction documents for the two Shawnee Mission Elementary Schools I have been working on for the past week. I am now slowly understanding the whole process of using the schedules and small annotations that make deciphering the construction documents understandable. I was even tasked at one point with going through the drawings and cleaning up dimension and annotations lines as well as checking names of sheets and drawings. I felt as though this was special because my coworkers felt that I had enough talent and knowledge about construction documents to freely make changes as I felt necessary. That studio’s 90% CD set for both schools was due Wednesday. It was just like in studio, the whole team went out for drinks after work!

Tuesday afternoon we had a very interesting company wide leadership self-improvement meeting. The program within Hollis + Miller is called Design U. The focus of this meeting was leadership. (I am going to talk more about this in my monthly events so I don’t want to give too many details away). One awesome thing I learned during this seminar was a way to increase the detail in Revit rendering. Revit cloud renderings can sometimes seem foggy and not clean. If you use a Revit rendering with a line drawing of the same image, the rendering becomes very clear and it is a quick, simple solution.

The second half of the week I went back to the studio that was working on the university fraternity houses. Their 90% drawing set was due Friday afternoon. I was tasked with creating a traditional brick and stone sign for in front of the houses. The sign also had a corinthian column as well as a roof. It will also be used to display upcoming events to the public. This task was interesting because there were a lot of smaller challenges that arose as I was creating the sign. I also have not modeled too much in Revit besides simple building elements. Creating a wall sweep was quite the challenge. The sign was about 2 feet thick, but you were not able to use just one wall for the whole sign. I had to create a new wall that contained just the exterior material to wrap around the whole sign as well as a wall that contained just the inner core. One trick that a veteran had to teach me!

It was a great week to get more and more comfortable within the firm as well as learn many new things!

Plug ‘N’ Play Offices Impact Design Culture

This article was very interesting because I have never heard of a Plug ‘N’ Play office before. A plug ‘n’ play office is a space that a startup company can rent to use as their office. The members of the renting company have to only provide technology. Furniture and finishes have already been completed.

I think that this service is a very handy from the consumers point of view. It gets the user into a very modern, workable office space that they did not have to design themselves. The offices also seem to be smaller in size, perfect for a startup. I believe that this type of office would also be easy to sell for realtors. Theses spaces have all of the perfect amenities.

A plug ‘n’ play office, I think, would be hard to design from an architects perspective. There isn’t a defined client, although the trend is more in marketing, advertising and technology. The design field is based on the product the client wants, and with these offices there is no client to specifically tell you “yes” and “no.” Most design oriented careers seem to enjoy more of a modern aesthetic; exposed ceilings, open collaboration spaces, solid wood furniture. All of the previous are also very expensive. Prices poses as another issues, there is not a client to tell you what you can eliminate and what needs to stay. I think that this could be a very interesting project for a new or younger employee at a firm. There isn’t too many constraints, and open to new design trends. I think I would enjoy working on a project of this type.


Interiors & Sources. “Plug ‘N’ Play Offices Impact Design Culture.” Plug ‘N’ Play Offices Impact Design Culture. Stamats Communications Inc., 1 June 2015. Web. 22 July 2015. <;.

Week 7

Wow. I cannot believe that I have been at Hollis + Miller for 7 weeks now, summer flys by even faster when you are learning so much! This week I was able to move to another set of projects to help before deadlines. I have been able to help the interiors team with two elementary schools in the Kansas City area through several phases now. I helped in the selection of some materials, ordering samples, and material board layouts.

I enjoyed this week because I was creating new sheets, not fixing redlines, for the construction document set. I learned about many new kinds of sheets as well. I created control joint sheets and helped decipher where they should be placed. I created cubbies and marker boards for many classrooms. The 75% CD was due towards the end of the week so adding smaller details to all of the plans was a constant trend.

I also dealt with creating new kinds of tags inside of a Revit document. I was able to sit down with the partner that creates many small, specific details in Revit, and create a new tagging option for room tags. I learned that you are able to create certain specifications for the actual room tag that can be used on the room sign located outside of the room. The fact that we were able to create a material tag for these objects helped greatly through the project. I never realized how important one small aspect can be to one project.

Through my internship I have also started to become a lot more comfortable around all of my coworkers. I am also proud of how well I have started to do at crossword puzzles. They really take a lot of practice to understand each clue. I have also been talking at lunch to some past K-State graduates. It is nice to compare classes as well as ask advice for certain projects or even for my portfolio. Small school focuses can never escape the back of my mind even through summer.

Can Starbucks Make 23,000 Coffee Shops Feel Unique?

As per my usually choosing for articles, I chose one that had an interesting title. I also understand how many thousands of Starbucks there are worldwide and I was interested to read the article. At the beginning of the article many different facts are stated from the business side of Starbucks. Behind every design and company there needs to be a strong backbone of leadership. Without an innovative lead designer, your business cannot be as successful as wanted. If you think of every restaurant that is popular towards the public, the face of design is constantly changing in order to grow with the public.

In the beginning, Starbucks had 4 different design themes based on feelings turned into coffee lingo. Depending on the community of the local Starbucks, one theme would be chosen. Towards the beginning of Starbucks’ existence this was a great plan; until the company reached thousands. Now, Starbucks has an idea bank of millions of individual light fixtures, furniture pieces, color schemes, and store concepts. In the design stage for each store, the local environment is used as an inspiration for the store theme. Local materials can be seen through the coffee shop. Starbucks has changed their design to be unique to each and every store instead of being another cookies cutter shop.

I believe that this concept can be applied to any type of design. Every architecture firm is known for at least one specific field of work. No matter how many schools or office buildings they design, they cannot be cookie cutter. In the design development stages of every project the client is interviewed and studied to determine what they want out of the building. In the end, the building is for the client, not for the actual firm.

In school we also have a design style that we tend to gravitate towards. As much as we like to sick to our style, we need to create each project based on what the user wants. Design technology and styles will always come and go helping us to update our preferences. Each client wants the building to be their own, and as designers its our job to provide that.


Wilson, Mark. “Can Starbucks Make 23,000 Coffee Shops Feel Unique?” Co.Design. Fast Co. Design, 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 18 July 2015. <;.

Week 6

This week was hectic, I had an insight to several new things besides new Revit functions. Currently at Hollis + Miller each team is somewhere around a 50% mark for their project. I was able to help out with most of these projects in a few different ways.

The beginning of the week I was able to help with material boards. I was in constant contact with local reps to make sure that we had enough samples for the boards. With our luck we counted too short, but I was able to get the materials to the office in time. While creating the boards some of the designers were talking about the best way to display different materials and how to fabricate the physical board. I now understand that Hollis + Miller has a beginning standard for creating the boards, but it has not been updated in quite some time and is in the process of being revamped. That is one helpful part of being an intern, bringing fresh ideas to the table and also using other ideas to apply to school.

A new process that I helped to make happen was the signing of a document set. I am sure that each firm is different, but it was an interesting process to watch. At Hollis + Miller all of the documents have to simply be shown so that the architects stamp can be seen on every page as they go through and sign each sheet. Personally I dont think I could writ my name that many times in a row.

The second half of the week I continued to help with different Revit documents. I was able to help the team with simpler tasks that needed to be done. It now makes realize how much I missed on each checkpoint for  my construction documents for BCSIA. I was learned how to input many different architectural details and make many annotations that are very helpful.

Overall I have learned how to multitask and stay busy. With so many different projects always going on, multitasking is necessary to be able to help out with many different tasks. This is a common trait in the working world but I think this week I had to multitask as best as I could.

For Adults, Coloring Invites Creativity And Brings Comfort


All of the articles that I have read up to this point pull me in starting with the title. I am very interesting in how creativity can activate other feelings or moods in a physical manor. This article is right up that ally. This article is one person’s personal experience with how coloring has helped her and research she has discovered through her new interest in coloring.

The article states that a university science professor created a coloring book for her students to learn concepts of the class. This is how the author found her love for coloring again. Adult style coloring books are used as a form of meditation and learning. It is a physical and visual style of learning that people can have a personal interaction with. Is it considered meditative because of the physical sensation created when you are holding the pen in your hand and fill in space. The repetitive movement can be meditative.

I think that coloring could have been an excellent way for me to learn. While I study I usually write things over and over, I am more of a physical learner. I think that with the repetition of coloring and reading something more visually appealing then text I could learn better. I also believe that this method of learning or meditation only works on certain types of people. This method is for the visual learner that likes to constantly be moving and doing something. I think it is a concept though completely worth trying.

King, Barbara J. “For Adults, Coloring Invites Creativity And Brings Comfort.” NPR. NPR, 11 June 2015. Web. 09 July 2015. <;.

Week 5

This week I think I really took advantage of the work Architecture in Interior Architecture and Product Design. Not only did I continue to help with the smaller college fraternity house redlines, but I also took on several architectural details. I was able to help calculate the roof slopes and use those to figure out the needed gutter and down spout size. I was using equations that I needed during our Structures classes.. and the problems were still difficult.

Towards the end of the week I started ordering more samples to help create more material boards at the beginning of next week. This time I believe that I will have more of an impact on the layout of the boards due to all of the materials used. I am looking forward to the collaboration with the other interior designer.

I am still amazed every week with how much I have learned in school. I am also amazed at how much work the architects and interior designers are able to give me. As an internship is supposed to do, I feel as though with my last two years of schooling I will be very prepared for the work field.

Hilton Resort at Puerto Vallarta

While on my vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico I observed the unique architecture in more of southern climate. Puerto Vallarta is located on the western coast of Mexico, about half way down the coast. The weather is very tropical and is usually warm and sunny. I believe that this climate type was the inspiration behind the creation of this resort.


The entire floor plan, along with the rest of the hotel was an extremely open concept. From the moment the taxi pulled up in front of the hotel you could see all the way through the hotel to the ocean. I dont mean there were floor to ceiling windows, I mean it was one, huge, open room. The front desk was angled to be facing the ocean directly, but everything else located in the lobby was channeled to flow with the room. The lobby opening was facing west to east, the same as the breeze coming from the ocean.

I think that this open concept worked very well for the hotel and its climate. I think the part that the hotel failed was with the furniture additions. The first 1/3 of the hotel lobby has nothing restricting the walkway. The 2nd third of the floor housed the large sofa that mimicked the lighting element. The last third of the lobby was cluttered with sofas and chairs. This was the part of the hotel that people lingered around, but it was also the hardest to get through. I think that if the bar were relocated the guests could disperse more evenly through out the lobby without the clutter.


This beautiful lighting feature was housed at the entrance of the more upscale restaurant in the resort. It had a dark maroon wall with a black plush leather couch sitting in front. All of the lightbulbs were the Edison bulbs that gave off a more yellow glow. This setting was almost too pretty to be used for a waiting area, I used it just to enjoy the surroundings.

I believe that the resort chose plain wall finishes for a specific reason. The natural greenery and beauty of the Mexican coast was seen through out the entire resort. The designer did not want the wall decorations to take away from the organic nature. The interior elements that attracted the attention were the lighting fixtures. Each area of the hotel had a new beautiful, unique lighting fixture that helped bring the room to life. The designer also thought about the environment of the resort. None of the lights had a stationary base. All of the fixtures had a movable wire connected to the ceiling. This allowed for the wind to create a flow in the room without damaging all of the beautiful lighting.

Overall the design of the resort was completely different than anything I had witnessed. After staying at the resort for a week I understood the reasoning behind the material selections that were chosen and I really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Lighting fixture in the main dining area. Used without light during the day and illuminated at night.

Lighting fixture in the main dining area. Used without light during the day and illuminated at night.

Open atrium in one portion locating the sleeping rooms.

Open atrium in one portion locating the sleeping rooms.

Creative lighting fixture located outside of a nicer restaurant at the resort.

Creative lighting fixture located outside of a nicer restaurant at the resort

Lighting element of design that mirrored the oversized sofa shape on the floor.

Lighting element of design that mirrored the oversized sofa shape on the floor.