Posts Tagged ‘restaurant


Diversity in Practice

One of the touchstones at Always by Design (AxD) has been seeking diversity as a means of nurturing inquiry and growth, both personally and professionally. This flies in the face of “standard practice” which encourages market focus and specialization. Indeed, as we’re discovering, diversity certainly isn’t an easy concept to “brand”. Maybe it’s just luck, but on the architectural practice side, our practice has achieved a diversity of clients and project types beyond anything we had anticipated. In this past year alone we have worked on restaurants, a library, an auditorium, government offices, a church, a boutique salon, industrial infrastructure, and several residences.

While, on the art gallery side of AxD, the ability to select artists and artwork is wholly within our control, it’s still gratifying to look back and see the range of artists represented and artwork we’ve shown thus far. Media has included various forms of drawing, printmaking, painting, photography, collage, and sculpture. Subject matter has encompassed non-representational imagery, abstractions, landscapes, portraiture, details of nature, sci-fi and fantasy imagery, and gay erotica.

A selection of art exhibited at AxD

A selection of art exhibited at AxD

We’re confident that the lineup of artists we’ve scheduled for 2009 will continue our commitment to artistic diversity. Similarly, with our architectural practice on the verge of signing an agreement with a major hotelier, we’re looking to welcoming in the new year further diversifying our clientele as well.

Ed Barnhart, AIA


The Materiality of Light

Rarely does one see light as a material. Most often lighting plays the role of supporting actor, highlighting the materiality or decoration of surfaces it illuminates, rather than holding the starring role itself. That changed for us this year as we had the opportunity to design the renovation and expansion of an abandoned 14,000 s.f. two-story building in Center City Philadelphia into a restaurant + nightclub. The client sought spaces that could transform from being a romantic dinner venue to pulsing dance nightclub with little effort. We turned to lighting to make such transitions easy and dramatic.


Our inspiration for using light as the subject came from artist James Turrell’s light installations, such as “Red Around” installed at ARC, Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris (shown above). While Mr. Turrell’s works from that period (1980’s) were static installations, they certainly rendered colored light as an exciting and palpable substance. By using current LED (light emitting diode) lighting technology (instead of fluorescent lamps as Turrell used in the above piece) we were able to plan a dynamic range of effects and mood environments. Use of mixed lamp sources (red, amber, green and/or blue) enables virtually any color to be achieved. Shifts in coloration and intensity can be digitally controlled as slow fades, rapid pulses or anything in between. On the exterior, the two street facades were designed as “tunable” instruments of light. Along the long façade, LED edge-lit translucent vertical “light fins” are used to create both static and animated colored light effects.

The project received a 2008 Award of Design Excellence from the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA). The jury commended our transformation of a derelict building into an urban oasis.

[23 Oct. ’08 SARA awards program – Ed Barnhart, AIA]

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