The Way Good Architecture Feels

In so many of the places you normally find yourself, it feels as if you’ve put on a cheap suit with your pants twisted one way and your jacket the other, and you are trying to walk a straight line. But when things are right, and you are in an architecture that is strong and receiving of you, you are home safe and free…. Good architecture requires whole vision, expert timing, and sensitive placement.
— Bobby McAlpine of McAlpine House

Sometimes the desire to design in contrast rather than in context can be hindering. If we design in contrast, in an effort to stand out and create something notable, we run the risk of its uniqueness contributing only chaos instead of insight or reflection of the current society or the personalities of the occupants. 

Properly addressed contextual considerations like time, space, and people will reduce chaos if not eliminate it. The heavy-hitter for our firm in this line-up is people. We ask ourselves questions like, “What are the occupants’ traditions? What are their perceptions? What are their needs?” These are not questions we ask and answer once, of course. We are continually asking them, answering them, and then asking again. 

 Architecturally interesting and compelling window treatment we are saving in our renovation of this mid-century office space.

Architecturally interesting and compelling window treatment we are saving in our renovation of this mid-century office space.

Residentially speaking, this contextual element is obviously necessary. However, is it less-necessary in commercial architecture? We don’t think so. We are currently constructing a new office space for CAI in Birmingham, and as with every project, we want to know what the occupants will need. What will make their professional lives better, more efficient, more beautiful, more inspiring?

Contextual design that fits well and feels right is a non-negotiable for CAI.

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