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International Interior Design Association

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Building Momentum

By Judi Ketteler

If last year’s design outlook was about making do, this year’s is about possibility. IIDA’s Forum leaders say many trends will hit new heights quite soon — from the recovery of corporate to the blossoming of sustainable products.

More than any other area, sustainable design has gone from existing on the fringe of the design community to being accepted wholeheartedly by the heavy hitters. With that in mind, NeoCon Chicago 2004 will boast a slew of new, innovative green products that support recyclability and reuse.

Sustainable Design

With the U.S. government’s endorsement of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, there is a new demand for green products that help to achieve the LEED rating, says IIDA Sustainable Forum Advisor Ken Wilson, IIDA, AIA, LEED AP, a Principal at Washington-based Envision Design. “For many manufacturers, the government is their biggest client. This has been an incredible motivation for them to redefine their products.”

Wilson says LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) is an exciting pilot program of about 100 projects, and it is expected to be released by mid-September. The projects include spaces such as a health spa, a restaurant and corporate interiors.

“It’s really becoming about high-performance design,” Wilson says. LEED for Existing Buildings and LEED for Core and Shell Buildings are two other pilot programs, and there are plans to develop LEED for Residential and for Retail.

More often, major furniture manufacturers come up with new designs that contain recycled content in response to the LEED explosion. “Pieces are being designed for disassembly,” Wilson says. Instead of a blend, furniture components are made of a single material — all plastic or all metal, for example. It’s about being able to “unzip” them, so the components are pre-separated for recycling. “Some new improvements that LEED is helping to foster are GREENGUARD certification and FSC-certified wood,” he says.


The inclination toward building LEED-certified structures is more than just a trend when it comes to government buildings, according to IIDA Government Forum Advisor Lisa Hexom, IIDA, who also is Leader of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Interior Design Technical Discipline in San Diego and Head of the U.S. Navy’s Interior Design Program. “It’s the law,” she says.

In all of the new construction on naval bases — whether it be a bowling alley, a workout facility or living quarters — the designers have to specify solutions that address sustainability. “But it doesn’t mean you’re not also addressing good design,” Hexom points out.

Flexibility is a great force in design for the future. “It’s about the big picture now,” Hexom says. Work, living and recreational spaces must be planned carefully, taking full advantage of natural daylight. Even facilities on remote military bases in different parts of the world have to be designed to the same standard.

The future also is about security, Hexom says. Buildings must be designed to address terrorism concerns and at times, this conflicts with sustainability. For example, antiterrorism force protection criteria may call for fewer windows and less glass, while sustainable design is all about natural light. “We have to find ways to marry the two,” Hexom says.

Facility Planning and Corporate

Security also is a main component of corporate design and facility planning, says Kim Mikula, IIDA, IFMA, IIDA Facility Planning and Design Forum Advisor and Facilities Planner at USAA, Tampa, Fla. Companies are requesting isolation rooms for opening mail, for example.

Corporate executives want spaces that will attract and retain the best and brightest talent in their respective fields — “the creative class” — Mikula says. And firms are working to incorporate branding into the design of their offices, which are becoming plug-and-play, high-tech, flexible spaces. “Companies want collaborative spaces where technology and architecture are in sync,” she says.

In terms of styling trends, there is a real affection for returning to the looks of the 1960s and ’70s, says Dan Lee, IIDA, AIA, ASID, IFMA, IIDA Corporate Forum Advisor and Principal, Interior Architecture, with Dallas-based HDR Inc. “We’re seeing a return to really strong colors in furniture, wall coverings and finishes.”

The big difference this year is the outlook of the industry, and that’s being reflected in more innovative designs versus recycling pieces of dot-com office spaces. “I sense we’re on the edge of another good cycle for corporate,” Lee says. The focus on sustainable design has trickled down to the corporate sector as well, especially with the growth of the LEED program. For example, Lee says his firm has been hired to design a LEED platinum-rated building — the highest rating. “The client sees a real advantage for the front-end cost,” he says.


When the final version of the Green Guidelines for Healthcare Construction (GGHC) is published this year, the industry will begin to feel the full weight of green design, says Judy Klich, IIDA, IIDA Healthcare Forum Advisor and an Associate with Gresham Smith and Partners, Nashville. The GGHC is a self-certifying metric tool that designers, owners and operators can use to evaluate their progress toward highly efficient healing environments.

Other burgeoning areas in healthcare include an increase in designing for privacy since the HIPAA Privacy Act. “We’re designing more private, enclosed areas where patient-staff conversations are being held and also where staff are discussing patient records. We are addressing acoustics in all of these areas as well,” Klich says.

Overall, healthcare continually needs more specialty facilities. In the future, Klich says, it’s likely that the need for strategic planning and process-led design will increase, because facilities are taking a more global approach to their projects and looking further ahead. For example, Klich’s firm has past hospital administrators and staff who work closely with a hospital’s current staff — even incorporating them into their overall design team — to study a facility’s processes and patient flow. It’s a strategic approach and has implications for the entire design process, from concept stage and space planning to choosing the furnishings. It helps to bridge the gap between architecture and healthcare, Klich says.

Hospitality and Retail

Hospitality continues to be about comfort, says Maria Mendoza, IIDA, IIDA Hospitality Forum Advisor and Resource Director and Senior Associate at the New York office of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects. “People have started going out again. We’re trying to make the spaces enticing and inviting, with the feeling of home,” she says.

Interestingly, hospitality is becoming more global, and people are traveling further from home to destination spots. For example, Mendoza’s firm just completed a comprehensive resort project in Goa, India. Visitors want to be able to soak in the culture and history of an area, but the design should not overdo it. At the same time, it must feel cozy and welcoming, she says.

Hospitality and retail are the two areas where sustainable design has not made as much headway, although larger retailers are taking notice. “Responsible designers are already expected to incorporate sustainable practices in design, and clients are starting to demand it,” says David Hanson, IIDA, IDC, RID, IIDA Retail Forum Advisor and a Principal at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based DH Designs.

Because retail is consumer-driven, retailers constantly are looking for a new edge to move them ahead of the competition.

Chicago Focus: Theaters

The Shubert Theatre
22 W. Monroe St.

Built in 1906 as the Majestic Theater, the building now known as the Shubert Theatre was the first venue in Chicago to cost more than $1 million. The Majestic truly lived up to its name — it was the tallest building in Chicago when it was built and was noted for its fire safety. The large auditorium, characterized for its excellent sight lines and acoustics, has the feel of an ornate palace. In its 1920s heyday, it was a cultural landmark for the city, although the 1930s and the Great Depression saw the Majestic close its doors. In 1945, the Shubert Organization purchased the building and reopened it, restoring it to its original glory.

Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 W. Randolph St.

Originally built as The Palace Theater in 1926, the Cadillac Palace was designed by architects Rapp & Rapp, who also built The Shubert Theatre. The French Renaissance-style building was inspired by the ornate beauty of Fontainebleau and Versailles, and it became the flagship of Chicago’s vaudeville circuit. After it was converted to a movie theater in 1931, the Cadillac Palace saw various owners and was converted into many different venues. It was renovated and restored in 1999, and it continues to attract audiences who are inspired by the rich detailing and grand scale of the space.

Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre
24 W. Randolph St.

Designed by the Rapp brothers in 1926, the Oriental Theatre boasts lavish décor inspired by Asian art. The theme was carried out in every aspect of the theater, from turbaned ushers to large mosaics of an Indian prince and princess to the elaborately colored Buddhas. Like so many prominent theaters, the Oriental fell into disrepair through the years, despite its addition to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1978. It was restored in 1998 and renamed the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
50 E. Congress Parkway

The Auditorium Theatre opened in 1889 — earlier than many of Chicago’s other theatrical gems. Architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler designed the space, and a young Frank Lloyd Wright worked on the project as a draftsman for the firm. The building was ingenious in many ways, including being the first multipurpose building to incorporate a hotel, offices and retail, along with the theater. It employed modern amenities like electricity and air conditioning — still a rarity in late 19th-century buildings. There are intricate patterns throughout the Auditorium Theatre, from ornate gilded and bas-relief designs to the radiant 24-karat-gold-leafed ceiling arches and fantastic murals. It was restored in 2001 and continues to entice visitors.

Chicago Theatre
175 N. State St.

The Chicago Theatre opened in 1921 and was billed as the city’s most lavish movie palace. Designed by the Rapp brothers in a French Baroque style, the Chicago Theatre features such architectural elements as a miniature replica of the Arc de Triomphe sculpted above the State Street marquee. The lobby is five stories high and features a moving staircase fashioned after the one in the Paris Opera. Marshall Field’s did the interior design, and Victor Pearlman and Co. designed and built the bronze light fixtures and crystal chandeliers. It cost $4 million to build and showcased the best in live and film entertainment for 40 years. It was neglected in the 1970s and ’80s but was restored to its splendor in 1986.

Top Five Residential Trends

While sustainability dominates commercial ingenuity, think comfort when it comes to residential design.
Janna Paulson, IIDA, IIDA Residential Forum Advisor and President of Peel Paulson Design Studio Inc.
in Austin, Texas, offers her take on what’s hot:

1. Asian/Indonesian looks. From bamboo and wood combined with brighter colors to Asian antiques
and reproductions, these looks are growing in popularity.

2. Natural materials. Even if the materials are pricier, such as tile and granite, homeowners see the benefits of spending a little more, she says.

3. More customized closets. Homeowners are hiring closet/organization experts to help them make the most use of their hidden space.

4. Outside-the-box lighting solutions. “Lighting can make or break a space,” Paulson says. People are looking closely at both form and function, with an eye toward the nontraditional.

5. The continual evolution of the kitchen. The days of a purely utilitarian space are over. Now it’s about high design. Even cabinets are taking a starring role, becoming more curved and modular, looking more like furniture and less like simple storage spaces.