- Anthony Frausto-Robledo, Editor
- Dominic Pedulla, Associate
- Jim Highum, AIA, Associate
- David Caruso, Director of Information Technology
AFR How long has Flansburgh
Associates Inc. been in existence?
Jim Since 1963. It was founded by Earl Flansburgh, originally
in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
AFR Has the firm always focused on educational work?
Jim Yes, in the early years the office had a wider selection
of building types, but today we are primarily focused on educational
projects of all types; we have done numerous master plans abroad,
for both educational and urban conditions. While we have done a
broad range of building types we have always had an emphasis on
AFR Have you found that technology over the last decade
is driving school work? Is technology a major factor?
Jim Are you asking if technology generates a school board
to come forward and build?
Jim The decision to build is usually generated by many years
of deferred maintenance and over crowding.
The towns know that if they build a school they will get up-to-date
technology, but they don't build the school primarily to get the
Dom There is a technology component that goes along with
public state funding, but it is not the only driving factor for
building new schools. The dollar value allocated is a number that
fluctuates around $1200 to $1600 per student for computer/technology
use. In addition we typically have specific classrooms designated
as computer labs, and the "library" has been redefined
as a Media Center with 15 to 20 computer stations for research use.
Technology can be a factor on how teachers
teach...in one community we have "linked" three schools
to share and gather information, and possibly teach from a remote
Technology is starting to influence
and reflect how teachers at the public sector can teach. It
is a tremendous tool but it is also a tool that is short lived and
expensive to replace.
Jim This technology funding is over and above what they
used to pay for school construction. So that's a change in the past
couple of years.
AFR When you are working with the schools and meeting with
the principals, teachers, superintendents and so fourth discussions
about computer infrastructure and wireless IT part of the early-design
Dom Absolutely, this question is always discussed. Some
communities see the advantages and flexibility's of wireless and
really push for it, but they ultimately have a limited budget determined
by state formulas.
AFR Are you advocates of wireless technology like Apple's
Jim Determining the best technology is sort of a back and
forth process. We interview the client to find out what they want
and then we come back and suggest to them what will meet their needs.
We use some very good technology consultants to work out the details,
to determine what is the state-of-the-art on the market at that
time. We are constantly updating that.
AFR What educational consultant do you use for IT technology?
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Jim The technology experts we use are not actually educational
consultants, but we always make sure they have a background in educational
facilities. The final selection is made by our clients.
AFR In the interview process and the process of being selected
as architects are you using computer technology to seduce the prospective
Dom I would not say "seduce" the client but the
computer is our design tool. We have designers that are very passionate
about design, and the interview process, and are able to use our
Mac-based softwarelike Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Form-Z
to produce very sophisticated presentations.
The boards can become works of art, but is not meant to be a "a
seduction", but rather an expression of an idea from an architect.
AFR So are you producing your graphics on boards, not using
projector base presentations?
Jim That is actually taking off a great deal. We are doing
far more PowerPoint presentations now. We are upgrading our graphics
capabilities because the client expectations are getting more sophisticated.
Every interview we go to there is something new in our presentation,
so this has been the biggest year for change in terms of the quality
of the boards and the PowerPoint presentations.
AFR Can you give me an example of how your presentation
has changed in the past year?
David In December we brought in a new graphic designer to
do more three dimensional models...things we hadn't done before.
And I know for two or three projects he has provided walk-throughs
and more advanced 3D view still images.
AFR Are you saying that the Design Team is engaged in 3D
modeling from the beginning?
Dom We have numerous designers that generate 3D modeling
from the very beginning of a project, while others are more comfortable
generating hand drawings over a simple computer wire-frame.
The images we present to our clients are a key tool for them to
understand the process of designing a building...and we have found
that crisp line computer drawings at an early phase look "too
finished" too early. In all cases, at the early stages, the
3D modeling is usually a beneficial tool for us to understand the
complexities of the projects; later on in the design process it
becomes a tool for the client to "walk-through" the designed
Jim It has a double benefit. We are getting early massing
studies for design solutions, and the client understands 3D images
a bit better than elevations and plans.
AFR What other 3D or CAD programs do you use here at Flansburgh?
David We use Form-Z for modeling and rendering, Electric
Image for animation fly-throughs and rendering, and VectorWorks
for CAD. Using VectorWorks our staff has the ability to generate
3D models easily from the 2D plans, so they don't necessarily have
to be 3D savvy users. We leave Form-Z for the more advanced 3D work
due to its higher learning curve.