Archive for Commercial

Our Post-Thanksgiving Plans

K/O Fairground Planners – We will be there, will you?

Enough with the turkey, bring on the chips and salsa!  K/O Fairground Planners will be exhibiting at the 2018 International Fairs and Expositions Conference (IAFE) which will be held in San Antonio, Texas this year right after Thanksgiving.  We hope to see you at Booth #537 and discuss fairground master planning, growth, or even new facilities as your fairground planner and architect!

Make sure you sign up for our daily give-away!

I Love NY – The New York State Fair Expo Building

New York State Fair – Expo Center Design

K/O Fairground Planners was part of the design team that helped the New York State Fair undergo a major fast-tracked, phased renovation effort that included fairground infrastructure improvements and new event services at the complex over several years.  These entertainment design program elements were all outlined in a recent master plan effort.

K/O’s effort included involvement on the team that created the design-build bridging documents for the new 136,000 square foot Expo Center Arena Building.  The building architecturally featured vast areas of daylight and a 110,000 square foot clear span column free space.  Future phases of site development, according to the master plan, include a 55,000 square foot Covered Warm-up Arena, 3 open Warm-up Arenas, and Equestrian Stalling Facilities.  The main arena portion of the Expo Hall will have retractable seating for 4,000 patrons.

Other proposed improvements include development of a Picnic Grove and Center Green – including restrooms and pavilions, and improvements to parking, utilities and landscaping.

The building was completed in time for the 2018 Fair and is shown on the New York State Fair’s website –

Big Plans at The Ranch

Proposed Event Center – The Ranch, Colorado

K/O Entertainment Designers recently finished up their component in the Master Plan document for the “The Ranch” in Loveland, Colorado.   This facility has earned its reputation as one of the premiere event and entertainment complexes in the region. The Master Planning team comprised of several members which partnered with K/O to provide the national expertise in Master Planning and development of fairground and entertainment facilities.  Although not acting as the fairground architect at this time, K/O prepared several programming recommendations for each of the facilities at The Ranch.

Entry Plaza – The Ranch, Colorado

Some of the proposed, strategic components included:  Facility Improvements to the Events Center, Additional/Re-purposed Areas for Community & Youth Development, Renovation/Expansion of Exhibition Hall & Conference Center, New Indoor Arena & Livestock Pavilions, and Site Circulation Enhancements.  The Ranch is wisely planning their future so they have a roadmap to follow as their entertainment venue expands and improves for the years to follow!

Livestock Arena – The Ranch, Colorado

K/O – The Ranch Master Plan

Hot Rods and K/O Architects

Whoa, This is a Car Lovers Dream Come True!

Our latest post features a few snapshots taken from a recent photo shoot at one of our recently completed projects in the Des Moines, Iowa area. This is a bit more than your third car garage addition we typically design at K/O Architects. Conceptually, this project started out as a home for six, then eight vehicles and grew from there. The completed project is now home to eleven cars and four motorcycles – all beautifully maintained and/or restored (there is even room for a few more).

The finish level of this private garage is nicer than most new car showrooms!

Out of respect for privacy, we purposefully are not showing any pictures of the exterior or divulging the name of the owner.

The original idea was to have four cars per side with 20 feet between each to prevent door dings.

If you love mechanical things as much as we do you will no doubt love this garage! Not only is it finely crafted, but it surpasses the fit and finish of most high end spas. The full bar/kitchen is always well stocked and the patio furniture sits ready just outside the full floor to ceiling glass entry wall. Other amenities include being fully wired for video and sound throughout, with a LED big screen in every room (or even more than one screen sometimes); you can even hear music coming from the indoor/outdoor speaker system as you walk around the exterior.

Notice the double curved wood ceiling and custom copper HVAC grilles and diffusers!

You can watch the latest episode of American Chopper or just hang out in the upstairs loft. The room also has a connected luxury bath so you can take a quick shower after working all day under the hood.

The full bar and nearby patio allows for entertaining and relaxing!

This is by far one of the coolest projects we have worked on in recent years. Not to be left out, the tool room rivals the cleanliness of any kitchen in a five star restaurant. Even the butcher block top on the island (occasionally used to dismantle things) is nicer than that in most homes. We bet they could easily whip up a couple of “gourmet” engines in this room!

The Snap-On tool chest fits right in with the wood cabinets of this Tool Room!

Dig Our New Digs! K/O Architects Office!

Wow! What a difference Carpet, and Paint, and Glass, and Plywood, and Plastic, and… make!

We’re finally complete with our overhaul! Whew! Now it’s time to celebrate! We love our new digs and think you will too. Stop by if you’re ever in the neighborhood get your photo taken with the great colorful K/O mural, and we might even buy you something to “whet your whistle” as well as offer you one of our magnificent K/O giveaways (ball caps, coffee mugs, pens, etc.).

If want to make a game of this post see how many different classically designed chairs you can find throughout our office (look at all the photos, hint: zebra striped chairs are Brno flat bar – that’s all the help we’ll give, good luck)!

Reception area looking back into the Office

Located just off of the Avenue of the Arts in the West Glen Town Center (we think we are the only architect this far out in West Des Moines, Iowa) we are within walking distance of many restaurants, bars, shops, and galleries. Conceptually, our office is laid out as an open studio (basically if you need something just stand-up and yell across the office at someone), with no private cubicles or enclosed rooms. This openness defines our office culture nicely.

Be warned though, we do have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde flair – the front half (where you enter and circulate) has a higher level of finish than the back half (basically where the work gets done – copiers, printers, 3D printer, 3D scanner, bulk of the staff, fun stuff, etc. are located here). We did not have this “back of house” at any of our other office locations, we now have a dirty side (with a concrete floor) and a clean side (with carpet). This relaxed atmosphere gives us a place to experiment, build things, take things apart, test out ideas, and not be afraid to mess things up a bit (not a lot – we still want it to look presentable), while still maintaining our business face upfront.

The Back Office – “The Dirty Side”

As we built our office out we chose to use recycled materials and items that were going to be thrown away.

The glass panels installed on our walls (we use them as oversized dry erase marker boards – and believe it or not kids and adults love to draw pictures on them – you just can’t help yourself) were saved from the dumpster of a project we were recently working on. The desks and table tops were repurposed from our old location. The light fixtures were repainted and reused from the previous tenant. The carpet is an extra from a mill run of a custom color that was destined for the grinder (to get it we only had to pay shipping). The plastic panels used as end caps on our walls all have a high recycled content. We could go on and on – but basically you would be amazed at how much money we saved to do it all in an environmentally friendly way. We won’t post what things cost here – but if you would like to find out – visit, and ask us in person.

The K/O Conference Area

Here is an update for now but, we’ll post more about our fun technology stuff and experieiments in the future!

We love all things technical and have installed the latest technology like a LED big screen in the conference room which can wirelessly display what’s on any computer monitor in the office. Coincidently, that same screen acts as a large virtual whiteboard and touch screen thanks to K/O ingenuity, some special software, a Wii remote, and a laser pen. This is handy for hosting webinars, or documenting the course of a meeting as screen snapshots can be taken at any time. We are also experimenting with an X-box 360 Kinect sensor (yes, the same as the one as on the video game console) to scan 3D environments (interestingly enough this can also act as a video recording device). Once we fine tune the software and technique we hope to introduce the Kinect in the field to help us document existing conditions.

The toy creating the most hub-bub around here is our 3D printer – “Yes, we said a 3D printer”! This machine takes a spool of ABS plastic (looks like thick fishing line, ABS is the same stuff Legos are made out of) and melts it to 225 degrees Celsius (to about the consistency of a caramel chew) and lays it down in angel hair thin layers. Over the course of an hour or more (depending on the objects size and complexity) it will produce virtually anything we can conceptualize (or at least draw in 3D cad form) into a 3D physical model (no more x-acto blades, cardboard and Elmer’s glue – we have a lot of those types of models lining the walls of our office too). There are some basic limitations though; we are restricted to a build size of 5 inches x 5 inches x 5 inches – but, if we need something larger we just bond the pieces together (cool thing is you can bond it, sand it, paint it – so size should not necessarily be an issue). We’re still fine tuning so we have ended up with some interesting unintended objects.

Please stop by, share a story, draw a picture on our walls, let us scan you in 3D, and you can take home your very own miniature you!

K/O Office from the exterior – Stop by Soon!

Learning From Las Vegas – Fairs, Entertainment and Other Thoughts

Entertainment Architecture – “In Your Face Architecture”

We just finished exhibiting at the 2011 IAFE (International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions) Conference in Las Vegas. The conference was held in and around the Great Ballroom at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Convention and Trade Show held in Las Vegas each year, is the largest event serving fairs, shows,
exhibitions, and expositions. As a Fairground Architect and Fairground Master Planner we had the benefit of networking and learning from top industry folks and other fair professionals during the intensive four days of workshops, special seminars, round table discussions, and social events. The Trade Show allows us to showcase our firm while serving as a one-stop shop for all things fair. This year we got to show off our new designs for a Horse Barn, Equestrian Facility, Livestock Barn, Equine Arena, Exhibition Building, and a a few Fairground Master Plans.

As an architect of mass entertainment facilities there could not be a more perfect setting than to hold a show in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is everything entertainment design aspires to be – in your face, cutting edge, modern, and definitely Disneyesque. This recent visit allowed us to tour the recently completed (opened about a year ago) CityCenter. The below entry summarizes our thoughts.

The blog entry below uses several excerpts and references from the October 2010 article “What Happens in Vegas” by Paul Goldberger – originally published in the New Yorker

We all know that Las Vegas has been expanding since 2005, when Steve Wynn started the latest and largest building-boom Vegas has ever seen. High-rise, condo, hotel, mixed-use, adaptive-reuse and other projects in the Las Vegas area are in various stages of planning, development and construction.

Image of the CityCenter at night from the website

For several years now, there has been talk about whether Las Vegas could handle what in any other city might be referred to as real architecture. In 2004, when the hotel company MGM Mirage (now known as MGM Resorts International) was looking for a way of filling in a sixty-six-acre site between two of its properties on the west side of the Strip (the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo), it hit on the idea of turning the plot into a showcase for modern architecture.

The Las Vegas Strip is constantly debuting new projects, boasting the latest in new urban architecture, design and technology. LEED certified “Green” buildings are making an entrance and many world-famous architects (starchitects) stepped up to the plate to create the critically acclaimed CityCenter, the biggest construction project in the history of Las Vegas. It has three hotels, two condominium towers, a shopping mall, a convention center, a couple of dozen restaurants, a private monorail, and a casino. There was to have been a fourth hotel, whose opening has been delayed indefinitely. But even without it the project contains nearly eighteen million square feet of space, the equivalent of roughly six Empire State Buildings. In an effort to counterpoint Las Vegas kitschiness the rolodex of who’s who in architecture was called into action. The result is a community of glittering starchitect ambition. There are major buildings by Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Viñoly, Helmut Jahn, Pelli Clarke Pelli, Kohn Pedersen Fox, and Norman Foster; and interiors by Peter Marino, Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis, Bentel and Bentel, and AvroKO (no relation to our firm). There are also prominent sculptures by Maya Lin, Nancy Rubins, and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

If Las Vegas wants to be rescued from kitsch, that remains to be seen. CityCenter has struggled in the year since it opened. But it’s been clear for a while that Las Vegas has been running out of themes. The trouble is that its effects rely entirely on dazzlement, an over-the-top gigantism that gets old fast. As Las Vegas had grown—until the recession, its expansion had helped make Nevada the fastest-growing state in the nation—the city has started to feel a little uncomfortable about its reputation as a place where developers spend billions of dollars on funny buildings.

Whether or not the buildings themselves succeed in striking a blow against Vegas kitsch, CityCenter certainly fails to live up to the claim implicit in its name—the hope that it is going to give Las Vegas, the place of ultimate sprawl, a genuine urban focus. As urban planning, it doesn’t go much farther than Caesars Palace. CityCenter is laid out not for pedestrians but as a machine for moving vast numbers of cars efficiently. There are wide ramps coming off the Las Vegas Strip, auto turnarounds, and porte cochères—all good for traffic flow but hardly what you would call urban open space. There has been an attempt to tuck the site’s enormous garages out of sight—employee cars alone number in the thousands—but they are no less visible than at any number of the Strip’s other big hotels. Like its competitors, CityCenter has no real streets. You can glide over the project on a monorail, but there is no pleasant place to walk, except inside the buildings.

Even though there is more perceived density to CityCenter (there really is no more than anywhere else on the strip), and more sophistication to its architecture, it doesn’t feel urban. Its planners have tried to cram more square footage into a tighter space than anyone else has managed in Vegas, and that may make this place seem like an antidote to sprawl. But it still isn’t much of a center, or much of a city. Indeed, as you drive around the site, you suddenly wonder if CityCenter only appears to be different from the rest of the Strip. After all, cutting-edge contemporary architecture by the likes of Libeskind and Foster has been migrating steadily into the cultural mainstream for years. Now, perhaps, it has reached the point where it is familiar enough, and likable enough, to be just another style available for imitation, like the Pyramids or Renaissance Venice. CityCenter is really the Las Vegas you already know and love, but in modernist drag.

Now is the Best Time to Build! – Audiocast

Now is a Great Time to get Construction Value!

Is now a good time to build?

If you’re currently considering it, there is no better time! Even though some 2011 economic indicators show the economy is slowly picking up, construction spending in the non residential sector is still going down. This lag in construction spending turnaround should be the proverbial music to the savvy owner’s ears. It is estimated that about two years of very high value and equally high competition remain as this gap closes and the economy continues to crawl back. It’s not as dire as it was a few years ago but, it’s not a rosy picture for construction folks yet. Construction competition is at an all time high and so are the choices of qualified firms. Now is the time to build!

click here for Audiocast

Says Michael Dell’Isola:

“Take your project to market and the market will respond. If you want to build now, bid now – because everyone in the construction industry is running lean – you’ll get the “A Team”, everyone’s “A Team. Not to mention at much less than the “A Team” price. The good news is, if you choose wisely, you’ll get the “A team”, tight bids, and ultimately a quality product. Act now and you’ll have nothing but good news coming your way.”

Michael D. Dell’Isola, PE, CVS, FRICS, Senior Vice President of Faithful+Gould, has a broad background specializing in cost management, value engineering, technical facilitation/partnering, life-cycle costing, and project management. He has over 30 years of experience in the field. Dell’Isola declares, “You don’t want contractors working for you that are in the process of going broke. Nobody is gaining under that.” Listen as Dell’Isola explores the impact of pricing in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace.

To listen to the full interview with Michael Dell’Isola and host Ted Garrison click here (click here for Audiocast). The interview is titled “Pricing Projects in the Hyper-Competitive 2011 Market” and provided on the New Construction Strategies 3.0 website –

As Construction Lags behind the Economy – Now is the Best Time to Take Bids!

Great Design is not without Great Effort!

K/O Architects - Detail and Design

Our office utilizes a studio design team approach where our architects and designers follow the project through all stages. At each stage of the project new layers of consulting services are added. Our objective in the development of design and delivery of technical expertise is to achieve a seamless and continuing level of service over the duration of the project, while providing a management structure that is understood by all parties Understanding how the work is evolving keeps all team members vigilant to examination of key design decisions affecting their area of expertise.