Archive for General


Summer of Fun and Fairs – Photo Recap!

K/O Architects has been busy as Fairground Architects and Fairground Planners attending (and designing) Fairs and Festivals all around the country, and just having a “Good Ol’ Time” this summer! We thought we would include a couple of photos of what we’ve been up to in August. Fairground Design has taken us all around the United States as we have been working on Livestock Barns, Equine Facilities, Exhibition Buildings, Fairground Design and other Entertainment types of projects.

 

We got a chance to visit a couple of NASCAR tracks this summer as we were planning some fairs!

We got a chance to attend a few concerts on Fairgrounds this summer – like Brantley Gilbert and Skid Row! We even had some backstage passes!

We spent the day working a food stand at the Iowa State Fair! There is nothing like first-hand experience to understand what works!

We got to visit the Evergreen State Fair in full swing as part of the Master Planning process! The Ferris Wheel is courtesy of Butler Amusements.

Cool lighting effect on the back of this grandstand at a track our NASCAR feasibility consultants were involved with – DSA Motorsports.

We got a chance to climb the roof tops at the Iowa State Fair this summer as we analyzed flow to better develop our planning concepts!

 

Celebrate Earth Day 2013 and Sustainable Architecture!

Enter for a chance to Win this book!

Join us by celebrating Earth Day (officially April 22, 2013) today and throughout next week! Each current and new friend, like, follow, etc. on any of our social media sites will be entered for a chance to win a copy of the new book “The Upcycle” by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

From Amazon – The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestoes of our time. Now, drawing on the lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice with businesses, governments, and ordinary people, William McDonough and Michael Braungart envision the next step in the solution to our ecological crisis: We don’t just use or reuse resources with greater effectiveness, we actually improve the world as we live, create, and build.

For McDonough and Braungart, the questions of resource scarcity and sustainability are questions of design. They are practical-minded visionaries: They envision beneficial designs of products, buildings, and business practices—and they show us these ideas being put to use around the world as everyday objects like chairs, cars, and factories are being reimagined not just to sustain life on the planet but to grow it. It is an eye-opening, inspiring tour of our future as it unfolds in front of us.

From Inhaitat – They take the concept beyond the simple reuse of materials and propose a world in which everything we do improves the environment. Read more of the review by Andrew Michler on the Inhabitat website here: http://bit.ly/15fYo9Q

Artful Equine Housing! Or just a Barn!

Custom Horse Stalls line the inside of this equestrian stalling facility

Just finishing construction, this Equestrian Barn was originally conceptualized as an eight stall addition to an existing equine facility housing several Champion and Grand Champion animals. As the Horse Barn Architect we worked with the owner as the program grew to expand the existing Trophy room, with a loft overlook overhead, and include enough space for the inclusion of an equine treadmill for winter exercise and therapy.

An abundance of windows bring natural light into this Equine Facility

Part of the project included expanding the Trophy Room and adding a loft overhead

The new Horse Stalls stretch along the entire Horse Barn which also equal the length of the Arena building, allowing for the riding area to share the light from the abundance of west facing windows in the new stalling facility. The stalls in this facility are larger than a standard bedroom in most homes and are as are luxurious as they are spacious. Coming in at a size of 12′-0″ wide by 14′-0″ deep these custom designed stalls and stall fronts are dimensioned to handle any kind of horse and their offspring. They are also flexible enough to be removed and reconfigured as needs change.

The Custon Stalls extend along the entire length of the riding arena

Vaulted windows and high ceilings are not unintentional as the architecture of the building is designed to be much more than a Livestock barn it is to allow as much natural light and ventilation flow as possible. The choice of pallet included wood, concrete, and steel. These materials add a sense of simplicity to the soaring roof lines which together make a strong first impression on every visitor. Odors are kept to a minimum with a special flushing system designed under the floor and supplemental mechanical ventilation which allows for frequent air changes.

View from the loft overlooking the stalls below

The new stalling facility with it’s “dancing” roof forms creates a memorable aesthetic for the first time visitor

Also part of the overall Master Plan program and an integral part of the personality of the space is the loft overlook. This quaint space exists over the trophy room and can serve as a respite from the daily rigors of horse training or as a command post, viewing all of the barn activities from a central location – including supervising events in the arena, therapy on the horse treadmill, or just a top down view of each horse stall in the barn.

The Equine Treadmill can be seen on the left as one enters the new stalling portion of the facility

Equine Arena and Horse Barn Architecture

Equine Arena and Stalling Barn Under Construction

K/O is currently watching the construction of an Equine Arena and Stalling Barn recently designed for a private client. As the Architect of this Horse Arena we sized it to have 100 feet x 72 feet, with an attached warm-up or storage area of 72 feet x 45 feet. An adjoining 36 feet x 48 feet Horse Barn facility will house 4 horses and have a wash rack, office, toilet, and tack room (conceptually this building could also act as a Livestock Barn with an attached show ring if it’s ownership changed hands). Overall the total square footage of this venue will be 12,000 SF and a joy for the owner after completion. We are now working through the issues of designing the horse footing and building drainage systems. Soon we will be consulting on the interiors of the stalling building and will post some images then. Currently the facility is on track to be complete in the spring of 2013 and we will update you with photos after that.

Win with K/O in Vegas! At the Fairs & Expos Conference!

 

Stop by our Booth #1001 at the Fairs & Expos Conference for a Chance to Win!

If you happen to be in Las Vegas next week for… whatever it is you do, or like us, at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions conference held in the Paris Ballroom on November 26th through the 28th. Stop by our booth #1001 and say Hi! We’re the only Fairground Architect or Fairground Designer in the area. We can show you the latest Fairground Master Plan we’ve completed, the latest Equestrian Barn, Livestock Barn, Exhibition Building, or Horse Arena we were the Architect on. Or at least stop by to sign up for all the free stuff we’re giving away. The main give-away on day three is an Amazon Kindle. We’ll also have several other drawings throughout the show each day for smaller items (cool K/O hats, gift cards, casino chips, drink tickets, etc.) – so be sure to stop by each day to get entered. Mention to us you saw this post we’ll make sure you get a gift!

If you cannot make it out to Vegas be sure to get entered in our second chance drawing to be held after the show. Just go to our Contact tab on our website and enter “2012 IAFE Second Chance” in the message box. Also, enter your first/last name, phone number and email so we can reach you! Enter early and often for more chances to win!

K/O will be at the Fairs and Expos trade show in Las Vegas on November 26-28, 2012

Hey, also, as always, in the spirit of great trades shows – who ever sets us up with a solid prospective lead will get a special evening of entertainment on us! For the first time this year (through the magic of the internet) we are opening this up to everyone – even if you cannot attend the show! For those of you not in Vegas, don’t worry we’ll figure something out to make it worth your while! Let us know and we’ll treat you right!

Hope the upcoming month of Holidays bode well for everyone, Have Fun and see you in Vegas, Baby!

K/O Fairground Planners in Vegas, Baby! Yea!

Fairs, Travel, Great Food, and Even Better Company!

 

Great Food and Great People at the Clockwork Cafe in Park City, Utah

On a recent trip to Utah, while wrapping up a project as Fairground Designers and Fairground Planners we happened into a nice little café located on the unpretentious side of Park City. Called the Clockwork Café its proprietor Ben Farquharson was quick to offer up conversation and the daily specials. He did not get more than halfway through his description of the Monday special before we were ordering our very own “Italian Stallion”. From his description:

“We take a nice 6 inch ambassador French roll lightly toasted with a spritz of balsamic vinegar. Then we add a layer of lean cured ham, true dry salami, provolone cheese, and a dash of parmesan. All of it is heated then we add lettuce, onion, tomato, and if you are so inclined and I recommend you do so, we add diced pepperoncinis for the bold. It is then finished with a light mayo and mustard.”

If you’re ever in the area I guess the Friday special is not to be missed – the BBQ Tri-Tip Day. As local rumor and legend has it if you show up after 11:30 you will have more than likely shown up too late as they have probably run out for the day.

Ben is quite a salesman and a great personality. He has a great little shop serving breakfast, and lunch, sandwiches, salads, and as stated directly off of the menu “Bad Ass Coffee Creations”. So, be sure to stop by the Clockwork Café located at 6415 N. Business Park Loop Road, Park City, Utah 84098. For carry out orders or deliveries be sure to call ahead 435-658-2469. You might even find us there – I mean there is always a Fairground that needs an Architect – right!

Thanked for Just Being K/O!

Thank You Cards recently sent to K/O Architects!

Recently we hosted a couple of college students in our office for an informal interview of sorts. We were not the student’s only stop, they got a chance to visit with several other architectural firms in the Des Moines, Iowa area. The expectations at the outset were pretty simple they were not looking for a job – only information on firm dynamic, culture, make-up, etc.; basically a no pressure situation for both parties. The students were on a self-directed mission to find out what kind of employers were out there. We agreed to sit down and chat, and answer a few canned questions and a few not so. We enjoyed the conversation, showed them around our office, and gave them a glimpse as to the “ways” of our profession (at least the “ways” as we see it in our world).

Long story short, they must have appreciated the information and tour as much as we did the “show and tell” time – they sent us a couple of follow-up Thank You notes. Not the email type – the good old fashion note card type that comes in the mail with a stamp on it! It was refreshing to see that the art of hand writing a personal note has not been entirely lost. What an excellent idea on how to make a strong first impression! This is Marketing 101 stuff! The conversation was not memorable but it was pleasant. The hand written notecard was icing on the cake so to speak – unexpected and memorable!

Most people in marketing could take away a thing or two from these two college kids! Small things matter! Just when you think it might not be important. That is when it is the most important of all!

Both notes start out – Mr. Overton, and read as follows:

Thanks again for meeting with us this summer. I was surprised to see ISU feature a MakerBot in their Smithsonian display after seeing one in action at your office. Your laid back studio culture was a pleasure to observe in contrast to the other offices we had the chance to visit. Hope to see you up in the guest critic circuit in the near future.

Thank you so much for taking time to meet with us. I learned a great deal and appreciate all you helped us with. I loved K/O and the atmosphere there and hope to visit again someday. Thank you again for everything!

See what we mean – it’s flattering to get Thanked for being Yourself!

Iowa State Fair – The Inside Scoop!

The steel framework under construction for the new free entertainment stage on Expo Hill at the Iowa State Fair! A stretch fabric cover will be installed over the skeleton like structure!

As a Fairground Architect (fairground designers or master planners) we like to pay attention to what is new and interesting or what is happening around the Iowa State Fair. Ok, we admit that we do not necessarily have the full inside scoop but, we do try to keep our “ears to the ground” regarding all things concerning the Iowa State Fair.

Recently, we attended the Iowa State Fair Corndog Kickoff fundraiser, not only did we get some great “heads-up” information from fair insiders, but we also had a fun time for a great cause. According to the Blue Ribbon Foundation the event was a huge financial success raising over $350,000 for the Iowa State Fair in one night.

When we think of the Iowa State Fair we think of several things – the Food, Agriculture, Animals, Midway, Art, Contests, Butter Cow, Museum, Parade, Champion Livestock, and People Watching. From the reconnaissance we can gather it appears as though this year will be no different. So, below are a few of our thoughts/findings regarding the information we gathered poking around and asking questions as it pertains to the upcoming 2012 Iowa State Fair:

The Chocolate Moose will be on display in the Elwell Family Food Center at the Iowa State Fair!

First, if you’re a fan of the Butter Cow as we are, we think the new “must-see” exhibit this year is going to be at the Elwell Family Food Center. This building will house a life-size moose (9 feet tall) made of Dutch chocolate (you read that correctly, “life size” and “chocolate”). This is a required visit for any chocolate lover – unfortunately, we have not heard anything about it being available for tasting. Get this – as cool as it sounds, it is not the first time that this has been done before (moose made from chocolate), see the video link below. Currently in Scarborough, Maine there is a and 1700 pound, 8 foot tall milk Chocolate Moose named Lenny that has been on display since July 1, 1997 (over 15 years).

Click to watch the video – A Chocolate Moose like this one located in Scarborough, Maine – will be at the Iowa State Fair!

If your thing is adventure then this year you better not miss out on the new Zipline attraction that will be installed west of the Jacobson Exhibition Building. This is in the same vain as the larger than life thrill rides that are typically set-up south of the Varied Industries Building (you know, the towering high speed caged ferris wheel and the human slingshot). This zipline amusement should offer some amazing views of the grounds and allow you to get from point A to point B quicker than the skyride. Basically, you leap from a 28-foot high tower and fly 130 feet over the grounds – sounds a little crazy to us! Check out the video below from the “little bit larger” zipline set-up at the California State Fair.

Click to watch video – A zipline thrill ride at the California State Fair!

 

The west lawn of the Jacobson Exhibition Building at the Iowa State Fair will host a 130 foot long zipline attraction!

One thing that the Iowa State Fair does do right is its architecture. This year there were no large building projects undertaken but there were several smaller projects and as typical these are always gems for the aficionado to seek out. This year those who search will not be disappointed, if you are a follower of such architectural wonders. The latest addition to Expo Hill (right next to the large wind turbine) is a uniquely-designed covered structure which provides a new location for free entertainment. The idea is to have solar panels attached to a portion of the stretch fabric skin covering the frame. As of this writing the fabric is being installed and the solar panels may or may not make the cut. Of course, if the panels do get installed as envisioned they will provide a portion of the venue’s power needs.

The new stairs up to Expo Hill at the Iowa State Fair nestle into the hillside very nicely!

The Cultural Center will receive two new elevators for this year’s fair. We guess these elevators could serve as a new ride of sorts (they might be kinda slow and stuffy – but, if you’re on a budget…). On a serious note the elevator project is the first phase of long awaited, much needed accessibility updates to the Exhibition Building, and should be well received by the public. We hope more phases are planned for the future, as this building is in need of some TLC.

The Cultural Center is the recipient of a few updates for the 2012 Iowa State Fair!

Another very interesting new project has a high probability of going unnoticed by most fairgoers. It is partly because it is an addition to a lesser known building on the grounds – unless you are an avid 4-H person. We are of course talking about a small expansion to the 4-H building (located near the Horse Barn and other Livestock Barns). The project quite simply is a new entry to the west façade. Programmatically, the space is part entry, ticket booth and storage room, but it is a nice little architectural feature and has a nice spatial quality, and use of materials on its interior. Even though it is a contemporary structure it has not forgotten its roots and fits in well with the existing historic building from the exterior.

The new entry “chunk” under constuction on the west side of the 4-H Building at the Iowa State Fair

There are many amazing acts and displays of wonderful things at the Iowa State Fair. Once again, we might be biased but we think, besides your food favorites the architecture once should have no problem stealing the show!

Remember as the Fair theme goes this year:

Iowa State Fair – Nothing Compares!

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!