Entitlements. Fight or Follow [existing zoning] ?

Sophia

Zoning can have huge implications on your costs and the development potential of your site. You as the developer likely want to maintain decent relationships with your governing municipality, so how do you decide when to accept what’s written…

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Spark Value #4: Learning

Sophia

Learning: This one started out under the label “Evolution”, in the sense of we learn and change based on those experiences. However I found myself explaining the learning intent behind it, versus some hardcore Darwinian approach. Learning.  From others, but…

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Spark Value #5: Excellence

Sophia

Excellence To clarify, this is not perfection. Rather the ability to synthesize many factors, finding an elegant simplicity and clarity out of complexity. An aspiration in projects. Finding Beauty by: Minimizing waste, maximizing benefit, and unearthing the most potential.. Doing…

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Spark Value #2: Clarity

Sophia

Clarity (and what it means for Authenticity, Simplicity, and Transparency) When I first described this value it was labeled “authenticity”. But something kept nagging me, whispering “but what about clarity, isn’t it essential, and authenticity just a part of…

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Spark Value #3: Responsibility

Sophia

3. Responsibility A delivery principle in projects: It is an incredible honor and responsibility to be trusted with a project, and we take that seriously. No finger pointing and blame games. Successful projects depend on a team acting as a…

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Spark Value #1: Health

Sophia

1. Health A design principle in projects. Health promoting  spaces, supporting the health of their users, their organizations, and the environment.   A driving force in our culture We expect you to take good care of your health, and offer…

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Spark Values

Sophia

After finishing Ray Dalio’s “Principles” for the second time, I felt compelled to summarize my own principles for Spark. Call it a work in progress! Spark Values: When facing a question or decision on whom to hire (or whether…

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Spark Project Management Part 2: Ingredients

Sophia

In Part 1 we shared why we believe that good project management is so important to good design and architecture. On to what we have come to consider Key Ingredients of Architectural Project Management. We are far from perfect, but…

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Hygge, the Danish Art of Coziness, Part 3

Sophia

PART 3: More Hygge through Architecture: Architects like to use the phrase “Programming”: Taking a very close look at all your project must-haves, and nice-to-haves. Before we ever start designing we interview clients about all their wishes…

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Hygge, the Danish Art of Coziness, Part 2

Sophia

Before going into some architectural ideas for your next project in Part 3, I’d like to share a few everyday things I experimented with to sample Hygge. Pick whatever sounds good, I would love to hear about your own…

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Hygge, the Danish Art of Coziness, Part 1

Sophia

Happy Thanksgiving! As we enter the Holiday Season, I would like to share a mini series about Hygge, the Danish Art of Cozyness with you. It inspired me to bring a little bit more coziness back into my life, and…

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solar

Solar or not?

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

During a recent Q&A session on Facebook we were asked about our opinion on solar. We love renewable energy sources, but can we afford them? The answer is YES, but note that that could be changing in the…

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Historical Treasure Hunt in Ft Benton, MT

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

What’s better than designing a new building from scratch? Working with a beautiful old building! Just a few weeks ago I got to spend a beautiful summer afternoon in Fort Benton, Montana. After lunch at “Wakeup Cup” (highly recommended…

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Class staging, informal work and communication areas

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Where are students before and after class? New teaching environments look at those transition times as windows of opportunity, and strive to offer opportunities for student-faculty and student-student interaction, as well as personal study. Academic and social interaction…

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Paradigms of today’s college classrooms

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

While a basic specification of a classroom still includes maximum occupancy counts and available technology, teaching and learning methods have moved away from a strict lectern to audience monologue. Presenters, whether teacher or student, move around the room, pointing at…

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Great Falls – Historic Walking Tours

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

We pass these buildings many times, wondering what stories they hold. Next time you’re downtown, on River Edge Trail, or the Railroad district, check out one of the historic walking trail brochures: “The Central Business Historic District Walking Tour…

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Grants (a.k.a. money) for your ideas

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Always wanted to build a playground, school garden, add to your neighborhood park, or library? The MSU extension office painstakingly lists  available grant programs. If you don’t have a project in mind yet, check out available grants for…

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Finding Synergies in Historic Downtown Development

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Earlier this week I visited Randy Hafer with High Plains Architects  in Billings to discuss opportunities to encourage additional Historic Development Downtown. Randy could be called the Guru of Montana historic tax credit projects. Having completed over six certified…

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Decision making for institutional construction projects

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Decision making dynamics are clearly defined in theory, but continue to be a major challenge in practice. Awareness of typical pitfalls will be an essential step to successful project completion.Universities and similar institutions tend to be organized in hierarchical…

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It smells… delicious: Applied Phenomenology

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Architects study objective and subjective aspects of the built environment. Objective subjects are easily observed and quantified. A bridge structure collapses when subjected to a certain amount of load. Phenomenology is a philosophical approach to more subtle qualities of our…

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Tax credits for historic buidings in Montana

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

IRS, National Parks, and State Historic Preservation office (SHPO) collaborate in the administration of federal historic tax credits. Current offerings include a federal tax credit of 20%  for non-owner-occupied historic buildings with rehabilitation costs greater $5,000…

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Shiny Spec’s and Artifacts

Sophia Sparklin AIA LEED AP

Special finishes, elegant lighting and sleek graphic design can support your business, but may still be replicable anywhere in the world. Your food and your service make your restaurant unique, but don’t miss out on making the location itself…

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