Green Design Jim


I have been called a “true visionary,” which is a wonderful complement, but it got me thinking about what that word actually means.

 It is in my nature to look at the big picture. I’ve always surveyed was going on around me with an eye toward how to possibly improve upon it. While working for other companies I would think of ways to streamline procedures, and I’ve had my own office peer reviewed--audited by other businesses and architectural firms to identify ways in which we could modernize our business management, staff procedures and design capabilities. I rested easy to hear our hired responses express praise for our business model, which focuses on having the administrative backup to track and take on adventuresome projects. To think out of the box you must be flexible!

Partnerships - Red Planet Ventures RPV

About 15 ago, I had the pleasure of meeting space architect/designer John Spencer “the Wizard of Space Tourism,” with whom I share an appreciation for space tourism and sustainable concepts. I’ve now become a co-founding owner of John’s company, Red Planet Ventures (RPV). The people I have met and the brainstorming session meetings we share really have pushed the limits of the amazing brain trust that Red Planet Ventures has developed. It is fun to share ideas with people from all over the world, and makes for a mind-expanding enterprise.

The 606 - Chicago

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit The 606, Chicago’s newly created urban walk and bike path, and I think they did a great job in converting what was once the Bloomingdale Line (elevated railroad) into a green mecca for urbanites and others.

 The developed was constructed with numerous paths that connect at the lower street level. Some of the paths break back and forth as switchbacks leading to and through a small urban park setting. The walk is perched one full floor above the city streets and features bridges to connect paths. There are walking and running paths as well as benches for relaxing and just enjoying the great views of the city. As a new development, The 606 won’t get much shade on sunny days until the trees become large enough to provide it (be careful when leaning on the guardrails—some of them have galvanized top rails that can get very hot!), but it still makes for a great escape for city residents. While there, I did not even notice the usual city noise.

High Design


 I am asked all of the time, “What makes a good design?” There are many possible answers to this question, but my most frequent reply is: “the principle of center stage versus background architecture.”

 For me, form follows function. The site defines where, what and how the necessary functions will perform on the site. Spatial relationships are where the efficiencies of space and cost come in. The aesthetics then can be developed in relation to the site and the community, and in a manner that seems timeless. Most buildings work in a background position—only a few need to be “signature / center stage.”

The Value of Follow Through

Clients expect their design team needs to be responsive to the changes, requirements and issues that arise throughout their development project. This is vital to the success of small projects and even more so for large projects. Similarly, design teams need clients to be just as responsive.


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