I was just on my weekly call with a small group of architects from all over the country, a group organized through the EntreArchitect network. We have been meeting every Wednesday via Zoom for years, and I am so lucky to call this talented, thoughtful, funny, smart and devoted group of people colleagues, and more importantly, friends. (As a side note, anyone who believes that remote communication is always a poor substitute for in-person community building, this group’s success proves the opposite.) On our Wednesday call, one of our members said something that struck me: “Last week, everything changed.” And that’s true across the board. Everything has changed for our country, for our families, for our systems, and for our health. It’s changed for our habits, our social patterns, our work and our homes.
Last month, I received my Certification as an Aging in Place Specialist through the National Association of Home Builders. When we posted the update on various social media platforms, I was frankly blown away by the number of reactions. This post received 100 times the number of views as my average LinkedIn update. And while Graham Yelton’s photography is extraordinary, I suspect that the reason the post has garnered some interest is the subject matter.
As the holidays quickly approach, the hubbub of preparation for impending festivities and celebrations goes into high gear. Holiday open houses, hosted in shops, offices and homes, speak to the sense of hospitality that accompanies the season.
I’ve been thinking about this hospitality lately, especially in light of a recent three-day workshop I attended in Chattanooga. Sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders and taught by Steve Hoffacker, the workshop was focused on Aging in Place and how we can make our homes more livable for longer. One of the concepts presented in the workshop was the “visitable” home. Aging in Place design has several design categories, each focusing on different priorities, including Universal Design, Adaptable Design, Accessible Design, Visitable Design, and Livable Design. And while the technical recommendations associated with each category varied, the simplicity of the term “visitable” home particularly appealed to my southern sense of hospitality.
How do we design and renovate homes so that everyone feels welcome, and not just during the holidays? This isn’t always an easy task: technically, the visitable home requires accessible paths into the home, meaning on-grade entrances, ramps or some sort of mechanical lift. Those aren’t always design features that appeal to homeowners and may not be feasible given lot or site constraints. However, we can work to provide clear paths to public spaces, so that our guests who use wheelchairs or walkers can navigate the party with ease, or that there are powder room facilities available to everyone, especially those who might have a hard time navigating the one tucked under the stair. We can think about how someone might approach the front door from the sidewalk and whether there is sufficient lighting for the dark afternoons of the holidays to illuminate a clear path. In some ways I think about these considerations not as obstacles, but just an expression of good manners. Hospitality is important.
What does the word “open house” mean to you? How can we help you design your renovation or new home so that it supports the hospitality you want to extend?
I recently attended a roundtable luncheon attended by women from different professional backgrounds and business endeavors. Our speaker for the luncheon, Kim Davis from Synovus Bank, gave an inspiring talk about our “one thing,” and distributed a lovely illustration by Ellie Tew of the Japanese concept, Ikigai. The Ikigai lies at the heart of the intersection of some objective “whats” and some subjective “whys.” It takes into account not only what we want, but what the world, our community, and our families need. It’s a beautiful expression of the necessity of interdependence, and I loved the chance to think about my purple dot at the center of all of those overlapping circles. Each of us at the table had the opportunity to speak a little about what their “one thing” might be, or what they saw as their Ikigai. It was a powerful conversation, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to participate.
We were in NYC for a quick trip to celebrate our twentieth anniversary and our oldest child’s first parents’ weekend at Princeton. While my husband worked at his firm’s NY office, I did what I love to do in the city, and headed to the Met with the express goal of visiting three galleries I had never seen before. Unencumbered by kids or husband, this was to be a much easier task.
Taylor Plosser Davis, AIA welcomes Landon Rosemore as the firm’s newest designer. Landon grew up in Birmingham and earned a Bachelor of Human Environmental Sciences in Interior Design at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Following graduation, she moved to Rosemary Beach in the Florida panhandle where she worked for an architecture firm for nearly three years. Landon brings her considerable interior design talents and knowledge of millwork and finishes to the firm.
Last weekend was my 25th college reunion (#legendary), and the whole family attended. A 15-hour car ride left me with some time to catch up on social media, and there’s nothing better for Facebook/Instagram surfing than I-81 in Virginia. Summer is peak renovation season it seems. Owners want to have renovation projects completed by the holidays. I saw lots of good questions out there about how to complete renovations and new construction in a way that solves problems and fits budgets. Like any other question posed on the internet, everyone has an opinion, and there is a good deal of confusion about how architects fit into this process. The issue of cost frequently surfaces: owners want value for their construction investment, and architect’s fees can appear to be just additional cost. To the contrary, however, a good architect works with you as a steward of your investment, potentially saving you money on your construction project.
This year, I have been meeting with a group of amazing women at our Birmingham American Institute of Architects chapter in an effort to engage women in the profession. Specifically, we are working on mentoring programs to help women in all stages of their careers, as studies show that professionals with mentors have demonstrably greater satisfaction in their jobs. As a part of this effort, AIA Birmingham is presenting the #WIAWednesdayBham series which highlights Alabama women in the profession and showcases their work. Nice to be included.