Archive for : June, 2016

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Architecture and design

A graduate of the University of Houston’s College of Architecture, Jimenez learned of the city’s Montrose area through frequent visits to Texas Art Supply, a shop popular with the architecture and design community. Booming now, Montrose in the early `80s was “a bit run-down,” yet not without allure, he recalls. “It’s a colorful, mixed neighborhood with variation in scale. It shows a less predictable side of Houston. This multicultural character within a city–I enjoy that.”

studio space as well as the locus of Jimenez's personal office and library

studio space as well as the locus of Jimenez’s personal office and library

The project began in 1983 with a pair of buildings, one for a library, the other a studio/residence. In 1986, the compound saw the addition of a third building that became the main studio space as well as the locus of Jimenez’s personal office and library. Altered and expanded over the years, it is illustrated here in its current state, with a mezzanine representing the most recent addition. In 1903, Jimenez built his 1,600-sq.-ft. private residence across the street as the fourth component of the scheme.

“I always believe that architecture has a role in making a place rather than having it simply occupy a place.” This tenet helps explain the architect’s decisive turn away from Houston’s prevalent mode of residential construction. Instead of wood framing with brick or stucco veneers, he based his vocabulary on concrete block. The durable material, he explains, “is a counterpoint to the ephemeral character of construction in Houston.” The choice of material also connotes “a cultural response,” he says. “I’m not American; I’m not facile with moving. I’ve only lived in three cities.” Nevertheless, the buildings are at home in the Montrose landscape. Similar in scale and feeling to the community’s bungalow vernacular, they might easily be mistaken, at first glance, for renovated buildings rather than new construction. Says Jimenez, “When I first heard the word `bungalow,’ I mistook it for a dance.”

Jimenez espouses an elemental approach to architecture. “The simpler the building, the more flexibility it engenders. Neutral, generic spaces permit future uses,” he says. His compound is a prime illustration of this philosophy. “I wanted the buildings to be containers for light and space. I don’t aspire to have them be anything more.”

Living space

Living space

This desire for light and views dictated the placement of studio spaces. Instead of one large room, work areas are broken up into a series of partial enclosures for closer proximity and multiple views of the courtyards, which, in the architectural scheme, are every bit as important as built structures. The resulting plan has a meandering quality.

Color joins light and views in the Jimenez compound. Vibrant tones create bold planes in both interior and exterior landscapes. More than surface decoration, color, for Jimenez, is an articulating device. The crimson wall within the studio, for example, signals the transition between one large work room and the designer’s private studio. The brilliant blue of the facade is a response to the environment. First, the color is meant as a cheerful relief from the putty and gray faces of buildings nearby. But its exact tone was chosen to duplicate that of the Texas sky in winter. “Sometimes,” says Jimenez, “the building is camouflaged and its stucco walls almost disappear.”

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Guides on how to decorate your Clinic

Clinic Furnishment

At Skinklinic, as at almost any spa, the atmosphere is as important as the treatments on offer. And the design is intended to make the tranquil transition nothing less than transformative. Inside, spare forms, tactile materials, and soothing colors complete the transaction: “Clients have said they come in and exhale,” says Skinklinic founder and CEO Kathy Dwyer. The former president of Revlon Consumer Products, named one of the top 100 women in business by Fortune magazine in 1998, she believes it is “important to establish a balance between escape and efficacious, efficient treatments.” Dwyer hired Clarissa Richardson and Heidar Sadeki of UT to strike the appropriate chord. Best known for the design of Manhattan’s Bliss 57 spa [Interior Design, February 2000], UT recently became part of the Richardson Sadeki Design Group. Just as Skinklinic provides a full complement of dermatological treatments, the firm provides wide-ranging design services–it’s a kind of one-stop shop in the disciplines of architecture, interiors, graphics, and corporate-identity and product design.

Dwyer took full advantage of the firm’s offerings. UT was responsible for the entry sequence, the furniture such as nursery gliders or sofa beds for patients, and the interiors. Beyond the physical environment, every aspect of Skinklinic’s visual identity–right down to the corporate logo’s gender-neutral purple and the skin-care products’ packaging–was also handled by UT in collaboration with Utility Design.

Skinklinic’s serious dermatological treatments notwithstanding, its Manhattan flagship wasn’t to look like a typical medical facility, explains Sadeki. There were two key requirements for the 8,000-square-foot duplex space, which occupies portions of the high-rise building’s ground floor and basement. The first was efficiency, for on-the-go clients, men and women over 30 who are serious about skin care. The second, a modern style, was to reflect the advanced technologies and techniques employed by the staff of registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and dermatologists.

Sofa beds are used in clinics

Sofa beds are used in clinics

Furniture for each room in the Clinic

Noting Dwyer’s anti-medical-facility mandate, the designers mimicked or reflected the characteristics of skin, relying on materials and finishes heavy on reflectivity, tactility, transparency, and translucency. “We created opacity by layering,” says Sadeki, citing the reception area’s translucent wall panels, patterned like skin cells. (The effect is created by sandwiching structural plastic laminate between two layers of glass.)

From Naugahyde to Ultrasuede and beyond, “skin” of varieties both natural and synthetic is stretched across walls. A corridor sheathed in sanded rubber delivers clients from the reception area to the treatment rooms. Floors are poured epoxy. Pony skin and Mongolian lamb cover custom furniture.

Custom furniture for clinics

Custom furniture for clinics

From the rejuvenating water of the courtyard reflecting pools to the furry upholstery in the reception area and the soft hues in the treatment rooms, UT created a conceptual framework for the project that, Sadeki points out, combines the “comfort of a girlfriend’s loft” with the “immediate results of a car wash of a drive-through church.” The theory goes like this: By taking advantage of Skinklinic’s treatments, many only 30 minutes long, clients can attain dermatological results in an environment as cool and relaxing as a hip friend’s digs.

Relaxed chairs for patients

Relaxed glider chairs for patients