1 – 4 : : DesignSpeak : :


Last week I finished this part of the post with the following:

By 2:00 PM I was touring the rooms, check-measuring the building – taking notes, photographs and then in the evening hours, transcribing it all into AutoCAD on my laptop. By 10:30, I was pretty much fading, and called it a day.

Next weeks’ issue will continue with the story, and the eventual BadNews client result, in detail……

And , to continue – Saturday morning, an early start. Six AM out in the corridors, quietly taking check measures – from of end of a a hallway to another. Why? Because in
attempting to enter the data from the previous evening, it became clear that the hard-copy set of design drawings I had, which had been produced for the renovation 10 years prior, were riddled with dimensional inaccuracies. Thus, it seemed there was no choice. Cross-checks, re-measuring, was a must.  Working alone in attempting to record measures – holding the tape against the walls, juggling a full set of drawings, a pen – a notebook, it was very slow going. Dimensions, when needed confirmation, must be completely re-taken….as one can never know where the suspect errors may have occurred.  Hours – literally……and every couple of hours, back to the room – sit and enter all the dimensions into AutoCAD. Nothing quite as boring, and tiring. The day passed slowly – a rhythm emerged…..go measure, go back and enter…..had I known I was in for such drudgery I would have probably declined the assignment.

In the mid-afternoon, the General Manager called and asked if I wanted to do a tour of the competitor hotels – there was an opportunity to do a ‘walk-through’ of the other 4 hotels in town – to actually have access to the rooms – speak with management. It seemed a terrific opportunity as I would gain an intimate look at what the competition had to offer.
We departed – in bone-chilling cold –  and duly visited each property. Of the four, one was of very poor quality – rundown, tired looking . …..  the bottom of the heap, quality-wise.
Of the remaining three, only one had the kind of cachet that you might associate with a major city…… rooms were spacious, design packages and amenities were well thought-out and clearly professionally designed.

Of course, it took time – a couple of hours, trudging here, looking – taking photographs. It was a tiring exercise, but very valuable.

Back to the hotel – a quick lunch, and then continuing with site measures.

Of course, there was time spent with the General Manager, in discussions – time spent  surveying the different room types, etc., etc., etc.

Saturday ended, long – and late. Way late……for after a room service dinner, AutoCAD input continued.

But, ideas were forming – some fragments of inspiration were starting to bubble up. Too soon to be thinking creatively, of course……but, when you’ve done this as long as I have, the sub-conscious starts to register the ‘opportunities’ that become apparent, even in the midst of the ‘grunt work’.

Sunday, was a day as early as most – 6:00 AM, at the computer, cross-checking – doing inputs……and more public space measurements.

Boring – then, and now – as you read this.

The day finished, Monday morning was spent much the same way, and by 11:00 I was ready to depart for the airport.

Flight back, was long – 3 hours…..and I arrived in Ottawa at 7:00 PM, whereupon, I had to drive back to Montreal.

In the following days, I was able to put together a cohesive facilities plan, with accurate measurements. I embarked on the development of ideas that would identify commonalities
available for an overall design treatment. Shocking reality to discover that out of 36 rooms, there were 13 different room types. These were not subtly different variations – there were  significant
differences, one to the next.

Finding commonality – establishing a standard design approach – was definitely going to be a problem. After a couple of days, I felt I had enough accomplished to sit with the client and review my findings and preliminary direction. In a brief phone call, as a result of my e-mail report, I was told that a corporate emergency had arisen which required that he leave immediately to a project site, also in the FarNorth, and he would not be available for our meeting for at least 10 days.  That was actually fine by me – I wasn’t the one who had been stressing the timeline and project startup dates.

We agreed to a meeting 10 days hence, and I offered to continue with my design research – to develop an approach and a programme – all in order to save time.
Some 62 work hours were logged over the next few days……time which wrapped around a full day of teaching at the College.

Clever, in my books, stands right up there with any other kind of design skill or talent……. and, I am, a really good problem-solver. A lot of energy was expended in searching for a ‘formula’ for the design approach…… made a lot of good progress. Spent time in producing sharp and clear graphics and charts – spreadsheets and summaries – all so we could review the business aspects of this project.

Our scheduled meeting day arrived. Carrying copies of bound documents, plans, summaries and analyses – we met from 10:00 AM through until noon. Generally, it was a successful presentation. The overall design direction was warmly applauded. We were achieving consensus. In the course of the frank discussions I stressed that a second fact-finding trip would be absolutely essential -and this time I would need an assistant. All existing electrical and sprinkler conditions needed to be surveyed in every room and the resultant data incorporated into the AutoCAD drawings. This was, of course, readily agreed to…… in attempts to instill a discernible elegance into the public spaces (lobby, meeting area, etc) design proposals had been developed accordingly. Some were met with encouragement – others were treated rather negatively. But, such negativism was more rooted in certain unique aspects of the environment, and security concerns, than anything else.

We finished our meeting with my promise to develop some detailed costing projections so we could establish a global budget for the project. This was on a Wednesday – about 10 days prior to Christmas. Immediately, I continued design development for a rather unique modular rooms furniture system – one that would provide all the different room types with a completely consistent design signature and style.

Next week, we’ll continue with the final chapter of this story – there is a point to all this – it falls under, ‘Lessons Learned’


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