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Our Amazing Intern – Jaxon

Right after the presentation, a father brought his high school son to introduce to me and talk about the project in further detail. He also shared that his son was doing some AutoCAD in high school and wondered if we considered any internships. IONIC had considered summer interns in the past when there was a good match. We’ve even hired college students that worked part-time and went to school the other. Dahlia White is a testament to that success as she began with us that way more than 10 years ago.

So when this proud father introduced me to his son, Jaxon, a high school student, I must say that I was a little bit leery as to his ability to do much around our office. Honestly, everything we do is on the computer these days. And most high schools don’t teach the level that we would use in our office. However, I was very impressed with his portfolio work and found out that he had been in training with AutoCAD for three years. That’s just unheard of!

Jaxon was a pleasure in our office during his time with IONIC. He continued to grow and develop and not only honed his skills with AutoCAD, but quickly jumped into helping produce construction documents. We were excited to hear that this wasn’t just a job to make a few bucks but the beginning of a career and that he intended to go to architectural school at Virginia Tech.

Thanks Jaxon for all of your participation and energy that you shared in our Richmond office. We look forward to hearing and seeing great things from you in the future.

P. S. There are always summer breaks and holiday weekends!

Here is a quick note he shared with us:

My experience with IONIC started when they came to do an addition to my church; my dad dragged me along to the meeting just in case they offered an internship of some sort. I was doubtful that anyone would want a 17 year old kid working for them, but I went along anyway. After the meeting, I was super nervous about asking these two strange men (Eugene and Aaron) that I had never met about coming to work for them as it was my first time doing something similar to this.

However, it went smoothly! I secured the internship as well as a small pay, which was just unbelievable, and I went from there. When I first started at IONIC the one thing I remember is how welcomed I felt while I was first starting, almost like the family just took me under their wing immediately.

My first project I remember was a small project off of Twin Oaks, and Jeff gave me the floor plans and told me to put them into AutoCAD, no big deal right.

However, as I progressed I realized how hard it was! But with the help of Aaron and Google, I was able to continue to grow and learn. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that was given to me by IONIC and I am super excited to be back next summer!

IONIC isn’t only a business, it’s a family who care for one another deeply.

Thank you Jaxon for the kind words…Looking forward to seeing your success at Virginia Tech!

Ask IONIC #8 – The Final Look

Ask IONIC is a napkin series of questions that we often hear from our client and others that may assist those who are also seeking answers.

No question is dumb… just the ones you don’t ask.

We hope these will help you understand our industry just a little better so you can make informed decisions on your project.

Information that leads to knowledge is the key to success.

 

What will the completed product look like?

Owners are typically trying to find someone…i.e. an architect, that can ensure that what they envision in their heads or scratched on their cocktail napkins will look the same (or better) when it’s built.

So how can an architect best represent what’s communicated from the owner to the real world?

Architects have a variety of tools that we use to help owners visualize their completed projects before shovels even hit the ground. There has been a recent increase in the use of technology and software applications in construction, and we have seen the benefits first-hand. Our team utilizes Computer Aided Drafting Design (CADD) floor plans, elevations, conceptual drawings and 3D renderings that provide a photo-like image of your proposed building.

Basic Autocad is … well, just basic. It’s only a beginning. If this is all your architect is using, you might need something more.

At the start of a schematic design phase most efficient and creative firms will use design technology that represent your project in three dimensions. This is a huge help to see how your project looks and feels with all the appropriate materials. The project can be placed in its specific surroundings or similar one depending on your preferences and needs.

Be prepared to expend more in fees if you want the detailed exact surroundings. The designers will have to create these…they aren’t just “out there” on the internet.

If Interiors are a key part of your project, ensure that your design team has this capability. Often, a lot of other “pieces” are needed to populate an interior and make it visually exciting. Furniture, pictures on the walls, lighting, etc. Image if you went to look at an apartment that was empty versus one that was staged. Get the idea? Again, these take time to develop. If you are wanting the exact furniture or infill items, most likely the designer will have to create it from scratch…there is no “Easy Button”!

What’s next?

How about a walk-through video. These are great and really give you an idea of the flow for how you might enter the building and stroll through each of the spaces. There are a variety of programs that help the architect achieve these. These are very helpful for clients that are trying to receive an approval from a committee or a church. Maybe even for fundraising purposes.

Image it being like a movie set… you aren’t just doing one angle of a scene but rather everything as you turn around within the space. Be sure to ask your professional about these available services and examples that they have previously completed. How did they work for those groups?

What’s next? Can there really be more?

Oh yes, in today’s world of advanced computer modeling there seems to be more everyday. Holograms? Not yet… sorry, maybe next year.

Images that are interactive rather than just still renderings. These are beneficial if you are using them on your website for potential tenants. Like the example below.

How about a “walk-around”? Similar to a walk-through video but typically shared within the architects office. Videos produced by many architects take TIME to render. So they aren’t always immediate for the client needs. A system we often use at IONIC allows the clients to see in real time the space and places that we are designing. They tell us where to walk, where to turn, what to see. Standing inside an important space and turning around looking everywhere, left, right, up and down. It’s amazing!

With ours…none of those goggles needed.

Perfect for design-build teams!

Go back and look at the approved renderings and the final product…how do they compare?

Our team takes immense pride in the work we do. We treat each client’s project as if it’s the only one we have. When construction is complete, you can be confident that your new building or renovation will serve you not just now, but for many years to come.

Let IONIC serve you too.

Ask IONIC #7 – Construction Duration

Ask IONIC is a napkin series of questions that we often hear from our client and others that may assist those who are also seeking answers.

No question is dumb… just the ones you don’t ask.

We hope these will help you understand our industry just a little better so you can make informed decisions on your project.

Information that leads to knowledge is the key to success.

How long will it take to build my project?

Let me first help to define this question since we get it often.
1. Are you talking about designing and producing construction documents?

2. Are you talking about getting all your permits?

3. Or are you actually talking about digging, hammering and seeing the project physically take shape in the field?

All three are different questions.

Short answers:
1. Depends on the complexity of your project. Small build outs or retail projects we have completed in 2-4 weeks. Others take months. IONIC always gives you an anticipated timeline.

2. Permits are out of our control. Some cities are quick to respond and others just don’t have the manpower to review the documents quickly. Civil drawings typically take much longer than building review.

3. Construction periods are best determined by the actual contractor doing the work. We can always estimate the time frame using historical data but each project is different.

OK…that really didn’t answer your question. I know.

Many of the same factors that affect cost also determine your project’s timeline. Permitting, financing and weather also play a major role in deciding when you can occupy your new space. IONIC understands that the sooner you can move into your new building, the sooner you can get started in business and make money.

In addition to spending hours to fully design our clients’ projects, we also outline the expectations of the time table for all the phases.

The time table also needs to take into account the method of project delivery. Design-Bid-Build or Design-Build?

Design-build construction’s cost efficiency, time savings, and collaborative nature have made it popular among clients for everything from commercial and municipal buildings to sports facilities, churches, restaurants, manufacturing plants, medical facilities, and more.

The design-build process can be much more fluid than traditional design-bid-build. Instead of long gaps of time (and remember, time is money) between different phases of a project being completed by different participants, each member of a design-build team works together from the start and during every step of the process to help move things along quickly and more smoothly.

We have experienced fewer design changes and cost overruns when design-build is employed due to improved communication between all parties. The increase in collaboration enables customization and innovation, which results in less time and fewer materials being wasted at each stage of the project. The result? A higher quality deliverable—with no surprises—ultimately resulting in increased satisfaction by the owner.

IONIC strives to maintain constant communication with our clients, allowing them to be informed about all aspects of their project. Our construction administration team meets daily to discuss project developments and construction progress.

IONIC’s communication doesn’t stop when the blueprints and conceptual drawings have been drawn up.

We believe that it’s crucial not only for our team to start working on a project from the beginning, but also to have the same team members following through with construction administration to the end.

Not only does this mean your project is under constant supervision, but it ensures issues are resolved before they happen, saving our clients time, money and headaches.

After all, your time is important, too.

Crescent Community Center

Team IONIC is excited to share a sneak preview of the project that is currently in development. Crescent community center is a project in Virginia Beach off of Salem Road where the clients had received the condition of use approval back in 2013. The design that was completed at that time was very adventurous but didn’t quite capture the cultural desires of the client.

IONIC was brought in to assist the client in completing the vision that they so desperately desired. WPL is the civil engineer of record and had completed an approved site plan for the client to proceed with developing the infrastructure, grading and  parking but the client hadn’t move forward with any of the building documents.

The original plan called for 12,400 square feet of new construction. However this was too much for the congregation to afford. Originally a tower was included along with a dome structure both of which needed to be eliminated to bring the cost of construction within budget. After several years of frustration the client brought the issues to IONIC for assistance. We had previously worked with Syed Haider on other convenience store projects and had an excellent relationship with him over the years. When he walked in the door he told us that if anybody could make this happen it was us.

What a great testimonial!

And what a great responsibility to perform!

So after our discussion talking about the desires, goals and potential reduction in square footage for the initial phase, IONIC went to work on creating a plan that could be implemented. Our team of designers researched ideas, materials, and cultural impact that would make this project a success. All of these things needed to come together to meet the restricted budget.

IONIC first started with a floor plan and shared our initial ideas with client. After several back and forth conversations we were able to come up with a plan that fits the needs of the client and seemed to allow us to produce a structure within budget. This plan would also allow future growth to the full 12,000+ square feet whenever the church/mosque was capable of moving forward.

The next phase was researching ideas of how to keep the structure both contextual, cultural, and affordable. Yes, all those things usually do not go together. Regardless, that was our task.

Our team sketched ideas and concepts back and forth deliberating on an approach.

IONIC shared our Visioneering Master Plan with our client and achieved outstanding success!

Once we presented the idea and walked through the concepts as well as the interiors of the space by utilizing a three-dimensional model and capabilities of spinning the structure around so the client could see all sides different angles and interiors of our proposed design. Alongside our model we shared samples of exterior finishes which included porcelain tile on higher impact areas and stucco on the remaining portions.

Our primary focus was to have the front of the building become dominant in the design so the two key bookends were featured on the front utilizing the porcelain tile with tall glass entryway fronted by a simple arcade. To accomplish some of the blending of culture we proposed sandblasted storefront that characterized the Mosaic pattern often found in similar structures. This idea would allow sun to stream in from the outside and create a shadow cast across the floor replicating the Mosaic feel. Conversely at nighttime when interior lights are gleaming brightly, the shadows would be cast outside onto the paving in front of the entryway.

The effects will be dynamic!

After receiving accolades from our client in accomplishing exactly what they desired, our next hurdle was to see if we could get approvals administratively from the City of Virginia Beach on our new design. The primary concern here is that if they felt our design deviated too far from the original plans, we would have to go through the entire condition of use process again. This would delay the construction document phase by over three months if it was required.

With great joy the city’s planners saw that our design as being compatible with the original plan and found it pleasing. With this information we were granted an administrative approval to move forward!

Let us know if we can help you finish your master plan and help your project move forward. Send all questions and inquiries to info@ionicdezigns.com

We look forward to hearing from you.

Ask IONIC #5 – Permits

Ask IONIC is a napkin series of questions that we often hear from our client and others that may assist those who are also seeking answers.

No question is dumb… just the ones you don’t ask.

We hope these will help you understand our industry just a little better so you can make informed decisions on your project.

Information that leads to knowledge is the key to success.

 Do I need to hire an architect to obtain building permits?

We have this question asked of us all the time. The easy answer is, yes! Of course you do. What would you expect an architect to say?

Okay so here is the truth of the matter, there are times when you do not need to hire a licensed architect to create permit drawings. The tough part for me to answer is when exactly that time is. The reason I say I don’t know for sure is because I don’t need to produce a set of drawings without my license seal on it. I OWN ONE! So I can seal all of our work even if it is only interior-related work.

The primary reason most clients do not want to hire an architect for their work and obtain a set sealed drawings is all about COST. They simply do not want to pay an architect to review and stamp their design drawings. I get it! If you don’t need to spend money, then don’t! Which I can understand if you are on a very tight budget. However some jurisdictions will absolutely require an architectural seal on anything that is requesting a construction permit.

Honestly, for almost all commercial construction, jurisdictions will ask for a sealed set of documents. Most do this for liability reasons. They don’t want any! Residential construction is not always required as long as all of the calculations and the related information needed has been included in the documents. This seems to be the most common occurrence when you would not need to have a sealed set of construction documents.

In many cases when you’re doing interior design renovations moving interior non-load bearing walls and upgrading finishes you won’t need a sealed set of construction documents either. However, many times if the interior work is extensive it still might be beneficial for an architect to review and seal the work to ensure code compliance has been met.

IONIC partners with several interior designers that we know very well and have worked with them through their code review and analysis.

We have also been asked to stamp drawings that have been prepared by others. In cases where other architects have produced prototypical plans and it is a repeat of the same construction work, an owner has come to us and requested that we simply stamp the drawings without review. And of course only want to pay a few bucks. The problem with this first, is it’s unethical. I don’t know if I need to say any more than that. Secondly, the architect that seals these drawings is taking on full liability and if they didn’t review the drawings and thoroughly investigate all of the calculations and considerations they would be foolish. Most times it is not worth the risk for a few dollars to take on this kind of liability.

Also let me mention that you cannot necessarily take a set of documents that somebody else has produced and stamp them as your own. That is a copyright infringement.

So, please don’t ask us to!

Every jurisdiction is slightly different in regards to what they would require. It’s best to first ask your local reviewer what the requirements would be for your specific project and the scope of work occurring. They can share with you what would be required at minimum and then the owner or client could seek their best solution and determine how to proceed.

Every job is different. Every jurisdiction is different. It is getting more and more complicated to obtain permits and approvals.

Hope this clarifies the question for you. Should you have others, please submit them to us and we will add them to the list and post answers. Send all questions to info@ionicdezigns.com

We look forward to hearing from you.

Visioneering or Vis(ion-ic)eering For Your Church Project

Developing a plan for a group can have its challenges if you don’t have your act together. It takes a carefully crafted process to guide a church’s building committee successfully.

We have been told by so many of our clients that our process was the most thorough and detailed that they had ever experienced. Our step-by-step process that leads a committee from the beginning of a program guide to a projected budget has helped our clients fully understand the process of renovating or modifying their church facility.

First let me share that it isn’t an easy process. It can be very time consuming, if done improperly. There are many factors that go into developing a master plan for a church and any one of them can create chaos if not approached properly. We feel we have been given an opportunity to be good stewards for our church clients and not lead them down a path that would create hardships or delays in their projects.

Here are a few of the issues that we have helped our clients face:

1. Budget

2. Re-purposing existing spaces

3. Expansion of new facilities

4. Focusing on priorities

5. Committee members’ different desires

6. Providing solutions when the budget doesn’t allow them to fulfill all their wishes.

7. Creating a phasing plan

8. Team involvement

Any one of these can be a challenge to the committee and it helps to have someone steering the committee in a direction that will get them positive results.

IONIC’s goal is to assist the church in recognizing its own VISION and allowing it to rise to the surface. We are not here to push our own agenda but rather carefully take the needs and requirements of the church and help craft a plan that can be successfully implemented.

BGAV Convention

This week we took to the road…..well not really. It was only 10 minutes away from our office in Richmond. We packed up a few of our marketing items and set up shop at our booth at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Glen Allen, VA. It was for the 195th annual meeting of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.

The three day convention allows us to share our experience with churches looking for some work on their buildings. It’s also a great opportunity to meet up with old friends. A good time for all. For architecture, it’s not a typical sales presentation but we are able to get our name out to those who may not have heard of us before.

IONIC always likes to share our trademarked VISIONEERING process with our church clients.  Far too often we see churches that find the VISION but fail to put in place the ENGINEERING. In simple terms you need to have more than a pretty picture. Master planning from architects who don’t clearly illustrate the needs for their clients fail to meet ALL their expectations.

Here are a few of the 12 tips we share on the VISIONEERING PRINCIPLES.
For a more detailed list and ask plan, please reach out. We would be glad to share the full set of goal requirements for your church project.
1. Consider the Site – Making a detailed assessment of the current conditions to better plan the future.
2. The Vision – Taking your ideas and goals and determining what is possible at your facility, both financially and physically.
3. Future Growth – Properly prepare by analyzing your congregation’s growth trends, programs and age distribution.
4. Obstacles – Identifying unique opportunities and potential threats, expressed in a master plan.
5. Phases – Developing a comprehensive phased building program including renovation areas as well as new construction.
6. Design Options – Considering the site – Parking, Utility Studies, Circulation, Worship Programs, Exterior and Interior ideas and Future Needs.
7. Leadership Review – Developing a consensus on a final plan with leaders and stakeholders.
8. Timeline – Mapping out an implementation process and time frame.
9. Marketing and Fundraising – Providing illustrations and plans for utilization in capital raising campaigns.
10. Approval Process – Coordinating for both civil and building permit requirements.
11. Team – Retaining needed consultants, and handling all contractual relationships.
12. Contract Administration – Assisting in selecting local general contractors, schedules, phases, etc.

Hope this gives you some food for thought as you prepare to expand your borders and your walls. IONIC would be glad to assist you in any way possible.

IONIC Vision: Creating Places and Spaces that Enrich the Lives of Those Who Use Them.

Two offices to serve you better. Headquarters in Hampton Roads. Second office in Central Virginia.

Find out more about IONIC & our church projects at www.ionicdezigns.com

Inside IONIC – Bart McElfresh

Who is IONIC?

Based out of our Virginia Beach headquarters, Bart is a native of the Hampton Roads community and has developed a wealth of relationships since his start in the architectural industry in 1983. With an exhaustive portfolio of religious projects, Bart has experience with just about every style of church out there. This background has given him an efficiency in understanding the client’s needs and has created many trusted relationships. In his current role with Ionic DeZign Studios, he is additionally responsible for retail development and client relations.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on several fitness related projects in Hampton Roads, which include interior build-out of Blink Fitness Center and a new ground-up construction for Chesapeake Crossfit. There is a high-end, waterfront residential property along with Haynes Furniture/The Dump renovations located in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Richmond and Chicago. We also recently were awarded The Webb Schools Vivian Webb Chapel Renovation Master Plan in Claremont, California. I’m really excited about that possibility.

What inspires you?

I’m always inspired by great design. When any design – whether it’s a building, a product, a park or plaza, sculpture or some other type of art or even something digital – feels fresh, elegant and timeless all at the same time, it’s great design.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love to travel and thankfully get to do so quite a lot. I really enjoy experiencing other cities in a non-touristy way. In the past year, I’ve spent time in Dublin, London, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle and also Amsterdam – which is probably my favorite city in the world. Next year – Buenos Aires!

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

“In my experience, the simpler a design appears the more complicated it is to pull off!”

Two offices to serve you better. Headquarters in Hampton Roads. Second office in Central Virginia.
Find out more about IONIC 

 

IONIC Vision: Creating Places and Spaces that Enrich the Lives of Those Who Use Them.

“Inside IONIC” posts, designed to help you get to know the talented, innovative team at Ionic DeZign Studios.

Building your Retail Project

When was the last time you hired an architect to design a retail facility for your organization? Next question: How long did it take them?

Yes, that’s what we thought. Most of the time we hear from our clients about the dissatisfaction of waiting for a set of construction documents from their past architectural firm.

 

 

The second biggest complaint we hear is that the details are not conducive to a retail structure. The contractor has to change or simplify how it is built to fit the budget.

That’s unfortunate.

We might have a solution for you when it comes to your next retail project. Whether you are building new, adding an addition or doing a facelift, IONIC can find the right solutions to address your concerns. That’s what we’ve been doing for nearly twenty years. Making your projects successful, both financially and aesthetically.

We understand that not all architectural firms are created equal. The best price doesn’t always equal the best value. Our clients come to IONIC because we address the challenges they’ve experienced with previous inattentive design firms failing to provide what was promised. For the right organizations, our clients tell us that we swiftly solve that challenge with amazing results. But, our approach might not be the right fit for every organization. We won’t know if we can help you until we learn more. If solving the challenge you are experiencing is important to you, we are happy to talk.

 

 

Here are a few questions to ask when you are looking for the right design partners for your next project. What is important to you?

  1. Do you want a team that is responsive to your needs and requests and looks out for your best interests or one that’s just told what to do and ignores best practices?

  2. Do you want an architect that seeks creative solutions to minimize costs and time or are you more concerned with someone that can just give you exactly what you’ve asked for, right or wrong?

  3. Are you looking for a team that is:

    A) Minimally Involved

    B) Adequately Engaged or

    C) Fully Invested?

  4. Finally, are you looking for someone who is interested in YOUR results not their own?

Feel free to reach out to anyone on our team and we look forward to an opportunity to serve your architectural needs.

IONIC Vision: Creating Places and Spaces that Enrich the Lives of Those Who Use Them.

Two offices to serve you better.

www.ionicdezigns.com

Providence Baptist Church is an Award Winner!

IONIC returned from the Annual Member Meeting for the National Association of Church Design Builders with two awards for its Providence Baptist Church project. We teamed up with general contractor JH Batten, Inc., a fellow NACDB member, to add an 8,200 square foot expansion to the existing church building in Hayes, VA.

Our partnership with JH Batten was rewarded with an Honors Award for best TEAM NACDB project for collaborating with a fellow member. The job was also a winner in the category for best project under $5 million.

 

 

The 1960s facility presented a challenge to the team, with a large amount of the existing square footage constructed prior to the existence of current Building Codes. To match the colonial style and brick facade of the existing building, special care was needed to meet the requirements of the fire code, without employing a sprinkler system. By designing and building a Firewall between the existing Commons and Fellowship Hall, the Design/Build team was able to isolate the existing Fellowship Hall and then add to it to create the new Fellowship Center. When completed, the firewall allowed the structure to be represented as though it was two separate buildings. The firewall also set the stage for the future Multi-Purpose Outreach Center addition, which could be separated and sprinkled for fire safety.

Creative collaboration and careful coordination between Ionic DeZign Studios and JH Batten allowed the fire code requirements to be addressed in a way that saved the church both time and expense. The client also had an extensive wish list for the new building and the team was able to meet those needs, while staying within budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new Fellowship Center doubled the size of the church’s seating capacity from 150 to 300 seats for dining and fellowship events, while allowing for better furniture placement. Key features of the new center include a new Commercial Kitchen and handicap accessible bathrooms and showers. A new entry Commons with a coffee bar and high-top tables can be conveniently accessed from a covered Drop-off area in the parking lot. Additional parking, accessible walkways and new landscaping and lighting further enhanced the completed Phase 1 design.