Albany Architects Keep Seeds Safe in Haiti

 How to prevent spoilage? Our minds usually jump to refrigeration, but what if electricity is not available or reliable? Albany architects use their green building expertise to solve this conundrum and help Haitians preserve seeds for high-yield crops.

 

Be Cool, Seeds

Haiti can be pretty hot and humid. While this might sound appealing for island life, it’s not ideal for storing seeds—and most important are those seeds. The seed we are referring to are peanut and rice. This seed storage project is part of a larger effort to develop more high-yield, high-protein crops for Haitians and to help reduce their reliance on international aid. This work is made possible by the  iF Foundation.

David Doherty, friend and mentor, currently works with the iF Foundation to experimentally raise high-yield and high-protein crops. The seeds and seedlings are distributed to local farmers along with education and tools that perpetuate local, sustainable agriculture.

So, if you were literally banking next years meals, you’d want that bank to be designed right. So what’s a green architect to do? Start with site analysis of course! Identify features that we can work with, such as gravity, sun, shading, plants, air pressure. Sounds simplistic? Well, that’s where the elegance of the solution shines. When you have little to work with, it really brings out the creativity in people and the project.

Day 2. Team reviews the new plan of action.

 

Green Building Design

The main goal here was to keep the rice and peanut seed, which are stored in metal shipping containers, cool and prevent spoilage. The key design approach was to create shade and air movement. The shade was accomplished by designing an open-sided steel structure with a pavilion-style, tiered roof. The open, yet overlapping tiers allowed air hot air to escape. Planted walls will help further cool the surroundings and increase the temperature differential from the ground below to the hot roof above (temperature and pressure differential), further generating air flow.

Albany architect in Haiti oversees construction of seed storage pavilion

Day 3. A section of welded 2 x 4 for the frame has been painted and is being inspected.

 

Albany Architects go Back to the Drawing Board

If you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see we successfully build the see storage pavilion! But before that point, our engineering and design mettle was tested. We hit several of the proverbial “bumps in the road”, which were more akin to the sinkhole on North Lake Ave. in Albany, earlier this year. Without giving you the blow-by-blow, let’s say that 6 months of design preparation had to be thrown out when we arrived in Haiti.

Here are a couple of the big bumps:

  1. Bolts no more. The promised “metal shop” only had 2-hand held power drills to make holes for the 3600 bolted connections, which would have required 750 hours (or 31 days of 24/7 drilling). Did I mention the bits became dull after 48 holes, then unusable, and both of the drills burnt out? So no bolted connections. –>Okay, welding it is.
  2. Right size steel? No. The design called for 4×4 steel tubes, ¼” thick. However, only 2×4 tubes were delivered, which were only 1/16” thick. –> We decided to weld together 2×4 tubes in order to fabricate 4×4 tubes. Extra welded supports were also required.

After we scrapped the entire design, half the team broke away to work on re-design while the other half continued preparation work on the ground. What was important in this project is that no one on the team gave up. After a few groans, everyone faced the new reality and got busy meeting the new challenge. We only had 1 week onsite to finish this project, and I am so proud of what our team (from the US and Haiti) was able to accomplish!

 

Albany architects designed seed storage pavilion in Haiti- shown under construction

Day 6. The pavilion starts to take shape.

 

The Lean and Green Team

LEAP Architecture certainly didn’t do this project alone. Our brilliant team made this project possible, overcoming obstacles large and small, with humor, grace and limited resources. A huge thanks to the iF Foundation for providing the funding.

Our Extraordinary Project team:

iF Foundation (Funders of the agricultural campus and programs)
David Doherty, Vice Chairman
Edlyne Cange, Country Director
Architecture by Eric Davenport, Founder LEAP Architecture
Engineering: by ENGinE, Widener University Students:
Cameron Connors, Nichole Dantoni, Alfred Hew, Hannah Landvater, Tori Remondelli,
Soils Engineer and Hands on Deck: Zamir Libohova
Construction Site Super: Magnus Regis, iF Foundation

LEAP designed a seed storage pavilion that required no moving parts

Day 7. The pavilion structure is complete. The plantings for additional shade around the perimeter are not in yet (as of the taking of this picture).

This project was completed in February 2016. To read about LEAP’s Albany Architects & their adventures, see out new effort for designing a school in Haiti. Click here.

Albany Architect’s Philanthropic Work in Haiti

LEAP Architecture was founded in part for Eric Davenport’s Philanthropic efforts in Haiti dating back to 2003. This Albany Architect has continued to stay involved over the years, and last week he traveled back to Haiti to survey the latest project; the design and cost of a new school.

 

Albany Architect Goes Back to School

Eric Davenport (LEAP Architecture’s Founder, Albany, NY) returned earlier this week from a 3-day, world-wind trip to Haiti. The mission? Assess, discuss and come up with a design to replace the existing school (shown below). The current school isn’t much more than “sticks and metal”. The shed that you keep your lawnmower in probably has better construction and security. Beyond the structural shortcomings, one of the main issues is that the school floods every time it rains. Another big issue is accommodation. The school isn’t big enough for all the students.

The new school needs to be larger, flood-proof, and also address food service, sanitation and security. So what’s a green architect to do?

 

haiti-school2

Albany Architect's latest project is designing a new school in Haiti, current school facility is made of large sticks.

 

The Real Green Architecture

One of the biggest challenges of designing structures in Haiti are the number of constraints. There are limited resources, both in the actual construction of the building and also when it goes into “operation”. Electricity is intermittent and usually provided by a generator. Power tools ran out of battery? Well, let’s see if we can charge them or if we have to wait.

Most building materials need to be imported and there isn’t a Home Depot around the corner. If you’ve done any home renovation projects, you make at least 3 trips (in the same day) back to the box-store because you bought the wrong size screws or didn’t get enough 2 x 4s. In Haiti, that’s not an option.

Here in the US, we enjoy pretty darn reliable electricity, indoor plumbing, and clean water—all of which we probably take for granted. Most of the buildings LEAP Architecture is designing do not have the “luxury” of electricity, which puts our green building design brains into overdrive and where it gets really interesting.

How do you  make a school comfortable and provide enough light for students and teachers when there is no electricity?

Use what you do have, gravity, sun, shading, and air currents, a.k.a. do a site analysis. For site analysis LEAP maps sun paths, wind patterns, vegetation, and topography. We do this for all of our designs (so if you need an Albany Architect)…but in Haiti it’s especially important because that’s really all we have to work with.

Next post we will delve into some of the design specifics for the green school, such as how we ensure ample natural lighting and ventilation. In the meantime, if you are interested in green architecture, read up on our series of posts for Passive House Design.

 

 

 

 

LEAP Design Wins Capital Region’s Innovative Remodel

LEAP’s design for a modern addition was awarded the “Most Innovative Remodel” and “Most Creative Remodel Feature” at the 2016 Best in Building Awards by the Capital Region Builders & Remodelers Association, Inc. (CRBRA).

 

Modern Addition

We’ve been super proud of how this project turned out, and if you’ve read our Stories before, you’re sure to have seen our posts on Modern Addition. We’re pleased that the rest of the Capital Region of NY also took notice! And we certainly won’t be too persnickety that our builder was actually awarded the acclaim…ah-hem.

It might be a good time to read our Architects – Why You’re Not Working with Them post, as a reminder of why builders don’t want to share the spotlight. But in fact, we can do greater things working together!

“To me, this award affirms the advantage of builders working with an architect. It gives you great design—award winning design—and accolades from your community.” -E.Davenport

 

Innovative Remodel

After LEAP met with the homeowners and developed a good grasp of their vision, we got down to work doing the design and construction plan. Design is somewhat obvious, what will it all look like and what materials should be used where, but a LEAP design goes well beyond that. In our innovative design process, we really focus on how people are going to live in the space and how they want to feel. The design we come up with not only has to be beautiful, it has to serve. Every little detail has to be functional. We also design green building practices into every one of our projects.

Energy efficient homes not only require great design, it very much matters how the materials go together, making it really important to work with a builder that has skills and attention to detail. The builder for this project was C & J Custom Builders Inc, and they did a fantastic job. LEAP’s innovative remodel to life!

 

White kitchen with wood floors, open space design win CRBRA innovative remodel award

 

LEAP Stands with Standing Rock

LEAP Architecture stands with our Water Protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota. We have committed to design efficient, yet inexpensive, winter-worthy housing structures. Please consider making a contribution to purchase building materials for this effort.

Donate to the Winter Shelters Here.

 

Standing Rock Sioux Nation

Standing Rock Sioux Nation is protesting the construction of a controversial oil pipeline that would cut across the American heartland. The Dakota Access Pipeline construction route crosses land that is sacred to the Sioux Nation. If that wasn’t enough, there are fears that a potential oil spill would contaminate water locally, as well as in greater North Dakota area. The tribe wants the federal government to stop work on the pipeline and conduct a full environmental impact study of the pipeline.

Protesters have been present near Cannon Ball, N.D. since April 2016, and continue to be vigilant in their cause. And as House of Stark knows, winter is coming. Which means that the tents many people have been camping out in aren’t sufficient to stand up to the harsh Dakota winter. Warmer, more structurally sound shelters are needed, and needed quickly.

Standing Rock Protesters, Protecting everyone's water rights

Protecting our Water Protectors

LEAP founder, Eric Davenport, was fortunate enough to link up with a plan for providing such structures. Bill Record (tribal name Medicine Bear) has already started an effort to raise funds in order to build shelters for protesters.  The two key needs are community space and sleeping space. The structures must withstand cold and high winds and be movable. The structures can be heated by RV camper style propane furnaces.

“Safety, ventilation, thermal protection, and security are some of the most critical design aspects”, Eric Davenport.

The design needs to be finalized very quickly, and a prototype built locally in NYS. The structures will consist of readily available materials (plywood, rigid insulation), and be constructed from panels that can be easily screwed together for assembly, or disassembled and moved if necessary. This will make it feasible to source materials locally in North Dakota, and fabricate them according to the  final LEAP design.

trailer bed to transport winter shelter prototype from New York to North Dakota

Trailer bed which will be used to transport the prototype shelter, along with some assembled panels from New York to North Dakota.

Help Build Winter Shelters

Donate to the Winter Shelters Here.

You can help fund the building of these winter shelters. A GoFundMe campaign has been set-up to raise $12,000 for building materials. Volunteers will provide the labor for fabricating the panels and assembling structures.

We are reaching out to our network to help in whatever way you can. At LEAP, we believe in doing what we can, everyday. We know that our small effort in sustainable building practices won’t cure global warming, but combined with other people and projects working toward the same goal, the efforts start to coalesce, and start to make a real difference.

Standing Rock is an example of a small effort coalescing into something larger. Something that is making America great again, or at the very least, providing us a glimpse of what we could be. Along with nearly 200 Native American tribes, celebrities, environmentalists, politicians, leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and other activists have joined together to create one of the more unusual coalitions to back a cause.

With our many thanks and sincere gratitude,

The LEAP Team

Standing Rock Winter Shelter inspiration sketch

 

Smart Bathroom Renovation As Featured on Houzz

It’s time for your bathroom renovation project. There is a lot of effort involved, so how do you insure enjoyment for years to come?

Smart Bathroom Renovation

Any readers of Ram Dass know the mantra “Be here now”, which basically directs you to live in the present moment. While we at LEAP try our best to Carpe diem, it does make sense to give a little nod to the future every now and then.

And what pray tell do we daydream about? Well, how you use the bathroom—em, or rather—how your bathroom serves your needs. Yes, the less graphic one.

For this post, we are really focused more on a family bathroom, rather than a master suite. The family bathroom needs to be robust in order to serve everyone from adults to children to guests, and adapt as families grow.

Considerations for a family bathroom renovation include:

  • Accessibility
  • Age and ability of users
  • Space/layout
  • Ergonomics
  • Appearance
  • Future needs

 

Let an Architect Do the Design

When you start taking into account all of the bullets above, planning out ye ole bathroom doesn’t seem so simple. But not to fear. Years of meditating have instilled clairvoyant sensibilities to Eric Davenport, LEAP’s chief architect. With a short interview, Eric is able to foresee the needs of your family for years to come, and design a space that encourages good personal hygiene for all.

So you may be thinking, “My bathroom is so small, I don’t need a professional design”. In fact, if you have a tiny bathroom, that’s all the more reason to bring an architect in. Professional designers have tricks up their sleeves for maximizing storage, making your tiny space feel much larger, and arranging fixtures for enhanced efficiency and comfort. We have used Duravit vanities in some of our bathroom designs, as the super clean lines are modern and simplistic, yet they supply ample hidden storage.

An architect can also weigh-in on the possibility for expanding your bathroom space. Do you have a closet or cupboard adjoining the bath? Well, we can determine if that space can be incorporated in order to gain a few extra square feet.

 

Modern bathroom renovation in white with clean lines

Modern bathroom designed by LEAP Architecture, shown with Duravit vanity.

 

Approach for Cost Savings

According to Nadia Sakey, interior designer and Houzz contributor, “People are surprised when I tell them that professional fees usually represent only 4 percent of the total project budget.”

LEAP also makes a special effort to be inventive with materials, creating eco-shiek looks out of common, inexpensive materials. For more on surprising approaches to bathroom design, check out our post Affordable Modern Bathroom Design.

 

LEAP Bathroom Featured on Houzz

One of LEAP’s bathroom renovation designs was featured in an article by Houzz. Click through the images below to check out our design with frosted privacy glass, along with many other ideas from inspirational designers.

 

LEAP Architecture’s mission is to bring green building practices into everyday living. We serve the Eastern Corridor of New York, from Long Island to the Adirondack Mountains. We bring you sustainable living technology with elegant modern design aesthetics, and competitively priced services.

Contact LEAP to ensure success on your next residential or commercial project!

 

Architects Creative Every Day Features LEAP

LEAP Founder—Eric Davenport—relates what the life of an Albany Architect is like, in this 6 strip comic by local artist Ira Marks. 

 

architects creative every day

Architects Creative Every Day

Creative Every Day – Tales of Art and Life Colliding – is a collection of stories from local creatives around the Capital District of New York. It was conceived, collected, drawn and collated by local cartoonist, Ira Marks. This book, available in print or as an electronic PDF, is meant as a resource for kids, parents and teachers who wants to know what it’s like to work in a creative industry. The entire collection can be found at creativeeveryday.us LEAP Architecture is proud to be included among the many talented folks who shared their creative stories!

Life of an Architect


Q: What got you interested in solar powered cars in high school?

Eric: I was fortunate that in my high school, we were able to chose specialty tracks, and I choose engineering and design. My teacher had us look at designing solar cars, as there were so many aspects to consider. They needed to be lightweight, yet have enough solar panels to produce sufficient energy. They needed to carry a person in relative comfort, move forward, be aerodynamic, and also have enough surface area to orient the solar panels in the proper direction to capture sunlight. The exercise helped open my mind to all of the design demands a project could have, and think about how best to balance competing needs.


Q: Do you think people generally think of architecture as a creative career?

Eric: Yes and no. Some people are under the impression that architecture is strictly engineering—math, math, math—and crazy number crunching. Others have the impression that I sit around and draw artistic pictures of buildings all day. It’s really much more a holistic approach, managing projects and managing people. I would say the biggest skill I apply everyday is creative common sense.


Q: What do you hope people will take away from this cartoon?

Eric: Don’t be afraid of hard work. When you find something you are passionate about, you don’t mind spending the long hours to make it successful. When I was an intern in NYC, my mentor tried to convince me (& all the other interns) NOT to become an architect. Despite his warning of hard work, long hours, and little glory, I knew that being an architect is what I wanted to do then and I’m still passionate about it today.


Q: What reaction did your own kids have, seeing you in a cartoon?

Eric: Well, compared to some of the other stories, my oldest daughter thought mine was boring. She would have like to see me jumping off a building, or imbued with a superpower. So, let me reiterate,there is little glory being an architect. My daughter is a super-creative young actress, dancer, and designer of clothes. I think building design is not in her future, but my hope is this comic strikes a chord with a young version of me, dreaming of the day their designs become real structures.


Want to get to know Eric even better? Check out our post Meet the Architect.

Do you work in a field that allows you to be creative? We’d love to hear what it is. Leave a comment below and tell us what you do!

ENERGY STAR Partner – Leap Makes Pledge

As an ENERGY STAR Partner, we are creating house plans designed to earn the ENERGY STAR certification, and helping meet consumers’ growing demand for high quality, energy-efficient homes.

ENERGY STAR Partner – What it Means

energy star partner

If you’ve ever walked into a big box store looking for a new appliance, you’re probably familiar with the ENERGY STAR labels proudly affixed to that new washer or fridge. But did you know that ENERGY STAR rating and certification go beyond dishwashers? Yep, you could slap that shooting star across the front of your house, well, provided that your whole house meets certain environmental standards.

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, administered nationally by the U.S. Department of Energy in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, offers a comprehensive, whole-house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort of homes, while helping to protect the environment.(1)

The Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can’t do it all alone—they need help—specifically our help. So in order to unleash the ENERGY STAR certification to the whole home model, they bring in architects and builder partners, the entities who are really in touch with you, the end-user.energy star partner

 

Why Partner?

LEAP Architecture’s mission is promote sustainable building practices. We build basic energy conservation into each of our projects, which is to say, we already met ENERGY STAR certification, but unofficially. Partnering with EPA and making it official, provides higher visibility for conservation and an existing framework to help our clients understand the requirements for green building design.  As mentioned above, since you are already familiar with the ENERGY STAR rating for appliances (less energy usage, lower green-house gas emissions, saves money), it’s an easy jump to envision that those same benefits will apply to your house.

Watch this 2 min video by the EPA for a run-down on the merits of an ENERGY STAR home.

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Beyond ENERGY STAR

If you are interested in home energy conservation, don’t miss our post on Sustainable Building Goals Made Simple. This write-up shows the sustainability pyramid we use, and where ENERGY STAR fits into the scheme of things. ENERGY STAR certification creates a good solid foundation and a jumping off point to go even further into sustainable building, NET-Zero, for example.

LEAP welcomes your questions. We strive to make sure that your project is a good fit with our expertise. Give us a call 518-669-9435, and speak to Eric.

 

1. Home. Energy Star. [Online] https://www.energystar.gov/homepage.

Architects – AIA’s List of Critical Questions to Ask

LEAP Architecture is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Here we share AIA’s list of questions to help you decide if an architect is the right fit for you and your project.

Questions, Questions, Questions

Every architecture firm brings its own combination of skills, expertise, interests, and values to its projects. The challenge is to find the one that aligns most closely with your project’s needs. Selection is a mutual process.

The most thoughtful architects are as careful in selecting their clients as owners are in selecting architects. Be prepared to answer questions about your project’s purpose, budget, time frame, site, and the team of players you anticipate being involved with the project.

Below are some questions, broken up by topic, to address when meeting with a prospective architect.


Architects Experience

• What is your design philosophy?

• What sets your firm apart from other architects with similar experience?

• Do you have experience with the building type and size of my project?

• Will you share with me a portfolio of similar projects and provide a list of client references?

• Who from the architecture firm will I be dealing with on a regular basis? Is this the person who will design my project?

Take a look at LEAP’s Portfolio for Residential and Commercial Projects. 


My Project

• What challenges do you foresee for my project?

• What do you see as the important issues or considerations in my project?

• What is your estimated timetable for my project?

• What means will you use to collect information about my needs, goals, etc.?

• How will you help me to fully understand the scope and sequence of the project? Will you utilize models, drawings, or computer animation?


Design

• What are the steps in the design process, and how are they organized?

• What criteria will be used to establish priorities and make design decisions?

• What do you expect me to provide?

• How disruptive will construction be?

• What role do you have during construction? Am I expected to work with the contractor directly?

Here’s a pretty thorough walk-through of LEAP’s design process.


Green Design

• Do you have experience with “green” or sustainable design?

• Do you regularly integrate low or no cost sustainable design strategies into projects?

• Considering the many areas that may be affected by sustainable design, how will you determine which options to pursue?

• If sustainable design technologies are implemented, do upfront costs exist that may affect the construction budget? What are the expected pay back times?

Read how LEAP approaches Green Design.


Architects Fees

• How do you establish fees?

• In anticipation of a formal proposal with costs, what would you expect your fee to be for this project?

• What is included in your basic services and what services would incur additional fees?

• If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified? How will this be communicated to me?

• What is your track record with completing a project within the original budget?

Here’s one of LEAP’s posts that covers the benefits of working with an architect and our general fee structure.


LEAP welcomes your questions. We strive to make sure that your project is a good fit with our expertise. The AIA also offers a nice PDF guide, You and Your Architect.  Download it here, and start asking away! Give us a call 518-669-9435, and speak to Eric. And lastly, check out our client reviews and testimonials.

Architects —Why You’re Not Working with Them

Do you have a building project on the horizon? Have you kicked around the idea of calling in an architect, but got talked out of it? Here are the 3 reasons why you aren’t calling architects, and why it hurts you not to.

1. My Builder’s Doing the Design

“My builder says we don’t need architects. His team can do the design”.

Sure, they absolutely can, but here’s how it’s likely to go. First of all, the builder wants to keep your design fee, the primary reason they cut out the architect. In order to make the most profit, the builder will look through their stock plans and grab an existing design that most closely matches your requirements. Change the name, move a wall out here or there, and call it done. If you are in the market for a standard issue, (cookie-cutter) house, hey, this really is a fine way to go (no cynicism).

Good Design Floats

You only need an architect if you want your structure tailored to your needs, routines, and desires. If you want a dream-house, or incredibly efficient office building—where form and function are seamlessly integrated—tell your builder you insist on working with an architect. Better yet, get your architect first and then approach a builder.

In recent conversations we’ve had with bankers and real-estate agents, it is established that homes with excellent design have a significantly higher re-sale value, compared to poor or average designed homes of the same square footage. You’re spending the money anyway, let’s make your home great! See an example here of before and after photos for a modern addition we designed. The value of this property has increased astronomically.

modern addition, before and after photos, home improvement, home renovation

House exterior before and after dramatic modern addition

Communication Bridge

Having an architect is having a building advocate. When the builder suggests a change, how do you know it’s in your best interest? It may not be, and it may not fit with your design theme. At LEAP, we make sure all the details that make this design exclusively YOURS—actually get built into the structure.

LEAP Architecture is your communication bridge between you and your builder. We speak plain old English, and we also speak builder.  We can take the time to understand your goals from the start, explain building terms, and what impact a particular change will have. Builders also appreciate this arrangement, as they are crazy busy with construction.  For a builder to take time out to even pick up the phone, let alone take time out for a in depth conversation, is time away from what they do best.

Documentation (or How to Cover Your Butt)

What if (eekk) something goes wrong in construction, and delays might be the least of it. The wrong type of kitchen counter was used, formaldehyde containing paneling was installed in your bedroom, the project is over budget. How do you protect yourself and make sure you get what you signed up for? Well, a big part of our jobs as architects is documenting everything! It’s certainly not the most glorious part of our job, but from a legal protection standpoint, an absolute necessity. We keep track of the paper trail from day 1, including all correspondence, dates, decisions made, etc. If the time ever arises where say, your builder made a mistake but assures you it’s actually your fault; we quietly pull out our files and get to the bottom of it.

2. Architects Are Too Expensive

“Building a house is so expensive, bringing in an architect will just waste more money.”

Design Fee

Let me break it to you gently, you’re going to pay a design fee either way. Either the builder will get it—see above—or it can go to your architect. Here’s why you want it to go to the architect. A great design will enhance your day-to-day living and it will also significantly increase your property value. And in many cases, you’re not paying anymore than what the builder charges.

The table below shows two options for LEAP’s services, a) a bare bones option for a permit set of drawings and b) our Design Package. Our Design Package only cost a few % more than the bare bones, and what you get for that will amaze you. In addition to structural drawings, we do a whole integrated design where we specify the materials to be used, color schemes, lighting, window placement, storage, functionality and site analysis. For a more in-depth read, take a look through the series on our design process.

architects

 

3. Architects Aren’t Accessible

“An architect wouldn’t be interested in my project, it’s not grand.”

What comes to mind when you hear the term architect? Skyscrapers? City centers? Looming glass clad structures that seemingly defy the laws of gravity. Well, yes. Architects do design those, but architecture is not exclusive to monuments or anchor buildings. It’s accessible to everyone, and everyone should take advantage of architects services.

You can call us right now (518-669-9435) for an initial conversation about your project. We’re happy to give you feedback and guidance. In the first 5 min we will ballpark the construction costs, so you can make an informed decision, and move forward with realistic expectations. Whereas builders can be tempted to low-ball project budgets and up-charge later, we prefer to be upfront and give you the best information we can from the start.

So what are you waiting for? We don’t bite, and we don’t gouge. Making our clients happy is in our best interest. Give us a call today!

 

 

Meet the Architect, Eric Davenport

Get to Know LEAP Founder and Architect, Eric Davenport in our next series of posts!

5 Questions with Eric

 

 Architect-Eric-Davenport-Albany-NY

What was your first job?

My first job was working at Stewarts in Clifton Park, NY, where I grew up. One of my duties was scraping out the bottom of the chili pot—an experience that turned me on to vegetarianism, lol!

 

What led you to become an architect?

I think I’ve always been drawn to architecture, even as a little kid. The process of designing something that people will live and work in, it seems commonplace, but when you really think about it, it’s a really big deal. Architecture influences all of us, everyday, whether or not we consciously recognize it. One of my favorite quotes:

“Architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup, but the tea.” –Yoshio Taniguchi

 

How does your family influence your design approach?

Architect-Eric-Davenport-Albany-NY

LEAP Architect, Eric Davenport with his 3 kids.

My wife Claire and I have 3 children, ages 4, 12, and 19. So I understand that family  life is sometimes chaotic. The flow of the house should bring a family together, be a backdrop for, yet also enhance daily activities. The materials used is another big consideration. These should be aesthetically pleasing, but also durable and easy to maintain. A good design meets the needs of both growing children and the parents. Many families need “together” spaces and “away” spaces to help balance the family dynamics. We also explore specific growth plans for families, and also businesses to help improve their bottom lines.

 

Have you traveled? How has that shaped you?

Travel has had a profound influence on my life and work. I worked through my undergraduate degree at Ball State University in Indiana. My last semester was spent in Copenhagen, Denmark. I really connected to the Scandinavian aesthetic—clean lines, lots of light, and it always feels fresh. The weather in Denmark is not so great, so little effort is spent on simple exteriors. However, the interiors are other-worldy: warm, cozy, vibrant spaces for living, working and playing are key to the Dane’s happy lifestyles.

I also traveled and studied in Sri Lanka, India and Nepal, which helped inform our practice with historical context. It’s one thing to look at these ancient structures in a text book. When experiencing them in person, I learned how historic structures can be used in contemporary ways, and contribute to sustainable design strategies.

After coming back to the states, I knew that I needed to incorporate green and sustainable building practices into my designs. I complemented my environmental architecture education by attending ECOSA, the sustainable design institute in Prescott, AZ.

Spending time out in the desert was wild. It helped me appreciate the specificity of regional climates and their impact on architectural design. I studied under the guidance of Tony Brown, who was an apprentice of Paolo Soleri. Soleri, for those of you that don’t know, founded the Arcosanti, an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability in the high desert of Arizona.

For the last 10 years I’ve been living and working in New York’s Capital District, which is also where I grew up. Living here, it feels a little like completing a circuit.

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Portrait of the Architect as a Young Man in Nepal. LEAP Founder and Architect, Eric Davenport in his formative years.

Do you have a passion project?

Haiti is a big one. I started volunteering in Haiti in 2003. The initial focus was on education and how to affordably create schools as a space for teaching with cultural arts. My involvement grew from there. I really fell in love with the country and the people. I’m proud to say that LEAP has worked not only on schools, but emergency relief community designs, sustainable agricultural pro
cessing plants, community centers, computer centers, and food security programs. I’m working on a longer story about my Haiti experiences, so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks.

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LEAP Founder and Architect, Eric Davenport overseeing construction of a seed storage facility in Haiti.

 

 

[box type=”bio”] LEAP Architect, Eric Davenport excels in understanding complex needs of businesses and families. LEAP’s goal is to provide affordable solutions to companies and residential clients. He has extensive experience in single family and multi-family residential projects and also specializes in interior design.

Contact LEAP and let us put our experience to work for you![/box]