Tag Archive for: albany architect

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.

LEAP Envisions Albany Art Room 2.0 – Commercial Redesign

From the outside, one of the most striking features of the Albany Art Room is their bright pink and blue sign. Just looking at it started the creative juices flowing, but the real excitement starts when you enter the space. Read how LEAP helps make the transition from residential to commercial more efficient. 


Commercial Space for Art

The Art Room is located in a converted 3 story house on New Scotland Ave in Albany, NY. Karen Schupack started the Albany Art Room to open up the visual arts to a wider community. AAR offers classes in various artistic mediums, along with drop-in open studio and private studio space. The first embodiment of AAR was in a storefront space next to El Loco on Madison Ave in Albany, right around the corner from Lark St.

Two years ago, Karen relocated AAR to offer up more space for the growing demand of her customers, both for studio rentals and open studio. (Did we mention it’s also much easier to find parking?) The new space also offers Karen the opportunity to customize her space and build more efficiency into her operation.

So how do you augment a structure, originally designed to function as a house, into a thriving center for business? (Hint: work with an architect). Karen connected with LEAP Architecture a few months ago and took the first concrete steps to envision a commercial redesign for her space.

Karen’s objectives were straightforward: utilize more space for revenue generating activities, and reorganize overall space for maximum productivity.

Doubling Retail Creative Space

LEAP understands that having the right information is key to making strategic business decisions. After meeting with Karen and touring of the space, LEAP put together a detailed layout of the building, which highlighted currently used space. Eric Davenport, (the project lead) was able to quickly identify underutilized areas that could be transformed into new studio spaces and additional classrooms.

The schematic below highlights the current space on the left (in red) and underutilized space on the right, (in orange). In short, LEAP identified additional studio space, which could double the current operation — within the exiting footprint. Expanding classrooms and studios would mean the ability to serve more customers and generate additional revenue.

There is of course, an investment for fitting up the new space. Which brings us back to the need for information.

LEAP-Sample-Construction-Budget-ROI-commercial redesign

Commercial redesign schematic for the Albany Art Room. LEAP identified additional revenue generating space inside the exiting footprint, which could double the current studio space.


Commercial Redesign – Does it Make $ense?

As business owners ourselves, we understand the question – Is it worth it? That’s where LEAP’s analysis of construction dollars comes into play. Our architects allocate money to the most appropriate categories, for the best investment and rate of return.

A LEAP architect put together a detailed cost benefit analysis (CBA) for AAR, to help Karen make an informed decision for her business. (But of course, we can’t share that). That particular CBA  is confidential to our client. We can however, show you what our analysis takes into account. Click here to see an example of LEAP’s CBA, a critical part of our construction analysis.

We will continue to support Karen in the next stage of growing her business. In the meantime, check out the offerings of Albany Art Room for yourself – where everyone is an artist!

[box type=”bio”] Contact LEAP if you are considering renovations to your commercial space. We help you plan and make critical decisions early on, that minimize risk and maximize returns. [/box]