July 29, 2013
by Sumandeep Singh

OFFICE

So first week at the office was full of excitement, as I said hello to a lot of people whom I had met on my last visit as a forum representative, and meeting new ones. Because of my traditional religious ‘Sikh’ attire complete with beard and turban I get the opportunity to tell people about the culture and place I come from and why exactly do I need to cover my head with a 5 meter cloth every day !! and those who have not asked me yet are welcome to do so as I will be more than happy to share! I am a part of the HKS ‘Red’ team, as the international healthcare team is known on the sixth floor and I am getting a taste of how truly global HKS is as a firm, working on a 500 bed hospital project in Hong Kong. This will be one of the first HKS projects in Hong Kong. Being a major financial and trade center of the world, the region holds tremendous potential in terms of building activity. I feel honored to be a part of the team for this project. There are a lot of things we have to adapt in terms of work processes unique to the region and every day is a learning experience which keeps us on our toes. One is getting a chance to be with some of the most talented and accomplished professionals in the field within walking distance. I see discussions happening frequently. Also there are some really cool traditions here at the office. Some of the notable ones are : T3- Taco tour Thursdays:

Every Thursday an expedition of young designers of HKS leaves for streets of downtown Dallas in search of another taco place, trying to try out a different one each time. In an exclusive interview, T3 founder and rising star of the Red team Southern Ellis revealed unique benefits of tacos, and I concluded that we can learn a lot about a person by knowing how he likes his tacos. In Short a taco is the mirror of a personality. And everyone who joins on T3 has to get ‘initiated’ by answering questions on how he/she likes his/her tacos! Friday breakfast:

Every Friday the Red team gets breakfast for the members. As it is the atmosphere is festive on Fridays; this tradition gives the team a chance to catch up with each other on the occasion of …well ‘Friday’. Team Meetings:

Every first Friday of the month the red team meets to discuss work, projects’ status, lessons learnt, share new ideas. This week’s meeting was held in the ‘Shanghai’ conference room. It was great to meet the whole team in one room at one time. The meeting started on a lighter note with introductions of the new team members, moving on to projects’ status and concluded with sharing of best practices and suggestions.

ARCHITECTURAL PILGRIMAGES

Due to my painfully curious nature I keep trying to find out about what’s unique to the place, city, country, village, town wherever I go. This week this urge materialized in the form of two very special short journeys to two very unique and radically different structures in this city.

I learnt about the Cistercian chapel from Norio’s recommendations which were part of my welcome pack document. Norio had mentioned about the unique use of material and light in the building from where I got curious to know more, so I read up about it and once I saw the pictures I knew I had to get there at any cost. So I took a DART train to the University of Dallas station on the orange line, walked a mile to the Cistercian campus. As I turned the corner from the school building, there it was tucked away in a quiet corner, the Cistercian Chapel. The building is assembled out of solid limestone chunks and looks like an imposing monolith from outside, and is a sanctuary of peace on the inside. I entered through one of the side doors and was instantly immersed in the unique play of light and shadow on the textured stone chunks. The light came in from the linear skylights on both edges along the length of the hall. The place was very well lit and felt at least 5 degrees cooler than outside, given its 3 feet wide building blocks. It was a tranquil experience for me. My journey had been fruitful!

The Second sojourn took me to a public park in one of the neighborhoods of Dallas. Now what could be so special about a park? It was not the park; it was about a pavilion in that park on the Web Chapel road.This pavilion by Cooper Joseph Studio, New York, raises a visually heavy board-formed concrete over a shaded area that is both a playground and soccer field. From within, the massive volume is carved out in pyramidal shapes and painted in bright yellow. The ceiling acts as a natural ventilation system that allows hot air to rise and escape from within the structure. Seating is embedded in the sloped site, which maintains a comfortable temperature inside.

This 25’ X 12’ structure has just been awarded an AIA award in the small project’s category. The Park pavilion is a structure that is built to provide shade. Here is a link to know more about this unique structure.

This experience was truly enriching, I will keep the search on for more such pleasant surprises.

CULTURE CURRY

During this past week I had the opportunity to share music from India with my friends here, the dance numbers were an instant hit with them.

01 - T3 - Taco Tour Thursdays-2

02 - Cistercian Chapel - exterior-2

03 - Cistercian Chapel - interior-2

04 - Park Pavilion -1-2

05 - Park Pavilion -2-2