All posts by Steph Rakiec

Wicked Problems

Richard Buchanan, a professor of design, management, and information systems, wrote Wicked Problems as a means of sparking discussion on the importance of spatial qualities in regards to interaction design.  He develops a main idea of how the design process is more than what it is made out to be by designers themselves; he believes that design is a liberal art.  He goes along with the idea that design is a multifaceted process with a web of connections to all different areas of life.  With this, it is important for designers to realize that they are shaping how people live their daily lives and the experiences that they have.  Buchanan references many authors, including Herbert A. Simon, Horst W.J. Rittel and John Dewey to bring in other opinions on the subject of design.  Buchanan uses Dewey’s ideas in a way to show how science and design are actually interconnected, making the case that design is a new liberal art.  Dewey suggests technology is an, “art of experimental thinking” (pg. 8).  

Behind all this experimental thinking is an art that is overlooked that can be used to create other types of products for people.  Buchanan states that the main challenge with this is getting a deeper understanding of design thinking so there can be a better cohesion in those who apply design thinking and have different problems that they face.  However, designers and scientists leave no room for discussion to apply their methods to other areas that relate to them, such as arts and sciences, industry marketing, and the general public.  Buchanan is 100% correct when he states that, “without appropriate reflection to help clarify the basis of communication…there is little hope of understanding the foundations and value of design thinking” (pg. 8).

Horst Rittel came up with an approach to these so called wicked problems that designers encounter, dubbing it the linear model. Rittel divided this process into two parts, the problem definition (an analytic sequence) and the problem solution (synthetic sequence).  With these two parts “various requirements are combined and balanced against each other, yielding a final plan” (pg. 15).  Areas of design are places where progress should be shared between designers of all fields to create innovative solutions.

On an end note, Buchanan wraps up with how design is part of technology and the “systemic thinking” process that goes with technology.  With this thinking, design does wind up classifying itself as a liberal art, which we completely agree with.  “To possess [this] technology or discipline of thinking was to posses the liberal art, to be human, and to be free in seeking one’s place in the world” (pg. 19). Why not have men and women understand how design works to some extent?  This common knowledge would greatly help the communication between not only designers and their clients but between other professions that share a connection to the world of design.

Presentation link:

Photo By: Katerina Lomonosov


Architecture + Furniture = Spatial Adaptability

Thesis Statement: Architects should design flexible office environments with the usage of adaptable furniture that allows the users to interact with the furniture to create spatial environments best suitable for their work flow.

Periodical: ArchDaily

Design for productive working environments, such as offices, tends to be the hardest to tackle since everyone who works in that environment has different ways of being the most productive. With this in mind how does an architect design for the different spatial environments that people work optimally in? If architects designed spaces with adaptable furniture in mind this would allow users of these environments to manipulate the room layout to create these spatial environments that increase their productivity.

In recent years there has been a trend with stress in the work place rising. There have been estimates that the United States loses 105 billion dollars in revenue annually in work productivity because of mental health issues. There has been research done in the social sciences studying the psychological, physiological, and behavioral outcomes of this long term strain people undergo in the work environment. As designers, creating adaptable versatile work environments can help better the well being of workers and increase productivity (Preston, Mark S. 2007).

Back in the late 1990s, offices started to claim to be versatile environments when many of them weren’t. It had become difficult to try and accommodate for the growth and need for flexible space (Machado J, and Mikhail, M. 1999). One solution to this problem would be for architects to design with the future in mind, and how office spaces need to adapt fast as they are growing on a weekly basis. At one point in time, when there was a steady slow increase in offices, businesses were able to to just expand as needed. However, this is not the case in today’s market. There is an extreme lack of flexibility in office environments, and it is our responsibility as designers to help solve this problem (Machado J, and Mikhail, M. 1999). There is also the problem of ergonomics in the work environment. Most furniture designed is based off of human averages, however there are all different shapes and sizes of people, thus designing with adjustability in mind will increase work production (Steinfield. E, and Jordana, M. 2012).

Knoll, one of the top design and research based companies that solve practical workplace needs, released a research study containing an outline for designers on how to shape the workplace. In a study of workplace environments four points and their importance in the work place were discussed. Flexible furniture is one idea that allows for the users to rearrange the floor plan based on group or individual needs; allowing for formal and informal collaboration to increase (O’Neill, M. and Wymer, T. 2009)Adjustability is on an individual basis allowing the user to control and create a comfortable work environment best suited for their needs (fixing the monitor screen, adjusting chair, etc.). Access to power outlets and networks is also and important part, and providing them in the right places through storage units, wall units, etc. allows for easy work flow. Expression allows for adaptable environments to become places to exchange ideas and facilitate communication (O’Neill, Michael 2012).

By architects designing work spaces with the use of adaptable furnishings and accessories there can be a variety of different types, sizes and locations for the users to create themselves (Ouye, J. 2011). This idea to allow the user to design might be foreign to architects and designers, but in order to create a comfortable and low stress work environment, people ultimately know what is best for them and providing adaptable furniture to manipulate how they wish will be a positive for both employer and employee.

Works Cited:

Machado, Jamie U., and Mikhail L. Marsky. “Flexible Furniture   System with Adjustable and Interchangeable Components.” Google Books. N.p., 31 Aug. 1999. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

O’Neill, M. and Wymer, T. (2009). “Design for Integrated Work.” White Paper, Knoll, Inc., New York, NY.

O’Neill, Michael, Dr. Adaptable By Design: Shaping the Work Experience. N.p.: Knoll, 2012. PDF.

Ouye, J. (2011). “Five Trends that are Dramatically Changing Work and the Workplace.” White Paper, Knoll, Inc., New York, NY.

Preston, Mark S. “Karasek’s Job Demand-Control Model: A Multi-Method Study Examining the Predictive Validity of Instrumental Feedback as a Second-Order Moderator Variable.” Order No. 3272354 State University of New York at Albany, 2007. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 27 Sep. 2015.

Steinfeld, Edward, and Jordana Maisel. Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.


Photo By: Isaac Krady

Designer: Isaac Krady

Media Page:


Sept. 13 Reflection Notes:

Why we build. in The Edifice Complex

The very beginning of this reading it stated how architects build to be simultaneously both modern and respectfully rooted in the past,” but are we really doing that? I mean look at our site for our studio project. We are located in a historically industrial area of Brooklyn, NY but we know that the city is proposing to have new urban parks and even new residential/commercial high-rises built. So are the architects of those new proposals really taking in to account the history of the area? I don’ believe so, and I believe that they necessarily shouldn’t. We build for today and for our future not for the past.

Architecture is built to be used as a language of what is going on today. As read, architects build to show that their country is the most up to date regarding technologies, building materials, etc. We build to show off what we know and what other other countries don’t know. Architecture becomes a metaphorical means for political, social and economic issues of today. Now whether everyday people know what the true meaning of the built architecture is is another story. I don’t believe someone walking on the streets understands the conceptual/metaphorical thought behind any building. The only people that know are the architect of that building and the person who commissioned that project.

Generally, the people who want to use architecture as a means of propaganda are those who have the money to do so, and those who have the money to do so typically have the power. A lot of things are a money and political game. I find it extremely interesting how architecture falls into the money and political game more often than not. Architecture can and is used to control people by shaping the way we live. So ultimately do we build to control people and their lives? Who actually builds, the architect or the commissioner?


Power. in Framing Places: Mediating power in built form, 2nd ed.

Architecture is intertwined with power. Even in the other reading, architecture is essentially built for the wealthy and by the wealthy. While reading this I felt as though having the power to build and design with the imagination is a negative thing. By using the words such as manipulation and coercion which typically have these negative connotations make it seem as though architects are bad people. We “force” people into our own imaginations for the spaces we create by convincing them through words and promising images of the space.

No matter what, power will always be around us. Weather it’s the power of the commissioner telling the architect what they want, or the power of the architect designing the specific space, the users of that space are subject to the power of the architect and he commissioner.

I don’t agree with the fact that we manipulate, coerce,  or seduce the audience we build for. We should be giving them architecture that fits their needs and not the needs of the person with the power, or the most money.


5 Theses: Steph Rakiec and Dave Ackerman

Thesis #1: Compact city living can become the sustainable design of the future.

Jenks, M., Elizabeth Burton, and Katie Williams. The Compact City: A   Sustainable Urban Form? London: E & FN Spon, 1996. Google Books. Web. 5 Sept. 2015.

Easthope, Hazel, and Bill Randolph. “Governing the Compact City: The Challenges of Apartment Living in Sydney, Australia.” Housing Studies 24.2 (2009): 243-59. Web.

Shammin, Md R., et al. “A Multivariate Analysis of the Energy Intensity of Sprawl Versus Compact Living in the U.S. for 2003.” Ecological Economics 69.12 (2010): 2363-73.

Fulcher, Merlin. “Marc Vlessing: ‘Detailed Design can make Compact Living Work’.” The Architects’ Journal (2015)

Little, Matthew. “Is Compact Living Up to its Promise?” Third Sector.307 (2003): 5.

Roo, Gert de, and Donald Miller. Compact Cities and Sustainable Urban Development: A Critical Assessment of Policies and Plans from an International Perspective. Burlington, VT; Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Ashgate, 2000.


Thesis #2: City planning with urban landscapes in mind helps improve the quality of urban life.

Saelen, Arne, and LandsKap Design. Urban Landscapes. Barcelona: Loft, 2012.

Sargolini, Massimo, and SpringerLink (Online service). Urban Landscapes: Environmental Networks and Quality of Life. 1. Aufl.; 1 ed. Milano: Springer Milan, 2013.

Fitzpatrick, Kevin M., and Mark La Gory. Unhealthy Places: The Ecology of Risk in the Urban Landscape. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Hitchmough, James. Urban Landscape Management. Sydney: Inkata Press, 1994.

Losantos, Agata, et al. Urban Landscape: New Tendencies, New Resources, New Solutions. Barcelona, Spain: Loft Publications, 2007.

Liu, Li, and Lei Xu. “Discussion on the Urban Landscape Design Considering the Human Activities.” Applied Mechanics and Materials 584-586 (2014): 617.


Thesis #3:  Designing architecture and furniture together can create adaptable compact spatial environments.

Coyle, Colin. “Design in Motion: Final 1 Edition.” Sunday Times: 14. 2003.

Williamson, Gayle A. Yudina, Anna. Furnitecture: Furniture that Transforms Space. 140 Vol. Library Journals, LLC, 2015.

Tokuda, Hideyuki. “Smart Furniture: A Platform for Context-Aware Embedded Ubiquitous Applications”.

Riley, Paula, and Kenneth V. Stevens. “Shape adaptable and renewable furniture system.” U.S. Patent No. 5,775,778. 7 Jul. 1998.

Sotheby’s (Firm). Sotheby’s Concise Encyclopedia of Furniture. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.

Li, Yan. “Folding Art Conforms to Small Spatial Furniture Design”.

Blakemore, Robbie G. History of Interior Design & Furniture: From Ancient Egypt to Nineteenth- Century Europe. 2nd ed. Hoboken, N.J: J. Wiley & Sons, 2006.


Thesis #4: Adaptive reuse helps create cost effective and sustainable architecture by transforming and retrofitting old buildings for new uses.

Boschmann, E. E. and Gabriel, J. N. (2013), “Urban sustainability and the LEED rating system: case studies on the role of regional characteristics and adaptive reuse in green building in Denver and Boulder, Colorado.” The Geographical Journal, 179: 221–233.

Bullen, Peter A., and Peter E.D. Love. “The Rhetoric of Adaptive Reuse or Reality of Demolition: Views from the Field.” The Rhetoric of Adaptive Reuse or Reality of Demolition: Views from the Field. Elsevier Publishing Co., 9 Apr. 2010. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

Corral, Andrea. “Repurposing Old Buildings More Satisfying than Knocking them Down.” Las Vegas Business Press 31.29 (2014)ProQuest. Web. 6 Sep. 2015.

Carroon, Jean. “P.7-42; 47-55.” Sustainable Preservation: Greening Existing Buildings. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010. N. pag. Print.

KERSTING, JESSICA. “INTEGRATING PAST AND PRESENT: THE STORY OF A BUILDING THROUGH ADAPTIVE REUSE.” Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. University of Cincinnati, 2006. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 06 Sep 2015.

Rabun, J. Stanely. “Structural Analysis of Historic Buildings.” Google Books. John C. Wiley & Sons, Inc., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.


Thesis #5: Although net zero design is high in cost, buildings that generate their own energy save more in energy spending than they cost to build.

Alter, Lloyd. “Net Zero Energy Building Certification Finally Defines What Net Zero Really Means.” TreeHugger. MNN Holding Company, LLC, 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.

Braham, William W. “Re(De)fining Net Zero Energy: Renewable Emergy Balance in Environmental Building Design.” Elsevier Publishing Co., Jan. 2012. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

Charron, Rémi, and Andreas Athienitis, PhD. “Modeling, Design, and Optimization of Net-Zero Energy Buildings.” (2015): n. pag. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., 2006. Web. 5 Sept. 2015.

Gray, Meredith, and Jay Zarnikau. “Getting to Zero.” Energy, Sustainability and the Environment (2011): 231-71. US Department of Energy, Sept. 2009. Web. 5 Sept. 2015.

Hootman, Thomas, AIA, LEED. “Net Zero Energy Design.” Google Books. John C. Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2013. Web. 06 Sept. 2015.

Winters, Steven. “Net Zero Energy Buildings.” Net Zero Energy Buildings. National Institute of Building Sciences, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.