Let There Be (Natural) Light

Let There Be (Natural) Light

RNL’s lighting design team is at the forefront of the latest lighting design research and looking at the application of different types of natural and artificial light and the impact on the occupant. No matter the project size, our lighting design approach is rooted in a desire to create spaces that are good for people. This concept of ‘good’ manifests in several ways, but always comes back to one concept: health and wellbeing.

Efficiency is Beauty

Efficiency is Beauty

You’ve heard the adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.” Turns out that concept applies to the built environment as well. There’s a common misconception out there that you have to sacrifice beauty for efficiency or vice versa. The truth is you can have both. 

Gentrification: Our Communities, Our Responsibility

Gentrification: Our Communities, Our Responsibility

Understanding what’s happening in our communities, and the impact we can have on them, is pivotal to our success as an industry. As a B Corp, we’re committed to using our business as a force for goodtaking the same passion that drives us to be a leader in sustainability and transportation to movements like the B Corp Inclusion Challenge

Day Two: Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace

By promoting health and well-being, agencies have an opportunity to show leadership & innovation in a truly holistic approach to total worker health, while benefiting workforce productivity & happiness.

Division 13   bus operations and maintenance facility. "A model of energy efficiency and design and will serve as an example for other transportation agencies world-wide."   - The Source  |  Photo Credit: Chang Kim

Division 13 bus operations and maintenance facility. "A model of energy efficiency and design and will serve as an example for other transportation agencies world-wide." - The Source | Photo Credit: Chang Kim

Studies have shown that the U.S. workforce generally is in a crisis of stress, sleep disorders and preventable illnesses. RNL considers the impact of design on health and wellbeing in all our projects, and nowhere is this more apparent than in our transportation studio’s work. For transit operators in charge of passenger lives, the negative impacts of mental and physical stress can quickly become dangerous.

Read part one of our four-part series on the need for prioritizing health and wellbeing in the design and operations of transit facilities.

Transit ridership is at its highest level in four decades, and many agencies are expanding their operations in response. Now is the time for organizations to look at their impact on employees and the message it sends to the greater community. - by Rachel Bannon-Godfrey & Ken Anderson for Metro Magazine

Day One: ‘B’-ing Green (and Supporting Carbon Neutrality)

Carbon Neutrality is the first of the 12 Design Principles and the first day of our 12 Days of Earth Day.

To be carbon neutral means eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of fossil fuel related to all human activities. In the built environment, this is a big challenge. It means considering the emissions related to activities at all scales and interactions – from the manufacture of materials to building construction and life cycle operations, from transportation to infrastructure, landscape to city planning. 

RNL's new bike share program makes it look easy ‘B’-ing green. 

RNL's new bike share program makes it look easy ‘B’-ing green. 

As a company, we’re also looking at what we’re doing internally to support a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

So we decided to strap on our bike helmets and hit the road in some shiny new RNL-branded B-cycles. Today, RNL announced the launch of a new bike share program at the Denver office. Rob Ollett, Project Architect at RNL Denver and a big cycling enthusiast, is spearheading the pilot program.

“Denver is growing quickly, and biking as a mode of transportation will enable better connections to our community and help reduce traffic and pollution,” Rob said. “We take our responsibility as architects, designers and planners seriously, and we’re committed to building a world with a brighter, greener future.”

The $100 million of public funding is comprised from two main sources: federal dollars for multi-modal transportation projects and support from Great Outdoors Colorado. No financial support is from the Colorado General Fund. -   Bicycle Colorado

The $100 million of public funding is comprised from two main sources: federal dollars for multi-modal transportation projects and support from Great Outdoors Colorado. No financial support is from the Colorado General Fund. - Bicycle Colorado

Slowly but surely, Colorado is becoming a more bike-friendly state. Denver B-cycle reported last year that riders covered an estimated 803,490 miles in 2014 - up from 560,424 in 2013. And last September, Governor Hickenlooper announced that $100 million would be prioritized for bike projects over the next four years. According to advocacy organization Bicycle Colorado, the Colorado Pedals Project is a multi-million dollar initiative combining public and private funding to make Colorado the best state in the nation to ride a bike.

So look out for those RNL-branded B-cycles on the roads, Denverites.


The 12 Days of Earth… Day

If you’ve arrived at this blog, you probably know that RNL is deeply committed to holistic design solutions that address 12 environmental, social and economic priorities:

Leading up to Earth Day (April 22), various RNL pros will take a look at each of these principles in action. We’ll tell you how we’re applying them in our projects, trends we’re seeing in the architecture, design and planning industries, and what we’re doing as a company to ‘walk the walk’. It’s our own 12 Days of Earth… Day. Ok, perhaps naming holidays is not our strong suit, but we’re going with it!

Happy First Day of Earth Day, everyone!

4 Ways Architects Can Improve Their Presentation Skills

By: Katey Trepanier

In the architecture and design profession, presentation skills are just as important as good ideas and slick renderings. We need to value having a clear dialogue around the issues we spend countless hours considering. Truth is, most of us are not naturally good public speakers; and we need to treat it as a skill that can be improved. When you have a presentation looming, here are some things to consider:

1. Preparation

a. Practice your presentation.

Everyone knows that practice improves our skills, but we don’t always feel like we have the time or the need. Skipping practice is a missed opportunity. We spend months designing, then days composing our slides. Take a couple of hours to consider your delivery.

  • Sequence of practice. For a big presentation, you can use the tried and true method below:
    • Sit down on and make notes about what you want to say. Next, stay sitting and whisper your points out loud to yourself. Then, remain sitting but say your words louder.
    • Stand up and recite your presentation.
    • Face a mirror and rehearse.
    • Give your presentation to a trusted friend/colleague/family member, and then finally give your presentation for real.

This sounds time-consuming, but important presentations require repeated practice to ensure that you are comfortable when the time comes.

  • Examples of success. The very polished presentations seen on TED talks are the result of this level of practice. The typical TED talk-er will practice/recite their 15 minute talk about 200 times (that’s 3000 minutes of practice for a 15 minute speech).

A typical TED Talk presenter will have 3000 minutes of practice for a 15 minute speech.

b. Don’t drink caffeine beforehand.

Before speaking, our adrenaline is ramping up, making caffeine unnecessary. If you’re prone to getting jitters, caffeine will speed up your heart rate and make it more difficult to be relaxed.

c. Practice feeling embarrassed or vulnerable.

It’s normal to feel nervous about looking or sounding stupid when talking in front of groups; but the more you practice feeling vulnerable, the less it will bother you. Practice by going to parties where you don’t know anyone and strike up conversations, hold eye contact with a stranger on the street for an almost inappropriate amount of time, do karaoke, etc.

2. Organization

  • Keep it clear. Outline your upcoming points to the audience, provide the information, and then summarize. This method of organization will help you touch on everything intended, and stay on track.

3. Calm Down

  • Breathe. We all carry anxiety differently, often in our stomachs. Take a truly deep breath – one that will go all the way into the pit of your nerves, exhale slowly, and then feel your nerves lighten up. This can be done whenever the jitters hit – even while you’re presenting. It’s totally appropriate to take a deep breath in between thoughts, and could even make you appear more calm and confident to the audience.
  • Talk slower and louder. It’s typical to speak quickly and quietly when you’re nervous. Be aware of your cadence, breathe slowly and project your voice to the back of the room. Even if you are feeling uneasy, this will give the impression you are not. Eventually, you’ll make the audience feel comfortable with you, you’ll settle in, and will actually feel more relaxed.

4. Look the ParT

  • Dress for the occasion. You’ll feel more confident when you’re looking good. Leave your old leggings in the closet at home and bust out the outfits that you know you look good in.
  • Be positive. Positivity is contagious. Use positive words in your speaking vocabulary, nod, and smile – try not to be creepy about it. The more you connect with the audience, the better you’ll feel standing in front of them, and the better they’ll feel about having you speak to them.
  • Body language. Mind your eye contact, and practice your power poses – don’t feel shy about moving around and taking up space on the presentation floor. It’ll engage your audience. Keep your shoulders back, and focus on not letting your body fold into itself.
  • Follow an example. Find someone whose speaking skills you admire and act as though you are that person when you’re up there. Be confident. Eventually you’ll have more experience faking confidence than you’ll have memories of being a warbled mess. That’s when the persona of being a confident presenter starts to become real.

This kind of exercise encourages us to prioritize the people side of our profession. In an era driven by technology, emails, and videoconferencing, we want to make sure that the art of interpersonal relationships isn’t lost. Our success is determined not only by our ability to design beautiful spaces, but also by our ability to build a strong rapport with our clients.