Georgian Architecture

Georgian Architecture

            Characteristics of Georgian Homes

Georgian style houses represented wealth and power in contrast to the poorly built homes preceding their era. One of the biggest influences of Georgian architecture was Andrea Palladio. An interesting fact about this style is that the ceiling height should be taller on the ground floor compared to the first floor (second).

Typical Materials of Georgian Architecture

The main materials used in construction of Georgian architecture were brick, stone and stucco, and wood. A typical Georgian facade could be brick with stucco details such as the broken pediments, columns, and quoins on the corners.

Georgian Furniture






One of the many interesting things about Georgian Architecture was that it didn’t stop at the exterior of the building. The people of the era that lived in these houses wanted to display their wealth, status, and power. Furniture became another way to do so. Cabriole legs were a significant characteristic of Georgian furniture. These were typically known for having “ball and claw” feet.


Georgian Color Schemes

Pale and subtle colors were often used in Georgian houses. Often used were light shades of creams, reds, blues, and greens. Floral patterns were also used, but were primarily only found in grander houses.


The doors of Georgian homes were usually tall and had lots of glazing. Double doors were often used as well.

Other Characteristics of Georgian Architecture

Some examples of Georgian architectural elements are the baseboard, balusters, windows, and hardware. What all of these components have in common, at least in this style, is that they are all decorative. The base profile is elegant. The balusters were usually very detailed. The windows are one of the most particular piece of Georgian architecture. To be truly Georgian, the windows require thin muntin bars as well as a deep reveal/sill. Lastly, the hardware typically seen in this type of home was usually metal with a glossy or brushed finish.



At the beginning, most of the lighting came from windows, fireplaces and candles.  Typically the fireplaces were at the center of the rooms to keep the whole house warm. Brick was a typical material used for fireplaces. As the era progressed, chandeliers with a highly polished or burnished brass and silver finish were used. There were typically glass elements as well. Chandeliers hung in the most important rooms of the house and contained lots of curved arms and decorations. They are also categorized by their symmetrical shapes.  Solid brass lanterns hung in entrance halls and reception areas.  Wall sconces were used on either side of the fireplace.


Office Design

Office Design

Office Design

Corporate office design has many components, but the overarching idea is to make office spaces functional at any given time for a variety of people, and most of the time for different cultures. United States brings people of all cultures and races together into one “melting pot.” Corporation owners must consider the needs of all diverse employees to invite good future employees. They also need to provide them with a variety of environments to complete their work to ensure productivity and their well-being. The role of a design firm is to program spaces for the comfort of the individuals, respond to current trends, and help to create branding. Office design must respond to needs, function and organizational flow, design aesthetics, and the budget setting.

A Good Designer’s Role

A good designer must completely submerge herself/himself into the company’s daily life to understand how they operate and what their likes and needs are. One of the current tendencies show companies are leaning towards an open office concept allowing for placement of quiet, deep focus rooms or booths. Past experiments had proven “open office” may not always be a good option for some high energy areas. Some companies need collaborative office spaces to encourage conversation and teamwork, a sense of socialism, but for some it may be an everyday overwhelming and chaotic experience. We believe, creative, innovative spaces can contribute to company’s success, employees’ happiness and can be helpful in creating a successful advertising campaign. Our number one concern is solving adjacencies and special differences. We achieve these goals by working closely with client’s wishes and advising them every step of the way on the design as a whole.

A Budget Driven Design

A very important factor in successful design is a design that is driven by budget. Everyone should have a budget and a designer should help them establish one if the company does not know where to start. Having a budget does not always mean settling on boring, unattractive choices. The design does not have to be compromised by the budget. The design ideas does not have to cost a fortune. A creative designer works with the client to establish an itemized spreadsheet right at the first stage of planning. We believe this is the only way to establish a healthy relationship between the client and a design firm. At Pionarch, we help clients with budgeting in the programming phase. We make sure they can afford the changes. 

Wish List or a True Need

True needs and wishes shall be identified during the design process. If a client wants to incorporate a game room into their office space, the designer should help to identify as a need or wish. If the client says they need a shower, the designer should ask a question about why it is needed. Some employees may walk or bike to work, and they may need the shower to prepare for the work day. Having a shower in the office also encourages people to be active. Most places would like to have a kitchenette area so that people do not have to travel far for food and drink, but in some cases this may be considered excessive as the research may show nobody would use it. The designer is a good judge and can help to filter through a wish-list.  


The examples above show that it is necessary to hire a qualified designer that will support the client in meeting the requirements from the need, aesthetic and budget perspective. The modern office design methodology should not omit any of the elements mentioned above. At Pionarch, communication with clients is the key to successful office design. Our process consists of many different phases and meets and in some cases exceeds the industry standards of practice. We believe the first phase of the design, programming meetings and basic feasibility study with budgeting, sets the requirements up front and it should be performed prior to the design and design agreement. To start your planning, go to our contact page.   

Accessible Design

Accessible Design


Imagine your daily routine. Now imagine your daily routine, except this time, a bit differently. What if you were… Limited to a wheelchair? Blind? Deaf? Autistic? Epileptic? How would you have to adjust your routine to perform your daily activities? What challenges would you face? These are the types of questions that accessible design provides solutions for. Designing for people of all abilities is important when planning a space. The designer must take all current and future needs into consideration. Even if you are not disabled not, there might be a point in your life where you become disabled in some way. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) requires that design must be accessible to people with disabilities and cannot discriminate against them in any way. Accessible design considers the needs of people of all disabilities, and it allows everyone to use the space without any trouble or restriction.

Moving Up and Down

If you have ever walked up or down a staircase, you know that a person in a wheelchair or on crutches does not have the ability to do the same. This is when accessible design comes into play. In addition to a staircase, there should be a ramp or an elevator to allow everyone to have the same access to go up or down a level as they please.

Pionarch worked on a School Addition where the entrance has one step. To make this building accessible to all, we put in a ramp, which allows everyone to enter the building without any difficulty.

Another project we are working on to incorporate accessible design is a church. For this project, we are adding an exterior lift with a brick enclosure (shown below) to support people moving up and down floors that would initially have a harder time with doing so.

Moving Around

Another feature to consider for accessible design is the area one needs to move about. If a person is standing upright and needs to turn around, they do not need any more space than they are already taking up. However, if a person in a wheelchair needed to turn around, they need more space to do so. ADA requires there must be a five foot (diameter) turnaround for wheelchairs.


Think about your bathroom. Does your shower have a lip that you must step over to get in? Is your sink placed into the counter that has a cabinet below it? Both of these are things to consider when designing for accessibility. Pionarch worked on a project which required an ADA compliant bathroom for a group home. For this project, we needed to design a space that was suited for a person in a wheelchair. We needed to consider many tasks, including washing your hands, going to the bathroom, showering, and doing the laundry. For the sinks in this project, we used a sink that was open underneath with a sloped cover for aesthetics. There is still enough space under the sinks for a person in a wheelchair to roll under to use the sink. We also used an automatic faucet to make it as easy as possible. If a person was restricted to a wheelchair, they would not be able to do the laundry if the appliances were top loaders. In this case, we used a front-load washer and dryer to accommodate anyone that is doing laundry. You will notice that the shower we used does not have a lip that one needs to step over when they get in. The shower in this project is a roll in shower, meaning that a wheelchair would be able to roll in without worrying about navigating a change of flooring heights. There are also grab bars in the shower and near the toilet to assist with completing these tasks.


In any space, there needs to be enough wayfinding to tell people where they are and what is going on. For a person who is deaf, they do not have the same ability to hear directions, so there must be visual elements to assist them. If there is an alarm that sounds, there needs to be a visual feature that goes off with it so the person is alerted. If a person is having trouble locate where to go in a building, there needs to be some way that tells them where to go. The use of color for wayfinding is beneficial if each location has a different color assigned to it. However, when using color to indicate a space, you must be careful of too high of contrast. For example, if a person who is mentally disabled sees too many bright colors, they can become over simulated, causing them to have an unpleasant experience. Another example is if someone was color blind and they saw a high contrast in the flooring, they might think there is a hole, also causing an unpleasant experience. Pionarch worked on an Office Building Lobby design, and in this project, we indicated the location of offices with a sign in the lobby, as well as with different colors. The combination of these two visual elements was enough wayfinding for anyone to navigate the space with ease. We also had a mix of larger and smaller hallways to indicate the transition from one space to the next.


Another key element of accessible design is texture. The use of different textures is beneficial in multiple ways. One way it contributes is to wayfinding. A change in texture indicated a change in location and a change in object. This is useful in the sense that if it is on the floor, and a person who was blind was using the space, they would be able to feel the change in texture and know they have crossed over into another space. Think about crossing the road. If there is a physical indication or noise that alerts a blind person when it is safe to cross, they are able to navigate much easier.  Another feature that would be beneficial for a person who is blind is the use of brail. That way, they would be able to feel where they are and where to go next. Pionarch worked on a Back Lobby and Vestibule project, and for the outdoor area, it was crucial to locate where the pathways were for the users. There is a change of texture from the parking lot pavement to the walkway. There is also a change from the walkway to the grass and gardens. On the interior, there is also a texture change from the lobby area to the receptionist area, indicating those are two spaces with different uses. Those texture changes all occur on the ground, but there are ways to use texture on the walls as well. In the lobby area, just under the logo, there is a textured wall feature that draws attention to the reception area.


Accessible design means the space is easy to navigate for everyone, no matter their ability. There are many beautiful and creative ways to design for accessibility and the possibilities are endless. Don’t know if you’ve got the hang of it? When considering accessible design, put yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagine if you were disabled in a way that made it more difficult to navigate through your everyday life. What challenges would you face? How can you solve them? Accessible design is all around us, making our daily lives easier and obstacle free.  

Color is the Character of a Space

Color is the Character of a Space

Why do we always specify the finishes at the last stage and in a rush? Aren’t the finishes just  as important as the design and layout? Colors have very important rules in every space, whether it’s residential or commercial. They can be a tool to help in achieving the conceptual goals, but some architects tend to do without them until the last minute. Whether we’re working in the field or back in an undergraduate design studio, color is important and should play a bigger role in what we design.

The color of a room has the ability to affect how you perceive the size of the room. Color also has the ability to influence the temperature of a room. You can change the mood and occupant behavior by changing the color themes. Using different colors or different patterns of color can even affect how the user circulates through the room as well as how quickly they move in the room. Colors and patterns are what create the character of a space.

Any color will behave differently in relation with other colors and shapes. You can experience color in abnormal ways depending on which colors you place together and how you situate them. For example, in a yellow room, you may not notice any yellow objects. However, if you were suddenly in a red room instead, all those yellow objects would begin to stand out too much against the primary color. Choosing a color is very tricky. A color may cause a certain reaction in one person, but may evoke a very different reaction in someone else. This depends on many different things like someone’s personal preferences, what mood they’re in, how well their vision functions, and even cultural backgrounds.

Find Out What Specific Colors Convey

Warm Colors: To reflect passion, happiness, enthusiasm, and energy.

Red: A powerful accent color. Power. Passion. Energetic. Elegant.

Orange: Commands attention. Friendly and inviting, and less in-your-face.

Bright yellow: Sense of happiness and cheerfulness.

Dark yellows and gold-hued yellows: Antique

Cool Colors: Calming, relaxing, reserved, professionalism.

Green: New beginning. Growth. Renewal. Energizing. Stable.

Blue: Calmness. Responsibility. Peace. Spiritual. The shade determines whether the space will be calming or energizing.

Purple: Royalty. Creativity. Imagination. Romance. Luxury.

Neutral colors: Backdrop in design. Depend on their surrounding colors

Black: Power. Elegance. Formality. Edgy.

White: Purity. Cleanliness. Virtue. Simplicity.

Gray: Conservative. Formal. Modern. Professional. Sophisticated.

Brown: Warmth. Wholesome. Dependable. Reliable.

Cream: Calming. Warm. Elegant. Sophisticated.

Beige: Conservative.

Contemporary House Design

Contemporary House Design

Not all new homes are designed and built from scratch. One thing that sets this home apart from others is that it was designed and built on top of an existing foundation of a house that had burned down. While tragic, this fire gave an opportunity for a new, more modern, house to rise from its ashes. There are many things that make this house contemporary. The roof is flat and even wraps around the exterior to create an interesting space. It isn’t perfectly orthogonal and it has abnormally shaped overhangs. Even the siding breaks away from tradition, trading the usual clapboard for a modern panel system.


One of the latest and greatest tools in the field of architecture is the 3D rendering. Renderings are able to provide an accurate representation of how your project will appear once finished. They give you a snapshot of the future and allow you to test different things such as finish materials in order to see how certain components will look with different styles. Windows and doors can be easily changed, and you can even model complex pieces such as the roof in order to create unique looks. By using rendering technology designers are able to provide multiple options for a design. This allows them to see what parts are working, which ones are not, and which ones should be modernized. For example, notice that the windows in this project are far from the traditional double hung windows seen on residences everywhere. A simple change such as that gives this house a more contemporary feel.

An aspect of architecture that is always evolving is the materials. This project focused on creating a modern energy efficient home through the use of energy efficient materials. Modern materials applied to the exterior can help create even more energy efficient spaces, while materials applied to the interior in a unique way can give the inside of the space a contemporary feel while also adding to the efficiency. The combination of materials, the placement of windows, the wrapping of the roof around the edges of the house; These are all done in a way that creates an interesting, unique, and dynamic façade as well as a very efficient building envelope. The form of a house is not required to be simple. So why design that way? This roof is both functional and artistic. This project brings a whole new aesthetic to the neighborhood by changing the concept of what a roof needs to be. The contemporary home doesn’t have to just be contemporary on the outside. For example, the combination of different floor finishes in this project create a very unique space on the inside. The white walls are a solid neutral that allows almost everything to act as an accent, in the typical contemporary aesthetic.

When it comes to renovating an existing house, style is always important. Do you keep with the original style of the home or do you change it entirely? Do you keep some parts the same? In this project we kept the bathroom layouts the same, while aiming to change everything else to a more contemporary design. The focus of this project was to make a home stand out in a conventional neighborhood where almost every house is a single story suburban home –to break away from uniformity. The shape of the roof on this project is unlike anything existing in that area.

What makes a contemporary kitchen? Is it as simple as having an open floor plan? What about hanging decorative art on the wall? Can contemporary furniture make a contemporary space? Is having interesting materials enough? The answer to all these questions is that it takes many components to make a truly contemporary space. This kitchen for example, combines glossy, matte, and even some metallic materials to define its own aesthetic. The bold contrast of black and white coupled with the pristine straight edges of this kitchen separate the contemporary from the traditional.


Key Points to a Productive Office

Key Points to a Productive Office

Long gone are the days where you work in an office for a few years and develop back problems for the next 50 years. There’s a new revolution in workplace productivity and comfort. Owners are beginning to take notice of how productive their offices are and how to increase those numbers. The key points to a productive office include incorporating ergonomics, having communication between employees, a focus on employee well-being, and creating a bright, clean atmosphere.

Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in the workplace. There is furniture, equipment, and materials. Height adjustable furniture, eye level equipment and soft materials contribute to good health and posture. Good posture consists of having your head upright and over your shoulders with your eyes looking slight downward without bending from the neck, having your elbows bent at 90 degrees with your shoulders and forearms relaxed, thighs should be horizontal with a 90-110 degree angle at the hip, and feet should be supported.

Perhaps the most common issue with furniture in the workplace is the chair and back support. The backrest should support the natural curve of your lower back, without forcing it straight up. Another movement in furniture is one that allows the person to exercise while working. As reported by Forbes, this new system of performing work tasks is one that starts off with less performance, but then creates a more productive employee than one that sits in a traditional office. It is proven that 1.5 hours of moderate activity will increase life span by 4.2 years. Alan Hedge works through these issue in his presentation on Ergonomics and health.

Ergonomics has 4 general benefits: Reducing costs, improving productivity, improving quality, and improving employee engagement. [Ergo-Plus]

  1. Ergonomics Reduce Costs

Ergonomics have been proven to reduce costs for employers. Blue Cross Blue Shield in Rhode Island invested in creating workstation changes, ergonomic programs and training, and standardized ergo equipment. This brought their Worker’s Compensation costs from $227,620 to $26,010, in just one year!

  1. Ergonomics improves productivity

Ergonomics can increase productivity in companies very drastically. Statefarm insurance decided to invest in new furniture and seating that was ergonomic and they reported that productivity has increased by 15 percent.

  1. Ergonomics improves quality

Bad ergonomics leads to fatigued employees that don’t perform at their highest abilities. When an employee is tired or fatigued, they might not complete a task at company standards, but might cut corners to work less.

  1. Ergonomics improves employee engagement

When employees do not feel tired at the end of the day, they tend to put in more work towards the workday, and continue at the end of the week. The positive change will be noticed by employees and can “reduce turnover, decrease absenteeism, improve morale and increase employee involvement.”

Another key point to success and productivity in the workplace is communication between employees. We have all seen those offices where everyone sits in a cubicle, has their headphones in, and appears to be in another world. Employees that communicate more with each other, perform better and higher on their assigned tasks. Open communication between employees will also increase positive relationships in the office, which will increase productivity and activity. People like to work more when they are happy!

When employees are happy, the employer is also happy. As employers begin to invest more into providing materials and equipment that is beneficial to the employee’s wellbeing, the quality and activity will increase. While working the typical 9-5 job, the critical time of less productivity is between 2-4 PM. This is when the sugar rush fades and the lack of sleep catches up with you. There was a study done by Harvard Medical School on how sleep affects productivity. They stated that “insomnia costs the average worker 11.3 days and $2,280 in “lost productivity” each year. As a Nation, our collective losses are fairly mind blowing: $63.2 billion annually!”

There are offices around the world working with a new type of system to help fix insomnia: the sleeping pods. The goal of the pods is to provide a quick “power nap” which increases productivity and the health of the employees. Some companies that have incorporated the sleeping pods include: Google, NASA, Facebook, Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Huffington Post, and Cisco.

Office Dungeon

Skype Office

The last key point to a productive workspace is by providing a clean and bright office.

We are moving towards a new way of working and living. In the past, work was physical labor, but now we are in the middle of a cubicle revolution that is taking the world by storm. Through ergonomics, communication, focus on well-being, and an inviting office, employees are more productive. Although, we may never end our quest at the tranquil office and might go as far as moving our office to the beach.