Row House Lofts for the 21st Century
2020/3/13 – We’ve been putting together some very preliminary concepts for a new Loft Apartment complex. We’re excited about this one…the cool factor on this project is around 11-1/2.
Mural Lighting Mockups
2020/2/18 – We woke up before sunrise to mock-up some lights with Sarin Energy and NOTO Arts District staff. The “Greetings from Topeka Mural” by Jennifer Bolander pops even more with an energy efficient LED at its base. We’re excited to help light this iconic NOTO image and enhance both Redbud Park and the NOTO District.
Welcome to the Team, Derek!
2020/2/10 – We welcome our newest Project Manager, Derek Kohlhase. Derek, originally hails from Minnesota, so you’ll often see him in a stocking cap. He loves furniture making, horses and home improvement. He has a sharp eye for design and has, like good rapper, claimed to be the best architect alive. We appreciate our “GOATs” passion and confidence!
Derek attend North Dakota State University and received a Bachelor’s in Architecture. He’s been practicing Architecture for 13 years.
Welcome to the Team, Lori!
2020/1/5 – We welcome our newest Business Development and Office Manager, Lori Blake. As our firm has grown, the administrative responsibilities have been too large for Bryan Falk to carry alone. Lori will be his right hand “woman”. Lori will also help Falk Architects with business development. In the past the company has relied on word of mouth and referrals for new business and growth. We’re now looking for business from people who have never heard of us…cuz’ really they should have.
Lori has a degree in Organizational Leadership from Ft. Hays State. She is a former small business owner.
2019/11/15 – Our handy men that have been working on the Hicks Block remodel joined us for an end of the week outing at the Norsemen in NOTO and a preview of Redbud Park. Tyler seems to be in a good mood.
Redbud Park Ribbon Cutting
2019/11/16 – This was “THE biggest crowd for a ribbon cutting event, EVER”…well maybe it was not the biggest but it was definitely the best! We had ballet, jazz, local politicians…the works! Falk Architects was jazzed to be a part of this cool project. We think it fits in really nice in NOTO.
2019/10/29 – For the third year in a row we participated in Harvester’s Canstruction event. This year we toned it down a couple notches from our usual, trying to be as weird as possible. However, there is a hidden messsage coded in the cans. If you stare long enough you might be able to make out. We teamed up with PEC Engineers and Arts and Craftsman Workshop. What a great time! Our team’s sculpture included over 3,000 cans to feed the hungry! Woot, woot!
2019/10/22 – Our team met up at the Iron Rail Brewery in Downtown Topeka, Kansas to help support Mater Dei School. Mater Dei is has been one of our great clients and Jack (Bryan Falk’s son) goes to school there. It was Parker’s first day and we all got to know him a little better. There was good food, drink and fun to be had by all!
Lofts nearing completion
2019/10/18 – A loft project we are working on is nearing completion in Downtown Topeka, Kansas. Frugal House has worked with the developer to stage the apartments as part of a fundraiser for the Washburn Symphony and it is really looking sharp on the finished units!
Progress Meeting – NOTO Redbud Park
2019/9/16 – The gazebo steelwork has been erected and we’re getting closer to our anticipated substantial completion date of November 2nd for Redbud Park! A few of the dedicated members of our building committee joined us recently at a progress meeting.
Topeka High Chandeliers
2019/8/21 – We’re working with the talented Senne Construction on replacement of the joisting mechanisms that raise and lower the beautiful, historic auditorium chandeliers at Topeka High. Senne proposed a solution to provide a method of raising and lowering the Chandeliers where the maintenance personnel are not put in an unsafe position. Our role is in this project is relatively minor, but it is a very cool project to be a part of and interesting to see the attic spaces and hidden rooms in this fantastic building.
School Kitchen Design
2019/8/13 – For the last couple of years we have done kitchen remodels for USD 501. We’re in the process of punching (or inspecting) this one for Ross Elementary. We’re pleased with the way it is turning out. The light color palette really works well for the space. We specified light grey textured epoxy flooring, white and grey wall tiles and white ceilings, which contrast nicely against the stainless equipment and black light fixtures. We worked with the district to optimize the placement of the equipment for the staff. Shirley Construction was the General Contractor. Ross Elementary kids…get ready for some sloppy joes.
Hicks Block in the News
2019/8/4 – WIBW covered the Hicks Block Apartments Remodel project: Link WIBW
Simple and affordable
2019/6/19 – Using corrugated metal panels, concrete and glass, we put together a simple walkout solution for a Topeka technology company.
New Construction Office & New Project
2019/5/24 – We purchased the Hicks Block Row Houses on 6th and Tyler in Topeka. For the next couple of years we’ll be working on this project to get it restored and fully occupied. During this time we’ll have a construction office in the space as well. We’ll still have an office at 712 Kansas Ave., but more likely than not you’ll find us working out of 602, Apartment #1 of the Hicks Block Row Houses as we line up and coordinate contractors work on the project.
Office Field Trip
2019/5/22 – We recently took an office field trip to Lawrence to tour some of the City’s old buildings, including the Union Pacific Depot and the Warehouse Arts district. Our Designers and PMs couldn’t resist touching some of the wood details.
Intrust Bank Ceiling
2019/5/19 – The Intrust Bank along Topeka Blvd. has some wild mid-century ceiling details and great daylight. Check it out.
Getting Ready for the Office Move
2019/5/14 – We’re getting ready to move from our home of 3 years at 712 Kansas Ave. to our new home at 602 SW 6th. This space has been a great starting point for us as a new business but we found a great opportunity with our new space. It offers us more room and we’ll own it!
Constitution Hall – Groundbreaking
2019/5/1 – Bryan Falk got his “Thor on” with a hammer in one hand and a beer in the other. The masonry wall is scheduled to be demo’d as part of the Historic Constitution Hall reconstruction project. Falk Architects is providing Architectural construction administration on the high profile project. (Half a second later the wall was obliterated).
The Headington Shark
2019/4/29 – This is worth a read for any Architects, designer or artist:
Central Plains Windfarm
2019/4/22 – Sometimes clients or potential clients ask us if we work outside Topeka…of course we do! Many of our projects are in the Topeka area because most of our contacts are in Topeka, but we go where requested for projects and love traveling for work. Currently, we’re working with Westar/Evergy on a building addition and remodel at Central Plains Windfarm on the western edge of Kansas. It’s exciting to be involved with a project that helps deliver renewable energy to Kansans!
Falk Architects – Starting Year 4!
2019/4/22 – We took a big leap of faith in starting this company 3 years ago (on Earth Day) and haven’t looked back! Since that time, we’ve worked on over 100 projects and worked with some great clients including City of Topeka, Shawnee County, Topeka Housing Authority, Washburn University, USD 501, & Westar Energy. Bryan Falk’s goal was steady growth of about 1 new employee per year when he started and lo and behold we are a company of 4 with Bryan and 3 amazing and talented staff of Architects and designers! It feels good to hit our goals. Thank you to all our great clients for opportunity to help you with your building design needs.
Lighting Up NOTO
2019/3/19 – We’re putting together the details and costs for how to lights the streets of North Kansas Avenue with string lights. We’re excited about how cool this is going to be…over 800′ of lights! When standing down one end of NOTO and looking down the street it is going to have an amazing effect.
Pizza is Currency?
2019/3/15 – We know a really interesting guy that is a part owner in a pizza restaraunt. He wanted a covered shelter over a patio designed on the cheap. We traded these simple designs for a bunch of pizzas. Kind of fun to trade stuff. Intrigued? Talk to us about your interesting ideas for a trade.
Say Hello to Blake Clifton!
2019/2/8 – Welcome our new associate! Blake is a interior architectural design student at K-state with a passion for interior renderings a well groomed facial hair. Already he has made a great impact on our office by introducing us to some new technology for speeding up our rendering process. Well done new guy! We’re looking forward to working with this talented individual.
Pine Ridge Prep Preschool
2019/1/10 – We helped Topeka Housing Authority and USD 501 School District with the designs for another preschool building in the Pine Ridge neighborhood in Topeka, KS. The kids and teachers seemed to be really enjoying their bright, clean, colorful new space!
2019/1/8 – In efforts to help with the Fundraising for Redbud Park, we have assisted in providing renderings and colored site plans to include with promotional information to potential donors. We’re pleased how this project is progressing!
2018/12/20 – We’ve been helping the Owners of the recently purchased Moose Lodge in North Topeka with some life safety improvements and renovations. The Owners brought the original sign for the building into the ballroom took off the cage, that had previously surrounded it (preventing it from being vandalized) and it looks better than ever. The Moose will be open within the next few weeks for event rentals.
2018/12/10 – Along with many other community leaders, we’ve been involved in the design and fundraising efforts for Redbud Park in NOTO and are in the midst of kicking off the campaign. We’re hoping to have full funding for the park and additional operations costs within the next few months. Once funding is in place we hope to have the park built within a year.
Falk Architects 2018 Holiday Party
2018/12/9 – Our team met up for dinner to celebrate the holidays and another great year of business at Merchants in Downtown Lawrence. We have a great team and clients and a lot to be thankful for around the holidays. Unfortunately with all the architectural merriment we forgot to take photos, so you’ll just have to imagine…and enjoy a photo of the festive ice sculptures outside our office. Merry Christmas!
Dr. Pepper Building Renovations in NOTO
2018/11/21 – We’re working with a client in NOTO on the renovations to the building directly northeast of the Arts Center. The building is the one with the iconic Dr. Pepper sign on the face…we call it the Dr. Pepper Building. The building has had a lot of past lifes. Recently it was a antique store. Our client is rehabilitating it into a Pottery Studio and apartments. It’s great to see buildings getting upgraded in NOTO especially such cool looking, historic ones.
Harvesters Canstruction 2018
2018/10/25 – Another great year stacking cans with 712 Innovations and PEC Consultants! Our sculpture, “a Star From Above” is a corkscrew star shape that is 10′ tall and incorporates a significant cantilever. Awesome job to Harvesters for putting this on and for all the teams working to curb hunger in Topeka.
Selecting the Right Contractor
2018/10/25 – Many of our Building Owner Clients ask us, “Who do you recommend for a General Contractor?” We have Contractors we work with on a regular basis and we can get them to meet with you within the day. But some Building Owners want to do it alone and if you are one of the bold, here are some questions to ask local Contractors that will benefit you before hiring them for your project:
- What person at your construction company will be the lead on the project? Who will be in the field? Is there anyone else that will work on the project?
- When will you complete the project? Are there items that could effect the timeline?
- What happens if you don’t meet the project deadline?
- What other projects are you or your company working on?
- Have you done this type of project before?
- What subcontractors will be working on this project with you?
- What work will you self perform?
- Will you have someone on site fulltime? If not, how often will you be on site?
- What hours/days will you be working?
- How do you approach work site safety?
- How will you approach site cleaning and protection of existing building elements?
- What do you see as a challenging element of this project? How can we overcome that challenge?
- Are you licensed in our City?
- Are you insured?
- Will you obtain and pay for building permits and setup inspections for the job?
- How do you charge for your efforts? Will you provide a hard bid with a defined scope? Will you provide a negotiated proposal with a not to exceed amount? Will costs be transparent?
- How do you charge for changes made during construction?
- Can you provide references?
- When and how often do you require payment?
- How will we settle disagreements?
- Can I see an example of your Standard contract? Or do you use AIA Contracts?
2018/10/16 – As we work to rebuild the Assumption Towers in downtown Topeka, one of the challenges has been finding a brick that matches the historic brick of the upper part of the towers. After working with Capitol Concrete we were able to find some bricks from various plants that when blended together would get us a good match for color and texture.
2018/9/24 – We were visiting Omaha recently and discovered a pretty neat urban slide near their downtown. We sat and watched the action for about 20 minutes. Some kids had brought wax paper to make themselves go faster down the slide. Only a couple of minor injuries occurred during this time. We were digging the durability of the concrete and the way the slide was built into the landscape. Topeka? What do you think about upping our play game? Something like this will bring happiness to kids and adults for generations to come.
Volunteering at USD 501 Topeka Schools Career Fair
2018/9/21 – Note to self…next time we go to a career fair to share about our profession of Architecture bring treats for the kids. The middle schoolers at Eisenhower Middle School loved the Frito Lay table (shown below) probably due to their free bag of chips. We did have a few aspiring Architects at our table, which hopefully we shared some words of wisdom with. We really enjoyed talking with these kids about their futures!
NOTO Redbud Park – Artist Rendering
2018/9/20 – We’ve been working pro-bono with the NOTO Arts Center to update a courtyard to the south of their building and with Artist Shelly Budsaul to create this amazing, colorful rendering of the space.
2018/9/14 – We’ve been working on the dry erase board on some rough concepts for Harvesters Canstruction 2018. This year we’re teaming with 712 Innovations and PEC. Here’s a sneak peak…as you can see it might be “star” related.
2018/9/10 – Solar (Photovoltaic) canopies at the Omaha Zoo provide shade and electricity. Surprisingly these clear back sheet canopies are less expensive than a glass canopy and you get the added benefit of energy from the sun. This technology is certainly going to improve even more in the coming years. Tesla is experimenting with roofing systems with the solar panels built into the roofing tile. Product engineers have even experimented with the concept of solar paint. In the meantime this is a pretty cool product for anyone wanting to show off their green tech savvy. Kudos to the zoo staff and designers involved for choosing such a great product.
Loft Apartment Renderings
2018/8/29 – Recent renderings for an upcoming loft apartment project in Topeka we are working on. This abandoned school has the potential to be transformed into some great new spaces.
Welcome Jacob Christilles to the Team!
2018/8/27 – Jacob Christilles recently joined our team as a Project Manager and Licensed Architect. Jacob is a graduate of K-State and has been working on large projects across the US for the majority of his career. In his spare time he works on home improvement projects and likes to spend time cooking! We’re pumped to have him join our team!
Trapped in a Brick Factory
2018/8/26 – We thought this was funny:
Find and Replace Tool Rules.
2018/8/25 – During a recent redlining exercise of a set of construction documents, it was noticed that the word “existing” had been misspelled the same way on a set of documents many times by an Architect-in-training. Rather than hunt for every instance, Revit saved us an enormous amount of time and found 66 instances of the word misspelled. Thank goodness for technology.
To Interact with Art or to Not Interact with Art…that is the Question.
2018/8/24 – During a trip to research sculpture parks we visited the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. We love it when kids do what comes natural to them, even when all other signs point to no. The artist of this magnificent four sided pyramid was Sol Lewitt. We also love when architecture and art are so beautifully blended.
2018/8/23 – We have started to outgrow our current office space and have been touring old buildings in Topeka to try to find another space to accommodate us for the next 5+ years. We’ve looked at everything from 8′ wide tiny offices to larger warehouse style. We do know we want to be in NOTO or Downtown and we want an open office. Let us know if you are aware of any spaces that would be a good fit. It could be a purchase or lease and we’re looking for a space that is rough and needs a good renovation.
Doing our Research
2018/8/23 – Shawnee County Parks and Recreation asked us for some help designing a building out at Adventure Cove at Lake Shawnee. A part of the building involved the storage of paddle boats for the cove. Bryan decided this was a good opportunity to do some research on the subject of paddle boats and brought his kids to help out. Bryan and the kids are now nearly experts on the subject of paddle boats.
Canstruction 2017 and 2018
2018/8/15 – Harvester’s Canstruction 2018 is upon us! PEC and 712 Innovations are our partners again this year. We were researching design concepts on the Harvester’s website and found that we awarded 5th Place INTERNATIONALLY for “Best Original Design”! WOWSERS this was news to us! We didn’t even win a local award (although we secretly thought we deserved one)! Kind of cool to be recognized for something that we thought was an innovative, interesting design but didn’t appeal to the local judges. More updates on the 2018 design to come…
Non-destructive Investigation of Buildings
2018/8/13 – We’re working on a renovation of a historic building into lofts in Downtown Topeka, Kansas and have been using some non-destructive investigation techniques to analyze the building. The building has a grand stairway in the middle of it that had been closed off between levels due to fire safety many years ago. As part of the current renovation project the building will have fire sprinklers and the separation between levels is no longer necessary. The developer was interest in knowing if the walls that had separated out the levels were built over the existing handrails. We used a small hand drill and an endoscope to look into the walls. Unfortunately we discovered that the original decorative handrails had been removed when they installed the newer wall. We provided the developer a quick sketch on photo of our recommendations on how best to adjust the walls based on our findings. Once they approve this sketch we’ll draft for the construction document set.
Redbud Park – NOTO
2018/8/8 – Topeka’s brilliant Artist, Barbara Waterman-Peters completed an amazing rendering (pro-bono!) of Redbud Park in NOTO to help showcase the feel for the finished park! The grassroots involvement in the NOTO Arts District is one of the many things that make it such a special place. The rendering will be used in some of the fundraising material to generate interest in the project amongst other donors. Falk Architects is the Architect on the park project.
Community Center – Topeka, Kansas
2018/8/6 – We’re wrapping up the design on renovation work to the existing Hillcrest Community Center in East Topeka. This plan has a new entry Architectural feature, plaza, climbing rocks, soccer addition, interior modifications, trails and play equipment. We’re pleased to help Shawnee County upgrade it’s facilities for the future! It’s been awesome working with the dedicated professionals at SNCO P&R.
400 S. Kansas Ave. – PEC Engineers Office
2018/8/5 – Construction has begun on 400 S. Kansas Ave., the new office for PEC Engineers out of Topeka, Kansas. PEC loved this location because of it’s downtown location, amazing windows, parking and proximity to the highway. We’ve helped them renovate the 3rd floor with an open office concept which will be a big upgrade for their staff. We’re excited to see this company continue to grow!
2018 Summer Office Field Trip!
2018/8/3 – Today for a summer outing Katie, Kesandra and Jake all got a chance to do something they never have done before…climb the 296 steps to the top of the Kansas State House dome and admire the view of Topeka! Afterwards our team relaxed at the Celtic Fox for a bite to eat and stories. We’re happy to have some a talented and fun team!
Rebuilding a Historic Church Tower
2018/8/2 – We’re working with Assumption Catholic Church to rebuild their historic church towers. Over the years the towers have suffered structural failure, largely due to water infiltration and freeze/thaw. We have been tasked with documenting and rebuilding the towers as closely as possible while upgrading their long term structural stability. Over the coming months, you will likely see massive amounts of scaffolding as the contractor removes the highest segments of the tower, then rebuilds. We will be providing new copper roofs, likely enclosing the openings in the existing archways with glass (to prevent future water damage), upgraded exterior lighting, and a beefed up structural system. We’re excited about this challenging but fun project!
Meeting #1 – 10 Plan Options
2018/7/29 – We had our first meeting on an upcoming project and brought 10 hand drafted design concepts for the Owner to react to. This process of lots of quick and dirty concepts at the beginning and then reacting to Owner’s comments is a method that works well for us. This Owner quickly honed in on a favored concept. Our next step will be to refine and provide multiple computer drafted plans similar to their favorite concepts.
They don’t build them like they used to…
2018/7/22 – It’s a cliché that rings true – “They don’t build them like they used to.” Most Topekans are probably unfamiliar with the building below because it is blocked off to the public with key fob controlled gates. The building can be glimpsed from the north side of I70 while driving between Gage and MacVicar. We’ve been great admirers of (what we could see of) the building from I70 but finally get to see it up close as we work on a Meter Services Remodel for the City of Topeka. Many of the spaces we are renovating have large arched windows, high ceilings, clerestory light and exposed structure. We are excited about this opportunity to create a great space for the City of Topeka!
Murals and Architecture
2018/7/22 – This photo ran in the Topeka Capitol Journal today. We thought it was a great use of color and murals to accentuate the Architecture of this arched walkway. Great job to the artist responsible.
Hand Crafted Signage
2018/7/15 – We were in Burlington on business and came across this cleverly detailed sign for “Vintage Sisters”. The artist/designer used bicycle chain stood off from a sheet of plate steel to create a raw but beautiful sign for this antique store. We asked the store owner who was responsible, but they couldn’t remember. We’ll congratulate the craftsman for a job well done.
Community Center Interior Renovations
2018/7/12 – We’re really excited to be helping Shawnee County Parks & Recreation upgrade one of their community centers in Topeka, Kansas. The Owner asked us to help them upgrade their facility for the 21st Century, including technology, bright colors, and more open feel.
NOTO Arts Center Courtyard
We toyed with the idea of a sea of floating umbrellas similar to the precedent image above – pretty cool image. Ultimately we decided that it might be more maintenance than the Owner would want to take on. Cities across Europe are providing shades in their streets with clouds of umbrellas such as this. We’ll tuck this concept away for another day.
The Value of Construction Experience for Students of Architecture…or Just the Value of Paying Attention in Life?
Open Office Concept
Hillcrest Community Center Masterplan
1970s Ceiling – Far Out.
Anchorage Percent for the Arts
2018/4/23 – It’s neat to see what a percent for the Arts program can do to inspire art in a community. The city of Anchorage, Alaska is bursting with art. Due, at least partially, to the Percent for the Arts Program they have in place. Some of the pieces in the images below are funded by a percent for the arts requirement and other pieces were created separate from that program. We believe a percent for the arts program allows artists to thrive in community, which allows even more art to occur.
NOTO Redbud Park
2018/4/7 – As part of our educational tour to Alaska we toured the Anchorage, ZJ Loussac Public Library. Several great features caught our eye. Hanging from the ceiling of the entry lobby is an enormous metal sculpture with organic detailing suspending a large orb. Anchorage has a great assortment of public art throughout the City. Below the sculpture is a quote by JK Rowling – “When in doubt, go to the library.” So true.
Hillcrest Community Center Charette
State of Kansas “On-call Architect”
Design Term: Gabion Wall
Hillcrest Community Center & Park Master Plan
2018/3/4 – We’ve started studying the Hillcrest Community Center and surrounding property for an upcoming Master Plan Project with Shawnee County Parks & Recreation. The above pictures represent the existing conditions of a facility with pretty good bones. The master plan process will occur over the next year and we will be soliciting community input on what improvements might be appropriate. So far, we’ve discussed the possibility of updating the trails, possibly an indoor walking track, better security/site lines, possibly climbing walls, removing the tennis courts and replacing with other sports, improved aesthetics, providing services to all age ranges, and necessary facility maintenance. We’re excited to see this center transform and improve for the good of our community!
30 Minutes of Architecture
2018/3/4 – Many of our clients don’t need “Architecture” in the traditional sense of the word. They want assistance meeting the minimum requirements of the City for a permit and they want to figure the rest out as they go. The above image represents that. Our Owner (formerly in the construction industry) sat down with us for 30 minutes and had a design session that gave him a layout for his business he was happy with. Soon we will draft this plan for him to bring to the bank for a loan, then we will do a simple code footprint and coordinate the MEP design. Finally we will help him identify a qualified contractor. Because we minimized our scope of work on his project we were able to offer an extremely low fee. Moral of the story: discuss scope of work with your Architect. What do you want them to do and what are you willing/able to do yourself?
2018/3/1 – We’re getting closer in finalizing a design for the NOTO Silos project. The above concept incorporates stainless steel circular signs with cut out letters that are backlit with LED lights and vertical LED lights at the joint between each cylinder of the silo. The design will give some nice daytime signage signifying entry into North Topeka but will also transform at night into an artistic monument for both North Topeka in general and the NOTO Arts District. We need help getting the property owner to agree to let us do this. This is no cost to the property owner!
Building Planning Advice
2018/2/9 – We were recently asked by an influential business person in Topeka a very good question: “What are the hurdles/cost for entrepreneur looking to open a business location? What can be done to make it easier for entrepreneurs in Topeka?
The answer to this question: We need to educate the entrepreneur on the process.
The first step is to try to understand what costs will be necessary to get the business location open as early as possible. If the entrepreneur is adapting an existing building usually there are some code and zoning grey areas that need to be clarified. When there are grey areas we recommend scheduling a “Pre-application Meeting” with the City to help clarify those grey areas. The City does not charge for pre-application meetings and they can be tremendously helpful in identifying potential hurdles before a project gets started. The various City officials who will later review your project for a building permit will typically attend and provide clarification on what they believe will be necessary at these meetings. It is important to have an Architect act as your advocate during the pre-application meeting and to give you some budget pricing on necessary improvements.
If you are building from scratch, it is often easier. Typical new construction building costs are easier to estimate than renovations. Zoning for new construction will be the major item you will want to review. Zoning tells you what type of business can operate in different parts of the City and describes other requirements such as parking and setbacks. Again, a pre-application meeting could be appropriate if there are zoning grey areas.
Moving into a building can be a major cost for a new business and more than a few entrepreneurs have gotten in over their heads on cost due to not knowing all the requirements. We believe it is important have a professional guide you through the process.
If you are building or renovating in a Historic District or a property on Historic Register and aren’t familiar with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards or the Historic Districts Design Guidelines (many districts also have these) then it would be wise to speak with an Architect knowledgeable in historic projects. Not only can proper planning save a building Owner time and money, but there are enormous tax incentives available to renovations to historic properties if you plan the project correctly.
The Wave Wall – Architectural Detailing
2018/2/8 – Last year we developed construction details for this unique Architectural feature in conjunction with Wood Haven, a local wood supplier and fabricator/contractor and Gould Evans, the Architect. We created a 3d model detailed to within 1/32 of an inch for Wood Haven to use a C&C Router to cut precise support panels for the wavelike vertical wood pieces. Not every project can afford artistic expressions as elaborate or as large as this (over 100′ long), so it is fun to be involved with these occasionally.
Building Tour – Thomas Hart Benton
2018/2/7 – We toured the Thomas Hart Benton Home in Kansas City following an inspection on a nearby construction site. His home and studio is now a State Historic Site and has remained almost entirely unchanged since his death in 1975. It’s amazing to see the same paintbrushes that he painted with in the same location as they were at the end of his life. You can see the furniture that he sat on (which despite the very elaborate house was very modest), the clothes he and his wife wore still hang in his closet, and some of the original art he created is still hanging on his walls. Benton was a rarity in the art world because he “made it” in his lifetime. We encourage you to check out this house as well as the surrounding Valentine neighborhood, full of historic mansions.
Typical Fee Structures for Architects
2018/2/6 – How do Architects typically charge for a construction project, you ask? The answer depends on the Architect, the Client and the Project. Here are some of the more common methods:
Hourly Fees – exactly as it sounds the Architect submits a list of staff with associated cost per hour. Sometimes the Architect will provide a “not to exceed” number or an estimated range of total cost to go with this. Typical costs per hour range from $60 for administrative/cad personnel to over $200 at some firms for firm Principles.
Per Square Foot Fees – the Architect will charge the Client per square foot of construction. In our experience this is rare among Architects but often MEP Engineers will provide their sub-consultant prices to Architects utilizing this method.
Lump Sum Fee – the Architect will provide a lump sum fee to provide a design for a building after understanding the Clients project scope. We utilize this method quite a bit, but when we utilize this method we typically will describe what services we are providing in detail as part of the agreement. It is important for Owners to study the Architects proposed scope of work and communicate what services are desired and which are not.
Percentage of Construction – Fees are based on percentage of Construction cost, typically between 5% and 14% depending on project size, Architect involvement and complexity. Renovations are typically more expensive than new construction on a percentage basis to design. Small projects are typically more expensive to design on a percentage basis than large projects. For this method it is also important for Owners to study the proposed scope of Architectural work. Architects are usually very willing to adjust scope of work and scope together to provide a level of service customized to their clients. This method is sometimes best when the exact scope of the project hasn’t been determined yet.
We typically get asked the following questions related to fee:
Q: What happens if the project comes in over budget?
A: We will typically redesign it to meet your budget for no cost to you. To date, Falk Architects has never had a project exceed it’s Owner provided project budget. We work to meet Owners budgets by providing “alternates” in the construction documents. Alternates are items that are extras that aren’t necessary for the design but would be nice if affordable. By providing several alternates and getting several bidders on each project we are able to find a bid that meets a Clients budget.
Q: What happens if I (the Owner) changes the design during construction or during creation of Construction Documents?
A: Usually if it a minor item we work with our Clients to meet their needs. However, if we have spent large amounts of time with creating construction documents for a design that has been approved by the Owner and they make a major change, it can be very costly to the Architect. We try to educate our Clients about the importance of a linear design process. Going back and making changes late in the process can often lead to coordination issues as well, because of limited time to make changes. Avoid late changes to the design at all cost.
Q: When do we pay?
A: We typically invoice for work performed at the end of each month and request that payment is made within 30 days of receipt of invoice.
Student Architecture Class
2018/1/13 – Bryan recently taught a class of elementary students interested in learning more about Architecture at the NOTO Arts Center. Every 2nd Saturday of the month Bryan helps coordinate local artists and designers to teach elementary age kids about the arts at the Arts Center. This month Bryan volunteered to teach an Architecture class. He showed them how to use trace papers to create site plans and the difference between plans and elevation views. The kids came up with some great park designs for NOTO. They had sculptures with climbable nets, rock features, caves, water features, trails, performance areas and more. We think it is fun and important to introduce kids to design at a young age!
2018/1/12 – We’re excited to announce we started to put together a team to light the North Topeka Silos! This project has been talked about for over a decade, but unfortunately has not moved forward. We hope to change that. An anonymous donor has agreed to provide the stainless steel signage with the letters, “NOTO”. Sarin Energy has agreed to provide in-kind donation of lights, Falk Architects will provide 100% donated fundraising, design and management. Sprout is providing free marketing, graphics and event planning. Torgeson Electric is interested in providing electrical installation. Barr Painting will be providing painting labor and signage installation pro-bono. NOTO will be assisting with fundraising and managing the project after completion. We recently applied for an ArtsConnect grant and are hopeful that we are accepted. The chips are all falling into place…let’s transform Topeka! If you have an interest in helping fund this project, please let us know or if you have a talent related to what we are trying to accomplish and want to volunteer, please contact us.
Historic Tax Credits and Historic Schools
2018/1/8 – We just finished up performing some construction inspections at the Norman School Lof renovation project in Kansas City. The project is about 70% complete at this point, but already looks amazing. Across the country developers are realizing the potential in old abandoned schools, hospitals and other properties, utilizing historic tax credits to transition the buildings into functionally useful properties once more. If you’ve been following the news, these tax credits have remained largely intact following the recent tax changes, however tax credits must now be spread over 5 years, rather than taken in 1 year. Great job to the Developer Del Properties and Architect, NSPJ.
Miami R1 Gymnasium
2018/1/5 – We’re excited to be working with Miami R1 School District to design a new gymnasium. The current design includes graphics, district logo, color, and sound control to create a modestly priced, functional, yet inspiring space that provides greater educational and athletic opportunities for students.
Building Talk Podcast
2017/12/28 – We’ve launched a podcast on building related topics called, “Building Talk”. Check out some of the recent episodes on Youtube at this link. Our first interview was with Chris Carey of PPB Environmental Solutions. He provided detailed information on Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments. More podcasts to come each week. If you’re an expert in a building related topic and you’d like to share your knowledge with the world let us know and we’ll schedule a 15 minute interview.
2018…our 3rd Year in Business!
2017/12/28 – We’re about ready to lock the office doors and shut off the lights for 2017. It’s hard to believe we’re entering into our 3rd year of business in 2018. Thank you to everyone who have supported us as our small Architectural business has grown over the last few years. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our friends.
Architectural Design Phases
2017/12/19 – We find many of our clients don’t understand Architect lingo (and why would they unless they’re immersed within it like us?). To help out with one aspect of this problem we have created a simplified breakdown of the typical design stages Architects will go through on a project. One should think of these phases as a funnel where Architects start broadly with initial concepts and get more and more precise with each phase, eventually leading to a complete building.
- Programming – determine what type of spaces the building requires and the size and adjacencie requirements of those spaces.
- Schematic Design – major spatial concepts will be realized, floor plan and massing model typically created.
- Design Development – Begin to incorporate building systems into the design like structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing. Develop the design further.
- Construction Documents – Create “blue prints” and specifications for contractors to bid and build the the project. Create the final level of detail in the design.
- Bidding and Negotiation – Assist the Owner with inviting Contractors to bid and selecting the best bidder.
- Construction Administration – Regularly review construction progress and make sure it conforms with the requirements of the Construction Documents. Address and assist with any changes to the contract during construction.
These stages are important in that a buildling Owner will want to move through them linearly for maximum efficiency and to keep Architectural fees low. For instance, an Owner wouldn’t want to get to the end of the Construction Documents phase then decide that they want to dramatically change the design. This would cause the Architect and Engineering team to have to perform alot of additional work and slow the project down. On larger projects, we find it is important to get the Owners consent to move to the next phase and explain to them what this means.
Downtown Arch Lighting
2017/12/2 – Just in time for Christmas we have finalized the install of the first of two sets of archway lights at the Downtown Topeka crosswalks. We’ve highlighted the curved steel elements with color changing LED strip lights provided by Sarin Energy and installed by Torgeson Electric. Thank you to Downtown Topeka, Inc and Westar Energy for the vision and financial support to make this project possible. DTI is hosting a lighting ceremony December 14th to unveil it to the public.
Design Thoughts – Murals
2017/11/25 – A Washburn Tech corridor has a great looking mural showcasing a cityscape and a countryside. The artist behind this has got skill. It is nice to see educational facilities with unique features like these. Placing art on walls is a great way to create a feature in your building, and inspire and educate your building users. Murals can be cheap and simple do-it-yourself projects or complex custom art pieces.
Architect Led Design-Build
2017/11/25 – We do quite a bit of design-build projects, where the contractor leads the team and the design team is subcontractor. Recently, we did our first Architect lead design-build project. We have organized the team of the contractor and material providers for lighting of the Downtown Topeka Archways. It is a little project that we felt we could try out this delivery method and see if we want to do it at a larger level. Torgeson and Sarin Energy were the other team members on this project and the project should be completed by early December.
Mulvane Scupture Garden – Boards
2017/11/22 – We finished up our presentation boards for the Mulvane Sculpture Garden at Washburn University. We’re quite proud of the way this one turned out. We made some subtle modifications to this space that we think will make a huge impact.
Lake Shawnee Family Adventure Park
2017/11/18 – Jim Martin, a retired Engineer with PEC Consultants in Topeka and now active Community volunteer and John Knight, Parks Director present to the Heartland Visioning group regarding the proposed outdoor adventure park at Lake Shawnee. Jim put together a survey of possibly amenities to include near the lake including zip lines, ropes courses and water features. As the newly selected Architect for the P&R Department, Falk Architects is excited to help with these future projects and upcoming progressive upgrades at recreation centers for Shawnee County. Check out what they have planned and take the survey at the link below:
Pine Ridge Family Health Center
2017/11/16 – Great job to Topeka Housing Authority, Washburn University, United Way of Topeka, Murray and Sons and all the other partners in making the Pine Ridge Family Wellness Center a reality! We’re honored to have helped with this important project which is going to offer greater access to health care for the people in this neighborhood.
Banner Creek Nature Viewing Tower
2017/11/12 – We’re putting together design concepts for a observation tower at Banner Creek Reservoir outside of Holton, KS. The tower will be situated overlooking the lake and serve as a nature viewing platform. The eco-friendly tower is being designed utilizing recycled lumber donated by Westar Green Team. We’re looking at repurposed stainless cable steel guardrails, a wood roof deck with a metal roof and a whole lot of recycled wood. We love designing structures located on such beautiful sites. More images to come.
Mulvane Sculpture Garden
Topeka Historic Cemetary
Bryan’s son – heavy equipment operator.
Washburn Homecoming & the Historic Downtown Water Tower
Construction Administration at the coolest looking location in Kansas
High Impact-Low Cost Renovations
Westar Building – Historic Tax Credits
Skyline upgrade – 800 SW Jackson
Visioning Westridge Mall
Build video – Canstruction Topeka 2017!
Welcome to the team Kierra!
Harvesters CANstruction Event 2017
Design Thoughts – Alley of Art and Light
Downtown Topeka Archway Lights
Indiana Jones Style Bridge
St. Mary’s Church, Benedict
Indoor Firing Range in Topeka, Kansas
Historic Restaraunt & Hotel
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod District Office
Another One Bites the Dust…
Design Thoughts – Retaining Walls
Design Thoughts – Street Art
Design Thoughts – Ruskin
High School Student Interns
Office Fun Day
Percent for the Arts
Design Thoughts – Light and Shadow
Lighting Topeka’s Historic Water Tower
Mid-century facade, a slip cover
Design Thoughts: Mossy paths
Design Thoughts: Trippy subway lights
2017/6/22 – Bryan was “roughing it” recently, working remotely from the patio of his historic Washington DC hotel, the Omni Shoreham.
Design Thoughts: Wood is Good.
2017/6/23 – Do you like wood? We think you should. Because wood is good.
Many of our favorite contemporary buildings utilize exposed wood timbers and wood deck. There is a warmth that wood creates that no other material possesses.
If we could we would almost always use wood.
Butterfly Garden at Randolph Elementary School
2017/5/28 – We have assembled an amazing team of specialists that have donated their time and resources to create a beautiful, educational butterfly garden at Randolph Elementary in Topeka!
Thank you to Ann Palmer, Landscape Architect who donated her design and plant expertise! Thanks to Westar Energy Green Team and Ben Postlethwait for donating materials and plants! Thank you to the teachers and students who volunteered their time for such an important endeavor, especially the Randolph Dream Team!
Our hard work will be rewarded toward the end of the summer of 2017 when the plants have grown in and the butterflies will be there to greet the kids as they arrive at school each day!
Falk Architects is always looking to volunteer on high impact, community projects that increase the quality of life in our local communities. Talk to us about your project. Each year we intend to donate at least 10% of our work hours to non-profit, community oriented projects.
Welcome, Katie Reynolds, Architectural Designer!
2017/5/14 – Say hi to Katie Reynolds our new team member! She’s a talented designer, lifelong Topekan, avid rower and enjoyer of Netflix stand-up comedy shows.
We are so happy she has joined the team! She has been killing it, knocking out spectacular design concepts, models and architectural details to please and bend the minds of our wonderful clients.
Remodel at Shawnee County Courthouse (We’re running out of trace paper!)
2017/5/2 – Together with Senne Construction we are providing an upgraded Courtroom for the Division 3 Court at the Shawnee County Courthouse. Falk Architects provides countless preliminary options on each of our projects. We explore every conceivable possibility at the beginning of a project and for other major design decisions.
We discuss the pros and cons of each option with our clients and often refine and present a series of variations on their favorite option on the follow up meeting based on client feedback. This feedback loop is critical for successful projects.
Check out the small sample of preliminary concepts we’ve presented to the County for this project.
Space Utilization Study & Plan at the Courthouse, County Annex, Fire Station & Elections Office
2017/4/28 – Shawnee County has asked us to help determine how it can be more efficient with it’s use of space. Currently the Courthouse is filled to capacity while other County buildings may have extra space. We are studying which departments should be moved to which buildings and what the spatial needs and departmental adjacency requirements of each County department are.
Security Upgrades at Topeka’s City Hall
2017/4/18 – We’re excited to be working with the City of Topeka on security upgrades at their City Hall. It’s a great old building in the heart of the downtown area with a lot of character. With recent changes to state laws regarding fire arms we foresee more and more public facilities requiring similar upgrades.
Renovation to former Pottawatomie County School
2017/4/8 – We’re working on renovations in Westmoreland, Kansas to a former school building with Trinium Contracting. It’s great to be able to collaborate with such talented professionals and intelligent building owners.
Our process: we give the Building Owners LOTS and LOTS of options. For instance, we’ve drawn over a dozen concepts for a single part of this building, the Appraisers transaction counter. This transaction counter was particularly important to the County because it is where they interface with their Clients, the public. Because it was so important to the County it was important to us and we wanted to get it just right.
We typically begin our process with a handful of different ideas, then get feedback from the Owner and give them several more variations on the concept they liked best. We repeat this process until the design element is exactly what our Building Owner wants.
The World’s Largest Water Balloon
2017/4/14 – We were helping out a local contractor with construction estimates for a renovation project and came across this interesting problem. Yes, the easy solution is to pump it out. The more interesting solution is to embrace the blob and install a goldfish pond.
Be the Ball.
2017/4/14 – Occasionally we get away for a break to enjoy the sunshine and network with some Engineers, Product Reps or Contractors. Only minor sunburns and soreness was to be had.
Spring Break…New Intern!
2017/4/8 – Cate, Bryan’s daughter is joining us over Spring Break! Cate likes animals, volleyball, drawing and has been learning Sketchup. According to Cate, she wants to be a “Veterinarian-slash-Architect” when she grows up. She had fun over the course of the week and was surprised by how many meetings her Dad had during a given day.
Design Thoughts: Tears.
2017/4/1 – It’s sad to see an amazing old warehouse building, sited perfectly overlooking the Kaw on the North end of Downtown Topeka demolished. However, doesn’t it look beautiful, partially destroyed? We love the simplicity of the brick, concrete and rebar.
Exposed Steel Bow Trusses and Barrel Roofs
2017/3/18 – Our newest adaptive re-use project features character defining bow trusses and exposed wood barrel shaped roof deck. Believe it or not, it’s going to be a state-of-the-art indoor shooting range unlike anything in Northeast Kansas.
Working on Hogwarts…er…Topeka High
2017/3/12 – We’re excited to be able to work on one of the most exceptional schools in the State of Kansas and possibly the country. At the time of it’s construction the school was the first million dollar high school west of the Mississippi River.
Falk Architects Annual Board Meeting
2017/9/12 – The board of directors had a productive evening out at Luis’ Place in Downtown Topeka. Luis’ is definitely worth checking out…fine dining and great service!
Falk Architects has some big plans for 2017!
Topeka’s Growth the Last 20 Years
2016/12/18 – The animation below shows the growth of Topeka and Shawnee County from 1984 to 2016.
Dense growth within the existing city limits reduces the cost of infrastructure and maintenance for the City. In the last few years Topeka has begun limiting the annexation of property outside City limits in an attempt to become more economically sustainable.
Read more about the City’s Land Use and Growth Management Plan.
Expansion at 712 Innovations, Topeka’s CoWork & MakerSpace
2016/12/1 – Falk Architects is helping 712 Innovations, Downtown Topeka’s CoWorker & MakerSpace with expansion plans. 712 has been growing since its formation and has now reached a point where unless they expand into a larger facility further growth will be stunted.
New ideas for the facility are still brewing with the possibility of the new facility incorporating public meeting areas, expanded MakerSpace and CoWorker spaces, outdoor work areas, commercial kitchen, food maker space and coffee shop.
Preliminary rendering below by Falk Architects Inc.
The Sarin Energy Downtown Topeka Water Tower
2017/11/12 – Downtown Topeka has an amazing 2 million gallon concrete water tower at the corner of 11th & Quincy that has been out of use for some time. We’ve decided to light it up at night with color changing LED bulbs to create a beacon for Downtown Topeka.
Sarin Energy is sponsoring the lights, Torgeson Electric is installing and providing engineering services, Falk Architects is coordinating and providing design services, and Jason Adams is providing programming of the lights.
UPDATE: Lights are scheduled to be installed June of 2017. Programming of the lights will occur shortly after and the Sarin Energy Water Tower will go “live” early July of 2017.
Rendering and photos below by Falk Architects Inc.
2017/10/1 – Falk Architects Inc’s first projects, Boulevard Billiards is nearing completion! The very same day Falk Architects opened we were referred this project from a long time friend. The Boulevard Billiards Owner group have been working their tails off for the last six months, building much of the project themselves. We love their spirit of entrepreneurship and ambition! The hard work is paying off. This is going to be a first class place for billiards in Topeka.
Boulevard Billiards is located on the South side of Topeka on 4700 SW Topeka Boulevard.
Falk Architects provided basic Architectural services to help the Owners secure a building permit.
Kansas Preservation Conference
2016/10/20 – Bryan Falk attended the 2016 Kansas Preservation Conference in Abilene, Kansas as part of his role on the Topeka Landmarks Commission. The Conference was sponsored by the Kansas Preservation Alliance. Abilene has a great collection of downtown historic buildings and businesses worth visiting as well as the Eisenhower Presidential Library and childhood home.
Design Thoughts: Topeka, Kansas
2016/9/15 – Awesome dog, awesome dog basket, awesome trike. Falk Architects Inc. is proud to be located in Downtown Topeka, KS.
2016/8/12 – We had a chance to tour the facilities of Wood Haven Inc in Perry, Kansas and met a group of delightful people doing some amazing things with wood. Take a look at the machine below custom designed by Jim (the owner) to fabricate boards to Architects specifications. Truly amazing work!
A Guide to Project Delivery Methods
2016/7/14 – We often are asked by our clients about the different ways to contract the design and construction of a building. Below is a brief introduction on each of the primary methods:
Design-bid-build: The traditional method of delivering a project. Typically involves three sequential phases – design, procurement and construction.
Construction Management at Risk: A delivery method in which the Construction Manager acts as a pricing/construction consultant to the Building Owner in the design phases while the Architect team designs the building. During construction the Construction Manager bids out all trade subcontracts and keeps an open record of the cost for owner review. The Construction Manager is paid a percentage of the overall construction cost.
Design-Build: A project delivery method where Architect/Engineer and Contractor are under a single contract and on the same “team”.
Integrated Project Delivery: A delivery method where all primary parties – owner, designer, and builder are under one contract – so that the risk, responsibility and liability for project delivery are collectively managed and appropriately shared.
Each of these delivery methods carries a different level of risk for the owner. Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages, and no delivery method is right for every Owner or project.
The differences between these methods can be confusing if you don’t work in the Design and Construction Industry – give us a call if you have additional questions or want to discuss in more detail. The selection of a Project Delivery Method is one of the first and most important decisions a Building Owner will make during the design and construction of the building.
Topeka Housing Authority Hosts Jr. Pathfinder Program
2016/7/14 – The Topeka Housing Authority and the City of Topeka Police Department hosted its FIRST EVER Jr. Pathfinder event at the newly renovated Deer Creek Community Center multipurpose space. The kids had a great time learning about the important role of Police Officers in our community, enjoyed free snacks, t-shirts and wearing the Alchohol Impairment/Drunk Goggles while trying to walk a straight line.
THA worked with Falk Architects Inc, the Architect and designer and Estrada Masonry who was the Contractor on the interior remodel and renovation of the Deer Creek Community Center.
Design Terms: Growies
2016/7/14 – We in the Architecture profession often refer to plants around buildings as “growies”. Vines on a masonry wall or trellis are a great way to cool down the building and surrounding area as well as add beauty to the environment. And who says you need to cut tree limbs when they start to encroach over a sidewalk?!
(A thanks to Bryan’s kids for posing for these pictures.)
Forum 2016 Preservation, Mobile Alabama
2016/6/28 – Bryan was sent by the City of Topeka to the Forum 2016 Preservation Conference as part of his role as Landmarks Commissioner. Mobile is full of character with its historic buildings, delicious eateries and charming people. Next time you’re in Mobile check out the Shrimp and Grits at the Blind Mule. As advertised, definitely a meal to try before you die!