Healthy, wealthy and wise

Toward the end of my pregnancy my blood pressure skyrocketed. It got so high that I had to visit my doctor three times a week, was put on bed rest and was even checked into the hospital for monitoring several times. Needless to say, it was no picnic. After having my son, who was induced two weeks early but was healthy and perfect, I took a good, hard look at my health and what was possibly causing my blood pressure to elevate to levels beyond comprehension. Upon evaluation I found that I needed to make several changes in order to decrease my blood pressure and prevent future health issues.

I knew that what I put into my body had to change. I mean, as much as I would like to, I certainly couldn't live off Sour Patch Kids, Mexican food and Diet Coke forever. And I knew I needed to exercise more (walking into the store to buy Sour Patch Kids and Diet Coke wasn’t necessarily a work out). So, I knew how I could improve my health with diet and exercise, but how did my physical environment impact my health?

Working for Function: the past few years has taught me that, like with people, there are healthy and unhealthy buildings and that the way the building is designed and the products selected for those buildings can impact the health of its occupants. According to the EPA, on average, Americans spend about 90 percent or more of their time indoors. That’s a lot of time (get outside people – including me). Indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times higher, and occasionally more than 100 times higher, than outdoor levels. Makes you think about where you are sitting right now.

From the amount of daylight in a building, to the VOCs used to make the flooring and the adhesives used to connect the floors, there are many factors that contribute to the health (or lack thereof) of a building. The health of building occupants is top of mind to architects, designers and building product manufacturers. As BPMs develop products they consider how those products affect building occupants – from how they heal, work, learn to how they conduct recreational activities. One of our clients, a flooring manufacturer, evaluates their offerings in terms of its contribution to indoor air quality, by making floors that easy to maintain and require fewer chemicals to clean, amongst many other things.

I can’t do much about my office or the buildings I enter, but in my home I am making sure that the blinds are open to let more sunlight in, that we are cleaning with less abrasive chemicals and that I am doing what I can to make my physical surrounding as healthy as possible. As an architect, manufacturer, contractor, building owner, etc. it’s your job to make sure that your buildings and products are as healthy as possible for the people who use them. Sure, make em’ pretty. But keep making em’ healthy too.

In praise of accepting praise.

Compliments have always been difficult for me to take. Even as a kid, a pat on the back was humbly accepted, though I thought not usually deserved. I attribute this to a very peculiar disease of which I am a sufferer: perfectionism.

For me, it's never quite done.. Rarely quite right.. And certainly not good enough to pass my own stringent standards. But a couple of weeks ago, I got a good teachin' on how to take a compliment.

Around the middle of June, Architectural Record and McGraw Hill Construction announced the annual winners of their Advertising Excellence Awards, which recognize the most effective ads in the building and design marketplace. And guess who was at the top of the list? Function:!

The ad I created for Kawneer's continuing Sustainability campaign was graced with the Best in Class stamp.

And I must say, I do love this ad. It's clean and minimalist and reflects an aesthetic I've long hoped a client would jump on board with. But it also very effectively illustrates Kawneer's commitment to sustainable products and practices; the ad is about building a healthy environment with knowledge, something that Kawneer does and helps their customers do.

The real kick in the pants came with this judge's comments: "It stopped me in my tracks and compelled me to read more. I read every word of it, yet it never even showed you the product."

Boy, is that a compliment or what! Go team!!

But what really makes this win feel amazing? Knowing that we did the very best for our client, made a beautiful and smart ad, and that it works. Because design isn't design if it doesn't communicate.

So I graciously accept this compliment, though it's not merely mine to accept. But I doubt it'll do much to remedy that pesky case of perfectionism.

angela k mitchell
art director

we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Architecture Firm Visit

I recently paid a visit to my industry friends over at Houser Walker Architecture and got a chance to catch up with one of the firm's partners, Greg Walker. Houser Walker is a boutique architecture studio that specializes in cultural/civic centers, and has been profiled by Arch Record as an emerging regional firm. I was introduced to the HWA team through industry events and they have been kind enough to lend their input and professional perspective for several research projects as well as our Construct Knowledge Series - back when we hosted the CKS live here in our office.

It was great to meet with Greg and hear about the projects they have been working on recently at Houser Walker, including the renovation of Ingram Library at University of West Georgia, which is currently under construction. I found it interesting to hear that HWA's clients are increasingly requesting  sustainable design and LEED certified buildings. This reinforces the notion that we at Function: have been advocating for years - green is not just a trend, it's evolving to be standard practice. Greg also mentioned how competitive the industry has become during the recession - what once was ten or fifteen firms bidding for a project has turned into fifty! As a smaller firm, Houser Walker relies largely on word of mouth and personal connections to develop their business and has stayed busy with state and county funded projects. Later this month, Houser Walker will be celebrating its seventh year of practice with an annual summer block party - congrats HWA!

ted hettick
business development manager
FUNCTION: we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

PRESS RELEASE: Function: Works with Johnsonite on Interactive Event to Benefit Architecture for Humanity

With a long, company-wide history of strong sustainable product development and practices, Johnsonite, a Tarkett company, sought to increase awareness around its ongoing sustainable programs and efforts during the NeoCon® World’s Trade Fair 2010. However, gathering an audience through a static event at tradeshows can be difficult and costly. The company wanted to create an event that created an ongoing buzz at show, gaining them recognition amongst designers, architects and media. 

To help develop an interactive marketing campaign that extends past a typical event at NeoCon, Johnsonite enlisted the help of Function:. Taking the target audience and overall messages into consideration, Function: worked with Johnsonite to create an interactive event that would bring  architects and designers together to create a larger picture of sustainability, generate awareness of the platform, showcase the products and provide ongoing education to these audiences.  To do so, NeoCon attendees were invited to come by the Johnsonite booth to pick up a piece of the company’s floor tile.  The attendees were then asked to place their piece on a larger canvas, ultimately uniting with their peers to create a larger picture of sustainability. For every tile placed, Johnsonite pledged to donate five-square-feet of flooring product to Architecture for Humanity (up to 3,000-square-feet) for its efforts to rebuild in Haiti. This event was later known as “The Collage of Possibilities.”

The tile sample handouts used during the show were actual pieces of Johnsonite’s rubber and linoleum flooring cut down to various sample sizes. The use of tile samples not only worked to create a colorful piece of art that peaked the curiosity of passer Byers, but they immediately put the product and brand in the hands of the audience. The samples also were used as an interactive tool for the audience to participate in a unique event and to help donate flooring to a worthy cause. 

Promotion of the event was critical before, during and after NeoCon. In addition to working with Johnsonite to create and execute the event, Function: also worked on developing several promotional items, including a microsite, Tweet cards and Collage stickers. The microsite ( was designed to replicate the visual of the collage, with links to Tarkett, Johnsonite and Azrock sites, key product information, sustainable messages, event information and a downloadable press kit. In addition, Function: created an online Twitter campaign for Johnsonite to share sustainable messaging and show information. The “Collage of Possibilities” event was also promoted prior to the show via press release and with media during scheduled interviews throughout NeoCon. 

Due to excellent event attendance, Johnsonite will donate 3,000-square-feet of its Harmonium xf Linoleum Flooring. Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit design services firm with a network of more than 40,000 professionals that brings design, construction and development services to where they are most critically needed, directly benefiting 10,000 people each year.

The Intern's Experience

Thoughts from one of our excellent summer interns. A discussion of Function:, the true value of an internship experience and the difference between work and school...

A Visit to the Real World, by Clay Tinkler

This summer, the summer before my senior year in high school, I spent some time interning at Function:. Before this experience, I had yet to work a single day in a place that wasn’t for community service. If someone had told me that I would be expected to jump through flaming hoops I probably would have believed them, I was that new to the experience. Leading up to my first day was interesting as my level of nervousness and fear kept rising. There were other interns but they had already been at Function: for a while so I was going to be on a very different level than them. One of the other interns helped me get a spot and turned on the computer but then left and went back to her spot up at the front desk. I was on my own- but not really, everyone at the office would check in on me and the person I was doing the jobs and research for, Jody, kept in contact at all times and gladly answered all of my questions and yes, there were a lot of questions asked. My fears of being stuck on my own on some endless filing job were gone after day one at Function: and slowly I started exploring the differences between high school and the work place.

The first difference I noticed was people answering their phones. I had become so accustomed to phones being a forbidden fruit at school that the first time I saw someone at Function: answer their phone I was waiting on some sort of authority figure to come take the persons phone away and send them to see the principal. No one got punished for a vibrating phone and that was probably the first thing that made me realize this wasn’t the same as school.

Not only did Function: allow people to answer their phones…they did other things to enjoy themselves too. In the three weeks that I have been here we have celebrated a persons birthday and one day randomly decided to have pizza in the conference room, and everyone was invited.

The next way that Function: impacted my view of the workplace was the realization that there were no tests and grades. I got to research at Function: and this was one of the first times I truly researched a new idea without having a test about it later. I spent time studying why Function chose to specialize in one area so they could truly show their clients what works and what doesn’t. I was glad Function: was so specialized as it let me gain a quicker understanding of exactly what function can and did do for its clients.

But what truly brought around the sensation of not being in a school setting was when I got to post my first Tweet on Twitter. I wrote a few Tweet ideas down and asked Jody which would be best to post. I was nervous as I opened up the company’s Twitter account, realizing that what I Tweeted would be seen by other people and could impact how people viewed the company. I re-read what I had typed about 6 times before hitting send to make sure that nothing could be wrong. Yet of course there was a mistake, the link I had put was the wrong link. At school I might have gotten an F on a project like this, but at Function:, I got an email just telling me to post another Tweet correcting the old one. I was ecstatic. Instead of getting a bad grade I got to correct my mistake.

The differences between how I had been learning at school and how I was working at Function: really stick out to me. Perhaps schools and tests are not preparing us for what the world is really like. That’s why, I believe, internships are so important. In the short time I have been at Function: I learned quite a bit about who I am and what I can expect in my not too far off future. I’m looking forward to the real world.

Humanitarianism in Architecture

People say there is always good that comes out of a bad economy. One trend - I will call it a trend but in reality it has been around forever but just has not gotten the attention it deserved- is Humanitarian Design in Architecture. Lately I have seen more coverage on this subject and have read many accounts of great projects that get to the heart of the substance of good architecture. When things get tough, in any profession, the substance always rises to the top and this is a case in point. Take a look at groups such as Architecture for Humanity or Design Corps. This is good architecture in action.

Sustainability was once also viewed as a trend now the industry fully embraces this practice and expects it. Sustainability is a given in these type projects. Not only do projects like these encourage sustainable building and design practices, but they also help sustain our communities – locally and globally. Because thinking sustainability often means thinking beyond the thermal performance of your roof or the daylighting in your building. It means thinking about the people and communities those buildings serve. How can we, the A&D community, create spaces that are healthier and provide opportunity? This new movement of humanitarian design in architecture coupled with sustainability is a win-win for everyone.

It is important for all of us to determine where we can fit into this movement. Architects, designers, building product manufacturers, marketers and the media can all find their place in moving this thought process forward. Join Function: on July 15th for a webinar to take this discussion further. To register for the webinar please go to-

dana castle
principal + director of strategy
404 524 3075 x12

we’re into building things through marketing, and public relations

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