Saturday, June 30, 2007

Material Girl

I'm lucky that I work in an office that has a full staff of interior designers and landscape architects. These people make my life fifty times easier on most days. They work with things I don't usually use and understand little details that I don't. Of course, I know these same things about my job that they don't, but you understand what I'm trying to say. However, one's project budget and/or scope does not always allow for the use of these folks.

Case in point: the four small projects I'm working on for Jann right now aren't big enough to really warrant having an interior designer on board. Also, the projects I'm doing are in buildings that we designed in the last six years, so the interior design work is already partially done. Interior designers prepare a palette of materials--flooring (tile, sheet vinyl, VCT, carpet, etc), paint, wallcovering, wall tile, wood laminate or wood stain, fabrics for upholstery or drapes or cubicle curtains, finshes for casework, and so on--and then make a finish schedule that lists each room and what finish it gets where. Each room is listed by name and number, and then s/he says what goes on each wall and on the floor and what plastic laminate goes on the cabinet faces and what's on the countertop and what's on the ceiling. Then, s/he creates a finish plan to show more clearly where accent paints go, what the floor pattern looks like for the VCT and sheet vinyl and carpet, and so on. This is a fair amount of work that I usually don't do. But due to the scope of my projects, these tasks fall in my lap.

Which is not all bad. Bear in mind that all these projects are remodels inside larger projects that DA has done in the past six years, so someone already did a finish schedule and palette for them. I can go to the existing finish plan and schedule and legend and see what colors and materials were listed in the area and put those in my new plan.

Would that it were so easy.

First of all, some of the areas I'm working on now need materials that weren't there originally. The admin area that's turning into the end scope procedure suite needs sheet vinyl for the procedure rooms, plastic laminate for casework, and VCT for the halls and recovery cubicles. So now I have to look at the areas around this new department to see what those areas used and use those here. Except that the project went through a huge VE process halfway through construction (what?! even Jann rolls her eyes when she tells the story) so some of the finishes were taken out. Here I am, specifying paint and plastic laminate that exists nowhere else in the project. This place isn't gonna match a damn thing anywhere else.

Oh, and here's an open letter complaint to ICI/Dulux Paints: hey dumbasses, what's the idea behind renumbering and renaming every single paint in your catalog? Paints I used two years ago have been rendered unfindable and therefore unspecifyable in my new project. And there's not even a feature on your website that would allow me to put in an old name and number and get the name and number it is now. Why the hell not? Oh, 'cuz there's a metric crapton of paint colors in your catalog, you say? Well, imagine being a design professional trying to figure out what the hell ever became of A1817 Fawning Mist when all your color descriptions now look like NORAD launch codes. Bite me. I'm specifying Benjamin Moore.

Anyway, the fun part is that I get to go to the top floor of our building and look through the Interiors Library. It's a well-lit room with skylights and shelf upon shelf and row upon row of carpet squares, VCT samples, paint card books, ceramic tile sample drawers, fabric swatches...oh, Lawd, 'tis a strange little heaven up there. I was late picking up Guy from work on Friday because I spent 15 minutes looking for one plastic laminate sample. Oh, for the glory of looking at interesting linoleums! I really like digging around up there because it's a whole world I'd love to know more about. Sometimes, I run into the interiors part of the office and ask a couple of interior designers, "These colors are going in a CT scan room. Should my accent wall be a saturated green or this lighter green here?" Four women stand up in their cubicles, squint their eyes, and proclaim the lighter green for a patient treatment area. I get along pretty well with interiors gals. I've covered for them and shielded them from the wrath of many a project manager, so they're pretty amenable to helping me pick between two colors or find something that works better with an existing tile. A little silly, some of them, but their hearts are in the right place. Would that the same could be said for my eye for color.


ms. kitty said...

Pixie, I think they could use you at that huge boondoggle of a "safe space" (aka American mall, aka "hideout") that they're building in Baghdad, which is running into huge problems because of faulty design and crummy materials (or at least that's my understanding of it). Your attention to detail and getting it right is sorely needed over there. But please don't go!

BaxtersMum said...

ha, I feel ya..

when I built my house, the walk through with the electrician took 30 minutes. Apparently a record. The lighting fixtures took me 30 minutes to select and I delivered a list of them to the builder.

The flooring and countertops? 4 FREAKIN hours. WTF? Because I had to pick wall colors too. And I only picked three for the whole house. Dear god in heaven that was hard. My poor little left brain could not wrap itself arond it.