Materials Library


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Presentation given at the Materials Libraries session at VRA 2009

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  • Thank you for being here this afternoon and for expressing interest in this presentation. In lieu of a local materials library site visit, I’d like to present a brief case study that features Kahn Associates’ Interiors Materials Library, a firm with more than one hundred years of history and experience in downtown Detroit.
  • I’d like to express gratitude to Christine Trupiano for her assistance. She graciously gave the necessary time and insight to make this presentation possible.As a senior interiors associate at Kahn, she exemplifies the userprofile of the Interiors Materials Library.
  • Because the truth always comes out, I wanted to show you the honest appearance of one of the Materials Rooms at Lawrence Tech University. Not a “library” per se, it is actually more of a “free for all”. Students are permitted to take and use samples for their projects and boards. An awful lot of available materials are therefore disorganized, abused and left as wounded on the floors and shelves. It is not yet a faculty/staff supervised area.
  • Lawrence Technological University Library is fortunate to have Albert Kahn’s private library collection as part of its holdings. This collection is housed in a period reproduction area of the university’s Main Library building.
  • The Albert Kahn collection is available by request and frequently goes to patrons via the university’s Inter-Library Loan program.
  • Kahn’s family came to Detroit from Germany in the late 1880’s. He established the Kahn firm in 1895. He lived and worked prolifically in the region until his death in 1942. He is regarded as a premiere Industrialist Architect during this period.
  • Here is the Kahn Building as it appears today in it’s downtown Detroit location. With a tunnel that connectsit to the Fisher Building across the road (another of Kahn’s famous landmarks), this building was originally designed for mixed use. It has ten stories and a characteristic Art Deco façade.
  • Marble surfaces, brass doors & brass ceiling details epitomize the Kahn look and feel. The building’s program is organized around a central bay of 6 elevators and amenity spaces like washrooms, that are uniform to each floor’s layout. Let’s ascend the elevators.
  • Welcome to the 6th floor. The Materials library is organized in two abutting bays on the left, or west, side of the elevators. Entry to the library area is open as security to the entire building is controlled. Notice the bright, natural light past the shelving units, this indicates the perimeter access corridor. The sign on the partition wall reads, “Interior Design”.
  • Situate yourself from the previous slide’s open entry view. On the right of the drawing is the primary entry, closest to the building’s central elevators. The two library bays share a common wall partition(the top side of the square bay). Circulation is indicated by these open doorways. Elevator, washrooms in the centre core of the building to the right side. And a perimeter walking corridor is featured on the left. The corridor extends around the sixth floor of the building. Each of the library’s bays is about 400 square feet. I’ve estimated approximately 1200 linear shelf feet of total for storage of the library’s holdings. Let’s study the drawing. From the top left, we find carpet samples, followed by furniture samples on the shelving units. There is one section of Periodicals that breaks up the co-location strategy. Finally, on the RS there are more open shelves, utilizing the same modular shelf units, but these shelves feature counter height work surfacesThe shelf storageis allocated by material type, and then manufacturer by alphabet. Along the bottom partition wall is a section of multiple steel cabinets and counters with under shelf storage. These stones, tile, terrazo, cuttings and memos. Many of the items in this section are from three specific manufacturers: Knoll, Stellcase & Herman Miller.The center of the circulation space in the Carpet Bay is dominated by a work table.
  • Both bays use inexpensive, adjustable level shelving. The space allocated to aisles is adequate but not superfluous. The bulky nature of the samples means most are maintained in the manufacturer’s original binders.
  • I mentioned earlier that security is not a problem. However, there is a section of periodicals maintained on internal shelving in the Carpet Bay, noticeably disrupting the LEFT->RIGHT co-location order. These periodicals are wedged in and amongst the binder samples. This section’s contents and availability are not advertised as journals generally have a habit of disappearing and not returning.There are only two areas in the library bays where collection items are passively secured in this manner. Once section is for the periodicals, the other is for reference books. We will see this in the second library bay.
  • The large central table is an ideal size for reviewing the bulkier samples found in heavy binders. There is also an ingenious aspect to hosting vendor meetings around the table– a certain efficiency is achieved by not offering participants a chair.
  • To the right of the main entrance is a cutting surface amenity. Under this counter is more open shelving, again using a modular, adjustable shelf base.
  • Behind the central worktable, there are more counter top spaces assembled on the adjustable height shelves, as well as a work stool. This image illustrates the ease with which storage containers can be accessed. In this view, one notices the color-coded label system that is used throughout the library bays.Last, please notice the hanging shelving on the partition wall. Vertical storage options are not overlooked, even where there are no stacked shelving units.
  • The labeling system uses easy color identification and information placement quadrants to make co-location and retrieval logical.
  • Notice this section isn’t 100% compliant to the system. There are some white post-in makeshift labels. Some of the green labels have been crossed out and hand lettered over top. Additionally, there is one blue labeled bin amongst the green. In a busy firm where there is no designated librarian or collection manager, compromise, updates on the fly and adaption are required. This is a prime example of such utility and flexibility.The bins content has been removed from binder systems. The users swear that transferring to bins in this manner has saved space and the amount of time needed to review and assess holdings.
  • The metal cabinets are the most expensive storage features in the library bays. The samples are organized in such a way as to maximize space and to offer quick visible access to the contents.
  • OK, let’s move on to the second bay of the Materials library. It is called the Textile Bay. Access is possible only from the perimeter corridor on the left side of the drawing. The shared partition wall is at the bottom of this square bay. The Textile Bay has a very similar layout to the Carpet Bay, with shelving aisles, and counter tops in a reverse L along the right side. As well, there are expensive drawer cabinets across the bottom of the square.Notice, from this library bay there isn’t an exit to the building’s central corridor on the RS (where one finds the elevators, washrooms & amenities).On the left, starting from the top, are binders, labeled and organized by CSI code and alphabetically by manufacturer. The rest of the shelves contain a large variety of samples, organized by type.At the end of each shelving aisle is a consultation table. Open shelves run the expanse of the Right side wall, and filing cabinets are lined up across the bottom end of the bay.
  • Along the perimeter corridor there are multiple shelves with manufacturer’s binders, organized along the principles of the Construction Specifications Institute’s Division Numbers.
  • Here is a page from the MasterFormat2004 Edition Master List of Numbers and Titles for the Construction Industry, the specifications created by the Construction Specifications Institute. This library bay is dedicated to Division 9 Finishes.Using 6 to 8 digits, the CSI series numbers can be used to classify samples to fairly discrete typologies within clear categories. Using a pre-determined system like this is similar conceptually to the application of Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Here is a sample of the lightly hidden reference books; although they can be found online with the company’s intranet, these books’ whereabouts are not obvious in the shelving system.
  • The textile bay uses the same adjustable shelvesand organizational concepts. Cleverly, at the end of each aisle the adjustable standard shelving units are covered in basic countertop surfaces, providing much needed consultation space.
  • These sliding racks display laminate samples. They are a great idea that the Manager of Interiors adapted after seeing a similar set up. The tracks hold the racks in place. The vertical position keeps smaller samples hanging properly on hooks.Good storage ideas should be recycled and reused whenever possible.
  • The cabinet drawers here illustrate flexibility. Not only did the sliding track racks feature laminates, so does this particular drawer. And some of the samples are stacked vertically, others in horizontal piles. There is no dogma, rather there is a focus on space saving, and on a simple logical rule of keeping like items with other like items for retrieval purposes.
  • Although the number of plastic bins on shelves indicates that the users preferto track through samples using an “index card” style, method, thiscabinet drawer illustrates that kit boxes can be re-used as dividers within existing drawers. Christine emphasized that visual ease of access is of primary concern to the interiors associates. Thus, removing box tops saves time. Packing similar styled products into one drawer also reduces the efforts required to see contents that would otherwise be viewed on a kit-by-kit basis.
  • What else makes the materials library a viable work space? Lighting is NOT ignored. The full spectrum daylighting tubes mean sample hues are correctly perceived within the space. For design professionals, ensuring accuracy when comparing products is a fundamental concern. Bright pot lights over work surfaces mitigate eye strain.Track lights also play a role in specific display areas.
  • For example, here is a close up that shows the track lighting emphasizes the sliding rack display boards.
  • Finally, it’s worth noting that the perimeter hallway does permit plenty of natural light.
  • The designers want fast, easy access to the tools and samples of their trade.They are visually stimulated and find open bins quicker to access and flip through than standard manufacturer’s binders.The cabinet drawers foster plenty of easily accessible space that can be customized to fit widths of varying sizes but still encourage a bird’s eye from the user’s vantage point.Christine emphasized that most of the organizational concepts and methodologies were introduced to the firm by Beryl Newhouse, an architecture librarian who has consulted throughout Michigan during her career. When systems are set up properly, and are easy to comprehend and use, these systems can be perpetuated with ease and adapted when required.
  • I hope you have enjoyed this virtual site tour. I’m certain there are experienced VRA members present who would be able to comment and assist if there are any questions at this time.
  • I’d like to express gratitude to Christine Trupiano for her assistance. She graciously gave the necessarytime to make this presentation possible.As a senior interiors associate at Kahn, she exemplifies the user profile of the Interiors Materials Library.
  • Materials Library

    1. 1. Kahn Interior Design: a Materials Library Case Study<br />
    2. 2. Special Thanks to<br />Christine A. Trupiano, ASID<br />LEED Accredited Professional<br />Senior Associate<br />Manager of Interior Design<br /><br />
    3. 3. An antidote to mess?<br />VRA Toronto Conference 03/19/2009<br />E. SimmonsLawrence Technological University, Southfield, MI<br />
    4. 4. LTU: Albert Kahn Library<br />
    5. 5. LTU: Albert Kahn Library<br />
    6. 6. Albert Kahn: “Architect of Detroit”<br />Firm established in Detroit, 1895<br />Used reinforced concrete vs. wood for factory walls, roof, supports.“Industrialist Architect”<br />Projects:<br />Ford Rouge River Plant<br />Fisher Building, Detroit<br />Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library<br />
    7. 7. Kahn Building, Detroit<br />Built 1931<br />‘New Center Building’<br />2nd Ave. Detroit<br />Renamed 1988‘Kahn Building’<br />Home of <br />Kahn Associates<br />Photo Courtesy of<br />Andrew Jameson<br />
    8. 8. Kahn Building Foyer, Detroit<br />Original Art Decosurfaces, fixtures<br />Mixed tenants<br />Kahn firm occupies multiple<br />floors<br />
    9. 9. 6th Floor: Interiors Materials Library<br />Two bays<br />Open entry to floor circulation<br />Subtle signage<br />Standard office partitions<br />Adjacent to central elevators,<br />Interiors work group<br />
    10. 10.
    11. 11. 4’ shelves <br />(inexpensive)<br />3’ wide aisles (to code)<br />Designated *most difficult area to manage*<br />Binders A-Z by manufacturer<br />Collection purgedevery 5-6 months<br />Large Worktable<br />Adjustable Height Shelves<br />
    12. 12. Carpet Bay: Periodicals<br />Availability “hidden”<br />within stacks<br />Titles of specific interest to Interiors architecture staff<br />2 years of coverageensures currency<br />
    13. 13. Carpet Bay: Table Anchor<br />Large, central work table anchors bay.<br />Used for collection browsing ANDvendor presentations:<br />- informal<br />- standing room only<br />- <15 min. <br />
    14. 14. Carpet Bay: Cutting Surface<br />User amenity<br />Cutting surface proximity to collection<br />Tools at ready<br />Evidence of more clear bin samples below<br />Zero wasted storage space<br />
    15. 15. Carpet Bay: More Work Surfaces<br />A place for tools(scissors, cutters, phone, etc)<br />Open shelves below<br />Color coded label by :- Type<br />- Manufacturer<br />Divider-mounted shelvingfor three specificmanufacturers.<br />
    16. 16. Label System<br />Color indicatesType<br />Vertical on RS of label for section<br />CAPS for category/type<br />information<br />
    17. 17. Label System in Context<br />Color indicatesType<br />Hand-done updates<br />Anomalies=<br />pragmatism at work<br />
    18. 18. Carpet Bay: Pull Drawers<br />Standard row dividers<br />Index card section separators<br />Anti-slippage shelf-liner in bottom<br />Manufacturer’s labels<br />Like with like<br />Flexibly sized<br />
    19. 19.
    20. 20. Textile Bay: Manufacturer’s Binders<br />Discreet basic divisionCSI numbers on labelsi.e. “9” (Division 09 Finishes)<br />Some binders arehand numbered in<br />marker<br />
    21. 21.
    22. 22. Textile Bay: Reference Books<br />Small section of shelving with books. Not within easy view<br />Books can be searched on the company intranet<br />Organized with a classificationsystem and easy-read labels<br />
    23. 23. Textile Bay<br />4’ adjustable shelves (inexpensive)<br />3’ wide aisles (to code but nothing extra)<br />Electrical Binders A-Z by manufacturer, with CSI<br />Flooring , Tile, Wall Coverings, Laminates, Fabrics, Glass, Ceramics, Solid Surfaces, Ceilings <br />3 1/2’ consult tables at end of shelf rows <br />
    24. 24. Textile Bay: Sliding Racks<br />Ingenious way to store AND access samples<br />Boards slide easily on tracks mounted to countertop and ceiling recess<br />Nesting boards =space-saving solution<br />
    25. 25. Textile Bay: Pull Drawers<br />More laminates <br />flexibility<br />Vertical and stacked<br />Multiple sizes<br />Labeled index cards<br />Like with like<br />
    26. 26. Textile Bay: Pull Drawers<br />Using originalboxes instead of more fancy/costlydividers.<br />Why reinvent the wheel?<br />
    27. 27. Lighting Considerations<br />Track lights<br />Bright pot lights<br />Full daylighting spectrum tubes<br />
    28. 28. Track/Task Lighting<br />Specific task lighting<br />
    29. 29. Natural Lighting<br />Perimeter hallway with entry to both bays<br />Adjacent to large office windows with<br />adjustable blinds<br />
    30. 30. Why this library works for 10+ years…<br />Physical co-location<br />by type<br />Use of CSI, if desired<br />Left-Right/Top-Bottom<br />Orientation<br />Manufacturer,<br />Alphabetic (A-Z)<br />Appropriate lighting for design accuracy<br />Cost-sensitive fixtures<br />Logical, flexibleapproach<br />Limited user group (<12 FTE) invests time to manage collection<br />Visually stimulatingfor design professionals<br />EASY color & word label system<br />Multiple storage options: binders,bins, drawers, kits, boxes, racks….no dogma<br />User amenities: work surfaces, tools<br />
    31. 31. References<br />Ascasibar et. al., "" UMich Architecture. School of Information Team. 11 Mar 2009 <>. <br />Harris, Blaine., Carpet Bay/Textile Bay Viseo Layout Drawings. Lawrence Technological University, 2004.<br />Jameson, Andrew. "" 24 October 2008, at 22:19. 11 Mar 2009 <>. <br />Johnson, Robert W., Ed., and Construction Specifications Institute. MasterFormat 2004 Edition. Virginia: Construction Specifications Institute, 2004.<br />
    32. 32. Special Thanks to<br />Christine A. Trupiano, ASID<br />LEED Accredited Professional<br />Senior Associate<br />Manager of Interior Design<br /><br />