Vivendi: 2009 Q1


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e-magazine of architectural firm Modus V Studio. Modus V Studio is a boutique architecture firm located in Seattle, WA. Modus V Studio is founded on the philosophy that architecture is not simply about designing of beautiful buildings and environments, but ,more importantly, about designing a way of life. Please visit our website at

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Vivendi: 2009 Q1

  1. 1. V MODUS STUDIO VIVENDI An Architecture E-Magazine by Modus V Studio 1st Quarter 2009 Vol 01 ANNUAL REVIEW News and reviews for Modus V Studio REMODELING IT’S NOT JUST GOING GREEN A CASE FOR Our take on what green DONE RIGHT FAST FOOD... SCRAPS means to the practice of Save money (and head- Cool new dining terrace at Inspirations from the found architecture aches) by planning ahead Westfield Southcenter objects
  2. 2. V NEWS AND MODUS STUDIO REVIEWS Modus V Studio will be celebrating its 3rd birthday in March 2009. Thanks to the support of our friends, clients, and partners, we have achieved much that we are very proud of. Our portfolio has grown substantially in two areas that we have focused in – food services and residential. In the fall of 2008, the design of Qube restaurant, was published in “Boutique Restaurants” by John Riordan. Qube was one of our very first projects, and since then we have been involved a number of other restaurant projects such as Sushi Itto and Sbarro at Southcenter. We are now very confident of Modus V Studio’s ability to handle a restaurant project of any type or size. In the past few months, once again partnering with our friend who started Qube restaurant, we are working on the design of an Asian night market in the International District of Seattle that features over 40 food and retail vendors. It is projected to open by late summer this year. We have also grown tremendously in the residential area over the last years. We have finished a number of remodels and in late 2008, we have completed our most challenging project so far, the Hawthorne Hills house. The Hawthrone Hills QUBE RESTAURANT “BOUTIQUE RESTAURANTS” by JOHN RIORDAN house is owned, designed, and constructed by Modus V Studio, and will accom- modate our office. We have written a blog,, in which we share our experience throughout this project. Other than that, we are currently working on three other residences that we designed, all slated to be completed by the end of 2009. Looking ahead, we are looking into implementing green technologies in our residential designs so that our work can bring a positive change to the way we live. We believe that building technology is ripe to take a great leap forward, to finally contribute in a significant way to protect the environment, and bring real and tangible benefits to everyone. Though the economy is not doing so well these days, perhaps this is an opportunity for us to question the way we do things. In many ways, this is high time for us to come up with ways to consume less, improve efficiencies, and become less dependent on non-renewable sources of energy through architectural design. Though we are a small company, we very much would like to be a part of the effort to bring us out of this crisis toward better days ahead. Find out more about our company at EXTERIOR OF HAWTHORNE HILLS HOUSE INTERIOR OF HAWTHORNE HILLS HOUSE
  3. 3. V NEWS AND MODUS STUDIO SELECTED WORK FROM 2007-2009 REVIEWS A RECAP OF SOME OF OUR FAVORITE PROJECTS OVER THE LAST 3 YEARS 1ST CHOICE QUBE MORI SUSHI BRIER HOUSE Seattle , WA Bellevue , WA Seattle , WA Brier, WA a fusion restaurant an acupuncture clinic a lake side sushi restaurant a remodelled 2500 sf home ARCADIA HOUSE SBARRO SUSHI ITTO HUANG RESIDENCE Arcadia , CA Tukwila, WA Tukwila, WA Taipei, Taiwan a new 5700sf residence a sushi bar/ restaurant a quick service pizza chain a condominium interior BLACK PEBBLE HAWTHORNE HILLS NIGHT MARKET EXPO PAVILION Bellevue, WA Seattle, WA Seattle, WA Shanghai, China a building material showroom a remodelled 3400sf home an indoor Asian night market a museum of jade
  4. 4. PROJECT SBARRO STUDY Sbarro, the Italian quick service chain restau- rant, is ubiquitous in American malls and high- It’s not just way rest stops. Times has changed and so has the demographics of Sbarro’s core customers. The store at Westfield Southcenter has a decidedly younger image than its prede- fast food... cessors. The emphasis is on the fact that Sbarro’s food When’s the last time you drive to the is freshly made with the finest ingredients. mall just to dine at the food court? Pizza is the main focus, and the pizza dough is Food courts in American malls have spun and made right in front of the customers. been a by-product of the shopping We have taken the abstraction of the spinning experience and have never been pizza dough and used the imagery as inspira- regarded as dining destinations. tion to design the form of the soffit, which is the Westfield, one of the world’s largest predominant and anchoring feature of the developers of retail properties, is entire store. These transparent green strips of challenging the notion that food glass hover above the store like a cloud, over a courts are only supporting casts with pizza oven clad in cool metallic mosaics. All its newest mall in Seatlle – South- the other front of house features are organized center. With stringent design guide- around the oven, creating a transparent yet lines for its tenants, its slick modern efficient workflow. dining terrace becomes the focus of the entire shopping center. Modus V Studio was on Westfield’s shortlist of preferred designers and was responsible for the designs of two of the tenant spaces. V MODUS STUDIO
  5. 5. PROJECT SUSHI ITTO STUDY Already one of the largest Sushi chain restaurants in the world, Sushi Itto is starting to establish its pres- ence in the US. Its store at Westfield Southcenter is a prototype that is a model for future stores here. The design challenge that this project presents is the fact that it is open on all four sides. It is a so- called “island” tenant space. Con- ceptually we have organized all the necessary features along a red ribbon that dance around the kitchen. There is a strong sculptural quality to the form so that the store becomes the center of attention in the dining terrace. Like a Richard Serra sculp- ture, the customer moves along the red ribbon and experience it in differ- ent ways as it wraps around the ceiling, frames the menu board, drops down to become a counter, sets a stage for the sushi bar. V MODUS STUDIO
  6. 6. V Looking at the big picture: HOME MODUS STUDIO Remodeling a home the right way TOPICS instead of trying to make a profit, remodeling A couple of years back when the real estate BAD REMODELS in a piece meal manner maybe OK in the market was still booming, remodeling a home short run, but still not going to work long term. seems like the sure way to make money. So The lack of a coherent long term plan for many people who got into the business of remodeling the entire house can translate into fixer upper did it the wrong way. When the very expensive alterations later on. If you’re market was going up up and up, their thinking of remodeling your house, the first mistakes were covered up by the increase in thing you might want to do is to get an archi- the property value. While they didn’t make as tect to look at your home and map out a strat- much profit as they otherwise could, at least egy. If you cannot finance the entire thing in they were not losing their shirt. In 2009, that one go, you may phase the remodel. But the is no longer the case. “master plan” for your home should still be in place before you start tearing into your walls. Having spent substantial amount of time on remodeling our home/office over the last year, For example, if a couple expecting to have we have naturally took an interest in what kids in five years decides to remodel their others are doing. We visited many open kitchen today. They may also be thinking of houses and talked to many home owners on building an extension and add two bedrooms remodeling, and we found that many down the road. They may want to look at their approached their projects without a well hot water tank and plumbing capacity and thought out plan. We realized that many make sure it will be enough to accommodate people, perhaps influenced by all the get- those future plans. They may also want to rich-quick fixer upper books out there, thinks think about how to plan their kitchen so that that you can just buy an old house, replace when they do add those bedrooms, only the kitchen with something you find from the minimal disruption to the existing structure will home depot, and the property value will magi- occur. cally go up by 50%. That is simply not true. Instead, too many people just go ahead and A successful remodel for investment is rip out the cabinets, replace them with new usually one that is done with the eventual ones, and call it a day. Only to later find out occupant/buyer of the home in mind. When a that half of those cabinets will need to be potential buyer walks into a house, they thrown away when an entire wall needs to be usually look at the house and try to picture opened up for additional structure and utility. themselves living in it. They look at the whole That is money that can be saved easily by house, not just the recently remodeled kitchen some smart planning early on. Not to men- or bathroom. So if the floor plan as a whole tion that when everything is done years from doesn’t work, or if the floor is not level, or if the now, you’ll have a very pleasant home that is foundation is sagging unevenly, or if you have carefully laid out, increasing the value if you a craftsman style kitchen in a mostly Spanish decide to sell. If you decide to continue living style home, you will still have a problem A remodel is not about adding arbitary features to a in it, you’re not going to have a home that selling the house at the price you aim for. house. Always take a comprehensive approach. looks like a time capsule with a whole bunch of incoherent elements thrown together. If you’re remodeling your own home to live in
  7. 7. WHAT WE V COMMODITIZATION OF GREEN THINK MODUS STUDIO MODUS V STUDIO’S TAKE ON GREEN DESIGN Going green is no longer just a noble idealistic belief that the “tree huggers” have unrelentingly pursued. We now realize that not only is going green good for our conscience, it is also good for our wallets. Many vendors of green technologies empha- size the long-term savings for the end-users that going green brings. Meanwhile, energy costs have sky-rocketed in recent years. Mother Earth only has a limited supply of resources to provide us. It is no secret that we need to cut down on our energy consumption. Going green is simply a pragmatic approach to our economic problems. While hybrid technologies for cars are becoming mainstream, we have yet to improve significantly on the way we build build- ings. Buildings account for 39% of the energy consumption in the US, and a lot of that is wasted due to inefficiencies. Making a building environmentally friendly and inexpensive to maintain is actually not difficult, and in many ways considered to be the low-hanging fruit in the green endeavor. Why has green buildings not been pursued with the same rigor as the car industry? First of all, the building industry is way less consolidated as the car industry. Thus, it is difficult to implement a unified vision throughout. The solution to this is to commoditize green, making it the industry standard. But to do that we first have to entice enough people to build green homes in order to achieve the scale needed. Currently, most projects are developed by people who are not the end-users. The developers do not get to enjoy the long term savings generated by the use of green technolo- gies, and so they are not willing to bear the initial cost. To entice the developers to focus more on green buildings, we must try our best to deliver the benefits that they care about – namely savings in construction cost and time, marketing benefits, political bargaining advantages, public relations advantages, etc. In other words, we must marry profit and purpose as we pursue green design in buildings. At Modus V Studio, we have decided to set some benchmarks for our upcoming research and development. We hope to deliver the processes and the design of an entry level green home that – 1. Costs less than the equivalent of $120/sf in today’s Seattle to construct 2. Takes less than 6 months to complete from the start of design to moving in 3. Allows the owner to pay nothing for electricity 4. Uses 50% less water from the city as a standard home 5. Requires 50% less time and money on maintenance of the home 6. Is healthy, comfortable, and efficient for the owner 7. Is attractive and inspiring aesthetically These are lofty goals that are not easy to achieve. However, we believe that with an innovative approach that is focused on the right places, we can make it work. Hopefully, we can gather a motivated group of developers to create homes that are green, and eventually acheive a critical mass for green homes to become the standard.
  8. 8. V DESIGN MODUS STUDIO STUFF A CASE FOR SCRAPS It just feels good when you can recycle When I was remodeling my home, some of something. It is simply beautiful to be the wood planks on a ceiling in the orginal able to make good use of something house was damaged by water. I had no that you would otherwise discard or choice but to take all of them down. I was destroy. The practice of recycling is able to reuse over half of them. appealing on so many different levels. It is a process that eliminates wastage, improving efficiency in a very tangible way. It is a process that preserves the memory, but at the same time creates a forward looking sense of hope. It is a process that has a purpose but at the same time profitable. It is a process that is about the rebirth and continuation of life. When we remodel a home, is it not great if we can recycle some materials salvaged from the demolition and make something beautiful out of it? First I cut them into strips of random widths. Then I stacked the strips up against a wall to create an effect that was both unique and attractive.