Q+A: Alyson Steele, FAIA on a Museum for All, Not the Few

photograph of Alyson Steele FAIA in the foreground with stairs in the background

The National Museum of the American Latino opened the Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History in June. The 4,500-sq. ft. gallery is the Smithsonian’s first gallery dedicated to the Latino experience and Latino contributions to the United States. Designed to engage multigenerational and cross-cultural audiences, the Molina Family Latino Gallery integrates the universal principles of inclusive and accessible design. The content and overall experience are in English and Spanish and accessible to diverse visitors with varying physical, sensory, and brain-based conditions. Inform sat down for a conversation with Alyson Steele, FAIA, LEED AP, principal-in-charge for Quinn Evans, on the design of the gallery.

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Through a Prism, Brightly: Baskervill’s Glass Light Hotel & Gallery

pink glass rabbit in a hotel lobby
Clients Doug and Pat Perry commissioned Peter Bremers to create leporine versions of themselves, whose parts were made in the Czech Republic and glued together in situ. Image courtesy of Baskervill.

Hotel lobby art — when it’s bad, it can be good (in that bad sort of way). But, when it’s great, it’s transcendent, which should be a goal of any hotel. The Glass Light Hotel and Gallery in Norfolk falls into the latter category, so named for the collection of Doug and Pat Perry, local arts patrons who purchased a 1912 office building that Baskervill transformed into a glass menagerie, now operated by Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

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Shannon Wray: Creating the Perfect Workplace Hybrid

Designer Shannon Wray in foreground with bookshelves in the background
Shannon Wray led the design of the custom workstations at Fairfield Library that adapt the carrel type for working parents and caregivers. The project won a 2020 IIDA/ASID IDEA Interior Design Excellence Award.

Opened in 2019, Quinn Evans’ Fairfield Library project featured a custom workstation that updates the classic library carrel to incorporate self-directed learning for children and peace of mind for caregivers. In this interview, Shannon Wray, a senior interior designer at Quinn Evans, talks about the discovery process and the iterations that led to a 2020 IIDA/ASID IDEA Interior Design Excellence Award for the hybrid workstation and play space. “It creates privacy and it also fosters community and conviviality,” she says, “but to get there, we had a bunch of little ‘ah-ha’ moments that lead to the final design.”

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Why Wood is the Way of the Future for Commercial Spaces

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Real, natural wood has warmth, depth, charm and character that is impossible to duplicate in other materials. Wood has been around for centuries, making it a timeless interior style that can adapt to any decor or season. It is a biophilic design element that is sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable, cost-effective and extremely versatile.

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San Francisco Tech Company Interiors Shine

A 1920’s can manufacturing facility became the blank canvas for an emerging tech company’s innovative workplace. The existing space had a sought-after high-bay industrial aesthetic but was also compromised by a cold leaky envelope and aging roof monitors that produced intense glare. New high-performance systems needed to provide 24/7 thermal comfort and daylight.

The design team at Charlottesville-based Parabola Architecture threaded a mezzanine within the existing seismic braced frames, maintaining a central high-bay space. The mezzanine provides workspace above while creating flexible space below for meeting rooms, open seating, bathrooms and support spaces. The areas with compromised headroom around the existing seismic braced frames are radiant and power/data manifold alcoves. By integrating complex systems into elegant and often invisible solutions, the resulting innovative workspace appears simple and inevitable.

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