Riccardo Cattapan is a believer in using advanced materials and technologies to create buildings that conserve energy and natural resources.
So what better way to show your prowess with technology than designing your own office to use the latest high-tech techniques?
Cattapan is director of design for Owen Design, an Irvine, Calif.-based architectural firm that is opening a Valley office at the new Hayden Ferry Building, 80 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe. Before joining Owen Design, Cattapan worked for CornoyerHedrick architects, where he was lead designer of the building — the first of a complex of eight buildings that will be constructed along Tempe Town Lake by SunCor Development Co.
For his own office, scheduled to open in mid-August, Cattapan is installing technologies that he believes will let him interact more effectively with clients and contractors to save money and meet tighter deadlines.
"Technology is a tool for the client to use," he said. "It saves money and time for everyone."
Architects have used computers for years to create three-dimensional images of their buildings, but Cattapan is taking the process a step further with an online meeting service called WebEx, which allows contractors, clients and consultants scattered in different locations to view the same real-time images and designs the architect is viewing on his computer. The architect can walk his client through a 3-D tour of the interior of the building and make changes on the run.
"In the old days, everyone would have to fly to California, or wherever the client is located, and view the designs in person," he said. "This reduces the expense of travel, and any changes the client wants can be made immediately. We can make decisions in 20 minutes that once took days."
Cattapan also is using 3ds max, a computer program made by Discreet, a Montreal-based producer of software for digital artists, that creates realistic 3-D images and virtual reality videos of building designs.
The images can be used by clients and brokers to show lenders, city zoning officials and potential tenants what the project will look like when completed. Cattapan calls it "marketecture."
"Brokers love it because tools like this help them sell the building," Cattapan said. "It creates instant excitement."
One of Cattapan’s prime goals is to reduce the use of paper. Instead of equipping his new office with filing cabinets, he is creating filing cabinets in cyberspace, using Web sites to store drawings, designs, images and notes on each of his projects. He will extend the paperless concept even to the office waiting room. Instead of subscribing to magazines, he will provide tablets that visitors can use to view electronic versions. The system uses Bluetooth, a technology that enables wireless connections to the Internet.
To further impress clients, Cattapan plans to project images of his buildings on walls of Halloglass, which is glass covered with a laminated film. Hidden projectors will flash the images on the walls, using a system by Keystone Technology that corrects distortions on pictures that are projected from an angle. Visitors will be able to look at the images straight on without blocking the projected image.
Using a cordless keypad, Cattapan will be able to change the images to display the buildings of most interest to the client.
The system will eliminate the need to frame and hang static pictures of the firm’s buildings, he said.
Cattapan will also equip the office with surface-sensitive whiteboards that will allow him to draw designs and email them to clients.
He is even paying close attention to the office furniture, acquiring ergonomically designed chairs and translucent free walls that can be easily moved to create team-oriented environments encouraging staff interaction.
Cattapan, who is working out of a temporary office in Phoenix, expects the cost of the technology will quickly pay for itself in time saved and additional business. Although the office only has three people, Cattapan expects to have 10 staff members by the end of this year.