Category: News

Houser Hall

Jessica Owens of Furnishings and Design has been hard at work, completing the renovation of Houser Hall. Originally built in 1949, Houser Hall is the former home of the College of Engineering’s Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering departments.  The building now houses the Office of Disability Services, Testing Services, and the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs. The Office of Disability Services provides academic accommodations for University of Alabama students with disabilities. Testing Services administers both undergraduate and graduate admissions tests, GED, CLEP, and UA Placement exams. The Office of Veteran and Military Affairs is aimed at providing programs and services to meet the needs of service members and their families in order to ease their transition to college life.

Houser Hall is keeping with UA’s trend towards using terrazzo flooring in high traffic areas. The beautiful custom design of the terrazzo can be seen in the first floor. A design element that makes Houser slightly different than some of the other UA buildings is its use of store front style glass walls. This allows natural light to flood the building.

 

NeoCon 2015

neocon-2A group of Furnishings and Design’s designers visited Chicago, IL in June to attend NeoCon, the premier interior design conference where new commercial interiors products and trends are displayed for attending designers to gain inspiration for upcoming projects. NeoCon describes itself as “the commercial interiors industry’s most important annual event – bringing together the right people, the best products, and the most innovative ideas.”

At the conference, our design staff learned how to incorporate current interior finishes and furniture trends into strategies for maintaining or updating facilities across campus. NeoCon provided the design team the opportunity to co
llaborate with industry experts and see an in-depth look at commercial interior design solutions for current campus needs.

One trend our designers found to be a continuing theme in design is creating a more collaborative environment. Instead of designating rooms for groups to meet in, we have seen a trend towards creating a meeting space within a larger space. Items such as mobile furniture strategically placed in an open area provide for more impromptu meetings among coworkers.

This can be anything from a touch down space for quick discussions to a student work station that allows more flexibility to work alongside professionals in their chosen career.

Year End Furniture and Fabric Orders

Furniture and fabric must be ordered prior to year end deadlines to secure FY2015 funds. Due to the high volume of requests, priority will be given to Design Requests submitted by Friday, August 14th. Project requests received later will be handled as time permits. For new projects with furniture or upholstery needs and year end budget requirements, please email the completed Design Request Form toLeah McCool, F&D Office Associate II.

Many faculty and staff are also considering purchasing a new task chair with year end funds. To secure these funds, Chair Lab Request forms must be also received byFriday, August 14th. Due to the high volume of Chair Lab requests prior to year end, the Chair Lab does not provide sample chairs to be tested in employee offices during the month of September. Please contact Katie Ball, F&D Assistant, with questions regarding chair lab appointments.

Website Renovation

Much of the basic information departments often need from our office can be found on our website. We recently updated the site with the help of Procurement Training Manager, Jennifer Clark, to make this information more easily accessible to you, our clients. The first major change was to give the page an easy to remember web address:furnishingsanddesign.ua.edu. We also updated our Chair Lab Request Form and will be making changes to the Design Request Form in the near future.

To continue the website renovation, we are updating our design and upholstery portfolios. If your department recently had a project completed through our office, you may be contacted by Leah McCool to take pictures of your newly designed space or reupholstered furniture. Be sure to check in to our website frequently to see these new and exciting changes!

Starting a Renovation Project

There are two separate forms used to initiate a renovation project, so how do you know which one is appropriate for your department’s needs?

Generally speaking, the Design Request Form (DRF) is for those smaller renovation projects and the Project Initiation Request (PIR) is for larger renovation projects.

Design Request Form

The DRF is used in-house by the Furnishings and Design staff to initiate a renovation project under $5,000.  It involves no more than two trades and does not significantly change the structure of the building.  Upholstery projects, selection of new furniture, and updating paint colors are just a few examples of projects you would start using a DRF.

Project Initiation Request

The PIR is for those larger, more complex renovation projects which are over $5,000 and/or involve three or more trades, and/or make significant changes to the structure of the building.  The PIR first goes to the Construction Administration department for review before making it to our office.

For more information on these forms, please visit the Forms page as well as the FAQ page on our website.

Extra Help for Upholstery Shop

Each month, the Upholstery Shop completes over a dozen projects. Some of these are simple fixes that only take an hour or two to finish, while others are a part of much larger projects that require hundreds of hours of work over many weeks. This keeps our two upholsterers very busy in order to meet the needs of our growing campus. We are happy to welcome a third upholsterer to our staff. Her name is Stephanie Lewis, and she comes to UA with nine years of experience.

Now that our available work hours have increased by over 50%, we expect our turnaround time to diminish greatly over the coming months. This will be especially beneficial as we head into the summer, which happens to be the Upholstery Shop’s busiest season. If your department has furniture in need of repair, please fill out a Design Request Form and we will be happy to work on your project!

What Happens to Your Extra Fabric?

The Upholstery Shop is a beehive of activity, with projects constantly rotating in and out of our facility. When a client requests an upholstery project to be done, a fabric is quoted, selected, and ordered. Our upholsterers carefully evaluate the project to determine the amount of fabric needed so as not to create waste and to keep the client from overspending on unnecessary material. However, excess fabric often remains at the completion of an upholstery project. Our department has a specific plan to manage this excess.

If less than two yards of a fabric remains after a project, we consider that to be scrap fabric as it is not enough material to use on any future projects. But, if over two yards remain, the client is notified and given two options:  the material can be tagged and stored for future use or the client can seek to move forward with another project using the remnant. We tag the excess fabric with the department’s information and store it for up to two years. The fabric is inventoried on a quarterly basis and any fabric stored for over two years is once again brought to the attention of the department. At that time, the department can choose to store the fabric in their space for future projects or choose to release the fabric for use on other University projects.

Summer Projects

Don’t let the chilly weather fool you – summer will be here before you know it! Summer is a busy time at the University.  We take advantage of the decreased student presence to complete projects that must be finished before classes begin in the fall. If your department needs furniture installed or pieces reupholstered during the summer months, please submit a Design Request Form to Furnishings and Design by Friday, May 1. Project requests received after May 1st will be handled as time permits but may not be completed by the start of fall semester classes. For new projects with furniture or upholstery needs, please email a Design Request Form to Leah McCool.

Residential vs. Commercial Furniture

When purchasing furniture for office spaces, it is important to understand the differences between commercial and residential furniture. Commercial furniture is more durable and can handle the wear and tear of constant usage, while residential furniture doesn’t have to be as tough because it simply does not experience the same traffic. Because of its longevity, professional appearance, and superior construction, commercial furniture is often more costly than residential furniture; however, commercial furniture can be customized in various ways to meet the needs of the end user. As such, commercial furniture is made to order and can take six to eight weeks to arrive.

Because of client customization, manufacturers often do not allow returns, and if they do, the return policies might include hefty return fees and return shipping costs. However, commercial furniture usually includes lengthy warranties to cover any manufacturer defect. Despite longer lead times and limited return policies, clients can expect exceptional quality accompanied by lengthy warranties from commercial furniture in their office spaces.

Furniture Warranties

Did you know that most office furniture purchased through the University’s furniture contracts come with warranties to cover manufacturer defects? If you have a piece of furniture that isn’t functioning properly, contact us, and we will work with the appropriate vendor to determine whether or not the problem is covered under warranty.  Please provide pictures of the furniture, identifying labels, and bar codes, along with any original order information available, such as quotes, purchase date, and vendor information.

We will contact the vendor, who will verify any warranty information with the manufacturer.  Once the vendor and manufacturer determine that a problem is covered under warranty, we will coordinate with the vendor and the end user to schedule the repair at no charge. In some instances, a problem might not be covered under warranty, but we can work with the vendor to provide a quote to have the end user’s department pay for the repair.