Spotlight On! is an #sbablog feature that gives readers a close-up look at SBA’s architects and designers.

Meet Derek. As a designer, architect (and occasional artist), Derek is driven by a collaborative process and innovative problem solving, which lead to strategic and thoughtful intentions.  His exceptional design and visualization skills produce compelling spatial environments that produce memorable experiences.  Responding to the specifics of each unique project rather than imposing a design style, he strives to find the overlap between space and place making.

Derek’s expertise ranges from complicated renovation projects to new construction with challenging programmatic requirements.  Derek contributes over 20 years of design experience in architectural and interior design, space programming and planning, site design, and construction methodology to the firm. Derek works across a number of market sectors, and specifically specializes in academic and healthcare design. His work reflects his passion for teaching the next generation about architecture and design, from mentoring SBA interns, to being involved with local college architecture programs.

Office you work in: Enfield, Connecticut

Alma Mater: RPI

When did you know you wanted to be an architect?

It all started when, as a child, I was given an Etch-A-Sketch and a set of Legos to keep busy.  These so-called toys led me through a childhood filled with sketchbooks, broken pencils and dried up makers. Architecture seemed like the right profession.

How do you approach the design process? 

Design is an activity enhanced by the opportunity for dialogue, reflection, and experimentation.  I believe design is an open-ended and evolving process that requires ideas to be continually assessed and reassess through an iterative process.  I like to start somewhere in the middle.

Best vacation you ever took:

Just this year I went on a two week trip to Paris and Barcelona with my family.  It was a fabulous mix of visiting historic and contemporary architectural sites. My kids especially enjoyed our visit to the Cementiri Nou a cemetery in Igualada, Spain by the architects Enric Miralles and Carme Pinós.

What charitable orgs are you involved with?

I’ve been involved with a few organizations that focused on teaching children.  I’ve been a volunteer teacher in public schools with Learning By Design and taught elementary students about architecture and design.  I’ve also been a “Citizen Teacher” through Citizen Schools and developed a hands-on, after-school program to teach inner city kids about architects and architecture. 

Five items you can’t work without:

Open mind, time to reflect, someone to work with, mistakes to learn from and snacks.

Five Six items you can’t live without:

Family, friends, creativity, laughter, my iPhone, and something to draw with.

Spotlight On! is an #sbablog feature that gives readers a close-up look at SBA’s architects and designers. This month, we are celebrating Academic Design, so we will be featuring three of SBA’s Academic Design Specialists. 

Meet Eddie. Eddie is a Senior Associate with over 20 years of experience working throughout a range of market sectors, including municipal, academic, and healthcare projects. Eddie specializes in Academic Design and is actively involved with several professional organizations. Follow Eddie on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn

Where did you grow up?

New Orleans, Louisiana

Did where you grow up influence your decision to become an architect?

Absolutely. It’s hard not to be an architecture buff in a place with such a rich tradition of style and southern charm.

What drew you to Academic Design?

I am a teacher at heart, and I love spending time with children.  Their fresh perspectives and enthusiasm help me keep my batteries charged.  Designing schools fits in nicely with this, and it’s such an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the world.  You have the possibility of positively affecting the lives of so many young people, who can then in turn go on to achieve amazing things.

What professional/charitable organizations are you involved with?

I’m involved in way too many organizations—I just can’t say ‘no’ to the causes I believe in.  I’m a State Board member and mentor with the ACE Mentor Program, the chair of the Green Schools Advocacy Committee for the CT Green Building Council, and I also serve on the Industry Advisory Board at Hartford High School’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology. I coach two little league baseball teams in my Town of Manchester and am on the Board of Directors.  I’m also the Religious Practices VP at my Synagogue, and teach Hebrew there as well.

What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

A tie between the Yucatan on my honeymoon and 2 weeks in Israel in 2005.

Where did you go to school?

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles.  It was an amazing experience, but I really dumb lucked my way into it.  There was a good scholarship at stake, and it had a solid reputation for a 5 year program, but I didn’t do the research that I probably should have done.  I had no idea that LA was the hotbed of cutting edge architectural design, and that folks like Frank Gehry and Thom Mayne would be frequent visitors to campus.  Getting to see masterpieces designed by just about every major architect, easy travel to places like San Francisco and Mexico, a powerhouse football team, and a climate where you could ski and hit the beach in back to back days were also big pluses.  I think it would have been a tough place to set down roots, and being there for events like the Northridge earthquake and the Rodney King riots certainly underscored that, but I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything.



When designers at SBA set a goal, we work endlessly to make sure those goals are achieved. But how delightful it is when we find out that our products exceed even our own high expectations!

In 2013, we completed a new 66,500 square-foot Ambulatory Services Pavilion for Kent Hospital, the second largest hospital in Rhode Island. Working in tandem with Kent, our design team and engineers developed the Pavilion to meet the standards of LEED, the U.S. Green Building Council’s certification program for sustainable and green building practices. The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design initiative provides a rating system for new construction, where points can be earned for sustainable and efficient building options in various credit categories like water efficiency, energy performance, indoor environmental quality, and sustainable materials.

Kent Hospital New Wing - Warwick, RI

Kent Hospital New Wing – Warwick, RI

Our project goal was to aim for the “Silver” LEED rating, which would accrue 50-59 points and reflect a number of green building options along with our integrative design processes. To our great pleasure, however, the project has received the higher “Gold” certification rating, which represents projects with ten to twenty more credit points than Silver.

Many design choices were made to reduce the project’s environmental impact. Waste materials were recycled during the construction process, and whenever possible we chose recycled materials from local suppliers. A white TPO (Thermoplastic polyolefin) roofing surface reflects heat to reduce cooling costs, and interior and exterior lighting was designed to utilize lower levels of electricity and further lower the building’s energy needs. Computerized air handling equipment was installed to make heating and cooling systems much more efficient. We also incorporated low-usage watering equipment integrated with strategic landscaping to reduce the demands for water.

Located in Warwick on a 40-acre campus, Kent Hospital employs 2,300 local staff as part of the greater Care New England Health System. Kent developed the Ambulatory Services Pavilion by partnering with Seavest Healthcare Properties.

Post by Lindsay Comeaux Schnarr

My grandmother was an artist.  She taught me to see the world according to the colors of the rainbow.  I remember her often gazing quizzically, peacefully analyzing a point in space, as though she were trying to see through it.  Her focus was generally upon something quite simple, perhaps even invisible to most – a glass of lemonade, a fallen leaf, or the afternoon sky.  She would sit focused, transfixed, until her voice would emerge with a question that would always go something like this, how would you mix that shade of blue?  She loved to describe colors, especially the ones that most people don’t know how to identify, and often wonder, is that purple or blue?  She knew exactly how much winsor violet to mix with ultramarine blue to create the vibrant indigo hue of an iris petal.

One of her favorite stories to tell, undoubtedly because it showed off her victorious influence on my visual development was when we were sitting at a stoplight and she asked me to tell her when the light turned green.  I was only two or three years old at the time, and she obviously had begun to invest some of her brilliance on my future artistic abilities.  She was expecting me to get this one right.

The light turned green, and with no mention of the change in color from me, she said, “Lindsay – I thought you were going to tell me when the light turned green!”  I replied, with a rebuttal she’d never let me forget, and said, “But Grammie, that’s blue-green!”  Her seed had sprouted.

Color is an amazingly complex and beautiful gift of nature.  We can describe color in scientific terms that reference the principles of wavelengths and the anatomy of the ocular lens.  Experientially, we can recognize the visible spectrum and its gradient of intensity in frequency by simply falling asleep in a room with a digital clock that has red numbers, verses the ever-awakening irritation of high-frequency blue digits.  Intuitively, we know that colors affect our emotional response to the world around us, and as we boil down this observational understanding we arrive at a fundamental element underpinning the RGB coding of our environment – the quality of light.

As an architect, understanding the nature of the physical world is paramount.  We are trained to grasp the significance of our material world, not only in terms of structural integrity, but in the inherent ability of materials to direct design decisions.  The texture, transparency, temperature, and transformability of materials offer a guide to translate how a building functions, and ultimately feels to occupy.

Like color, the value of materials is only truly revealed through exposure to light.  Whether filtering in from the sun or emitting from an installed fixture, architects must consider the impact of various light sources on the experience of a space and the materials involved.

It was no surprise that my grandmother was “thrilled” when I told her I had chosen architecture as my professional path, and I would imagine that she would be equally elated to know that the work I do at SBA is dedicated to the significance of color and light.

A stroll through the Baystate Children’s Specialty Center in Springfield, MA will educate anyone on the ability of color-coding to assist with designated circulation paths, or way-finding.  Punches of accent light stimulate the eye and draws visitors into views beyond their immediate surroundings.

Highly efficient LED light wrapped columns allude to emerging tree trunks with drops of circular green ceiling panels, suspended like branches from an Alice in Wonderland scene.  Children and families afflicted with medical trauma, visit the pediatric wing, and discover a world that feels more like entering a candy store than a hospital.  The playful success of this project illustrates the opportunity we have as designers to highlight moments that may otherwise remain invisible to the public eye, and continue sowing the seeds of artistry through intelligent use of color and light.

The Playtrium

Baystate Children’s Specialty Center, Springfield, MA


Haikus by Erika Zekos and Samantha VanSchoick, Marketing Coordinator

Illustrations by Samantha VanSchoick

As we are sure you are all aware, August 18th is National Bad Poetry Day. In order to properly celebrate this national day, we at SBA have written some fantastically bad architectural inspired Haikus. Though Oscar Wilde once said “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling,” we aren’t sure that totally applies here. Enjoy!