Thursday, September 28, 2017

It's All In The Details

The details are what give a home depth, almost like reading a good novel full of meaningful characters and plot twists. It is the architectural features and details in a home that have the capability to transform it from looking “nice” or “boring” to stunning and unique. The best architects know that when they are in the design planning stage it is extremely important to add details as a way of maintaining the integrity of a home. The details help create consistency and authenticity in a space. At JMA, we make sure every material and detail chosen conveys the overall concept of our design, making it reach its fullest potential. 

Importance of Material Selection 

For our development project at 93 Bright, located in Jersey City, a significant attention was focused on the exterior skin of the project and its appearance towards the surrounding neighborhood. We carefully chose materials that would accentuate the diverse urban fabric of the city and still look consistent with its neighbors. The primary materials for the project consists of a system of horizontal cedar wood slats, glass panels, and painted white aluminum window frame projections. The horizontal wood slats are definitely the star of the show for this project. The wood slats not only help break up the scale of the project but it also creates a balanced palette for the building. Architects decide what specific materials they want for a design, if done correctly it can transform a building into a work of art. The horizontal wood slats at 93 Bright are the perfect example of that. 
93 Bright designed by JMA


At another one of our projects, called The Wooden Box House, located in Argentina, we used wood as material to give the house a unique looking design aesthetic for the exterior. The project was designed with the idea of separating two volumes in two separate levels. The resulting concept produces a modern interpretation of the traditional Argentinian veranda. The upper wooden box portion cantilevers over the lower level as to create this modern veranda, which becomes a buffer between the interior and exterior spaces as well as a common gathering space. The inside plays with the light and shadows with walls that open and close, ranging from transparent to solid. The shadows casted all around the private upper level from the wood screens adds beautiful shadows in the home making the space look like a piece of art. We wanted to design the upper level of the house to have an intimate relaxing atmosphere full of character and small details.
Wooden Box House Designed by JMA

Wooden Box House Interior

Details Provide Character 

When architects create a structure, the details are what make the design. It tells the story about the building, societal changes, and how much character it has. JMA has done a lot of development projects in historic districts located in the New York and New Jersey area. The buildings at these locations are full of rich details like trims, crown moldings, original floors, and more. Those details give the home a sense of vibrancy and “je ne sais quoi”. We believe in preserving design elements like this because their loss or alteration would diminish or destroy aspects of the historic appeal whether on the outside, or on the inside of the building.

West End Apartment designed by JMA

Beautiful trim moldings at the West End Apartment

For our renovation project at the West End Apartment we had to keep the beautiful trim moldings, it would be unfortunate to get rid of it. All homes have potential and the reason why some homes look plain and boring is the lack of poor detailing. Details are what makes a home intriguing and is a testament to the artistry of the architect. 


Spry, Eric “Architecture: How Details Can Make All the Difference”. Houzz. March 27th, 2013. Web 

Nelson, Lee. H FAIA, “Architectural Character—Identifying the Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid to Preserving their Character.” Technical Preservation Serivces. NPS.Gov. Sept. 1988. Web

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Window Into JMA

Windows are a building's most valuable player. They are a welcomer of daylight, the perfect source of fresh air, and a key participant in determining a building's appearance. The window is a beautiful architectural element in design with many functions and is a highly expressive tool. A building's window is like a sign of human life and way to connect with the outside world. The window has a long and unique history with different designs, styles, and shapes seen throughout every decade.

At JMA we love to combine function and beauty with every structure we build. In a lot of our projects we design, we like to arrange our windows to form an artistic pattern, it makes a building look unique, modern, and beautiful. At our project 349 4th street, we designed the facade of the building to have windows varying shapes and sizes to stir interest and curiosity to the viewer.
4th Street Townhouse Designed by JMA

Types of Windows
Finding the perfect windows for your home can be a lengthy process because there are so many
different types of window styles and window frames to choose from. The most common types of window frames are vinyl, wood, fiberglass, and composite frame materials that sometimes can provide greater thermal resistance than metal. For our projects we enjoy using a variety of different window shapes because it gives a building a fun contemporary feel to it. For our development project at the 4th street townhouse in Jersey City, we used a combination of Stationary and Casement windows. Stationary windows are commonly used in modern or contemporary style homes. They are meant to add an aesthetic flair to the home since they do not open, and are easily customizable to be in any shape or angle you desire. The great thing about these types of windows is it works in conjunction with operating windows. The casement style windows have a hinge on either the right or left side to open the window outward.
Living Room Designed by JMA

In any type of residential or commercial building one of the key things everyone wants to have in their space is tons of natural light coming from windows. The natural light you get from windows helps keep the house fresh, spacious, and bright. In return these benefits help keeps the building users’ happy and gives them a way to connect with the outside world and nature. For our project 10-18 47th Avenue, we designed the contemporary townhouse to have a glass atrium on top of the central stairs in the upper unit to flood natural light throughout the space. The rear fa├žade of the building boasts nearly floor to ceiling windows on every floor.  We were able to achieve an elegant and unique look for the outside of the building by designing a modern fiber cement panel and natural wood framed window protusions and paneling. The combination of both of these contrasting materials makes the house look earthy and warm.
10-18 47th Avenue Townhouse

The beauty about windows is it gives the home such an inviting appearance. Famous architects have used windows as a form of artistic expression for their buildings for years as seen in the image below.

At JMA we make sure every detail from the materials, fixtures,window sizes, and shapes we choose, all align and convey the style we want our buildings to exude. At 93 Bright our design accentuates the diverse urban fabric of Jersey City with wood and glass materials.
93 Bright Designed by JMA

The primary materials for this project consist of a system of horizontal cedar wood slats, glass panels and painted white aluminum window frame projections. The horizontal wood slats encompass the entire second and third floor with wood elements found in the neighborhood.  These wood elements help to break up the scale of the project and provide for a balanced palette that integrates the project into a coherent whole. It is so important for architects to achieve a balance when they design and have their structures look functional and aesthetically pleasing. It is the design elements architects choose like a window style that can turn a building from boring into something beautiful and different.


•Reggev, Kate “5 Energy-Efficient and Stylish Ways to Shade Your Windows” Dwell 3 Sept.2017. Web.
•HGTV “8 Types of Windows” Scripps Network 2017. Web. 
•“Types of Windows” Big City Windows 26 Nov. 2014 Web.
•Pierre von Meiss. “Elements of Architecture: From Form to Place” Electronic Book Chapter 1 “Openings”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Designs That Promote Healthier Communities

When designing a building it is necessary to design features in a home that will promote healthy behaviors and foster engagement opportunities for residents. Even the smallest design changes to a surrounding can have a strong impact on mood and overall health. Spaces that fail to promote community movement can lead to obesity and other physical health conditions. A lack of recreational space in a building can cause a sense of isolation and puts an unwanted strain on our emotional health.

JMA has always made it our mission to create buildings that improve the quality of life for residents and design features that can contribute to a healthier happier lifestyle. When we were designing a large residential building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we placed a strong emphasis on functional space before formal concept. Our design goal was large apartments, comfortable balconies, abundant daylighting and open views. The development project is 90,000 square ft. and is located in a suburb of Buenos Aires called Ramos Meija. The footprint of the building is open on all 4 sides, letting the building open towards 2 centenarian palms, thus giving the name to the building: Palmeras de Ramos (Palms of Ramos).
Ramos Meija designed by JMA

Design's Impact on Our Mood 

The design of building is a key part of the solution in delivering healthy communities. The rooftop terrace we designed at Palmeras de Ramos is meant to be a place of social encounter for residents to interact and make friends. It is very spacious and encourages residents to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines by walking on the terrace and also around the walkways surrounding the building. Based on the design we created, we believe the accessibility we achieved can help residents combat issues like obesity and related chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Communities appreciate having a well-designed open space because it promotes active living and movement.
Design Features That Foster Healthy and Active Spaces

It is very important to make sure apartments are designed with an open layout because it improves the quality of life for residents and diminishes the feeling of claustrophobia. At the Palmeras Ramos building we chose to design comfortable balconies for residents. This design feature extends the residents’ homes and makes them feel happy because it gives them access to the outside world.
The comfortable balconies at Ramos Meija
Along with an open floor plan, architects can improve physical and mental health for residents by using a design that improves ventilation and provides fresh air for the home. 54 Bright Street, another development project of JMA’s, is a high performance building built with an open layout and Passive Design strategies that are implemented into all aspects of the design.

The Positive Benefits of Passive Design

Jorge is passionate about Passive Design, he believes that an efficient design means responding to locate climate and site conditions to maximize building users’ comfort. When architects create an efficient design they must be thinking about the natural elements that can help residents feel more comfortable, like wind. Wind provides household heating cooling, ventilation and lighting, thereby reducing or removing the need for mechanical heating or cooling.

At 54 Bright we used passive design techniques to improve indoor air quality and reduce temperature fluctuations making it more enjoyable to live in. Jorge believes that architects should design buildings with comfort and resource-efficiency in mind. Buildings and apartments should be designed to be comfortable for residents to unwind when they need to, but still gives them the opportunity for social interaction. We encourage architects and developers to create buildings that have a strong social structure because it can promote healthy behaviors and prevent isolation.
54 Bright designed by JMA
It doesn’t matter if you are building a large development building or a smaller townhouse, adding a small change like a bench in the front of the building is a tool meant for people to interact with one another and feel happy having a discussion. People need community design features such as outdoor recreational space, safe streets, landscaping, outdoor play space because it can contribute to enhancing a sense of neighborhood identity. With all of our projects it is important for us as architects to create designs that are not only beautiful but resource efficient, embraces its inhabitants, and foster vibrant communities.


• Stewart, M. Cyril “How design can encourage home and community health”. The American Institute of Architects. Web

• Woo, Lisa “How to design communities that make residents fitter and healthier.” The Guardian. 3 Sept. 2014, Web.

• Center For Active Design “Engaging Communities to Promote Health through Design”. Web.