About Strada

Strada means “street” in Italian. Streets matter to us. They’re the fundamental infrastructure of our cities and the core of our civic lives. They’re the connections between buildings, people, and public spaces. This is why we’re so inspired by them and it’s a shared commitment to these values that brought our principals together. Just as people mingle on city streets, our office is a place where we freely exchange ideas, challenging and inspiring one another to create exceptional work.

Latest Post

Don’t Waste… DONATE!

08.2018

Collectively, the design and construction industry has risen to the challenge and we’re diligently doing our part in reducing the amount of waste generated, however statistics don’t lie… We still have a long way to go!

Read More >>

Offices

Pittsburgh

611 William Penn Place
Suite 700
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

p: 412.263.3800
f: 412.471.5704

Get Directions

info@stradallc.com

Philadelphia

718 Arch Street
Suite 5N
Philadelphia, PA 19106

p: 215.440.0190
f: 215.440.0197

Get Directions

Street Talk

Fresh ideas about design

Filter by category
  • Firm News
  • Design
  • Places
  • Ideas
  • Building
  • People
Filter by year
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013

The Craft of Story Building

02.2018Design, Ideas, Places
By Mason Radkoff, CSI/CCCA, LEED AP BD+C

At a playwriting workshop recently, a fellow writer said, “Sometimes you create, sometimes you produce.” I knew what she meant. In writing fiction, be it in narrative form or for the stage, characters, scenarios, and even entire worlds emerge in passionate moments — creative sessions where imagination holds court and ideas come easily. It’s crucial not to inhibit this flow. A story’s form should be organic— the moves it makes, the shape it takes. Initial visions of setting, theme, voice, and plot emerge as the writer intuits what the story needs without the anchor of minutia holding things back. Art is made.

Afterward though, passion must meet practicality. Imagination is reconciled with feasibility. Rules are applied, and the piece is crafted into usable form. This later, deliberate work ensures that every detail in a story matters, and that the prose is made lustrous and precise.

I find the creative process to be similar in the practice of architecture. During design charettes, we hear things like, “What could this space be if there were no limits?” Or, “How could an element of light transform the experience?” Or, “Let’s try to increase the sense of verticality.” There is creative freedom in envisioning a space. Overall form, quality, and atmosphere—the big story ideas—are contemplated, while future details wait. Methods to achieve the vision will be explored, rules and materials considered, but that will come later — the immediate moment is best served when left free.

 

Inside-outside-Retail

 

 

As the process is furthered, ideas are refined:

 

Plaza-to-Atrium

 

And furthered still:

 

Shadyside-Concept

 

Once an initial vision has been solidified, so begins the work of its realization. Structure is planned. Elements that will comprise the whole are reconsidered and refined so that the result will make sense — beautiful, cohesive, sense. Careful attention is given, with every element included for a reason.

 

Living-Wall

 

These differing facets — initial vision and technical requirements — need not conflict. They aren’t oppositional, but are complimentary parts of the creative process. And neither part is ever fully isolated. Initial creative flow keeps in mind fundamental rules, but concerns about detailing don’t stifle the early work. Spillover occurs. Contradictions are navigated. The design is refined, moving the idea from the gross to the fine.

 

Retail-Charette

 

There’s a need for flexibility in both stages of the process. Some early ideas ultimately prove to be unworkable, and regardless of our being enamored of them, simply have to go. In William Faulkner’s famous words, we sometimes must “kill our darlings.” Similarly, design refinement — from the first reshaping, to the smallest details drawn late in the process — should not stray too far from the initial inspiration. The vision seen in those early, passionate, creative moments must guide the design, must not get lost along the way.

 

Glass-Arcade

 

It’s in that sweet spot between inspired, imaginative play and deliberate, discerning craftwork that truly successful design occurs. Where balance is achieved and vision is realized…

 

Windom-Birdseye

MasonRadkoff-photo

Mason’s primary role at Strada is in construction administration, where he believes that genial working relationships among ownership, contractors, and the design team prove beneficial to all. In performing his work, he considers clear communication, foresight, organization, and promptness to be paramount. These high standards come to enrich nearly every Strada project, as Mason regularly mentors younger staff members on construction details and documentation.

Mason also spearheads Strada’s efforts in shepherding projects through LEED certification, and has successfully authored numerous Innovation in Design credits.

Clients and consultants who have been struck by the incisive narration in Mason’s correspondence and field reports will not be surprised to learn about his other life as a serious writer. His debut novel, The Heart of June, was published in autumn of 2013 by Braddock Avenue Books. Mason’s second novel is currently in progress, and he is likely thinking about it right now…

Strada is a cross-disciplinary design firm where architects and interior designers regularly collaborate with urban designers, landscape architects, and graphic designers to create places that people truly enjoy. We engage clients and make strong-rooted connections between people, place and space.

Don’t Waste… DONATE!

08.2018Ideas
By Chelsey Atkins, LEED Green Associate

Collectively, the design and construction industry has risen to the challenge and we’re diligently doing our part in reducing the amount of waste generated, however statistics don’t lie… We still have a long way to go!
Read more >>

Office Culture

07.2018Ideas, People, Places
By Lawrence J. Fabbroni, AIA

For our team, successes are sweet, but the anticipation of the next challenge is what drives us the most.
Read more >>