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Richard Burck Associates

We work in a variety of very complex environments – ergonomic, environmental, urban, social and often times in settings that have a long and significant history to them. Fundamental to being progressive in…

What is the role of your service or specialty in the development of today’s leading architectural ideas?

We work in a variety of very complex environments – ergonomic, environmental, urban, social and often times in settings that have a long and significant history to them. Fundamental to being progressive in today’s design environment is the need to be facile in all these areas through both educational exposure and successful, professional experience.
Beyond this broad basis of understanding and facility, we feel we are especially innovative in understanding the history and exploration of how people see and experience their environments which leads to how they behave and socialize in them. These are different but often intertwined dynamics of design. We look at both of these dynamics as analytic tools and in particular, expressive opportunities in our work.
In addition, we have also been innovative regarding environmentally sustainable landscapes for a long time in ways that transcend the current defining metrics of much of the discussion you hear and read about today. Addressing these goals in ways which are expressive, didactic, all encompassing and elegantly simple are constant design exercises within our office.

What are the latest innovative developments that you are working on?

In a larger design sense, we are constantly evolving our understanding of existing and proposed social environments from just conjecture by employing a more measured means of assessment and evaluation. How do we make a more scientific inquiry into the manner in which people use open space and how can this lead to more dynamic and successfully designed spaces?
Within the technical realm, we have been on the forefront of designing storm water harvesting ‘systems’ in urban settings for the purposes of remediation, infiltration and irrigation as a way of supporting longer lived street tree growth (supplanting the need for long term irrigation).

How can consultants and collaborative firms push the boundaries of what is possible in advancing innovative design and architecture?

We find success in reaching beyond the traditional limits of traditional design office inquiry. One way we do this is in bringing the possibilities of fabrication technology into the design process and not relegating it to the construction phase.
We expand our design team to include specialists in their fields, such as bringing in horticulturists to better understand plant associations and their successional dynamics. We work with soils scientists, agriculturalists, and environmental engineers to better inform and advance our designs.
Feedback. It is by empowering the users of settings to assess the qualities of spaces and the ways in which those qualities might be enhanced that we learn and can begin to understand how to advance our design decisions.

Explain how your expertise was used in and contributed to the success of a particular project?

Waltham Watch
A complex of industrial brick buildings, formerly the Waltham Watch Factory, is being converted into a mix of office, residential and restaurant uses. This large site generates substantial storm water from its roofs, parking lots and lawns which is ultimately directed to the adjacent Charles River. Richard Burck Associates collaborated with several consultants to devise a mix of innovative approaches (including infiltration trenches, lined rain gardens and porous pavement) to treat storm water before it reaches the river. The resulting site design treats these strategies as intelligible ecological processes within the various courtyards and landscaped areas.
Fan Pier
At the Public Green at Fan Pier, the site analysis revealed the potential for viewing a series of overlapping layers of space, social and recreational activities. The site design was developed to formalize these opportunities and present the composition in theatrical terms from primary seating areas. The resulting project invites a variety of uses to its layered spaces of varied scales and provides a socially vibrant urban park for a newly emerging neighborhood of Boston.
St. Albans School
Primary historic research of the Olmsted firm’s work on the Cathedral Close informed the basic design strategies and the re-conception of the campus planting approach. Through an aggressive program of removals, the campus landscape was substantially replanted with the goal of developing a plant association derived from the adjacent, indigenous Olmsted Woods which would knit the school grounds back into the original woodlands preserved by the Olmsted office. A major challenge in realizing the replanting of the woodland palette was that planting opportunities were mainly over structure in several large, extensive green roofs and intensive planters.
Georgia Tech
The main generator for the spatial design of Georgia Institute of Technology’s largest open space, Tech Green, resulted from both topographic and social analysis of the site. The resulting design for Tech Green is predicated on the concept of a theater with a mezzanine, loges, orchestra and stage. Skiles Walkway, the main pedestrian circulation spine on campus, is developed as the mezzanine. The east and west sides of the Green, as the loges, are marked by north-south walkways with seat walls which overlook both the walkways and the activities of the Green. When more formal events take place, a new addition to the building on the Green’s north edge will one day incorporate a large porch or stage which faces the Green. This rich development of the edges of the green are seen as critical in activating the green itself.

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