Greening the Office : The Barlew Blog

David Barlew Architects is a Chattanooga-based architecture firm founded in 1978 by David Barlew, Sr. Our diverse practice has experience in the design and renovation of mixed-use developments, schools, offices, commercial centers and medical facilities. Local projects designed by David Barlew Architects in the past 5 years include Renaissance Square, a two story, mixed-use building completed in 2008 on Martin Luther King Boulevard by The 28th Legislative District Community Development Corporation; the Temporary Twelve-Bed Intensive Care Unit at Erlanger Hospital; Sing It Or Wing It, a karaoke bar and restaurant in downtown Chattanooga (interior design by Christi Homar); and the Auditorium Building Renovation and Addition at Cleveland State Community College for the Tennessee Board of Regents. David Barlew Architects has also volunteered time for the Brainerd Road Corridor Master Plan, a nearly three year long community-led initiative to improve the Brainerd Community of Chattanooga.

David Barlew Architects, Inc. is a member of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Greening the Office

by David Barlew, Jr. on 05/20/11

David Barlew Architects rents office space from another design firm, and our office is blessed with not only large windows, but bountiful sunshine as well.























Utilizing these resources, I maintain an indoor garden of sorts. And, although David Barlew Architects advocates for environmentally-conscious initiatives like expanded public transit and pedestrian-oriented development, in this sense, our office is literally green.









































Our indoor garden contains eight species of plants. We have poinsettias, peace lilies, variegated pothos, lipstick plants, bird of paradise, oxalis, bamboo, and anthurium.



















I like tending to plants because I like to see things grow and flourish, whether they are plants or larger entities like neighborhoods and communities. I think that attitude is what motivates me to volunteer for community planning efforts or organize for various civic causes. In the same way I want our plants to be robust and green, I want the community in which I live to be vibrant and healthy.




I also like caring for plants because, in this modern era, in which we are so isolated from the natural world, plants provide at least a small connection to nature. Green plants remind us that we are part of a living system, not divorced from it. As architects, I think it is important for us to remember our ties to the environment so that our buildings will be more considerate to the living system that supports us.


The plants, though, don't just take the water, attention, fertilizer and care and give nothing back. According to a NASA study, indoor plants help to clean the air in addition to making most spaces more attractive. In the study, houseplants were shown to be effective at removing organic pollutants like benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde from indoor spaces (Wolverton, Johnson and Bounds 17).



















According to a study from Washington State University, cited in the Prevention article "Pots of Health", plants do more than just clean the air; they also lower our blood pressure. This study documented a four point drop in systolic blood pressure in individuals placed in a room with plants.





















I feel fortunate that David Barlew Architects is located in an office so filled with natural light that it can support so many healthy plants. The next time David Barlew Architects designs an office for a client, I hope we can produce a design that leaves our client just as fortunate.




Wolverton, Ph.D., B. C., Anne Johnson, and Kieth Bounds. Indoor Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Stennis Space Center, 1989.


Conrad, Marissa. "Pots of Health." Prevention. Web. 20 May. 2011.


Written by David Barlew, Jr. for David Barlew Architects, Inc. All photographs by David Barlew, Jr.

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